Autograph manuscript in pencil, nine pages, 8 x 10.25, dated February 18, 1965, signed within the text a total of 14 times, which includes three variations of his full name and 11 instances of his surname. The manuscript, headed "Von Braun, Wernher, American rocket engineer, Born March 23, 1912, Wirsitz, Germany," comprises an autobiographical draft with sections relating to "His principal achievements," "The background," "Motivation and biographical sketch," "Books and publications by Von Braun," and "Books for further reading."
The opening section, in full: “As a result of his preceding experimental work with liquid fueled rockets, Von Braun, in 1937, became the technical director of the German Army Rocket Center Peenemünde in the Baltic. Under his technical direction the world’s first operational guided ballistic missile, the V-2, and the world’s first guided anti-aircraft missile, the Wasserfall, were developed. Between 1950 and 1955 he directed the development of the first operational ballistic missile in the United States, the Redstone. Using a modified Redstone as first stage, Von Braun and his team in January 1958, were instrumental in placing America’s first artificial satellite, Explorer I, in orbit around the earth. In 1959 the same team placed Pioneer IV, America’s first interplanetary probe, in orbit around the sun, using its Jupiter rock as first stage. Since 1960 Von Braun, as director of NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, supervises the development of the family of Saturn liquid fueled rockets for Program Apollo, designed to provide a broad national manned space flight capability and to land two Americans on the moon.”
Another section, “Motivation and biographical sketch,” in part: “Von Braun’s dedication to rockets goes back to his boyhood interest in astronomy, awakened by his scientific-minded mother and fostered by his boarding school in Germany, which permitted him to build a school observatory. After graduation from Gymnasium in spring of 1930, he enrolled at the Berlin Institute of Technology and in his spare time assisted Hermann Oberth in his experiments with small liquid fuel rocket engines. His involvement with this program continued after Oberth returned to his teaching post in Romania and the German Society for Space Travel took over sponsorship.” In very good to fine condition, with staple holes, paperclip impressions, a light diagonal crease, and a few small stains.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.