Details
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Louis Weintraub, US Army

“Rocket Man”: Wernher von Braun, inventor of the V-2 rocket and future inventor of the Saturn V rocket, surrendering to the US Army at the end of WWII

May 1945

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 18 x 18.2cm, original press photo with Pictorial Press London photo caption and Pictorial Press credit stamp on the verso

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US Army / Unidentified Photographer

The first American rocket to reach outer space on pad at White Sands Missile Range

May 10, 1946

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.8 x 25.3cm (8 x 10in), original US Army Ordnance Proving Ground photograph, with printed caption “V-2 being placed in position for firing 10 May 1946” and “US Army Ordnance Proving Ground, White Sands, N.M.” below image, with two filing holes in left margin

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Lot Essay

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Louis Weintraub was a Signal Corps combat photographer and served throughout the European campaign during WWII.

Von Braun and several of his key co-workers were recruited as part of Operation Paperclip, securing critical missile and rocket technology for the US Army.

[Pictorial Press caption] V-2 inventor caught in Austrian Alps
Professor Werhner von Braun, inventor of the V-2 rocket, with one of his captors, an infantryman of the 7th U.S. army. Von Braun and his assistants fled from Peenemunde when the Red Army took the Experimental Station; he fractured his arm at a car smash during the escape. The inventor is 33 years old, believes his invention could have won the war had Nazis been able to produce enough, is convinced it will shape the course of “the next war”; he is quite convinced there will be another. Capture was made at Reutte, high up in the Austrian Alps.

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The official boundary of space is the Karman line which lies at an altitude of 62.5 miles (100 km).

Von Braun’s V-2 rocket was the first man-made object to reach space, at an altitude of 189 kilometers (102 nautical miles) on a June 1944 test flight at Peenemünde in Germany.
After WWII, captured V-2 rockets were shipped to the United States. Firing from the Army’s Proving Ground at White Sands, New Mexico, began in 1946 and marked the start of the American space program.
Launched on May 10, 1946, this V-2 No.3 was the first American rocket to reach outer space, at an altitude of 70 miles (see Life magazine, May 26, 1946, pp. 31-35).

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