Podcast: The Space Race | Starting Gun
By: American History Tellers
Werner Von Braun was a key part of the Nazi V-2 Rocket Program. Near the end of WW2 he and his team were deliberately captured by the Americans and settled in Huntsville Alabama to prevent their knowledge from going to the Soviets.
The thought was that rockets combined with atomic weapons would give the host nation an insurmountable lead in the years to come.
Von Braun’s potential degree of involvement with pretty horrific war crimes under Nazi rule was ignored and deliberately glossed over. Supposedly he just wanted to build rockets to get to space.
Because of his German background he wasn’t fully trusted by American politicians and military figures.
This led to his projects not being allowed to put a satellite into orbit, and allowed the Soviets to take the lead with Sputnik. This created a huge fear in America about ceding space to the Soviets.