Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deceased--Walter Haeussermann

Key project officers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, examine a prototype of the Explorer I satellite, 1958. From left to right, (seated) Dr Eberhard Rees (1908 - 1998), Major General John B. Medaris, German-born rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (1912 - 1977), Dr Ernst Stuhlinger, (standing) Willi Mrazek (1911 - 1992) and Dr Walter Haeussermann. The model is actual size.

Walter Haeussermann
March 2nd, 1914 to December 8th, 2010

"Walter Haeussermann, Rocket Scientist, Dies at 96"


Dennis Hevesi

December 17th, 2010

The New York Times

Walter Haeussermann, a leading member of the team of German rocket scientists headed by Wernher von Braun who were brought to the United States after World War II to help develop ballistic missiles, died on Dec. 8 in Huntsville, Ala. He was 96.

The cause was complications from a fall, said Brooks Moore, who succeeded Dr. Haeussermann as director of NASA’s Astrionics Laboratory at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where Mr. Haeussermann played a large role in the American space program.

“Dr. Haeussermann was one of von Braun’s leading engineers in the development of guidance and control systems for rockets — from the V-2 in Germany to the Saturn V,” Michael Neufeld, chairman of the space history division at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, said Thursday. “He contributed many ideas that made those rockets a success and helped land Americans on the Moon.”

Dr. Haeussermann had just received his doctorate in electrical engineering in 1939 when he was drafted into the German Army and sent to Peenemünde, the village in Germany where von Braun was working on the V-2 rocket. His expertise in gyroscopes and accelerometers, the sensing devices that control rockets, was essential to the development of the V-2, which in the last months of World War II rained down on London and Antwerp, Belgium.

Three years after the war, Dr. Haeussermann came to the United States under Project Paperclip, the Office of Strategic Services program that was used to recruit more than 100 scientists from Nazi Germany. For two years he worked on the von Braun team at Fort Bliss, Tex. The team was moved to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville in 1950.

Dr. Haeussermann was in charge of developing the guidance and control systems for the Redstone, a ballistic missile with a range of about 150 miles, and then the Jupiter, with a range of 1,500 miles.

In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the United States became alarmed that it was falling behind in the space race. In response, an enhanced version of the Redstone, which Dr. Haeussermann helped design, was used to launch the first American satellite, Explorer I, on Jan. 31, 1958.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created in October 1958, and two years later the von Braun team was transferred to the agency’s new Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. They were joined by more than 5,000 American scientists, engineers and technicians.

There, Dr. Haeussermann directed the Astrionics Laboratory, which developed the electronic and guidance systems for the Saturn program. Between 1967 and 1973 NASA launched 12 Saturn rockets, including the one that allowed the Apollo 11 astronauts to land on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Walter Haeussermann was born in Künzelsau, Germany, on March 2, 1914. After graduating from the Technical University at Stuttgart with a degree in electrical engineering, he received a master’s degree and a doctorate from the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Dr. Haeussermann became an American citizen in 1954. He is survived by his wife, Ruth.

Walter Haeussermann [Wikipedia]

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