THIS USED TO BE THE FUTURE: "Von Braun's Space Shuttles"

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Dr. Werner von Braun: Nazi Scientist, American Hero, Best Buddies with Walt Disney. Just a strange, twisted life which more or less encapsulates the moraly ambiguous middle-third of the last century, don't you think? But regardless of which side of the Devil/Dupe argument you fall on with von Braun, there's no arguing that the man was freakin' brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that some people have claimed he was a time traveler from the future. My argument against this concept is simple: 1) Time travel violates causality, and 2) if he *were* a time traveler from the future, he would have already known who won World War II. Don't you think he could have saved himself a lot of trouble by simply going to work for the good guys, and avoiding all that "Major in the SS nonsense?"

But I digress: One of the staples of Von Braun's career was his fascination and insistance on the reusable spaceplane. We'd call 'em "Shuttles" now (Damn Star Trek!), but back then they were just bewinged rockets. All of our 1950s dreams of space exploration revolved around the Colliers articles, and spacecraft like these

http://astronautix.com/lvfam/vonbraun.htm

This one here http://astronautix.com/lvs/vonn1952.htm is particularly sexy, and the one that received the most press, and this one is the one Disney favored for his animation studio http://astronautix.com/lvs/vonn1956.htm but as for me, I think I prefer this big dumb ugly beast here http://astronautix.com/lvs/vonn1948.htm

The irony being that Von Braun got his wish - a shuttle - and in the process pretty much ensured our glorious visions of the future would never happen. Space Shuttles are inherently less efficient than rockets, and far more dangerous and expensive. Alas.

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