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Wernher von Braun's 1950's "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!" archive up for auction

Wernher von Braun's 1950's "Ma...
The Man Will Conquer Space Soon! auction includes signed technical sketches by rocket technology and space science pioneer Wernher von Braun
The Man Will Conquer Space Soon! auction includes signed technical sketches by rocket technology and space science pioneer Wernher von Braun
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The moonship sketch in its display frame
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The moonship sketch in its display frame
Sketch by von Braun of a moonship
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Sketch by von Braun of a moonship
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p1
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p1
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p2
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p2
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p3
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p3
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p4
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p4
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p6
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p6
Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p7
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Letter from von Baun suggesting how to make illustrations of space computers more believable p7
Crude orbital diagram by von Braun
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Crude orbital diagram by von Braun
First page of moon tractor sketch
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First page of moon tractor sketch
Second page of moon tractor sketch
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Second page of moon tractor sketch
Orbital velocity chart
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Orbital velocity chart
Comparative orbital velocity chart
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Comparative orbital velocity chart
Moonship tank diagram
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Moonship tank diagram
Cover letter from von Braun to artist p1
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Cover letter from von Braun to artist p1
Cover letter from von Braun to artist p2
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Cover letter from von Braun to artist p2
Sketch of an orbital shuttle
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Sketch of an orbital shuttle
Sketch of a radar antenna
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Sketch of a radar antenna
Sketch of telemetry receiver van
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Sketch of telemetry receiver van
Sketch of television receiver van
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Sketch of television receiver van
Sketch of orbit for the "baby" satelllite
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Sketch of orbit for the "baby" satelllite
Sketch of first stage making a powered landing with parachute assist
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Sketch of first stage making a powered landing with parachute assist
Telemetry van floor plan
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Telemetry van floor plan
Cover letter by von Braun
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Cover letter by von Braun
Baby satellite solar power unit
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Baby satellite solar power unit
Baby satellite solar power details
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Baby satellite solar power details
Moonship tank specifications
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Moonship tank specifications
Moon landing engine burn calculations
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Moon landing engine burn calculations
Side sketch of Baby satellite solar power system
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Side sketch of Baby satellite solar power system
Orbital calculations
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Orbital calculations
Sketch of a viewer scope
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Sketch of a viewer scope
Space station interior sketch
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Space station interior sketch
Engine array sketch
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Engine array sketch
Electrical panel sketch
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Electrical panel sketch
Launch trajectory sketch
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Launch trajectory sketch
The Baby satellite
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The Baby satellite
Baby satellite article
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Baby satellite article
A moonship landing
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A moonship landing
Frontispiece article showing the authors of the Colliers space series
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Frontispiece article showing the authors of the Colliers space series
Von Braun's portfolio
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Von Braun's portfolio
The space shuttle
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The space shuttle
An issue of Collier's with the Man in Space series
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An issue of Collier's with the Man in Space series
Article on setting up as moonbase
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Article on setting up as moonbase
The Collier's Man in Space series
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The Collier's Man in Space series
NASA urine collection system
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NASA urine collection system
The Man Will Conquer Space Soon! auction includes signed technical sketches by rocket technology and space science pioneer Wernher von Braun
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The Man Will Conquer Space Soon! auction includes signed technical sketches by rocket technology and space science pioneer Wernher von Braun
Werhner von Braun (right) with Walt Disney
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Werhner von Braun (right) with Walt Disney
The urine collection system up for auction
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The urine collection system up for auction
Back view of the urine collection system
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Back view of the urine collection system
Front view of the urine collection system
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Front view of the urine collection system
Urine collection bag
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Urine collection bag
Details of the urine collection system
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Details of the urine collection system
Urine collection system diagram
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Urine collection system diagram
Urine collection system in context
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Urine collection system in context
Flag flown in Apollo 10
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Flag flown in Apollo 10
Signature of  Gene Cernan of the Apollo 10 crew
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Signature of  Gene Cernan of the Apollo 10 crew
Training spacesuit glove worn by Neil armstrong
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Training spacesuit glove worn by Neil armstrong
Neil Armstrong glove palm view
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Neil Armstrong glove palm view
Neil Armstrong glove label
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Neil Armstrong glove label
Star chart carried on Apollo 11
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Star chart carried on Apollo 11
Star chart carried on Apollo 11 by Buzz Aldrin
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Star chart carried on Apollo 11 by Buzz Aldrin
Star chart letter of authenticity
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Star chart letter of authenticity
Buzz Aldrin with Apollo 11 star chart
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Buzz Aldrin with Apollo 11 star chart
Component of life support system carried on Apollo 15
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Component of life support system carried on Apollo 15
Letter of authenticity for Apollo 15 life support component
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Letter of authenticity for Apollo 15 life support component
Letter of authenticity for Apollo 15 life support component p2
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Letter of authenticity for Apollo 15 life support component p2

A collection of some of the most important seminal documents of the Space Age are open for bids as rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun's "Man Will Conquer Space Soon" archive goes on the block. A collection of signed technical drawings, schematics, memos, orbital diagrams, and mathematical calculations related to von Braun's efforts to sell an ambitious space program to both the American public and the US government, it's the centerpiece of the Space and Aviation Auction at Boston-based RR Auction through April 19.

On March 22, 1952, the American weekly feature magazine Collier's hit the newsstands. Among its usual mixture of advertisements and articles was the first of a series of features that would run for the next two years. These seemed like the wildest science fiction at the time, but would become established fact within a surprisingly few years.

The series was called "Man Will Conquer Space Soon" and included painstakingly detailed color illustrations by magazine artists Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman, and Rolf Klep. It outlined a complete program for building an unmanned satellite, a manned space shuttle, a space station, an expedition to set up an outpost on the Moon, and topped it off with the conquest of Mars.

The space shuttle
The space shuttle

Later compiled into and expanded by three coffee table books – Across the Space Frontier (1952), Conquest of the Moon (1953), and The Exploration of Mars (1956) – the series was the brainchild of Wernher von Braun, one of the great rocket pioneers of the 20th century. He was the man behind Germany's V2 rocket, and architect of the Saturn V booster that would send the first men to the Moon on the Apollo missions.

In the early 1950s, von Braun was working on ballistic missiles for the US Army, but his real goal was to get the US government to back a full-scale space program aimed at manned landings on the Moon and Mars within the next generation. To this end, he set out on a deliberate campaign to persuade the American public that such a program was not only feasible, but practical, and to put pressure on the federal government to invest in it.

With the help of his friend, popular science author and fellow Germany expatriate Willy Ley, von Braun arranged an introduction to Cornelius Ryan, the editor of Collier's. He sold him on the idea of a major feature series and they then recruited Ley, the astronomer Fred L. Whipple, space medicine expert Hans Haber, and American law and international diplomacy professor Oscar Schachter to write articles with von Braun that brought his vision of the conquest of space to life.

Sketch by von Braun of a moonship
Sketch by von Braun of a moonship

To anyone who has studied the story of Apollo, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station, many of the details are familiar. This is no surprise, since all of these projects relied heavily on von Braun's expertise, but the Collier's space program made the real life Space Race seem anemic by comparison.

Where Apollo put two astronauts on the Moon in a single lander, von Braun envisioned an armada of three giant moonships, each taller than the Statue of Liberty and containing a total crew of 50. Two of the ships would have been reusable, while the third would be dismantled to provide the raw material for the first moonbase complete with laboratories and electric tractors for long-distance recon missions.

These monster ships would have been built at an equally gigantic space station orbiting 1,075 mi (1,730 km) above the Earth. It would have a diameter of 250 ft (76 m), be powered by solar panels that boiled mercury for turbines, and hold a crew of 80 in comfort as the giant wheel rotated to provide one-third Earth gravity. This US$4-billion station, to be completed by 1967, would be built and serviced by a fleet of ferry rockets with reusable shuttles bringing cargo and personnel aloft.

Sketch of an orbital shuttle
Sketch of an orbital shuttle

And once the Moon was conquered by 1977, von Braun already had Mars in his sights with another fleet of manned ships to explore the Red Planet. Not only did this series provide material for books, but it was the basis for three color television documentaries on space travel for Walt Disney in 1955 and 1957 that featured von Braun and many of the other authors.

The von Braun archive up for bidding by RR Auction consists of 26 items related to four of the articles in Collier's: "Crossing the Last Frontier," "Man on the Moon: The Journey," "Man on the Moon: The Exploration," and "Baby Space Station," as well as copies of the four magazines that carried them.

In addition to the sketches that von Braun provided for the artists, the archive also contains cover letters, detailed orbital calculations and graphs, and various other notes that outline his vision for the space station, the shuttle, the moonship, moon transport, and a miniature satellite that would act as a pathfinder for all the other missions.

Werhner von Braun (right) with Walt Disney
Werhner von Braun (right) with Walt Disney

Along with the von Braun archive, the Space and Aviation Auction also features an American flag flown on the Apollo 10 mission, Buzz Aldrin's star chart flown on Apollo 11, a Lunar Rover map used by Gene Cernan on Apollo 17, a urine collection system for an Apollo spacesuit, a spacesuit glove worn by Neil Armstrong, and a Space Shuttle external nose cone assembly.

Source: RR Auction

2 comments
McDesign
Hum - just put those three books into my Amazon cart . . .
JimFox
Define "Conquer space". Extreme hubris, IMO.