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Home > Wernher von Braun > Highlights in German Rocket Development

Highlights in German Rocket Development
from 1927 - 1945

June 1927
The German Society for Space Travel was founded by Johannes Winkler at Breslau, Germany.

April 11, 1928
The first manned rocket car was tested by Fritz von Opel and others at Berlin, Germany. It attained a speed of 62 miles per hour.

June 11, 1928
Friedrich Stamer made the first manned rocket-powered flight in a von Opel glider, traveling about one mile from a takeoff point in the mountains of Germany.

September 30, 1929
Another rocket powered glider, the Opel Sander Rak. I, made a successful two-mile flight near Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

October 15, 1929
The premier was held of "Frau im Mond" (The Girl in the Moon), a movie with Hermann Oberth as technical adviser. Directed by Fritz Lange, the film assisted popular awareness of rocket potentialities in Germany.

September 1930
The Verein fur Raumschiffahrt (VfR) of Germany opened the Raketenflugplatze launching site for rockets at Berlin.

December 17, 1930
Captain Doctor Walter Dornberger was placed in charge of German Army rocket studies.

March 14, 1931
Johannes Winkler made the first liquid-fueled rocket test in Europe at Dessau, Germany.

May 1931
The Repulsor, a liquid fueled rocket, rose 1,000 yards, and traveled 2 1/2 miles for the VfR in Germany.

July 1932
The first rocket demonstration of the VfR by Dr. Wernher von Braun for the German Army and Dornberger was carried out with Mirak II, which rose to a height of 200 feet.

August 1932
The German Army made formal its rocket development work with Dornberger in charge.

October 1, 1932
Dr. Wernher von Braun joined the German Army Ordnance office rocket program at Kummersdorf.

December 1932
Dr. Wernher von Braun tested his first new rocket for Dornberger, and it exploded.

December 1934
The German Army rocket development group fired the A-2 rocket a distance of 1.4 miles, on the island of Borkum.

February 1936
The Germans tested an A-3 rocket with 3,300 pounds of thrust which was a development model of later military rockets.

May 1937
The German Army rocket experiment station at Peenemuende was opened, under Dornberger.

October 1939
The German Army test rocket A-5 weighing one ton climbed 5 miles before burnout at Peenemuende.

June 13, 1942
The first launching attempt was made with the A-4 rocket (V-2) at Peenemuende. It rose above the cloud cover, and then fell back, after a climb to 0.8 mile. The V-2 missile stood 46 feet 11 inches tall, and 5 feet 5 inches in diameter. It weighed 14 tons at takeoff. It carried a warhead variously listed as 1,650 and 2,150 pounds. Its maximum range was 200 miles, with a combat trajectory height of 60 miles. Its speed was approximately 3,300 miles per hour at burnout.

August 16, 1942
The second V-2 launching attempt carried it to about 5.4 miles altitude.

October 3, 1942
The third V-2 climbed about 30 miles and traveled to a point 118 miles from Peenemuende, credited as the first successful flight.

October 21, 1942
The fourth V-2 traveled 91.3 miles from Peenemuende.

February 17, 1943
The tenth V-2 traveled 121.8 miles from Peenemuende.

April 14, 1943
The fifteenth V-2 traveled a distance of 178.3 miles from Peenemuende.

May - June 1943
The Germans conducted operational tests of the V-2 rocket by firing over 100 from Blizna against Sarnaki, Poland, including 10 on 1 day.

July 7, 1943
Adolf Hitler assigned the highest military priority to the V-2 program.

August 17, 1943
The British carried out a saturation air raid on the Peenemuende development center in Germany.

March 15, 1944
Von Braun was arrested by the S.S. for over concentration on space travel rather than military missile problems. He was later released on the grounds his services were indispensable.

June 13, 1944
Shortly before dawn, the first V-1 pulsejet winged missile crossed from the Pas de Calais to explode in the center of London. The V-1 missile had a speed of 400 miles per hour and a range of 190 miles. It carried a warhead of 1,988 pounds.

June 1944
A V-2 missile from Peenemuende overshot the Baltic and landed in Sweden where the remains were collected and flown to England for analysis.

September 6, 1944
The first German V-2 fired in combat exploded in a suburb of Paris; the second struck London a few hours later. From this time until March 1945 when the launching sites were overrun by the Allies, something like 1,027 were fired from the vicinity of The Hague, with 92.3 percent launched successfully. Of the total number fired from all sites toward Britain, there were about 1,300 fired at London and 40 at Norwich. Some 518 fell in the London Civil Defense Region, and none at Norwich. The results in London were 2,511 persons killed and 5,869 seriously wounded, and elsewhere 213 killed and 598 seriously wounded.

January 24, 1945
The Germans successfully launched a winged version of the V-2, the A-9, designed to be the upper stage of an ICBM for ultimate attack on North America. It reached an altitude of 50 miles and a speed of 2,700 miles per hour.

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