Sunday, March 16, 2008

Today In History: A new kind of rocket.

Mankind has been using simple black-powder propelled rockets for nearly a millennium but it wasn't until this date in 1926 that American inventor Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket.

In their adorable Teutonic way, the Germans saw the new technology and almost immediately went to work figuring out a way to use it to blow people up. Of course, it would need to be improved tremendously, because it would take a much larger, more complicated, and swoopier-looking rocket to carry a sufficiently lethal load of high explosives to a place with a large enough concentration of non-German people to make it worthwhile. Like London, for instance. On this date in 1942, they launched the first V-2 rocket. It thundered into the air above the launch pad and then blew up.

In dogged German fashion, however, they ironed the bugs out of the V-2 until it was dropping out of the skies over London with proper efficiency. So successful were they, that they managed to colonize the U.S. postwar space program and to populate bad '50s sci-fi, Antarctica, and even the far reaches of the internet with Space Nazis on the Moon.

11 comments:

Blackwing1 said...

The second or third actual book that I read was Heinlein's "Rocket Ship Galileo". Nazi's on the moon, indeed.

'Course, that was written in 1947, so with only 2 years after the war he had a little more excuse than some others.

Tam said...

David Drake has a good short story using the Space Nazis premise, too.

Rustmeister said...

The old Nike Ajax system was liquid fueled also.

The old timers involved in Herc used to tell stories of its volatility.

Just getting the stuff on you was dangerous.

Ritchie said...

"I aim at ze stars, but..zometimes
I hit London."

Thomas said...

Don't forget we also filched the buzz bomb as the "JB-1 Loon"

Anonymous said...

Drake expanded on the idea a bit in _Fortress_, which is part of an interesting pair with _Skyripper_. The two books are set in mutually incompatible alternate presents, with the same main character.

Anonymous said...

"Ze rockets go up, who cares ver dey go down...

zat's not my department, says Wehrner von Braun."

-- Tom Lehrer

Kristopher said...

Damned space Nazis ... almost as annoying as the Surf Nazis.

Ben said...

But nowhere near as bad as Illinois Nazis.

global village idiot said...

The Brits had a very elegant way of screwing with the German's targeting. The BBC would say the bomb landed at a much different time than it did. The Germans listened to the BBC too, of course.

This would throw the German rocket-fire-direction people off, so they'd adjust the ballistics on the next one to make allowances, thereby causing the rocket to land someplace other than the intended target, whatever it may have been.

Very elegant.

gvi

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Mmmm, hypergols...