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A V-2 rocket

The V-2 rocket (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2) was the world's first ballistic missile and first human object to fly in space.[1] All modern rockets are based on the V2 design.[2] The first successful launch was from Peenemünde on 3 October, 1942, reaching a height of 192km.[3]:7 The V2 was designed by Nazis to bomb London, Antwerp and other European cities. It travelled at four times the speed of sound so was impossible to shoot down. The first V-2 used as a weapon exploded in Paris on 8 September 1944, with a second rocket exploding in London later that day.[3]:10 Over 3,000 V-2s were used by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets in World War II, resulting in the death of an estimated 7,250 military personnel and civilians.

The victors used captured V-2 rockets to start space and missile programs. In the United States they were helped by the team of German rocket scientists from Peenemünde, led by Wernher von Braun, who had surrendered to the US at the end of the war. The first US assembled V-2, made from parts captured in Germany, was launched from White Sands, New Mexico, in April 1946.[3]:21. There were 66 V-2 rocket flights, the last on October 29, 1951.

References[change | change source]

  1. Peenemuende, Walter Dornberger, Moewig, Berlin 1985. ISBN 3-8118-4341-9.
  2. NOVA science program(s). Sputnik Declassified. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Furniss, Tim (2001). The History of Space Vehicles. London: Grange Books. ISBN 1-84013-370-8.