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Krafft A. Ehricke

 

Premier Space Scientist

Born Berlin, Germany

March 24, 1917

Died

December 11, 1984

Krafft Arnold Ehricke received a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Berlin Technical University in 1942. Because of his decision to become an aerospace scientist at a time when this discipline was in its infancy, he was literally forced to invent his own education.

During World War II, Ehricke became a key member of the famed Peenemunde Rocket Development team, specializing in the propulsion system for the German V-2 rocket. It was here, working on future space projects, that he conceived his theories on manned space operations and nuclear propulsion.

Emigrating to the U.S. in 1947, he worked for the U.S. Army Ordinance Department where he continued his work on ballistic missiles and space vehicles, becoming one of the world's most outstanding space scientists. When research and development in the discipline was turned over to industry in the early 1950's, he joined the newly formed General Dynamics Astronautics Division. As a concept and design specialist, he participated in the development of the successful Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which also proved to be a reliable primary space launch vehicle for the USAF and NASA.

His brilliance and inventiveness has played a major role in the success of U.S. space programs. He was appointed Director of the Centaur program in 1959, and Director of Advanced Studies in 1962. In 1974, Ehricke was appointed Chief Scientist at the North American Rockwell Space Systems Division, where he developed his concepts of the use of space for the benefit of mankind, interplanetary travel, generation of electricity, manufacturing facilities in space, and the mining of the Moon and planets. As advisor to NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and industry, his influence has been felt in all space programs. He headed Space Global, a worldwide astrophysics consulting firm until his passing.

Invested 1966 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984


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Updated: March 12, 2004