Questions

Dyslexia makes it hard for people to ________

When did the first crew of people land on the moon?

Why was Wernher von Braun a leader at NASA?

Wernher von Braun:

Rocket Scientist

People have always looked up at the sun, the moon, and the stars. Some people wonder what it would be like to visit those places. Wernher von Braun was one of those people. He dreamed about traveling into space.

When Wernher was young, he liked to read books about science fiction. As he read those books, he thought about rockets and space flight. A person needs to know a lot about math and science to build a rocket and fly it into space. But math classes were hard for Wernher, and he failed many of his tests. He may have been  discouraged and frustrated.  However, he was determined to succeed.  

Today, people think that Wernher had a learning problem called dyslexia. Dyslexia makes it hard for people to read. People with dyslexia can learn to read, but they must learn to read in a different way.  They must learn to think and solve problems in different ways, too. Thinking and solving problems differently helped Wernher be successful!

Wernher was born in Germany. He began working on rockets during World War II. He led a German team that developed a rocket called the V-2. The V-2 had its first successful launch in 1942. It flew faster and farther than any rocket had ever flown before. Near the end of the war, the Germans used the V-2 rocket to bomb countries like France and England.

But Germany lost World War II. Wernher surrendered to the United States Army. Soon, Wernher was developing rockets for the United States.

At about the same time, the Soviet Union started developing their own rockets. In October, 1957, the Soviets used a rocket to launch a satellite called Sputnik. Sputnik was a success! The United States and the Soviet Union were not friendly at that time. The United States wanted even better rockets and space technology. The United States wanted to be the first nation to launch people into space. The Space Race was on!

In January, 1958, the United States launched its first satellite into space. That satellite was called Explorer 1. Who helped to launch it? Wernher von Braun and his team. They called their rocket Jupiter C. In July, 1958, Wernher became the first director of NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA would develop a space program for the United States and Wernher von Braun would be its leader.

By the early 1960s, Wernher’s team had developed a new kind of rocket. They called it the Saturn rocket. The Saturn launched the crew of Apollo 11 into space. In July, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 became the first people to land on the moon. Wernher’s dream of sending people into space had come true.

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