Y'herd thisun? 

“Revolution...has always been a favorite theme in science fiction. It's romantic, it's reliable, and -- as a rule -- it's as phony as a Martian princess. Who but Heinlein ever pointed out, as he does here in detail, that a modern revolution is big business?”

from Wikipedia on the story If This Goes On... by Damon Knight

A Conversation Between Dr. Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. VOX 1959


I have been told that some people are coming to this page solely because they have been told that I am using it to downplay Nazi atrocities.  Hearing this absolutely crushed me.  If you have been pointed to this page for that reason, I humbly ask you to read this one.

Most every space fan has at least heard of the Colliers Magazine series of articles that described the steps Across the Space Frontier and many also know about the later expanded series of Viking Press Colliers Symposium books... but even among owners of these there is not much awareness of the related AUDIO edition from VOX Science.

I came upon this two record set by accident.  Quickly plunking down 80 bucks and passing the heavy vinyl through ClickRepair I knew that this was not another kiddie ride musical entertainment release, but rather a true historical treasure.

It's interesting on a number of levels.  Firstly, it is a true stereo recording with von Braun on the left and Ley on the right... for 1959 that is a cool feature.  Secondly, it is a casual and sometimes breezy conversational history clearly from two good old friends; From the days of the teenagers meeting right up to the plans for an upcoming project called Saturn - in fact one of the two recordings was made on the very same day that Saturn was first announced in the Huntsville newspaper. 

Religion, life on Mars and thoughts about advanced intelligences beyond the Solar system are also part of the package.

Looking for real or false mentions of regrets in relation to the Hitler war?  You will hear Hitler's name where he was directly related to the work but not anything beyond that.  At first that stuck me but as I continued on I came to understand that what we are hearing is just two old friends talking and the fact that there is a microphone started to escape them... and they both had a shared set of personal experiences that they didn't need to detail for each other, so we don't get a faked added set of disclaimings. But the dates and details of the actions, technical and political, that took place in the developmment of the A1 to A5, V2 and V1 are all quite clearly presented.  That Ley left Germany for the US in 1935 comes up and fits his asking questions about certain events he wasn't personally around to witness.   As usual, no details on the reasons for the Ley emmigration are presented so we are still to live with the standard "Nazi Germany was not to his liking."

These are men who come across as living solely for making rockets and who clearly preferred that the rockets would be used for human exploration instead of for wars but, living in a time of war, took whatever roads came along to further their spaceflight goals.

After listening to this a number of times that passion for attaining Space comes through clearly and while hindsight is filled with angers of the enemies - correctly in many respects - the impression I get from hearing these voices is that their focus was simply on the Rockets. 

The legals.  To my knowledge, as with the classic Viking Press books, I don't have a clear indication of there being an existing copyright restriction to these recordings. The inside cover of the albums states "Copyright 1959 by VOX Productions Inc, New York, NY.",   "Permission for use of the title has kindly been granted by Viking Press, publishers of the book "The Conquest of Space" by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell" and "Cover photograph courtesy Walt Disney Productions"  Because there are urban legends about Disney lawyers, I will respectfully not show the cover here.  If any surviving member of the von Braun or Ley families or legal copyright owner contacts me to request I pull these recordings I will of course comply... but I sincerely hope that that does not have to happen because these are wonderful stories giving great insights into engineering marvels and exceptional human efforts.  In my experience, the medium of audio gives impact that printed versions even with added detail have not fully managed to convey.

I hope that you enjoy these recordings as much as I have.  It's a captivating "brain dump" and even those who enjoy keeping alive a rage for anything related to the German side of the war or M.G. Lordian JPL children who have reshaped their own memories in attempts to make von Braun the antichrist may find in hearing actual voices a small bit of humanity that they didn't expect.

Flash audio streams, real computer or Android required.


VOX Science Series Volume 1 (STLD 500,522.)

A Stereovox(R) Stereophonic Recording.

The Conquest of Space.
A  Conversation Between Dr. Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. 

Recorded June 9th and June 23rd in New York City and Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville Alabama. 

Produced by Ward Botsford.


Side 1: The Society for Space Travel.

The Society, von Braun meets Ley, Professor Oberth, Fritz Lang, LOX in 1930, Germans beat Goddard?, Rudolf Nebel and Klaus Riedel, "Natural" LOX pressurization, 1932 German Army demonstration, Army offer and acceptance

Click here to play


Side 2: Peenemunde.

The A-2 1934, 1937 A-3 gyroscopics, Rockets with fins, German Air Force interest in Rocket Airplanes, "Spectacular success", 5 million marks from Air Force, Ley Leaves Germany, 6 million marks added by the Army, Peenemunde is chosen, Lighthouses miraculously become fireproof, the A-5 success, Hitler invades Poland "put Peenemunde on different footing", the V-2, V-2 size determinded by railroad tunnels, 1942 V-2 failures and first "success", The "Pulse Jet" V-1, V-1 vs V-2, Hitler himself "doesn't believe" then orders V-2 production, 70% V-2 disintegration rate, Hardest Goal: Make the target more dangerous than the launch site, 1945 Russian guns heard at Peenemunde, Flight to the American Army with 2000 tons of V-2s, The war is over 

Click here to play


Side 3: White Sands & The Future part 1.

Fort Bliss 1945, White Sands, V-2 first stage WAC Corporal 2nd stage breaks altitude record 1949, first Cape Canaveral flights, "Most satisfying as a scientific tool instead used as a weapon", 1950 Redstone Arsenal and Redstone Rocket, WAC Corporal turned into a weapon by the US, Jupiter and Jupiter C public confusion, Sputnik, Vanguard "totally incapable". "Can't rush things-- it takes 9 months to make a baby", The Saturn Project announcement, Saturn goals as a GEO communication satellite launcher (remember, this is 1959... people had no clue at all what a satellite could do for peace), Not just telephones but soon Television by satellite, "May need maintenance crews up there (von Braun making sure to always tie HUMANs directly to spaceflight), "Saturn can send manned capsules up there"

Click here to play


Side 4: The Future part 2

The Manned NASA programs, Mercury plans (remember, this is 1959), "Saturn can send a busload", Space Stations unrealistic?, Polar Orbits for weather prediction, "There may be several satellites for several applications", The Van Allen Belts, "Humans working in the Van Allen Belts is not impossible but impractical", Radiation Sheilding, "We have to find out what is the *real* impact on Humans in the Van Allen Belts" (every 4 years right up to 2012 the NRC still asks the exact same question and still not one agency appears to know), "Astro-nauts", Instruments are far superior so when and why is Man needed for Space?,  Human judgement, The Moon, Orbiting Mars for television pictures, Venus probes, What Right does man have in Space?, God and Theologians for Space, Layman believing there is a rift between Religion and Science, Other Life Elsewhere, Advanced forms of intelligence not on Earth.  "Whenever I use the word impossible..."

Click here to play


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