Friday, March 03, 2006

Where in the world is Wernher von Braun?

I know you are all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for the answer to this question before you head off on your spring break extravaganzas. Well, you'll be glad to know I found the answer to what happened to von Braun after NASA. After reading through Wikipedia's entry, I found the answer I know you were all searching for relentlessly.

As it turns out, von Braun was relocated in 1970 to Washington, DC. There, he became NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning. He only stayed for two years though. After the Apollo mission, von Braun decided his time at NASA was finished. He realized his vision and NASA's goals just weren't the same anymore and decided to retire from NASA in June, 1972.

His career in space was not over yet though. He became vice-president of Fairchild Industries in Maryland. There, he developed the National Space Institute, which is known today as the National Space Society. By 1976, von Braun became scientific consultant to Lutz Kayser, the CEO of OTRAG; and a member of the Daimler-Benz board of directors.

In 1976, von Braun's career came to a screeching halt when he learned he had cancer. He retired from his posts. Sadly, on June 16, 1977, von Braun died in Virginia at the age of 65. In memory of von Braun, the von Braun civic center was built in Huntsville in 1975. Hopefully, there will be more innovative thinkers like von Braun, to lead NASA in their future endeavors. With the launch of the Discovery in the upcoming months, let us hope that the practices von Braun instilled in NASA still have meaning to employees.