NYTimes | Wernher von Braun, the master rocket builder and pioneer of space travel, died of cancer Thursday morning. He was 65 years old.
The German‐born scientist, who had been in failing health for two years, died at a hospital in Alexandria, Va. A private funeral service was held later in the day, but no public announcement was made until yesterday. He leaves his wife and three children.
In a statement released by the White House, President Carter eulogized Dr. von Braun as “a man of bold vision” and said:
“To millions of Americans, Wernher von Braun's name was inextricably linked to our exploration of space and to the creative application of technology. Not just the people of our nation, but all the people of the world have profited from his work. We will continue to profit from his example.”
Dr. von Braun was best known for two achievements‐the German V‐2 rocket and the American Saturn 5 moon rocket. One, a dreaded weapon of warfare, was a precursor of the other, a vehicle of magnificent human adventure.
Both sprang from a lifetime commitment to a romantic vision. Long before space travel became a reality, Dr. von Braun committed himself to a vision of rockets breaking the bonds of the Earth's gravity, of men making journeys to the Moon and beyond, of worlds to explore and incorporate in the human experience.
While a student in Berlin, he read an article about an imaginary• trip to the moon that made a lasting impression, which he once recalled:
“It filled me with a romantic urge. Interplanetary travel! Here was a task worth dedicating one's life to. Not just stare through a telescope at the Moon and the planets but to soar through the heavens and actually explore the mysterious universe. I knew how Columbus had felt.”