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Wernher von Braun

Emil Hellebrand

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The renowned rocket scientist inscribes and signs The Mars Project to a member of his team

Dr. Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun, 1912–1977.  German, later American, aerospace engineer.  Book, The Mars Project, inscribed and signed, Wernher von Braun / October 1952.  In German.  Together with handwritten notes and calculations by Emil A. H. Hellebrand, 1914–1981.

This German first edition copy of von Braun’s book The Mars Project: Study of an Interplanetary Expedition, published in 1952, has never been offered on the autograph market before.  With a long, eight-line inscription, the renowned German-cum-American rocket scientist inscribes and signs a copy of the book to his colleague Emil Hellebrand, from whose estate we acquired this book.  In full:  “To ‘Emilio’ Hellebrand in recognition of your great contribution to the advancement of missile issues and to the constant reminder that the greatest tasks are still ahead of us.”

The greatest tasks were indeed still ahead—but for the moon, not Mars.  By December 1968, von Braun’s most famous rocket, NASA’s historic Saturn V launch vehicle, propelled men to the moon.  Von Braun, a specialist in the development of large liquid fuel rockets and their guidance systems, is renowned as the physicist whose engineering team developed the Saturn V and made President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing men on the moon a reality.  The second manned flight of the Apollo program, Apollo 8, powered by the Saturn V, orbited the moon on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968, and the following July Apollo 11 became the first manned flight to land on the moon.  Hellebrand, himself an expert in rocket design and jet propulsion, was a member of von Braun’s design team. 

Accompanying this book are eight pages of unsigned handwritten calculations in Hellebrandʼs hand.  Four are on three 8” x 10½” sheets, one front and back and the others on the front, and four are on the front sides of 3” x 5” notepaper.  Examples are shown in the scans below.  The pages are filled with pencil calculations annotated in red pencil. 

The book, a paperback, measures 5⅞” x 8½”, with a cardstock cover that is itself covered in paper on which the printing appears.  The front cover has a few tatters, with paper separation and some loss at the top and bottom of the spine and the lower right corner.  A diagonal tear across the bottom of the paper on the front cover has been repaired with tape.  The book is in very good condition.  Hellebrand’s accompanying notes are generally in fine condition.  The large pages have one horizontal fold through the center and are toned at the edges, evidently from where the edges of the paper stuck outside a book in which the papers were stored.  There is some minor edge chipping and paper loss.  The small notes have a small bit of toning, not particularly perceptible, and scattered bends and a paper clip impression.  Overall they are fine.



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