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View Full Version : Why was Von Braun shunned from 'From the Earth to the Moon'



slicedog
2007-Nov-01, 04:30 AM
He was not mentioned in the whole series kind of like he had nothing to do with the whole mission. Did anyone else find this odd.

The Backroad Astronomer
2007-Nov-01, 05:07 AM
Von Braun was in the series he is list of the actors and roles from wikipedia scroll down to the bottom and you see von Braun was in the series.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casting_From_the_Earth_To_the_Moon#Cast_members

NEOWatcher
2007-Nov-01, 12:16 PM
There was very little in the series about the launch vehicles (boosters). Everything was centered around the crews, the capsules, LM, etc.
There was one scene when everyone was sitting around a table discussing something which Von Braun was in. I just can't remember what though.

Moose
2007-Nov-01, 12:20 PM
He appears briefly in episodes 4 ("1968") and 5 ("Spider").

Moose
2007-Nov-01, 12:25 PM
There was one scene when everyone was sitting around a table discussing something which Von Braun was in. I just can't remember what though.

You seem to be thinking about Episode 4 ("1968"). They're discussing Borman's circumnavigation of the moon and whether or not the CSM and Saturn V is ready. Von Braun's bit is his expression of no reservation whatsoever about the Saturn V's ability to put astronauts anywhere they need to go.

An aside to complete my last post: in Episode 5, Von Braun briefly describes the EOR and Direct Ascent approaches as the only two feasible ways to get to the moon. It's the scene immediately before Tom Dolan (played by Alan Ruck) announces "No, it doesn't have to look like that at all. I mean, look at this thing..."

NEOWatcher
2007-Nov-01, 12:26 PM
He appears briefly in episodes 4 ("1968") and 5 ("Spider").
Ah; yes... 1968. The one that showed the first Sat-V launch as a blip in a flurry of unrest. So, naturally, concentrating on the craft and designers would not have been appropriate.

Spider... Was that the bit about the Earth orbit rendezvous argument?

Moose
2007-Nov-01, 01:23 PM
Yep. Spider was all about the development of the LM.

Von Braun had felt that the only good approaches (and held to this view throughout, apparently) were EOR and Direct Ascent. Dolan and especially Houboldt both staked their careers on advocating LOR. NASA eventually went with LOR.

JustAFriend
2007-Nov-01, 06:13 PM
Might also depend on how much his family and estate are controlling his image and story.

From what I've read, the estate of Albert Einstein makes a huge amount each year and are very very particular where his image is used... maybe VonBraun's estate is the same.

ToSeek
2007-Nov-01, 07:52 PM
The book the series was based on was written from the astronauts' perspective. I'm not sure how much the astronauts had to deal with von Braun.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-01, 09:49 PM
I'm reminded of the Australian DJ who, when I asked "Do you have Drops of Jupiter?" responded with:
"No, we absolutely do not!"
I never got the chance to ask him why he answered like that.

AGN Fuel
2007-Nov-02, 02:40 AM
Von Braun had felt that the only good approaches (and held to this view throughout, apparently) were EOR and Direct Ascent.

While Von Braun initially supported EOR, he changed his mind (to the surprise of his staff) and agreed to support LOR. In a meeting with Joe Shea on 7th June 1962, he noted:

"We at the Marshall Space Flight Center readily admit that when first exposed to the proposal of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Mode we were a bit skeptical—particularly of the aspect of having the astronauts execute a complicated rendezvous maneuver at a distance of 240,000 miles from the earth where any rescue possibility appeared remote. In the meantime, however, we have spent a great deal of time and effort studying the four modes [Earth-orbit rendezvous, LOR, and two Direct Ascent modes, one involving the Nova and the other a Saturn C—5], and we have come to the conclusion that this particular disadvantage is far outweighed by [its] advantages."

JonClarke
2007-Nov-02, 11:08 AM
I thought it was good to see von Braun cut down to size. People like Seimens, Gilruth and Webb were as important to Apollo as WvB, perhaps more so.

Jon

novaderrik
2007-Nov-03, 01:29 PM
this isn't a conspiracy post, but i merely aim to point out something obvious that no one has mentioned yet..
one must never forget that the production company that made the movie was probably a Jewish-run company, and they might have a perspective on his WWII era activities and associations that relegates his scientific accomplishments after the war to the back burner, or at least makes them not want to make him out to be some kind of a great hero.
they weren't going to give a bunch of glory for the greatest scientific accomplishment of all time to a former Nazi officer.

Gillianren
2007-Nov-03, 05:04 PM
Yeah, that famous Jew Tom Hanks.

The Backroad Astronomer
2007-Nov-03, 05:08 PM
It could just be they wanted the story to be centered around the astronauts lifes. Whatever the reason it reminded me to watch October Sky another movie were Von Braun had a major role in the lead characters life but was only on screen a very short time.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-03, 05:10 PM
The book the series was based on was written from the astronauts' perspective. I'm not sure how much the astronauts had to deal with von Braun.

This sounds like the best reason to me.

The Backroad Astronomer
2007-Nov-03, 05:14 PM
This sounds like the best reason to me.
Like Rocket boys/October Sky, Rocket Boys was the book it was based off of.

Moose
2007-Nov-03, 07:30 PM
this isn't a conspiracy post,

Uh huh.


one must never forget that the production company that made the movie was probably a Jewish-run company,

"Probably"? If you're going to accuse them of "probable" inobjectivity, you are going to have some tangible basis upon which to hang that claim, a claim I find at least somewhat odious on principle. Especially considering the WvB character got as many lines as Rocco Petrone and Siemans combined.

If you can't, which I consider likely, I'm going to insist that you retract it.

slicedog
2007-Nov-04, 02:26 AM
They did do a Episode called Spider. The company was Grumman. It would have been cool if they did an episode on the Saturn V. Any comments?

novaderrik
2007-Nov-04, 05:25 PM
Uh huh.



"Probably"? If you're going to accuse them of "probable" inobjectivity, you are going to have some tangible basis upon which to hang that claim, a claim I find at least somewhat odious on principle. Especially considering the WvB character got as many lines as Rocco Petrone and Siemans combined.

If you can't, which I consider likely, I'm going to insist that you retract it.
i'll retract nothing. i have a Jewish uncle- by choice and not by birth- and any mention of anything even remotely related to the events in Germany from the late 30's until early '45 gets him incredibly irate. he once over heard me talking about my views on our involvement in the middle east, and that really made him upset.
as for a Hollywood production company making a movie, they aren't going to mention a former Nazi officer any more than they need to in a movie that doesn't involve him, and they surely aren't going to give him any more credit than they think he deserves.
Tom Hanks wasn't the ONLY person that made that movie- his was just the biggest name attached to it. the money had to come from somewhere, and there are going to be strings attached to that money. it's not a racist statement on my part- my feelings towards Jews, or American Indians, or blacks, or even those untrustworthy Norwegians have nothing to do with the facts of the way the world is run- nor is it a conspiracy theory i'm putting forth. it's just the nature of business in Hollywood.
of course, it's also the nature of Holly wood to make a film that makes Werner von Braun look like the greatest man to ever walk the face of the earth if there is a few truckloads of money to be made by releasing such a film. and, no, that's not a "Jewish" thing, it's a "human" thing.
and i understand that it is also the nature of people to get all defensive whenever something is stated that even superficially disagrees with the "it's a small world after all" PC worldview. and that's just fine by me.

Moose
2007-Nov-04, 05:39 PM
I'm quoting out of order.


and i understand that it is also the nature of people to get all defensive whenever something is stated that even superficially disagrees with the "it's a small world after all" PC worldview.

Very true, but not in the way you think you mean it.


i'll retract nothing.

Then my conclusion, based on both of your posts on the subject, will have to stand as well.

Sticks
2007-Nov-04, 05:42 PM
The BBC once ran a four part series called Space Race that looked at it from WVB perspective and that of Corelev the USSR Chief designer.

antoniseb
2007-Nov-04, 06:10 PM
never forget that the production company that made the movie was probably a Jewish-run company, and they might have a perspective on his WWII era activities and associations that relegates his scientific accomplishments after the war to the back burner
I find this post pretty offensive.

Serenitude
2007-Nov-04, 07:35 PM
I find this post pretty offensive.

Seconded. Rascism has no place on our forum, novaderrik. You may consider this an official warning.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-04, 07:40 PM
I suppose we could look at any movie and state what we would have done differently had we been in charge of production.
For example, that cameo at the beginning and mention in the middle of The Iron Giant wasn't enough Sputnik for me...
And, just because I thought I should tell you guys, there was an article in a local paper today about Neil Tyson, who apparently has a summer house in the area.

novaderrik
2007-Nov-05, 01:13 AM
Seconded. Rascism has no place on our forum, novaderrik. You may consider this an official warning.
what in my posts was "rascist"?
Von Braun was a member of the Nazi party- one that was suspected of doing some rather unpleasant things to the Jewish (and other) people.
Hollywood is a town that is run by Jews- there are lots of "-bergs" and "-steins" running around in LaLa land.
did i say it was a bad thing that they run the place?
not that i recall, but i can see how most people might infer that into what i posted before.
but, hey, if you want to think i'm a racist, that's your prerogative, i guess. i don't have a problem with that. after all, i don't know any of you, and you don't know me. but if you read it and think it comes from a racist perspective, then you miss the point.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-05, 01:14 AM
Actually, that wouldn't be racist so much as religionist.

novaderrik
2007-Nov-05, 04:31 AM
if there must be an "ist" attached to it, then i'd consider it to be more "truthist" or "looked-at-from-a-historical-perspective-ist", myself. or maybe even "realist", if one must use a real bona fide word that can be found in a dictionary.
just like anything, it is what it is.

Noclevername
2007-Nov-05, 04:48 AM
if there must be an "ist" attached to it, then i'd consider it to be more "truthist" or "looked-at-from-a-historical-perspective-ist", myself. or maybe even "realist", if one must use a real bona fide word that can be found in a dictionary.
just like anything, it is what it is.

Assuming that's what "it" actually is. "It" is a speculation unsupported by evidence.

Sticks
2007-Nov-05, 06:00 AM
How about the descriptor of "anti-semitic"

Moose
2007-Nov-05, 10:09 AM
The OP and novaderrik's... position... both rest on an incorrect premise: that WvB was shunned from the series. He wasn't shunned at all. Nor was he downplayed. He wasn't the focus of the narration (arguably the astronauts were), but he wasn't shunned. Scene per scene, he had as much exposure as the majority of NASA's upper management, with notable exceptions.

Spider wasn't a documentary about Grumman as much as it was representative of the engineers, all of them, that made Apollo happen.

I seem to remember (but I can't find offhand) someone suggesting that they were unnecessarily kind to WvB by not bringing up his nazi past. This isn't a WWII documentary, it's an Apollo documentary. WvB's past is irrelevant to Apollo. To bring up WvB's past in a prominent way in FtEttM would have been a non-sequitor, and a jarring one. If they had, novaderrik's... suspicions... might have a bit more traction.

In any case, FtEttM isn't about any one person. It's about Apollo. Most of the time, it isn't even about the astronauts. Not directly anyway. The astronauts are mainly the backdrop against which they can contrast the concept* they're after in that episode.

(The only one I haven't really figured out is Episode 6, the landing one. Maybe it's about the landing itself and a rocket is just a rocket, even if it's shaped like a cigar, but I want to say Episode 6 is the natural counterpoint to Episode 7. Rivalry (6) vs Friendship (7).)

* If anybody's curious, here's my read:
1 - The politics.
2 - The risk.
3 - The folks who launched it.
4 - The historical context.
5 - The folks who built it.
6 - Not sure: I'm down to: The Rivalry, The Training, or a more straight The Landing.
7 - The friendship
8 - The media
9 - The drive (Yes, the pun was intentional.)
10 - The science
11 - The folks who had to wait, and hope, and hold on...
12 - The inspiration.

Jason Thompson
2007-Nov-05, 12:50 PM
Agreed. There wasn't a single bit of narrative in the series that required any in-depth involvement by von Braun. Frankly, in the context of a series aimed at entertaining the masses his contribution was simply not exciting enough. Yes, he headed up the design and construction of the Saturn V, but that really could be seen to boil down to building a bigger version of a known technology, namely rockets. By focussing the attention on Grumman they had a single company building a machine that had genuinely never been built before.

Bottom line: to the average man on the street, rocket design just ain't that interesting.

Sticks
2007-Nov-05, 01:50 PM
But Space Race on the BBC made it interesting...

Noclevername
2007-Nov-05, 02:25 PM
But Space Race on the BBC made it interesting...

To most people, the Space Race was interesting because of the destination, not the details of means of getting there. To the makers of pitons and rope, the technical details of equipment used to scale Everest might be interesting, but most folks would just rather hear about the climb.

Moose
2007-Nov-05, 03:14 PM
Even in Ep 5, Spider, the writers abstracted the engineering to what can be easily understood by middle school children...

... Of course, the danger comes in that HBers might start to think that engineering is easy and something they can do without the proper training.

Noclevername
2007-Nov-05, 04:06 PM
... Of course, the danger comes in that HBers might start to think that engineering is easy and something they can do without the proper training.

What's the old quote? "There is no cause so just that you cannot find a fool following it"? Well, there is no topic so complex that you can't find a fool who thinks they totally understand it because they saw it on TV. (yes, that includes YouTube. ;))

NEOWatcher
2007-Nov-05, 04:23 PM
Even in Ep 5, Spider, the writers abstracted the engineering to what can be easily understood by middle school children...
Are you telling me that advanced technical design engineers don't have a room full of parts of models of things that have never been built, and are interchangeable?

Then, don't they all move to the life-size recreation from a cardboard box?

Some people just don't realize that a valid representation of man-years of design effort in a one hour segment is never going to happen.

Moose
2007-Nov-05, 05:09 PM
It's a shock to realize, isn't it? :)

JonClarke
2007-Nov-05, 11:34 PM
If anybody's curious, here's my read:
1 - The politics.
2 - The risk.
3 - The folks who launched it.
4 - The historical context.
5 - The folks who built it.
6 - Not sure: I'm down to: The Rivalry, The Training, or a more straight The Landing.
7 - The friendship
8 - The media
9 - The drive (Yes, the pun was intentional.)
10 - The science
11 - The folks who had to wait, and hope, and hold on...
12 - The inspiration.

I have just introduced the series to a friend who is staying with us and this meant rewatching the whole series in about four days. That is a fantastic way to oulining a structure behind the series. Whether this structure actually conciously existed in the minds of those who produced and directed it, I don't know, but it is a very helpful way to view the series as a whole. Thank you.

Jon

JonClarke
2007-Nov-05, 11:38 PM
Even in Ep 5, Spider, the writers abstracted the engineering to what can be easily understood by middle school children... .

I think that is part of the brilliance of the series, explaining extreme technical complexity in ways accessible by the general public of all ages.


Of course, the danger comes in that HBers might start to think that engineering is easy and something they can do without the proper training.

I don't think so. So many episodes show how challenging the whole business was. Especially episode 3 with all the behind the scenes detail and episode 5 with its iteration after iteration of the design and test after test, starting with models cardboard mockups and culminating in full scale test flights.

Jon

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-06, 02:57 PM
Some people just don't realize that a valid representation of man-years of design effort in a one hour segment is never going to happen.

Just curious: Did anyone ever try to estimate the number of man-years of effort that went into the Apollo project?

Larry Jacks
2007-Nov-06, 03:40 PM
Just curious: Did anyone ever try to estimate the number of man-years of effort that went into the Apollo project?

The Apollo Project (http://www.astronautix.com/project/apollo.htm) started a lot earlier and lasted a lot longer than most people know.

I found an unconfirmed estimate of 15.5 billion man-hours for Project Apollo. At the standard rate of 2080 man-hours per man-year, that's approximatly 7.5 million man-years. There were some 300,000 to 400,000 people working on Apollo, many of them for several years. A lot of them worked well over 40 hours each week for years at a time. Still, that number seems high.

If you're interested in a lot of statistics about the Apollo missions, there's Apollo by the Numbers (http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/SP-4029.htm). It might have the answer in there.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-06, 03:48 PM
If you're interested in a lot of statistics about the Apollo missions, there's Apollo by the Numbers (http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/SP-4029.htm). It might have the answer in there.

Thanks Mr. Jacks!

slicedog
2007-Nov-11, 07:44 AM
In real life Von Braun was in the same room as was the flight director, flight crew communicator and all others that we saw in the mini series during the missions. Yet he was not shown in the series.

Moose
2007-Nov-11, 10:15 AM
Assuming that's true (I don't recall Kranz mentioning von Braun's presence in Houston in his book), the simple non-conspirator's answer is that the Saturn boosters functioned very well at all manned launches except 12 (which was solved very quickly by a flight controller anyway).

If von Braun had no direct role to portray anyway, why would HBO hire the actor for a bunch of other episodes in which he would not contribute to the story and just end up cut for time constraints anyway?

FtEttM was a great piece of cinema. But they had a budget (financial and time) like any other filmed project. You don't waste budget turning actors into extras.

Can you provide a cite for your assertion that von Braun was present at Houston (rather than Kennedy where he might actually be useful) for the manned launches?

ToSeek
2007-Nov-11, 11:32 PM
In real life Von Braun was in the same room as was the flight director, flight crew communicator and all others that we saw in the mini series during the missions. Yet he was not shown in the series.

Von Braun was at the launches - the logical place for him - for:

Apollo 11 (http://www.goodsearch.com/Image.aspx?imgurl=http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4223/p111.jpg&thurl=http://sp1.mm-a4.yimg.com/image/2831619902&rurl=http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4223/ch5.htm&tt=27&no=7&name=p111.jpg&w=503&h=400&size=43.3&type=jpeg)

Apollo 15 (http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001620.html)

at least. I can't find any photos of him in Mission Control, nor can I think of any reason for him to be in the MOCR as the hardware he's responsible for has done its job by that point.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-11, 11:42 PM
at least. I can't find any photos of him in Mission Control, nor can I think of any reason for him to be in the MOCR as the hardware he's responsible for has done its job by that point.
I guess they couldn't put everything in the series. In The Cosmic Connection, Sagan mentions being at KSC for Apollo 17, but I bet he wasn't in the series.

Gillianren
2007-Nov-11, 11:48 PM
I guess they couldn't put everything in the series. In The Cosmic Connection, Sagan mentions being at KSC for Apollo 17, but I bet he wasn't in the series.

Because there's no reason for him to be. He simply wasn't important to the launches. Not everything's about Carl Sagan, you know.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-12, 12:00 AM
Because there's no reason for him to be. He simply wasn't important to the launches. Not everything's about Carl Sagan, you know.
I didn't say I wanted him to be, I was using it as an example, and it wasn't a very good one.
A better example would be how a human actor was supposed to play Jabba the Hut in A New Hope, but was cut because Lucas thought it didn't fit.

Moose
2007-Nov-12, 12:09 AM
I guess they couldn't put everything in the series. In The Cosmic Connection, Sagan mentions being at KSC for Apollo 17, but I bet he wasn't in the series.

They had several crowd shots of the viewing gallery, which was full. Pick someone. :)

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-12, 12:26 AM
They had several crowd shots of the viewing gallery, which was full. Pick someone.
What do you think I impulsively did in Apollo 13?
(Just kidding.)