Remembering Space Pioneer Konrad K. Dannenberg

Space pioneer Konrad K. Dannenberg passed away on the 16th of February 2009 at the age of 96. He was not only one of the last of Wernher Von Braun’s original rocket team, but one of the most active publicly. In the 1920’s Dannenberg began his rocketry career developing mail rockets after a lecture by Max Valier inspired his interest in space. Mr. Dannenberg designed the injectors for the A4 “V-2” rocket. Dannenberg went to Ft. Bliss Texas as part of Operation Paper Clip to advance US Army missile development. Later he transferred with the rest of the German Rocket Team to Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville Alabama where he became a manager on the US Army’s Jupiter and Redstone missiles. He joined NASA when the Marshall Space Flight Center was formed and became a key member of America’s first program to land people on the Moon. Mr. Dannenberg rose to the position of deputy director of the Saturn V Program, developing the largest rocket ever flown. This earned him NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal.

After retiring from NASA in 1973 Dannenberg worked extensively with young people to foster their interest in space. He was an instructor at the US Space Camp, and led the way for student flight experiments on space shuttle Get-Away-Special (GAS) canisters. As a man of vision, Dannenberg was active in the World Future Society. He was a charter member and served on the Board of Directors of the L5 Society, one of the parent societies to the National Space Society. Mr. Dannenberg played a critical role in starting Huntsville’s chapter, the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5). He called HAL5’s first meeting.

Dannenberg was a major advocate for Newspace. He was an advisor to the Canadian X-Prize Team that sought to build an uprated manned V-2. He was there in the Mojave when Burt Rutan’s team won the X-Prize and later presented NSS’s Von Braun award to Rutan. Dannenberg’s career spanned the entire space age. He inspired many young people to seek careers in space, science, and engineering. Many engineers were inspired to excellence by the example Dannenberg established both in his areas of technology development and public service. Konrad Dannenberg set the bar that we should all strive to meet. Those of us that were honored to know Konrad will dearly miss him.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that people donate to the Skylab Restoration Fund at the US Space and Rocket Center Foundation. For more information, see www.spacecamp.com or call 256-837-3400.

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Contributors to the NSS Blog are unpaid volunteers. Unless specifically labeled an NSS position or press release, all blog posts represent the views of the author and not of NSS, even if written by an NSS officer.

2 thoughts on “Remembering Space Pioneer Konrad K. Dannenberg”

  1. I met Konrad in 1985, when I was working on space station for Boeing in Huntsville. There was a group of us planning and building a student Get Away Special or “Gascan” to go up on the shuttle. It was one of the few things that made NASA seem like “our space program”. I always remember him saying that he “was not important” when we asked him about his work on the Von Braun team. But he was very important to thousands of young engineers like me. He was my personal link to space history. I want to be like Konrad Dannenberg for the rest of my life.

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