Working with the Germans

imagesIn the early part of my career I worked for L’Air Liquide in Montreal and New York. I started in Process Design but wound up in Technical Sales. This entailed direct contact with steel and chemical companies trying to satisfy their demand for oxygen, nitrogen and argon.

We started to be interested in the US space program and its tremendous expected demand for liquid oxygen for flightimages and liquid nitrogen for testing. When the Russians launched the first artificial satellite into earth orbit in October 1957, the various rocket and propulsion agencies in the US were drawn together into a new civilian agency, the National Aeronautic Space Administration, NASA, on October 1st, 1958. At that time, we had just hired a space consultant in New York  and on that exact day he and I were in an office in Washington with engineers from the Naval Aeronautical Research facility in Maryland discussing oxygen logistics when the announcement about the NASA  creation came out. Research labs from Ames, Langley, the Army  Ballistic Center in Huntsville, AL and the Jet Propulsion Lab in California plus several other groups all became part of NASA.

searchWhen I first joined Air Liquide in 1954, I was shocked to find that my boss was Dr. Adolf Trapp who had made all the liquid oxygen for the for Dr. Wernher von Braun’s rocket program at Peenemunde in WWII. All of his oxygen was sent to London in Adolf Hitler’s secret weapon, the V-2 rocket. I was in London on the receiving end of some of those as well as the earlier V-1s. Years later, I would meet Wernher von Braun at Huntsville, AL  where we supplied large quantities of liquid nitrogen  and oxygen for engine testing. Dealing with Adolf Trapp and later, on visits to Huntsville and the Cape, I worked quite a bit with the Germans. One contractor firm also working with the Germans came up with a new rocket terminology we all had to learn.

Guided Missile       Das Schientificker Geschuterwerke  Firenkracker

Rocket Engine        Das Firenschpitter mit Schmoken und Schnorten

Solid Rocket            Das Schticklikker Cigaretten Firenschpitter

Liquid Rocket          Das Schwerten  Juisenkind  Firenschpitter

Guidance System    Das Schteerenwerke

Celestial Guidance  Das Schtargazen Peepenglasser mit Schruballisch Komputer Ratracen

Preset Guidance      Das Sendenoffen mit ein Pattenback und Fingergecrossen  Schteerenwerke

Computer                 Das Schmartaleckerwerke mit Schruballisch Elektronicrattracen und alles getubenkrap

Wind Tunnel Engineers     Das Huffen puffen Gruppe

Warhead                    Das Laudenboomer

Atomic Warhead      Das Eargeschplitten Laudenboomer

Hydrogen Warhead  Das Eargeschplitten Laudenboomer mit Grossen Hollingroun und Alles Kaput

2 thoughts on “Working with the Germans

  1. I think I videotaped you one Thanksgiving trying to remember the rocket terminology! I still remember going outside one night in Connecticut to watch Sputnick fly over – must have been Sputnick 2 or later! I also remember your telescope.


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