1. Once, a prestigious German rocket club accidentally blew up a police station.
2. While preparing rockets for a movie premiere, a rocket scientist practically blew his face off instead.
3. Rocketman Max Valier once gathered a big crowd to watch his rocket-propelled car move at lightning fast speed. It ended up moving an awe-inspiring 500 feet.
4. That same dude also tried strapping some rockets to a sail plane. That experiment's greatest moment was the pilot landing the plane before it was fully engulfed in flames. Again, he is a pioneer.
5. The German army once tried to impress Nazi brass by launching a big-ass rocket. The rocket caught fire and crashed into the Baltic Sea for everyone gathered to watch.
6. Wernher von Braun, the OG rocket scientist, nearly killed himself during Germany's first ever rocket test. He later helped the United States get to the Moon.
7. The first time the United States launched a recovered Nazi rocket, it nearly destroyed the Mexican town of Juarez. The U.S. is generally more celebratory about its later launches.
8. Spaceflight pioneer John Paul Stapp wanted to know what rockets did to the human body so he strapped himself into some rocket sleds. TL;DR: they break you.
9. In front of a massive TV audience, the United States' first attempt at a satellite launch rose a few feet before returning to Earth and blowing up.
Amy Shira Teitel is the author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity, a new book about the history of spaceflight before NASA.
Amy is a professional space history nerd.
Contact Amy Shira Teitel at email@example.com.
Science Writer, Fossil Beastmaster
Contact Alex Kasprak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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