Wernher von Braun



Washington, DC, United States

This photograph depicts Dr. von Braun (at right, showing his back) and other NASA officials surveying the deep-sea research submarine "Ben Franklin." Named for American patriot and inventor Ben Franklin, who discovered the Gulf Steam, the 50-foot Ben Franklin was built between 1966 and 1968 in Switzerland for deep-ocean explorer Jacques Piccard and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. The submersible made a famous 30-day drift dive off the East Coast of the United States and Canada in 1969 mapping the Gulf Stream's currents and sea life, and also made space exploration history by studying the behavior of aquanauts in a sealed, self-contained, self-sufficient capsule for NASA. On July 14, 1969, the Ben Franklin was towed to the high-velocity center of the Stream off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida. With a NASA observer on board, the sub descended to 1,000 feet off of Riviera Beach, Florida and drifted 1,400 miles north with the current for more than four weeks, reemerging near Maine. During the course of the dive, NASA conducted exhaustive analyses of virtually every aspect of onboard life. They measured sleep quality and patterns, sense of humor and behavioral shifts, physical reflexes, and the effects of a long-term routine on the crew. The submarine's record-shattering dive influenced the design of Apollo and Skylab missions and continued to guide NASA scientists as they devised future marned space-flight missions.

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  • Title: Wernher von Braun
  • Date Created: 1969-07-01
  • Rights: MSFC
  • Album: rlobrie1