Dateline: Akron, Ohio - December, 1929 - Today Hugo Eckener, head of the famous German Zeppelin Company secured rights to purchase the element Helium from the United States via its American subsidiary. President Hoover authorized this and the use and development of dirigibles that would be safe to help the United States bring many needed jobs to the region. Hugo Eckener, a favorite of President Coolidge, was given a warm welcome at the White House yesterday prior to the signing of the accord. It is called the Graf Zeppelin contract to commemorate the circumnavigation of the globe by the Graf Zeppelin completed just this year......
Dateline: Akron, Ohio - August, 1932 - With the coming of the new Nazi regime to power, the American subsidiary of the Zeppelin Company establishes that it will *not* use the inert gas Helium for warlike purposes and the Zeppelin Company in Germany affirms that it will abide to never making another warship of the air again. Although the actual head of the Zeppelin company is facing troubled times, the new Government in Germany avows that they will not abridge the pact signed in 1929...
Private party members meeting 1935, 'Eagles Nest' - Attendees were the top members of the Party and leading industrialists to hear out a young engineer's plans for the future of aviation. Hermann Goring sponsored this meeting so that a young engineer could give a pertinent talk to the Leadership for the Future of the Reich. This meeting had only fragmentary notes taken and the reconstruction of it is done with the best memories of those that attended it with those notes.
The assembled gathering met for a mid-afternoon meal and presentation out during a sunny mid-October in Bavaria. After eating their fill a young engineer moved up to panel board and uncovered it to show an entry panel: Reich Future of Expansion
His early presentation, after preliminary introduction and thanking to Hitler and Goring he addressed the assembly.
"Gentlemen, you have seen the capability and might of the German Zeppelin airships and have toured the Reich this summer using them as a great platform to show the industrial capability of the Fatherland. Today we stand at a cross-roads as the US is threatening to cut-off our supply of helium for safe operations of the Zeppelin fleet. The company has stockpiled some amount of the gas and we do our best to preserve and keep it and have learned to lose very little of it over these years. Today the Hindenburg is going through final testing and will make its maiden voyage next year to America safely, using helium and we hope to demonstrate that the slowness of speed far outweigh any warmaking powers of a dirigible."
Some murmuring recorded at this point.
Next slide, showing a bare framework dirigible and ascent module.
"What we see as the necessary way forward for dirigible technology is not across oceans but to the edge of space. This figure is generic lift capability but shows the lifting capability of a single, slightly re-engineered gas cell of which the Hindenburg has multiples. What we are planning is a 'light dirigible' using very thin wire strands and insulation to keep rigidity as it ascends. By our calculations we see that it can go...
....up to 20 kilometers without problems. At that point the lift capacity is diminished due to the lack of atmosphere and the dirigible sits on the very edge of space. This, however, is not a problem due to others that have been working in another field: that of rocketry. I have talked with a graduate engineer who is part of the Berlin Rocket Club on this and their small scale, liquid fuel based rockets are sufficient with minimal scaling to boost a payload up to permanent orbit around the Earth."
Many murmurs and talking cited with one aeronautical engineer who was there noting he was aghast at the simplicity of this plan: 'I could see where it was leading immediately! No one had ever thought of this in a reasonable fashion and most discounted it, but I knew enough about the dirigible capability and what could be done and the rest of the presentation laid out the piece-by-piece capability. It came to me in a flash and I was envious. So were many others once they were told the basics. This energized the rocketry and aviation engineering groups like nothing that had ever been seen before. Within a year we were acting as a cohesive whole and ending the feuds between organizations. The younger engineers took to this dream immediately, and as the Party backed it, we were soon in charge of rapid development. All from this presentation!'
The engineer turns to the next slide.
"This rocket prototype that the Party has funded is now in its second round of development. We have calculated the thrust and fuel requirements of this prototype and examined that necessary to gain orbit at various altitudes. While this device is sufficient for relatively low payloads, its basic technology is sound and can actually be scaled back on thrust requirements and made more efficient for slower and continuous thrust to orbit."
"These changes both lower the required heat stress ability of the materials involved and will be of lower mass. Low mass, high efficiency and small rockets are what are necessary for this plan."
Turning to the next slide of a timeline.
"This timeline proposes using the existing Zeppelin company research and development profile and adding it to the rocketry group under Herr Goring. Together along with some help from the aviation and wire materials industry we hope to get a first orbital insertion of a one-ton payload within 1.5 years. This will be an unmanned payload that will give back radiometric telemetry and readings so that we can analyze how well it is working. Note that larger size cells and multiples will be used in various configurations to test rigidity and capability of action."
Turning to the next slide.
"Here is a month-by-month breakdown of test platform size, rocket size and continuous incremental capability to move from initial kilogram payload to 15 kilometers to 1 ton. We have talked with the camera experts at multiple companies and a slow record, frame per second camera to monitor equipment will be used to get exact readings. The camera will be housed in a survivable casing so even if it should fall from that distance, the film will be recoverable. At the 0.5 ton payload we propose to install a full motion camera that will use a mechanical guide device to slowly track over Germany in a slow pan at high resolution."
Question from the audience: 'Will this design be amenable to go over other Nations?'
"Yes, Mein Herr, it will. And offer capabilities for observation beyond the reach of any normal aircraft or rocket made to-date and for the foreseeable future. With this capability we will be able to linger over areas and record multiple images and return them safely to Germany within a week."
Turning to the next slide.
"Beginning at 90 kg of lift weight we will be using scaled down models of the previous rockets to ensure thrust and pressurization integrity. Installed for that test will be a fast stop motion camera to analyze the performance of exhaust gas at near vacuum conditions."
Turning to the next slide.
"At the 0.75 ton region we propose to have a German test pilot use a pressurized suit to undergo the ascent and descent. As lift rate is only 0.7 gravity, we foresee the main problem during the ascent and descent as one of boredom. So a design-tray to perform normal measurement duties, record data and then put together simple mechanical parts at various altitudes is proposed so that we can find the physiological effects of low gravity and test components of known materials for their reaction to near vacuum and no gravity load."
Turning to the next slide.
"At 1.0 ton this rig will gain a rocket motor and previously tested solid attachment to the dirigible for test firing in orbit. The rocketry group is examining either direct vent-vectoring of exhaust gas or the use of a swivel mount for the rocket combustion chamber. Either seem to be very feasible and the first has undergone static test firings successfully. This will give a half-hour burn and maneuver capacity to the test pilot who will be using a simple joystick arrangement for maneuvers."
Turning to the next slide of proposed development and capability expansion.
"From there scaling up either via larger sizes or multiples of small sized payloads will be a workable solution to have a fully manned space station within 10 years, and use a continuous, low-cost series of automated launches to keep it supplied. Recovery will be by similar methods and two spare vehicles will be kept in permanent storage. We have seen a proposed conceptual design for an atmospheric 'skipper' that will bounce on the edge of the atmosphere to go around the entire globe in under 20 hours. This same basic concept can be used to explore the Moon and learn its secrets. Further, the lunar environment, while being total vacuum, would be ideal for a habitat of Germans to live in a place designed by Germans that is clean and free of all pollution from outside influences."
Turning to the final slide.
"Because the first to gain space can deny it to everyone else who seeks it and ensure that only one Nation will control it and the future of mankind. I propose that the Nation to do this be Germany."
The meeting ended with scattered applause and murmuring all around, Hermann Goring beaming and then ushering out the young engineer. Much talking and questioning then ensued, going over questions of materials, scalability, utility, need, cost.... but that final slide remained up and the glances continued.
One industrial manager said afterwards: 'It is one thing to have politicians dream of a 1,000 year Reich. It is quite another to have an engineer stand up and show you how to design one that will go on forever.'
Compiled from the Reich Archives, 2006, New Berlin, Quadrant 2, Luna, Postmark LR5621005B.