"Dr. Space" is a nickname that was given to Dr. Wernher von Braun, the German-born rocket scientist whose work was crucial in allowing the US to reach their goal of a manned moon landing within the decade of the 1960s, as set by President Kennedy in his memorable speech of 1962.
"Dr. Space" is also the title of a biography about von Braun; a book I very much wanted and received as a birthday gift back in March from my sister.
The author, Bob Ward, knew von Braun personally through work: he was a young journalist assigned to cover space flight topics for his newspaper, and von Braun took him under his wings, teaching him what he needed to know about the physics of space flight in order to get his facts right.
Wernher von Braun was/is a controversial figure, and I am aware of what has been said and written against him as well as for him. Therefore, what I really like about this biography is that the author does not take sides. Instead, he collects whatever information he can gather about his subject, presenting it chronologically and in a manner neutrally enough for the reader to form his or her own opinion - as good, professional journalism should do.
Bob Ward knew and interviewed personally many of the people who worked closely with von Braun, many of them being also close personal friends, not just colleagues. He does not quote or cite anyone without a reference; there is a long list of source material in the book.
Also, there are two appendixes: one "Letter on Goddard Patents" and the other "Letter on Moral Responsibility in Hitler's Germany".
Let me share two quotes from the book with you:
"[The Saturn V rocket was] a machine the size of a cathedarl built to the tolerances of a microscope."
"He preached individual responsibility and absolute perfection of product , having learned the hard way in the rocket and satellite business that near perfection is the equivalent of disaster."
I have read many books and seen many documentaries about von Braun, and as he died in 1977 (so that nothing "new" could have happened recently), I did not expect great surprises. But I did indeed learn several new facts about von Braun's life, his work and his family. This is a book that will go on the "space shelf" of the book case in my bedroom (see this post for details), and I am very probably going to read it again at some stage.