Next Thursday and Saturday, August 4 and 6, we will have a Marshall Legacy Series doubleheader.
Dr. Frank Settle will discuss “The Fast and Furious Race for the Atomic Bomb” on Thursday evening. Astronaut Patrick Forrester will talk about his adventures in space travel on Saturday afternoon.
These presentations continue the Speed and Fury sequence of the Legacy Series that explores the technological advances in vehicles and weapons produced during World War II that substantially increased the speed and power of warfare. Airplanes and tanks were used in World War I, but their effectiveness and their role in military operations were greatly expanded in World War II. The Jeep emerged as the iconic vehicle of the war. In the end, however, the atomic bomb unleashed the fury of a nuclear chain reaction that changed the face of warfare and ended WWII. During WWII President Roosevelt assigned oversight of the Manhattan Project to General Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. The race was on to build the first atomic weapons.
Dr. Settle will describe Marshall’s role in both the Manhattan Project and obtaining Japan’s surrender. Frank Settle is professor emeritus of chemistry at Washington and Lee University and director of the ALSOS Digital Library for Nuclear Issues. He taught chemistry at the Virginia Military Institute from 1964 to 1992. Before going to W&L in 1998, he was a visiting professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, a consultant at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a program officer at the National Science Foundation. His new book, researched in our Marshall Library, General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb will be available to buy after his presentation or online at any time.
The development of rockets during WWII became another race to outdo the enemy. The German V-2, the first long-range, guided ballistic missile, was developed as retaliation for Allied bombings of German cities. As Germany collapsed at the end of the war, teams from the US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union captured key German manufacturing sites, guided missiles, rockets and jet-powered aircraft. Wernher von Braun and more than 100 key V-2 personnel surrendered to the Americans. Over time a significant portion of the original V-2 team ended up working for the US Army at the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, AL. The Redstone team, led by von Braun, was transferred to NASA on its formation in October 1958. For NASA, this new Marshall Space Flight Center, named for George C. Marshall, become the base for the design of Saturn rockets.
Astronaut Pat Forrester is a beneficiary of those early years of rocket science and development. A master Army aviator with more than 4,800 hours in 50 different aircraft, Col. Forrester began his NASA career in 1993 at the Johnson Space Center as an aerospace engineer. He was selected as a mission specialist astronaut candidate by NASA in May 1996. After completing two years of training and evaluation, he was qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Initially, he was assigned to the Kennedy Space Center as a member of the astronaut support team where he served as the technical assistant to the director of Flight Crew Operations. Following that, he served as the Shuttle training and on-board crew procedures representative. He was a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for three missions in 2001, 2007 and 2009. He has logged more than 950 hours in space, including four spacewalks.
Please join us for one or both events. Registration is required by calling Leigh McFaddin at 540-463-7103.