von Braun space station
Credit: Courtesy NASA/MSFC Historical Archives.
The von Braun space station was a 250-foot wide, circular, inflated, reinforced nylon space station conceived in the early 1950s by Wernher von Braun to function as a navigational aid, meteorological station, military platform, and way station for space exploration. Orbiting 1,075 miles above the Earth, the wheel-shaped station would be rotate to create artificial gravity so that its crew would not suffer the effects of prolonged weightlessness. Von Braun and his team favored building a permanently occupied Earth orbiting space station from which to stage a lunar exploration program. But in the 1960s NASA opted for the Apollo Project, which called for astronauts to transfer to a landing vehicle after achieving lunar orbit, bypassing the construction of von Braun's wheel.