What The What: The Cold War Plan For A U.S. Death Star

 

The iconic rotating wheel space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey has become a fixture of our collective sci-fi consciousness. But did you know the real-life inspiration for that station was originally proposed as much more than just as a way-point for space exploration? It was also intended as a nuclear armed battle station.

Like a Death Star, this station would shower destruction down on America’s enemies and ensure Cold War space superiority. It was the brainchild of Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi scientist who came to the U.S. after World War II as part of Operation Paperclip. The U.S. government resettled him in Huntsville, Alabama, where he worked on designing the NASA rockets that put America’s first man on the moon.