Stuhlinger Recognition Collection

Stuhlinger was born in Niederrimbach, Germany, near Wurzburg in Bavaria on Dec. 1913. Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger received his Doctorate in Physics with a thesis entitled Ionization Rate of Cosmic Rays at the University of Tuebingen in 1936. He was appointed Assistant Professor of the Physics Department of the Berlin Institute of Technology and was a member of the faculty there from 1936 to 1941. He worked closely with Dr. Hans Geiger, developer of the Geiger counter, for seven years.

From 1939 to 1941, he was a member of a special research group conducting studies in nuclear energy. In the Spring of 1943, he joined the Rocket Development Center at Peenemunde which was under the technical supervision of Dr. Wernher von Braun, who became the first Director of George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. At Pennemunde, Dr. Stuhlinger carried on research in connection with the development of guidance and control systems for the V-2 guided missile.

Dr. Stuhlinger, who became an American citizen on April 14, 1955, came to the United States in 1946 under the auspices of the Ordnance Corps, U. S. Army. He conducted research and development work in connection with guided missiles at Ft. Bliss, Texas, and assisted in high altitude research firings of captured V-2’s at White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico.

From 1956 until July 1, 1960, Dr. Stuhlinger was Director of the Research Projects laboratory, Army Ballistic Missile Agency, U. S. Army Ornance Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He became the Director of the Research Projects Laboratory of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center from 1960 to 1968 and became the associate director for science from 1968 to 1975, when he retired and became an adjunct professor and senior research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Among his many other works at Marshall, he directed early planning for lunar exploration about the Sun, led planning for the three High Energy Astronomical Observatories, and worked on the initial phases of what would become the Hubble Space Telescope.

After retiring, Stuhlinger and historian Frederick Ordway collaborated on the biography Werhner von Braun: Crusader for Space. In it, Stuhlinger downplayed claims that von Braun had mistreated prisoners working on the V-2 program during the war. Author Michael Neufeld has called these claims highly dubious in his book, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War, stating that Stuhlinger was not personally involved in these areas and would have no first-hand information. Stuhlinger reiterated the point that their aim was ultimately peaceful; in an Associated Press article, he wrote: "Yes, we did work on improved guidance systems, but in late 1944 we were convinced that the war would soon be over before new systems could be used on military rockets. However, we were convinced that somehow our work would find application in the future rockets that would not aim at London, but at the moon."

In 1990, the Von Braun Research Hall on the campus of UAHuntsville was dedicated, and members of the scientific community were honored, including Dr. Stuhlinger. Posters about the history of rocketry line the halls. There is one photo for each year from 1950 to 1970.

Full Photo Gallery


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Stuhlinger died in Huntsville at age 94 on May 25, 2008.

A recognition ceremony honoring Dr. Stuhlinger was held on November 18, 2008. Organized by Charles Lundquist and David Christensen, this event was also supported by the M. Louis Salmon Library. The library archives holds the Stuhlinger Recognition Collection, which contains many documents about both Stuhlinger and the Recognition Day.

The Finding Guide to the Stuhlinger Recognition Collection can be accessed here.

For a look at the Recognition Ceremony, click here for a video of the presentation from November 18, 2008.