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Traces of the space travel legend in Leipzig, which would have been 87 years old today
Leipzig, September 22, 2020

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Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer (born September 22, 1933 in Leipzig, died December 27, 2012 in Alexandria / Virginia) was a German-American space scientist. Today a plaque in Salomonstrasse 25 commemorates the 1st Director of the International Space Station. As a student at the TU Aachen, the prospective mechanical engineer wrote sci-fi paperbacks about travel through space as early as the late 1950s.

1962 then Wernher von Braun called him to Huntsville / Alabama for the Apollo program. "Less than 48 hours passed since this telegram and the warm-humid air of the southern states hit my head like a wet sack," he wrote later. The small town in northern Alabama became the US moon rocket city around the Marshall Spaceflight Center. The 110-meter-high Saturn V still towers over the Dixieland valley from the Space Camp today. Visitors to the Leipzig Panorama Café sit at the same height. The newly qualified engineer Jesco von Puttkamer became a recognized engineer for the next 12 years with an office on the 9th floor of the first NASA administration building. He calculated the lunar orbit and landing sites of Apollo 12 and dealt with the reusability of the 2nd stage of the moon rocket Saturn V. During this time, he advanced from science fiction to science reality and wrote the most widely read books of the Apollo program.

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In 1974 von Puttkamer moved to the NASA headquarters in Washington DC and headed the department for strategic planning of manned spaceflight (Space Operation Mission Directorate, SOMD). To introduce the new space shuttles, he connected Star Trek with NASA and advised Gene Roddenberry during his first cinema-movie. The first space shuttle was actually named "Enterprise" in 1976 and was presented by the Star Trek crew in Mojave. With Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), he roamed the Oktoberfest in Munich in 1975 and thus kept building new bridges before using her to recruit the new shuttle astronauts. The space shuttles, their successes and setbacks as well as the dream of an Alpha space station determined his working life in the 80s.

Since 1990 von Puttkamer, meanwhile with an honorary doctorate, has been involved in the construction of the International Space Station ISS and was its first director until his death in December 2012. Since the turn of the millennium and the first permanent crew onboard of the ISS, von Puttkamer was primarily committed to a gradual change in official space travel through services from the private sector after the Columbia disaster. SpaceX and Blue Origin's success goes straight back to its 2005 Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS).

jvphouse_leipzigIt was precisely at this time that the professor was also involved in his old hometown Leipzig, first on the board of trustees of Mayor Tiefensee, then as a sponsor of young scientists. The founding and strategic guided the “International Space Education Institute” as nongov-association in Leipzig. Today this association cherishes his memory worldwide and named the "Jesco von Puttkamer School" after him exactly 4 years ago.

 

Over 300 scientists and a future indian-roots astronaut have already been initiated in Leipzig. At hundreds of units, summer camps and international competitions, the young people from over 30 countries with the Leipzig Puttkamer orientation have already successfully participated. The german team of the NASA Rover Challenge is currently still the reigning world champion. The mostly 12-18 year old young scientists are also extremely successful at the Korolev readings in Russia and at solar-contests in Germany.

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Also in the new decade the doors of the Jesco von Puttkamer School are open to curious young scientists. Due to the pandemic, the association supports the technical working groups at the schools in the region if the distances and rooms are not sufficient. The campus area in Leipzig has a size of 2000 m², has a polytechnical center and hundreds of regional sponsoring companies. This is where the students designing, constructing, soldering, programming and 3D printing. The entire campus is climate-friendly and has the Children and Youth Environment Prize of the City of Leipzig.

On Saturday, September 26th, 2020 there will be an open day at 12 noon and interested parties aged 10-16 can register with their parents for technical workgroups and also try out a NASA Rover. The participants of the NASA Roverchallenge 2021 will also be selected by October 5th.
From summer 2021, 1-week hobby researcher holiday camps will be organized on the Jesco von Puttkamer Campus.

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From autumn 2021 the Jesco von Puttkamer School is prepaering an annual International Science Festival on the fairground of Leipzig. The winners will receive advanced training courses at the US Space Camp in Huntsville, the former adopted home of Prof. von Puttkamer.

During his last lectures on the book “Project Mars” in 2012, he said: “One day private people will dig for ore on their own with self-built spaceships in the asteroid belt, if my name only circles the sun as an asteroid. But I'll be there. ”The NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory honored his life's work and named asteroid 266725 Vonputtkamer after him. Today, at 2.5 AU, it is twice as far from the earth as the sun and can be observed with a telescope between Mars and Venus.

Position: Asteriod 266725 Vonputtkamer
Jesco von Puttkamer Schule: www.spaceeducation.de