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NASA engineer, visionary, book author, ISS director, Leipzig native

jvp1"One day, private citizens will travel to the asteriod belt on their own with self-built spaceships to mine for minerals." Sounds like science fiction? Not at all! Leipzig-born Jesco von Puttkamer is already there, as Asteriod (266725 Vonputtkamer).

Prof. Dr. Freiherr Jesco von Puttkamer was the face of NASA on German TV for over 50 years, an icon as advisor to Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek - The Movie) and that strategist who promoted private space travel as founding director of the ISS space station. His seeds are now slowly sprouting 9 years after his death. This weekend, the first 100% private space flight landed in the Atlantic Ocean with a SpaceX Dragon and 4 crew members. Inspiration4 flew even higher than the ISS at 570 km above Earth. Long ago 2 private companies fly cargo to the ISS and one of them is even flying crew members.

rod-jvprod-jvp2For Puttkamer, it was "just a step in the right direction that we're going to look at very closely." He foresaw it when NASA, under his strategic planning, decided in 2006 to budget two young private space companies and gradually also supported them with engineers from the outgoing space shuttle program (COTS program).

Jesco von Puttkamer was born on September 22, 1933, at Salomonstraße 25 in Leipzig. The pastor of the Nikolai Church had to perform the baptism in the small apartment, because mother no longer dared to cross the Augustusplatz in view of the Nazi marches. He would have been 88 years old today, a number he would have particularly liked - Infinity. It is no coincidence that the 100th anniversaries of the sci-fi authors Gene Roddenberry and Stanislav Lem fall in exactly this period. It was these visions that Puttkamer picked up as a student and sci-fi author and then turned into science reality as an aerospace engineer and non-fiction writer. His biggest baby was the ISS, which he worked tirelessly on since Skylab and became its American director at NASA headquarters in Washington.

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Few today remember the straightforward, outspoken, and tall man with curly white hair and a hauntingly deep voice. But his works live on in countless books and spaceflight successes. It was he who hired the colored Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) from the Starship Enterprise as NASA's ambassador in 1977, a novelty at the time. It was he who suggested christening the first space shuttle "Enterprise" and inviting the entire cast crew to its rollout, or equipping the first feature film "Star Trek" with NASA's "Voyager". In the end, he also brought the two space superpowers together, with the construction of the ISS.

Since 2001, however, the tracks of the self-confessed "desk astronaut" Puttkamer have led back to his Leipzig home. A talent development school he founded for young engineers now bears his name in the Anger district of the city. His "children" are internationally successful and are regularly invited to compete. The "International Team Award" has been presented in his name since 2013 and continues his legacy: "Shaping the future together internationally, doing our best to open up the closed system of the earth.

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Anyone who has been on the ISS or works at NASA headquarters knows this tireless man whose name is an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. And anyone who wants to see it will have to wait until his 90th birthday in September 2023. Because then "266725 Vonputtkamer" is closest to the earth, will be illuminated by the sun and will be visible with a telescope.

Puttkamers students of many generations Puttkamer are organizing the 1st Internationale Space & Science Festival“ on Leipzigs expocenter beetween 1.-3.10.2021. They only follow his tracks into the asteroid belt.

Position of the asteroid: Tracking 266725 Vonputtkamer

 
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