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Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus was a former Nazi Germany V-2 rocket scientist who in 1962 became the first director of the Kennedy Space Centermarker after being brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. In the US, Debus' organizations conducted 150 launches of military missiles and space vehicles, including 13 Saturn V rockets (Apollo 4, 6, 8-17, and Skylab).


During World War II development of the V-2 rocket, Debus led the Test Stand Group personnel at Peenemündemarker and was the Engineer in Charge at Test Stand VIImarker. Beginning in 1961, Debus directed the design, development and construction of NASA's launch facilities on Cape Canaveralmarker and the adjacent Kennedy Space Centermarker. Debus' organization also launched the first U.S. missiles carrying atomic warheads in the Pacific Ocean area during a series of tests. In October 1965, he became responsible for NASA unmanned launch operations at the Eastern and Western Ranges, assuming the additional title of KSC director of launch operations until Rocco Petrone took the post in 1966. Debus retired as KSC director in November 1974.

The Kurt Debus Conference Center at the KSC Visitor Complex is named for him.


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