The German V2 Rocket Engine – this is what got us into Space.
“This third day of October, 1942, is the first of a new era in transportation, that of space travel…”
— Speech at Peenemünde, Walter Dornberger, 3 October 1942
The V-2 (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2, “Retribution Weapon 2”), was the world’s first operational liquid fuel rocket. It represented an enormous quantum leap in technology and was the first man-made object to cross the boundary of space.
The original German designation was “V2”, unhyphenated but U.S. publications such as LIFE magazine were using the hyphenated form “V-2” as early as December 1944.
Obviously the V2 was designed primarily as a weapon but after the war it ended up being ‘borrowed’ by the Americans along with the scientists who worked on it and became the means by which we took the first photo of Earth from Space.