John Bruce Medaris

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John Bruce Medaris (left) and Holger Toftoy (1956)

John Bruce Medaris (12 May 1902 – 11 July 1990) was a U.S Army officer who was commander of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency during the 1950s. During this period, the agency developed the Redstone, Jupiter-C, and Saturn I boosters.[1]

Major General Medaris became Wernher von Braun’s patron when he took over command of the ABMA during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). Although the Navy’s Vanguard was the official satellite program, Medaris encouraged von Braun to continue development in case Vanguard failed. When news of Sputnik I’s launch was broadcast, von Braun said to the Defense Secretary, Neil McElroy, 'For God’s sake, let us do something. We can put up a satellite in sixty days.' Medaris, knowing the Jet Propulsion Laboratory would need more time to prepare what became Explorer I, admonished Von Braun, "No, Wernher. Ninety days." [2]

Popular Culture[edit]

  • Rocket Girl, a stage play by George D. Morgan, deals with the invention of hydyne, a special fuel designed to boost Explorer I, America's first satellite, into orbit utilizing the Redstone/Jupiter C. The character of General Medaris appears throughout the first scene of the play.


  1. ^ "Medaris". Astronautix. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Aldrin, Buzz; McConnell, Malcolm (1991). Men From Earth. New York: Bantam Books. p. 32.