"Space science .. has no
conscience of its own.
Whether it will become
a force for good or ill
depends on man."
President John F. Kennedy
Depravity’s Rainbow uncovers a dark and little known history of space exploration, tracing the origins of modern rocketry back to the Second World War and Holocaust, and revealing the consequences of this history for the present.
Wernher von Braun was a man with star dust in his eyes, and blood on his hands.
In his last thirty years he was an American citizen who built rockets for NASA, machines which landed men on the moon in 1969. But in his first thirty years he was a German citizen, who wore an SS uniform and built ballistic missiles for the military of Nazi Germany, machines which killed thousands of civilians between 1944 and 1945.
Depravity’s Rainbow uses this improbable life story as a way to explore the equally contradictory history of space exploration, and the way that militaristic and expansionist aims have often been dressed in a cloak of peaceful civilian science.
Some pictures are printed as cyanotypes, the earliest form of photography and originally intended for astronomical photography, the cyanotype process was used throughout the 20th century to produce engineering and architectural blueprints. Latent within the cyanotype’s chemistry are also the components of hydrogen cyanide, the gas used in the systematic extermination of at least one million people during the holocaust.