German rocket physicist and astronautics engineer Wernher von Braun played a crucial role in developing the rocket technology, including the Saturn 5 , that put U.S. astronauts on the surface of the moon in 1969. Just 17 years earlier, when spaceflight was little more than a dream, von Braun worked for the U.S. Army building ballistic missiles. It was during this time that the future and first director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., would share his vision of manned space exploration. A series of articles published in Collier's magazine in the early 1950s revealed many ideas that later became reality (including space stations, lunar missions and satellites) and some that never got off the ground (a rocket operated by three rhesus monkeys).

View a slide show of von Braun's sketches.

Von Braun's sketches for the magazine's illustrations are up for bid by U.K. auctioneers Bonhams Wednesday. The auction house, which expected the lot of 35 drawings and letters to fetch up to $25,000, was pleasantly surprised with the winning bid came in at $132,000.