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Cuxhaven beach at sunset
Cuxhaven beach at sunset

Cuxhaven is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, with about 55000 inhabitants. It is located on the shore of the North Sea at the mouth of Elbe river. Geographical location . Cuxhaven has a footprint of 14 km (east-west) and 7 km (north-south). It is also capital of the Cuxhaven district.

Cuxhaven is relatively young; it became a town on March 15, 1907. For over 600 years Cuxhaven belonged to Hamburg. Today, it is a popular vacation spot on the North Sea.

Between 1945 and 1964 in the proximity of Cuhaven various rocket experiments were accomplished. On 2, 4, and 14 October 1945 one rocketof the type A4 (also known as the V2) were launched from a site between Arensch and Sahlenburg in order to demonstrate the V2 to the Allied military. This action was called Operation Backfire. A Layout plan of the starting place of the operation "Backfire" can be found at [1].

From 1957 to 1964 in the cotton wool area of Cuxhaven the "German Rocket Society e.V." (later called the "Hermann Oberth society e.V."), Ernst Mohr, and the "Berthold-Seliger research and development company mbH" launched approximately 500 rockets. The smallest of these rockets were used for sea rescue, the largest were research rockets. The most remarkable rockets launched at this time in the tideland of Cuxhaven were the rockets of Ernst Mohr (maximum altitude: 50 kilometers, takeoff weight 150kg), the Kumulus and Cirrus of the "Herrmann-Oberth-society", and the rockets of the "Berthold Seliger research and development company";. The latter launched a three-stage rocket which attained a height of 120 kilometers for the first time on 2 May 1963 in the tideland of Cuxhaven. This was the only rocket developed in postwar Germany which reached space.

On 5 December 1963 the "Berthold Seliger research and development company mbH" gave a demonstration of their missiles to representatives from non-NATO states. Although the demonstrated rockets were not directly militarily usable, this action fuelled the distrust of the German authorities.

After a deadly accident at a rocket demonstration given by Gerhard Zucker in Braunlage on 7 May 1964, the authorities halted the experiments with a provisional order in June 1964, although neither the "Berthold-Seliger research and development society mbH" nor the "Hermann Oberth society e.V." cooperated with Gerhard Zucker in any way.

A few kilometers off the Cuxhaven coast lies the island of Neuwerk. At low tide the water recedes so far from the coast that the island can be reached either by foot or by horse carriage.

A modern landmark of Cuxhaven is the Friedrich-Clemens-Gerke Turm a telecommunication tower built of concrete, which is not accessible to the public.

See also: Rocket experiments in the area of Cuxhaven

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