Hermann Noordung: Forgotten Space Pioneer

Hermann Noordung: Forgotten Space PioneerHerman Potocnik AKA Hermann Noordung wrote only one book,Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel – The Rocket Motor),” in his brief life.  Potocnik, an engineer in Austrian military during World War I, was discharged due to tuberculosis in 1919, later, received a doctorate from University of Technology in Vienna. The early space researcher devoted himself in 1925 that resulted in his 1928 book. Potocnik’s math was deemed faulty, his work dismissed by Viennese engineers as fantasy. Potocnik as Noordung did influence German rocket enthusiasts of the time, the Verein fur Raumshiffahrt or VfR, the Spaceflight Society centered around space pioneer, Hermann Oberth.

Noordung, a pen name with connotation of “no order”, according to Wikipedia, influenced von Braun and Kubrick, “The wheel-shaped space station served as an inspiration for further development by Wernher von Braun (another former VfR member) in 1952. Von Braun saw orbiting space stations as a stepping stone to travel to other planets. In 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s ground-breaking film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, depicted such a role for ‘Space Station V’.” The wheel-shaped space station ubiquitous in the fifties and early sixties and popularized by von Braun, is probably Potocnik’s scientifc legacy.

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