Herman Potočnik Noordung


December 22, 1892 - August 27, 1929

Was an Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer and pioneer of astronautics, originating from Slovenia (his father from Slovenj Gradec and mother from Vitanje). Potočnik was born in Pola, southern Istria, Austria-Hungary (now Pula, Region of Istria, Croatia), what is recorded by birth register, which is kept in archive in Pazin. The meaning of his German-like pseudonym Noordung is still a mystery, but some suggest that he used it to show the problems of chaos (German: Ordnung, "order"; ordunga in Slovene colloquial language). Assuming that the initial "N" may have been intended to mean negation, the name would mean "without order".

In 1929, he published his sole book, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums - der Raketen-motor (The problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor) in Berlin, publisher Richard Carl Schmidt. In 188 pages and 100 illustrations, Potočnik set out a plan for a breakthrough into space and the establishement of a permanent human presence there. He conceived a space station in detail and calculated its geostationary orbit, described the use of orbiting spacecraft for detailed observation of the ground for peaceful and military purposes, as well as how the special conditions of space could be useful for scientific experiments. The book was translated into Russian in early 1935, Slovene in 1986, english in 1999 (by NASA) and Croatian in 2004 (published by cultural art asocciation Labin Art Express, translation Marino Fonović).
With only one published book he became one of the founders of astronautics and "father" of geostationar satellites what was later confirmed by experts like Arthur C. Clark and Wernher von Braun.

Potočnik died of pneumonia in great poverty at the age of 36 in Vienna, Austria and was buried there, but his grave does not exist any more. Streets in Graz and Ljubljana now bear his name and there is an initiative by L.A.E. and Dragan Zivadinov for contructing a monument of Herman Potočnik in his birth place Pula.

In 1995 L.A.E. initiated project Noordung-NASA-Pula, soon to be available at www.noordung.hr aiming to introduce, promote and make more visible Noordung's work all over his birth country - Croatia, as well as to establish his place in Croatian history.