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), as recorded in the birth register kept in an 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 establishment 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 specific 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 association Labin Art Express, translated Marino Fonović). If you are interested in acquiring copy of this unique edition, please contact us.

With only one published book he became one of the founders of astronautics and the "father" of geostationary satellites as later confirmed by space experts like Arthur C. Clarke 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 no longer exists. Streets in Graz and Ljubljana now bear his name and there was an initiative by L.A.E. and Dragan Živadinov of the Cosmokinetic Cabaret Noordung for constructing a monument to Herman Potočnik in his birth place Pula. The Hermann Potočnik Noordung Visitor Centre and gallery is now open in Pula at the city's fort. The commemorative mural "Noordung's Flight" can also be visited on Kandlerova Ulica in central Pula.

In 1995 L.A.E. initiated project Noordung-NASA-Pula, which aimed 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. Since then his reputation has continued to grow.