Herman Potočnik Noordung « Renowned individuals

Herman Potočnik made a significant contribution to rocket technology. In 1929, he published a book titled The Problem of Space Travel in German under the pseudonym Noordung and in 1986, a Slovenian version was made. The designer of space rocket missiles and the first director of the NASA Centre, Wernher von Braun, stated that this book was a turning point in space rocket technology. The book offers numerous solutions that enable humans to live in outer space. Considering that at that time there were no computers or even solar panels, his solutions are utterly genius.

Herman Potočnik was born on 22 December 1892 in Pula, where his father Josef Potočnik, born in Slovenj Gradec, was a navy officer and a doctor. His mother Marija originated from the wealthy Kokošinek family from Maribor and Vitanje. The first member of this family moved to Vitanje at the beginning of the 19th century together with many other migrants, mainly from Upper Austria and the Czech lands, who took the positions of master craftsmen in glass, iron and other production facilities. The beginner of the family branch from Vitanje was Franc Kokošinek senior (1780-1867), grandfather of Herman Potočnik. He was the local judge (mayor) in Vitanje and later moved to Maribor and on to Slovenjska Bistrica. He continued to keep in touch with relatives from Vitanje, where the façade of Franc Kokošinek’s birth house (today the Rupnik Inn) still bears the initials F.K. and the date 1811.

When Herman was two years old, his father died. Marija Kokošinek and her four children at first supposedly moved back to Vitanje, where Herman is believed to have spent his early childhood. Herman completed the secondary modern school in Maribor and continued his education at the military technical academy in Modling. He completed the academy in 1913 as a steel construction expert with the rank of lieutenant. His teacher found him self-willed and confident, yet also hard working and diligent.

During the war years, he worked as an expert for bridge and railway constructions at various fronts, and after the war in 1919, he retired due to incurable tuberculosis of the lungs. Despite having retired due to disability after the war, he completed studies in machinery and electric technology at the University in Vienna in 1925 and became an engineer – a rocket specialist. In his research, he focused on rocket technology. This was greatly due to the fact that he participated in a university work group devoted to studying aeronautical technology that also had a rocket section.

More information is available at http://www.noordung.info

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