The Slovenia Times

Herman Potočnik Noordung's Tombstone to Be Unveiled in Vienna


This will be the first ever bilingual tombstone dedicated to a Slovenian buried in Austria's capital.

A procedure is also under way to get Potočnik's sepulchre on the list of honorary graves. At the moment, only Slovenia's greatest linguist Fran Miklošič's grave is on the list.

A ceremony to mark the occasion will be held on Friday, with Slovenian Ambassador to Austria Andrej Rahten, Mayor of the Slovenian city of Maribor Andrej Fištravec, and Karl W. Schwarz of the Austrian Education, Arts and Culture Ministry attending as speakers among others.

After Potočnik's death the grave was tended by his brother's wife until the 1960s, but it was leased to somebody else in 1967 because of unpaid rent. The location was only rediscovered in 2012.

Herman Potočnik was born to Slovenian parents on 22 December 1892 in the present-day Croatian town of Pula. His father, a naval officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, died when Herman was two, prompting his mother to move the family to present-day Slovenia.

Potočnik went to military secondary schools and eventually graduated from the technical military academy in Austria. After WWI, he studied electrical engineering in Vienna, specialising in rocketry, and devoted himself entirely to rocket science and space technology from 1925 on.

In 1928, shortly before his death, he finished his book on space travel under the pen name "Noordung". On 188 pages and with 100 illustrations, Potočnik set out a plan for a breakthrough into space.

Potočnik is considered the first to draw up plans for orbiting space stations and geostationary satellites. In a time when horse-drawn carts were the main mode of transportation, he was already speaking about a future of nuclear energy and photon drives. He has a science and art centre dedicated to him in the Slovenian town of Vitanje.


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