While spending time in Budapest and visiting the Copernicus residence, Exosphere Italian founder Antonio Manno discovered that one of the pioneers of astronautics was Austro-Hungarian scientist and rocket engineer Herman Potočnik. This extraordinary man, who used the pseudonym Hermann Noordung, was passionate about the idea of space exploration and the long-term human habitation of space.
In his book “The Problem of Space Travel: Rocket engine”, presented in 1928, he explained his vision and detailed engineering plans for the construction of a geostationary 3-unit space station formed by the “Wohnrad” (Inhabitable or Habitat Wheel), the engine room, and the observatory. If you want to get a better understanding on how this “mad scientist” envisioned the Space Station in 1920s here you can find the interactive model of Potochnik GeoStation Space Base.
Engineers in Vienna, where the European science hub of the 1920’s was located, didn’t accept such futuristic concepts of geostationary satellites (they were really outstanding), and this great aerospace pioneer died as many others have, not being remembered or ever mentioned as the visionary and futurist he was.
“The Problem of Space Travel,” with a detailed explanation of the Space Station project, was published for the first time (in parts) in 1929, the same year Potočnik died.
By the way, he really was too far ahead for his time – here is an example of his technical drawings:
He got his posthumous recognition in 1952, when the Colliers Magazine published his drawings and Sir Arthur C. Clarke used these concepts and designs in the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey that would later inspire Stanley Kubrick’s classic film of the same name.
“The Problem of Space Travel” was fully translated into English only in 1999 by NASA .