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Austrian Pioneer of Space Travel Honoured

Herman Potocnik was born on 22 December 1892, and in space literature he is known as the inventor and discoverer of the synchron course where -today’s geostationary satellites are placed. His discovery was prerequisite to the positioning of Communications satellites at a height of around 36,000 km.

In a book published in 1929 ‘The problems of Space Travel — The Rocket Motor’ he wrote:‘ An observation point in empty space: Every body circling around the earth 42,300 km above the centre of the earth in an orbit parallel to the equator, remains permanently floating above a fixed point on the earths surface.

The body stays above a defined equator point, 35,900 km above the earth, as can be deducted from the earth’s radius of around 6,400 km. Such a body represents something like the peak of an enormously high tower whose force of inertia, although not existing in reality, is replaced by the effect of centrifugal forces.

This floating ‘lower Peak can be enlarged to any size and appropriately furnished. A building would emerge which, though forever belonging to the earth and even being in a fixed position relevant to her, is nevertheless stationed in empty space far above the atmosphere. It is an observation point at 35,900,000 km above sea-level.

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Herman Potocnik, the Austrian Postal Authority have issued a 10s stamp featuring the earth with a satellite in orbit around it. Today, television transmissions via satellites from the landing on the Moon or the Olympic flames can be watched by millions of viewers on all continents.

The civil and military value of his discoveries, published in 1929, is inestimable today. Now, the entire mankind benefits from Potocnik’s brilliant ideas.

Potocnik also performed the first systematic research of manned space travel. He designed a space station, consisting of a residential wheel, a power station and an observatory. Today’s space platforms were designed and built after ideas developed by Potocnik 50 years earlier.

Potocnik, together with the English science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, are considered fathers of today’s communications satellites, whose importance continues to increase, In 1965, the American space physician, Campbell found the most beautiful words for Herman Potocnik-Noordung: ‘…..he lived and died long before his time’,

Submitted by Prof, Herbert Pichler

(“Moon Pichler”), Vienna, via the Austrian Postal Authority

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