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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Oberth, Hermann, 1894-1989



  • Existence: 1894-1989

Biographical Note:Hermann Julius Oberth

Hermann Julius Oberth (1894-1989) was a German physicist and is considered a founding father of rocketry and astronautics.

Hermann Oberth was born on June 24, 1894 in current-day Sibiu, Romania. Oberth started work on rockets at a young age, contructing his first model rocket at 14 years old. He was drafted into the Imperial German Army at the onset of World War I, where he served in a medical unit but also found time to experiment with weightlessness. On July 6, 1918 he married Mathilde Hummel. The couple had four children.

Post-World War I, he relocated to Germany and studied physics. In 1922, he submitted his proposal for a doctoral dissertation on rocket science, which was rejected. However, Oberth published it privately and by 1929, had expanded it into the book, "Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (Ways to Spaceflight)".

Oberth was a member of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR); the "Spaceflight Society." In 1928-1929, he was a scientific consultant on Fritz Lang's film "Frau im Mond (The Woman in the Moon)" and his main project was to build and launch a rocket for publicity prior to the film's premiere. To do so, he hired assistants, one of whom was engineer and spaceflight advocate Rudolf Nebel. Unfortunately the rocket was not completed in time.

In late 1929, Oberth was assisted in a liquid-fueled rocket motor experiment by a young Wernher von Braun, who became a pioneer in rocket and space technology and who Oberth later worked for in the United States. Oberth's work in rocketry continued until his retirement in 1962.

Hermann Oberth died in Nuremberg, West Germany on December 28, 1989.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Hermann Oberth Letter to Rudolf Nebel

 Collection — Box: Assorted rare collections, Box 1, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2011-12-15
Contents of the Collection The collection is comprised of a single five-page typed letter to Rudolf Nebel from Hermann Oberth regarding rocketry work, November 1, 1930. No envelope accomanies the letter. It is from "Prof. Oberth, Medias, Romania" to "Herr Nebel" and includes a signature of "H. Oberth" in pencil on the final page. The letter is written in German and has not been translated or transcribed. Additional information as provided by the auction house (see Immediate Source...

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