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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Nebel, Rudolf



  • Existence: 1894-1978

Biographical Note

Rudolf Nebel (1894-1978) was a spaceflight and rocketry advocate. He was active in Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR - Spaceflight Society) during the 1930s and instrumental in rebuilding Germany's rocketry programs following World War II.

Rudolf Nebel was born in Weissenburg, Germany on March 21, 1894. During World War I, he was a fighter pilot in the Luftstreitkräfte. He also pioneered the use of unguided air-launched signal rockets as offensive armament while flying the Halberstadt D.II. After World War I, Nebel earned a degree in engineering.

Circa late 1920s, he was one of the assistants hired by Hermann Oberth to build and launch a liquid-propellant rocket to help publicize director Fritz Lang's upcoming film, "Frau im Mond," although the project was not completed in time for the film's release. Nebel was key in several areas of the early German rocketry industry, including being an early part of the VfR and its activities and arranging for the German Army to support rocketry development. Ironically, this led to most of Nebel's peers being hired by the German Army and removed from civilan development. In 1934, the German government prohibited private rocket development effectively shutting down Nebel's rocketry work at the time.

After World War II, Nebel remained in Germany. With fellow engineers Karl Poggensee and Albert Puellenberg, he resumed work on rocketry for peaceful endeavors. They were active in the 1950 and 1951 meetings of the new International Astronautical Federation, with Nebel delivering a lecture on space travel and rocketry in Cuhaven on April 6, 1951.

Rudolf Nebel died in Dusseldorf, Germany on September 18, 1978.


Biography derived from Wikipedia and "Nebel." Encyclopedia Astronautica.

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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