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Von Hoefft, Franz (1882–1954)

Franz von Hoefft
Austrian rocket theorist who founded the first space-related society in Western Europe. Von Hoefft studied chemistry at the University of Technology, Vienna, the University of Göttingen, and Vienna University, graduating from the last in 1907. Subsequently, he worked as an engineer in Donawitz, a tester at the Austrian Patent Office, and a consultant. In 1926 he formed the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Höhen-forschung (Scientific Society for High Altitude Research) in Vienna and later wrote a series of articles titled "The Conquest of Space" for the German Rocket Society's publication Die Rakete (The Rocket) in which he laid out a remarkably visionary scheme for the exploration of the solar system and beyond. The first step was the development of a liquid-fueled sounding rocket called the RH-I (RH for "Repulsion Hoefft") which would be carried to a height of 5–10 km by balloon and then launched. Such rockets, he explained, could be used for delivering mail or photographic remote sensing of the Earth. By stages, their capacity would be increased. RH-V, for example, would be able to fly around the Earth in ellipses, yet take off and land on water like a plane. The ultimate development, the RH-VIII, would be launched from a space station and be able to reach other planets or even leave the solar system.

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