Encyclopedia Astronautica

Schmiedl, Friedrich (1902-1994) Austrian rocket pioneer, tested recoverable solid propellant rockets from 1924-1934 for use as stratospheric probes and mail delivery. Refused to participate in development of military rockets, either for the Nazis or the Americans.

Friedrich Schmiedl was educated in civil engineering and after World War I studied at the University of Graz. He became fascinated in the practical aspects of rocketry and began development and testing of solid propellant rockets in 1921. He first tested his designs at Schoeckl bei Graz in 1924, concentrating on tests of 'photographic rockets', which could map large areas from high altitude. In June 1928 he attempted flight tests of instrumented rockets that were to be launched from stratospheric balloons, anticipating Van Allen's development of the Rockoon by over 20 years. These V1 and V2 rockets failed to ignite but Schmiedl found that philatelists were interested in the 'stratospheric' postcards that had been taken aloft.

In 1930 Schmiedl launched further V3, V4, V5, and V6 rockets from Schoeckl, perfecting a parachute recovery system. His first successful post office rocket on 2 February 1931 transported 100 letters from Schoeckel to Sankt Radegund. He began with what he called 'regular mail service' in September 1931 with launch of his G1 rocket from Hochtroetsch to Semriach.

Schmiedl sketched out ambitious plans for rocket transport and launched his two-stage S1 mail rocket from Sankt Martin to Graz Field in March 1933. He dreamed of using enormous rockets to transport long-range mail from Vienna to Budapest and Graz to Budapest, or to deliver mail to remote oases in North Africa. But the Austrian Post office obtained a law prohibiting further rocket mail activities in 1934, followed by a general government ban on private rocket development in 1935. After the second world began, he destroyed his rocket work, not wanting it to be used for military purposes. Similarly he refused an offer after the war to go to the United States and conduct further rocket research.

Birth Place: Schwertberg, Upper Austria.
Born: 1902.
Died: 1994.01.01.

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Schmiedl Chronology

June 1928 - . Launch Vehicle: Schmiedl.
  • Schmiedl attempts launch of balloon-lofted rockets. - . Nation: Austria. Related Persons: Schmiedl. Summary: The first attempted launch of instrumented rockets from stratospheric balloons. These V1 and V2 rockets failed to ignite but Schmiedl's work anticipated the Van Allen Rockoon concept by twenty years..

1931 February 2 - . Launch Vehicle: Schmiedl.
  • First rocket-mail. - . Nation: Austria. Related Persons: Schmiedl. Apogee: 1.00 km (0.60 mi). Summary: Schmiedl launches his V7 post rocket with 100 letters aboard from Schoeckel bei Graz to Sankt Radegund, a distance of two kilometres. The 880 cm long rocket descended as planned by parachute ..

1931 September 9 - . Launch Vehicle: Schmiedl.
  • First rocket-mail service. - . Nation: Austria. Related Persons: Schmiedl. Apogee: 2.50 km (1.50 mi). Summary: Schmiedl's Post Rocket R1, with 333 letters aboard, is launched 5 km from the top of the Hochtroetsch to the town of Semriach. A month later the first return service rocket is launched at night from Semriach to Hochtroetsch..

1933 March 16 - . Launch Vehicle: Schmiedl.
  • Final Schmiedl rocket mail service. - . Nation: Austria. Related Persons: Schmiedl. Apogee: 2.50 km (1.50 mi). Summary: Schmiedl conducts his final rocket mail 'service' with 379 letters aboard his S1 two-stage rocket over a distance of 5 km at Graz between Sankt Martin and Grazer Feld..

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