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Johannes Winkler (29 May 1897 – 27 December 1947) was a German rocket pioneer who co-founded with Max Valier of Opel RAK the first German rocket society "Verein für Raumschiffahrt" and launched, after Friedrich Wilhelm Sander's successful Opel RAK liquid-rocket launches in 1929,[2] one of the first successful liquid-fuelled rocket in Europe.[3]

Johannes Winkler
in Dessau
Born(1897-05-29)29 May 1897
Bad Carlsruhe, German Empire
present-day Pokój, Poland
Died27 December 1947(1947-12-27) (aged 50) -- stroke
Scientific career
FieldsAerospace engineering
  • -1939: VfR
  • 1939-1945: Aeronautical Research Institute
  • 1945-1947: Junkers[1]
1st President VfR (1927)

In 1915 during World War I, he joined the German army and was wounded in action the following year, leading to a lengthy hospitalisation. After his recovery, he studied as a machinist at the Danzig technical college and found a job at Junkers.

On 5 July 1927, he was one of the founders[3] the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR – "Spaceflight Society"). He also was the society's first president[1] and editor of the VfR's Die Rakete' journal.

On 14 March 1931 at 4:45 pm, he launched the Hückel-Winkler I (HW-I) at the Gross Kühnau drill field near Dessau. According to his account, it was planned to reach an altitude of 500 meters, but it turned and flew horizontally, landing 200 meters from the pad. The maximum altitude of the rocket was not recorded. It was powered by liquid oxygen and liquid methane.

Eighteen months after the HW-I flight, Winkler launched the HW-II on 6 October 1932[3] in a public demonstration, which included invited officials from the Königsberg council. Unfortunately, the rocket exploded within seconds of ignition because of a faulty fuel valve.

Winkler designed a number of other rockets and JATO units for Junkers and then a government aviation research institute, but none left the drawing board.


The Winkler crater, a small impact crater on the far side of the Moon, is named after Johannes Winkler.[4]

References and notes

  1. Ley, Willy (1958) [First published 1944]. Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel. New York: The Viking Press. p. 222.
  2. Max Valier, Raketenfahrt, 1930
  3. von Braun, Wernher; Ordway, Frederick I; Dooling, Jr, David (1985) [First published 1975]. Space Travel: A History. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 64, 69. ISBN 0-06-181898-4.
    NOTE: On 21 February 1931, the HW-I only climbed to 3 metres (Ordway & Sharpe, p18).
    NOTE: On 13 March 1931, Karl Poggensee launched a solid fuel rocket near Berlin to 1,500 ft altitude.
    NOTE: von Braun claims the VfR was founded in early June 1927 (the first issue of Die Rakete was dated "Januar-Juni 1927")
  4. International Astronomical Union > Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Feature/6560 Accessed 9 July 2013.

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