Guido von Pirquet

Born 1880 in Hirschstetten (now part of Vienna)

Died 1966 in Vienna



Guido von Pirquet studied mechanical engineering at the Universities of Technology in Vienna and Graz. He was a member of a distinguished Austrian family, his brother Clemens was a worldwide renown physician.

His expertise in ballistics and thermodynamics made him a notable personality in the rocket circles. He got elected first secretary of the rocket society founded by Franz von Hoefft.

His most important contributions in the field of rocketry were his article about the possible concepts of space travel in his book "Die Möglichkeit der Weltraumfahrt" (The Possibility of Space Travel) edited by the young German Willi Ley in 1928 and his series of articles about interplanetary trajectories (to Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) in the journal "Die Rakete" (The Rocket) of the "Verein für Raumschiffahrt" (German Rocket Society), the worlds largest rocket society at the time.

Through the calculations of a rocket nozzle for a manned rocket to planet Mars, he realized that the rocket needed to lift-off directly from Earth would be too large, the nozzle area of the first stage being about 1500 square meter, to be technically feasible. He concluded that a manned expedition to Mars could only be accomplished by building a space station in Earth's orbit, where the space ship for travel to Mars could be assembled.

His calculated trajectory (published in 1928) for a space probe to reach Venus is identical to the one used by the first Soviet interplanetary spacecraft to Venus in 1961.