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  Franz Abdon Ulinski
 

Born 1890 in Blosdorf, Moravia (today Czech republic)

Died 1974 in Wels (Austria)

 
 

In 1910, after attending secondary school in Linz, Austria, Franz Abdon Ulinski joined the army of  the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He served in different positions before the First World War and as technical officer in the aviation corps during the war. Around 1919 he proposed the design of a spacecraft, propelled by a jet of electrons (or ions). A year later, he published his ideas in a journal of aeronautics in Vienna. Two types of energy supply were proposed, firstly using solar panels for energy accumulation and secondly disintegration of atoms. His ideas for propulsion of a spacecraft were  ahead of his time and  were not taken seriously. One reason was certainly the magnitude of the energy needed to leave the gravitation of the Earth using such a spacecraft. Nevertheless his concept proves to be of importance for manned space travel to other planets, namely as an economical  way of transport where launching is performed from a station already in Earth orbit.

The technological advancement has taken some time but not long ago a spacecraft using ion thrusters was put into space to demonstrate the concept. Deep Space One will fly by an asteroid before its trajectory brings it close to a comet. Another application for ion thrusters is the stabilization of satellites in Earth orbit.