Max Valier

Born 1895 in Bozen, Tyrol

Died 1930 in Berlin



Max Valier was very interested in astronomy during his youth. After attending secondary school and in parallel working as an unpaid trainee in a precicion mechanics workshop, he started in 1913 to study astronomy, mathematics and physics at the University of Innsbruck. After serving in the aviation unit of the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War he resumed his studies in Vienna and Munich, but never graduated and worked as a writer on scientific subjects.

After reading Oberth’s book in 1923 he felt compelled  to write (with Oberth’s help) a popular book on the subject, “Der Vorstoß in den Weltenraum” (Advance Into Space) which was published in 1924 and was written in a non-technical language. Six editions went into print until 1930.

Valier proposed an evolutionary program to advance rocketry which consisted of four stages:

  • test-bed experiments
  • rocket-powered vehicles (cars, railcars, sledges and gliders)
  • rocket-assisted airplanes
  • increase of airplane performance up to rocket-propelled space ship.

Valier’s rocket car, rocket railcar, rocket sledge and rocket glider experiments using solid fuel rockets obtained very large publicity in Germany. Some of the experiments were done in collaboration with Fritz von Opel, the owner of the German Opel car factory.

Around 1929-1930 he started to experiment with liquid fuel rockets but was killed in an accident during one of the test-bed experiments on May 17, 1930 in Berlin, when the rocket combustion chamber exploded.