Publisher Information: Munich & Berlin: R. Oldenbourg, 1923.
Oberth, Hermann (1894-1989). Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen. 8vo. 92pp. 3 folding lithographed plates. Munich & Berlin: R. Oldenbourg, 1923. 254 x 175 mm. Original wrappers, uncut, wrappers a little worn & chipped; boxed. Occasional minor foxing, but very good.
First Edition of Oberth’s thesis on the rocket in interplanetary space, in which he set out to prove four propositions: (1) that the technology of the time permitted the building of machines capable of rising above the earth’s atmosphere; (2) that these machines could attain velocities sufficient to prevent their falling back to earth, or even to escape the earth’s gravitational pull; (3) that such machines could be built to carry human beings; and (4) that under certain conditions, their manufacture might be profitable. Oberth demonstrated that a rocket can operate in a vacuum and that it can surpass the velocity of its own exhaust; he also pointed out the superiority of liquid fuels in producing maximum exhaust velocity. He described in detail the designs of a prototypical instrument-carrying rocket and a theoretical space-ship, and developed the first sketchy model of a space station.
Oberth’s work was anticipated by that of Goddard and of Tsiolkovsky; however, their work went largely unheralded, while Oberth’s was greeted enthusiastically in Germany by a band of devotees that eventually became the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel). “This partly explains why, when war came in 1939, Germany could so quickly organize an efficient and competent [rocketry] research team” (Biog. Enc. Scientists [2nd ed.]). After the war German rocket technology was transplanted into the United States’ rocketry and space programs, greatly enhancing their development.
The title-page of Oberth’s Rakete calls for only two plates; however, this copy has three—two numbered plates at the end of the work, and an unnumbered plate inserted after page 80. Norman 1604 (2 plates). Ley, Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel, pp. 108-12. Von Braun & Ordway, Hist. Rocketry & Space Travel, pp. 57-59.Book Id: 45308