Events paid tribute to the rocket pioneer Johannes Winkler
For centuries, people’s dreams and visions have been directed towards conquering outer space, getting to know worlds beyond Earth and perhaps even colonising other planets. Today, this dream of conquering the infinite expanses is within reach. Many researchers, developers and technicians have worked to make mankind’s dream of conquering space a reality. The rocket pioneer Johannes Winkler (1897-1947) also played an important role. His work made the city of Dessau a hot spot for rocket research for a short time at the beginning of the 1930s. On 14 March 1931, the rocket designed by Johanes Winkler and powered by liquid oxygen and liquid methane took to the air in Großkühnau near Dessau for the first successful flight of a liquid-propellant rocket in Europe.
On the occasion of his 125th birthday, Johannes Winkler’s services to the development of rocket technology and space travel were honoured in a two-day event at the “Hugo Junkers” Museum of Technology, to which the City of Dessau-Roßlau and the Friends of the Museum of Technology had invited. In addition to the Friends of the Museum of Technology, special thanks are due to Dr. Reinhard Sagner from Hamburg, Councillor Ralf Schönemann and the municipal archives of Dessau-Roßlau for the preparation of this successful, productive and well-attended event.
The event was introduced by a book presentation on 26 May 2022, at which a new edition of the Winkler biography : “Astris – zu den Sternen: Der Raketenpionier Johannes Winkler. Eine Biografie nach den Quellen” by Rudolf Guder as well as the book “Johannes Winkler in den Junkers-Werken und die Dessauer Raketen” by Dr. Reinhard Sagner, which is based on current research, took centre stage. Both books were published by Machtwortverlag in Dessau-Roßlau.
On 27 May 2022, a scientific colloquium followed, to which renowned speakers had come to Dessau-Roßlau. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wilhelm Koschel, aerospace engineer and former director of the Institute of Space Propulsion of the German Aerospace Centre in Lampoldshausen, spoke about the current global status in the development of engines with methane and oxygen, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ing. Philipp Epple and Magister Michael Steppert from the Coburg University of Applied Sciences on “Theoretical Climb Altitudes of the HW 1 c and the HW 2 and on the ‘Composite Rockets’ Report, respectively”, impressively demonstrating the accuracy of Winkler’s calculations (more than 12,000 metres of climb altitude), and Prof. Dr. Harald Kunze from Weimar reported on the beginnings of Winkler research in the GDR. The space historians Dr Wolfgang Both from Berlin and Michael Tilgner from Wedel spoke about individual aspects of Johannes Winkler’s research biography. A tour of the Museum of Technology, a trip to the Winkler Stone in Großkühnau and to Bauhaus sites in Dessau, and a reception by the Lord Mayor concluded the colloquium. Another highlight was the silent film “Woman in the Moon” (1929) by Fritz Lang, which was shown in the evening at the Museum of Technology. Among other things, the film provides a scientifically sound presentation of the technical details of take-off, flight and landing as well as the lunar landscape within the framework of the state of knowledge at the time.