Mail rocket

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April 15, 1931: The first German mail rocket designed by Reinhold Tiling is tested at Dümmer near Osnabrück

The postal rocket was a rocket developed in the 1930s for the transport of mail . It had a primitive, single-stage drive and had a compartment for mail in the head of the rocket. Since the missile could only be used once and left a lot to be desired in terms of both accuracy and cost efficiency, it never came into commercial use from the start. It also failed because of the rapid development of air traffic, which was able to take on this task much more cheaply.

First start

The first post rocket was successfully detonated on February 2nd, 1931 by the Graz- based researcher Friedrich Schmiedl on the Schöckl, north of Graz . He already had ideas from 1914, at the age of 12, to shoot mail out of Przemyśl with a rocket . But they were not taken seriously. The remote-controlled rocket V 7 ( V for experimental rocket ) reached the village of St. Radegund about five kilometers away and landed with the aid of a parachute. It transported 102 letters. The first postal rocket to be regarded as regular in Austria was the R 1 , which Schmiedl ignited on September 9, 1931 on the Hochtrötsch in the municipality of Semriach . Subsequently, he successfully carried mail in this way a few more times.

The failure of an idea

Schmiedl had in mind to use mail rockets to transport mail between hard-to-reach mountain villages and between large cities, but the idea did not meet with the responsible Austrian postal officials.

Similar ideas also existed in Germany at the same time. For example, a rocket mail line Berlin-Cologne was thought of, and elsewhere, the designer Gerhard Zucker launched several mail rockets in Cuxhaven and in the Harz Mountains in 1933 . But here, too, the idea could not prevail. When Zucker presented his ideas about this type of mail and postcard delivery to the National Socialist authorities in 1934, he was offered research funds to instead bomb his rockets, which Zucker refused and consequently brought him into disrepute with the new rulers. Sugar then emigrated to Great Britain, where he tried to interest the authorities in the use of postal missiles. Successful attempts in the county of Sussex brought media coverage ("First British rocket mail") and made Zucker think of a rocket mail connection between Dover and Calais . However, a subsequent technically unsuccessful demonstration on July 31, 1934 in front of official representatives on the Outer Hebridean Islands prevented success.

Back in Germany, Zucker was still trying to launch postal rockets in the 1970s. But after two people were killed in the accident at the rocket demonstration in Braunlage in 1964 , the legislation was changed accordingly, so that from now on the launching of rockets with an altitude of over 100 m by private individuals was prohibited.

In Austria, the idea of ​​a rocket mail came to an end earlier. Friedrich Schmiedl dreamed, among other things, of a rocket mail line from Ljubljana -Graz- Bern , but had to give up his plans due to new legal regulations from 1934. At that time, possession of explosives that were necessary for rocket detonation became a criminal offense.

Significance for philately

A postcard carried on the first German post rocket flight ("(K) FTL3" from Tiling, April 15, 1931)

The mail rocket was important for philatelists right from the start . Both Schmiedl and Zucker issued their own philatelic collector's items with special motifs related to the postal rocket. Gerhard Zucker, for example, had brought out envelopes in England that were intended to be transported by rocket, and on the occasion of the launch of Schmiedl's mail rocket, he issued a block of stamps in four different designs with a total circulation of 1200. The postal rocket tests were partially financed with the proceeds from the sales.

However, this approach had considerable consequences for both researchers. Both the British and Austrian Post saw this as a business competition and took appropriate steps. The UK's Royal Mail viewed sugar as a "threat to postal revenues and the security of the country", which led to the researcher being sent back to Germany. The Austrian Post issued an ordinance that prohibited the issuance of private stamps , so that Schmiedl lost a significant source of income.

In honor of the Austrian pioneer of the postal rocket, model rockets of the Thor type were launched around the 90th birthday of Friedrich Schmiedl in Semriach from 14 to 16 May 1992 .

In 2002 the Philatelic Society of Graz organized several post rocket launches in Semriach on the occasion of Schmiedl's 100th birthday.


  • Karl Trobas: rockets, rocket mail, mail rockets. Friedrich Schmiedl, a rocket pioneer from Graz. Manumedia-Verlag, 1992, ISBN 978-3-85375-008-7 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Rocket mail  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Postrakete  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: rocket mail  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Schmiedl, Friedrich . Austria Forum. March 9, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  2. Ariane Stürmer: Greetings from heaven . In: Spiegel history . The mirror. April 5, 2011. Accessed April 16, 2020.
  3. The post rocket , Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  4. a b Gerhard Zucker in the Encyclopedia Astronautica , accessed on September 10, 2009 (English).
  5. a b See stamp catalog ANK Austria Netto Catalog , 51st edition 1995/96, p. 196.
  6. Peter Haslinger: Rocket mail launch in Austria with model rockets (100th birthday of Ing.Friedrich Schmiedl) In: Countdown Online, Oliver Missbach, May 26, 2002, accessed September 13, 2016.