Pioneering Spacecraft Propulsion In Late Medieval Transylvania

Conrad Rudolf Haas was a Transylvanian Saxon engineer of Austrian origin (born in Dornbach, near Vienna, Austria) who lived in the town of Hermannstadt/Härmeschtat (Romanian: Sibiu) from the Principality of Transylvania at some point in the Late Middle Ages/Renaissance period. Prior to his arrival in Transylvania, present-day Romania, Conrad Haas was in charge of the arsenal of the Imperial Austrian army in the time of Ferdinand I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire during the first part of the 16th century as well as King of Bohemia and Hungary.

Haas was invited to settle down in Hermannstadt/Sibiu by the Grand Prince of Transylvania at that time, namely Stephen Báthory. During his time spent there he wrote an extensive documentation on rocketry propulsion in German, focusing on different firework techniques and weapon usages. This manuscript will be only discovered centuries later in the public records of the city of Sibiu/Hermannstadt (namely Varia II 374).

Illustration depicting a rocket and its functioning by Conrad Haas. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Haas was one of the earliest pioneers of spacecraft propulsion, having managed to design rockets in both two and three stages. Aside from this, he also managed to form theories regarding mixtures of different fuels (of liquid origin) and the components that would link the fuel to or within the rocket.

Conrad Haas street in Sibiu/Hermannstadt, southern Transylvania, Romania, with the picturesque buildings with eyes on their roofs, colloquially known as the ‘Eyes of Sibiu‘ (Romanian: Ochii din Sibiu; German: Augen von Hermannstadt). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least, it is wise, important, and very much interesting what Conrad Haas noted in his last chapter of his rocketry work with respect to the usage of weapons and warfare in general:

‘[…] But my advice is for more peace and no war, leaving the rifles calmly in storage, so the bullet is not fired, the gunpowder is not burned or wet, so the prince keeps his money, the arsenal master his life; that is the advice Conrad Haas gives.’

Nowadays, a street in Sibiu/Hermannstadt bears his name and a projected rocket meant to transport artificial satellites to space by ARCA Space Corporation was also named in his honour (HAAS).

Documentation sources and external links:

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