Wohnrad - Habitat Wheel

In 1929, an Austro-Hungarian Slovene called Herman Potocnik published a book under pseudonym of "Noordung". The book was Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel). It was the first book to devote most of its pages to space stations. Potocnik proposed the Wohnrad (inhabitable or habitat wheel) design. This strongly influenced the work of technicians and researchers, as well as of science fiction authors. It inspired many space station designs during the 1950s, even the one appearing in the science fiction film, 2001 - A Space Odyssey.

The Wohnrad had an outer diameter of 50 metres (164 feet), and rotated about an axis in order to create artificial gravity in the inhabitable outer ring (Radkranz). This contained cabins, laboratories, workshops, kitchen, and bathroom. There was also a circular gallery (Gang, rundum laufend). There were potholes (Luken) used for observing the Earth and the stars. There was also a lift shaft and two staircases leading to the "hub" (Achskörper), with a rotating airlock (Drehscleuse). The station's energy would be provided by two large concave mirrors to focus solar radiation onto heat pipes (Verdampfungsrohre) containing a liquid wich would vapourise and operate turbines to produce a continuous electrical current. The vapour would condense in other pipes (Kondensatorrohre) shaded from the Sun (Deutsches Museum, München).

(Click individual images to enlarge)

Blueprints for the Habitat Wheel, a space station concept developed by Herman Potocnik in 1928. The rotating station was modular in design. Potocnik's complete technical blueprint was the first to fully develop the notion of a space station, and many of his ideas, in modified forms, can be seen in modern technologies that will be used on the International Space Station (ISS). See International Space Station: Continuing the Journey.
  • Text - Encyclopedia Cambridge, Space, page 29 [with minor modifications]
  • http://www2.arnes.si/~ljarkvmk5/cosmo/noordung/
  • Caption - http://mgnews.msfc.nasa.gov/spring98/lead.html

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Created: Wednesday, March 26, 2003; Last Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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