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Heinz-Hermann Koelle Collection

Identifier: MC-73

Content Description

The Heinz-Hermann Koelle Collection (.5 linear ft.) includes one archival box which, includes 15 folders. Subjects covered within this collection include the idea of building a lunar base, and the benefits of space exploration for the U.S., and advancements in space vehicles and capabilities. The files also include information on Koelle’s academic career.


  • Creation: 1959 - 2013


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Handling guidelines and use restrictions will be communicated and enforced by archives staff members.

Conditions Governing Use

This material may be protected under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) which governs the making of photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted materials. You may use the digitized material for private study, scholarship, or research. Though the University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives and Special Collections has physical ownership of the material in its collections, in some cases we may not own the copyright to the material. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in our collections.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Heinz-Hermann Koelle was born in 1925 in the Free City of Danzig. He served as a military pilot for Germany during World War II and spent time in the United States of America as a prisoner of war. He married Elizabeth Trautmann in 1951 and had three daughters: Ingrid, Karin, and Patricia.

After the war, Koelle returned to Germany and earned his master’s degree in technical engineering from the University of Stuttgart in 1954. After graduating, Koelle moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and joined Wernher von Braun’s team working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. From 1955 to 1965, he worked at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville as Director of Future Projects for von Braun. During this time, he was responsible for the preliminary design of the Saturn family of launch vehicles as well as for planning the Marshall Space Flight Center’s role in the lunar landing project. Koelle played a key role in engine selection for the Apollo missions. In 1958, he served as a member of the launch crew for Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite. Koelle returned to Germany in 1965 and earned his doctorate in engineering at the Technical University in Berlin, acting as the Chair of Space Technology at the university from 1965 to 1995. He also taught at the Technical University of Berlin, but retired from this role in 1991. Koelle was an avid proponent of space exploration, and in 1948, he re-formed the pre-war German Society for Space Travel. He was a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the Co-Chairman of the Moon-Mars Committee for the IAA. Koelle received the Hermann Oberth Gold Medal in 1963 and the Space Pioneer Award for special merit from the National Space Society in 2007.

Koelle was an effective writer and was the author or co-author of over 300 publications. He assisted Dr. von Braun in publishing von Braun’s book “The Mars Project.” According to Lundquist and Williams in their research article “Heinz-Hermann Koelle and his contributions to space development,” Koelle “could skillfully organize, consolidate, and clearly present large bodies of factual information.” These skills made him a powerful force for space exploration endeavors. Koelle was very focused on the survival of civilization and believed in the importance of lunar and Mars exploration to that end. He stated, “Without making use of the resources of space, life on this planet will become difficult in the long run.” (Interview credit: Resonance Publications, Inc.).

The UAH Archives collection contains some of Koelle’s publications, including an account of Apollo/Saturn planning activities and material from Project Horizon which aimed to establish a U.S. base on the moon. These publications reveal Koelle’s involvement with and his thoughts on space exploration for the United States. Koelle died in Germany at the age of 85. He was still actively working on space-transportation related papers at that time.


Lundquist, C.A. & Williams, F.L. (2013). Heinz-Hermann Koelle and his contributions to space development.

Strickland, John & Liepack, Oti. memorial page for Dr. H. Herman Koelle.


0.5 Linear foot (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Charles Lundquist, 2013.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Arik N. Daly
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives & Special Collections Repository

M. Louis Salmon Library
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899 Alabama 35899 United States of America