Max Valier’s name should be more prominently known in the history books, as one of the founders of Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR – “Spaceflight Society”) he would help bring together some of the greatest minds in rocketry that would one day make spaceflight a reality in the 20th century. Why have you not heard of this man? Well, funny story…..
This Austrian rocketry pioneer, with the help of Fritz von Opel would go on to design, build and test drive a number of rocket-powered cars and aircraft. This is the part when you think ‘Ahhh, so he was killed test driving a car like Henry Smolinski’, not exactly. He would meet his fate because of a rocket combustion chamber he was developing. While working at his laboratory in Berlin it would suddenly explode and send a small metal fragment into pulmonary artery.