Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: Via Harald Lutz
Seliger and Rocket
Seliger examines one of his rockets
Credit: Via Harald Lutz
Seliger Rocker
Launch of Seliger Single Stage Rocket
Credit: Via Harald Lutz
Seliger Rocket
Launch of Seliger Three Stage Rocket
Credit: Via Harald Lutz
Seliger, Berthold (1928-) German engineer, assistant to Saenger, most successful developer of rocketry in Germany 1960-1964. Work was ended by government decision to restrict missile development to established military contractors.

Berthold Seliger was born in 1928 in Dauba, in the Czech republic. He was interested in physics from an early age. At 14 he received a scholarship and studied at the Mittweida Engineering School near Chemnitz. Before completing his studies he went to work as an assistant for the famed Eugen Saenger. Unable to pursue further rocket research in post-war Germany, he established a moped repair shop in 1955 in picturesque Osroy am Rhein. Seliger was admitted to the German Rocket Society (DRG) in 1960 and began to produce a series of large sounding and military test rockets. In 1961, in echo of the Wright Brothers, he incorporated a new company, Forschungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft Seliger GmbH (Seliger Research and Development Company), and converted the shop to rocket production.

Meanwhile in 1962 Richard Stengler founded the Waffen und Luftruestung AG (Weapons and Air Development Inc) in Hamburg with a capital of DM 100,000. This was topped off by DM 2 million raised through stock offerings. The new company was backed by the State Organization for the Aircraft Components and Rocket Industry, which represented over 1600 German companies. The company was charged with developing a new fast military boat that would have integrated missile launchers under quick-closing hatches. For the missiles improved types of solid propellant were envisioned. Jordan and Saudi Arabia were potential customers. Seliger obtained contracts from Waffen und Luftruestung (for military test launches) to supplement those already in hand from the Max Planck Institute (for rocket launches carrying stratospheric probes).

Civilian rocket tests were banned in Germany after June 1964, and Seliger drops completely from the record. It is not known if he continued military rocket tests at the site, or what became of him or his company. The sale to Jordan and Saudi Arabia evidently never went ahead. The German government decided in the mid-1960's that future missile development would only be handled by large industrial concerns and in joint projects with other NATO countries. This would seem to have the sealed the fate of Seliger and other 'Mittelstand' rocket enterprises. Did Seliger abandon the field? Was he involved in later shadowy rocket research for middle eastern countries?

Birth Place: Dauba.
Born: 1928.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • "Wolf, Sonja", Cuxhaven - Im Zeitalter der Raketen, Unpublished manuscript, Cuxhaven City Archives, August 1986. Provided by Harald Lutz..
  • Contemporary newspaper articles, 1952-1964, Collected and provided by Harald Lutz.
  • SFE - Seliger Forschungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mgH., Company brochure, ca. 1964. Provided by Harald Lutz..

Seliger Chronology

1962 November 19 - . Launch Site: Cuxhaven. LV Family: Seliger. Launch Vehicle: Seliger.
  • Seliger rocket reaches 40 km - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Seliger. Summary: Berthold Seliger made the first launches of his rockets from Cuxhaven. Three 3.4 m long, single stage rockets reached altitudes of 40 km. The on-board transmitters were tracked by the Bochum Observatory..

1963 February 7 - . Launch Site: Cuxhaven. LV Family: Seliger. Launch Vehicle: Seliger.
  • Seliger rockets reach 80 km. - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Seliger. Seliger launched three rockets. The 3.4 m long single stage version reached an altitude of 52 km, and the 6.0 m long two stage version reached 80 km. Each stage had a thrust of 5000 kgf. Bochum Observatory tracked the radio transmitters of the payloads during their ascent. The wreckage of the missiles was found on the flats. Seliger announced plans to launch a three-stage rocket to 150 km altitude.

1963 May 2 - . Launch Site: Cuxhaven. LV Family: Seliger. Launch Vehicle: Seliger.
  • Seliger rocket reaches 120 km altitude. - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Seliger. Seliger launched his 12.8 m long, three-stage rocket at an attempt to reach an altitude of 150 km. The effects of his contracts with the military were apparent. The 74th Panzer batallion at Altenwalde provided security, field communications, two jeeps as command posts, and a helicopter to search for the missile after the flight. The first launch of the day was that of a single-stage rocket to 50 km altitude. The mission was to measure high altitude winds and test the new parachute recovery system. The payload was successfully recovered in Wernerwald. Preparation of the three stage rocket took three hours, leading up to the planned 16:00 launch time. The 6 m long rocket lifted off at 16:03 but only reached an altitude of 120 km.

1963 December 5 - . Launch Site: Cuxhaven. LV Family: Seliger. Launch Vehicle: Seliger.
  • First Cuxhaven military launches - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Seliger. The first military launches were made from Cuxhaven since the Backfire V-2 launches of 1945. Seliger, under contract to Waffen und Luftruestung AG (Weapons and Air Development Inc) of Hamburg launched a test rocket. The altitude was restricted to 30 km by a new regulation of the Lower Saxony Economy and Trade Ministry.

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