In 1961, a professor at the University of Bucharest, made a surprising discovery in the archives of the city of Sibiu, in Romania. It was a manuscript around 450 pages long filled with drawings and technical data on artillery, ballistics and detailed descriptions of multistage rockets. What’s fascinating about the discovery was that the documents were created in the mid-16th century—four hundred years before the first practical multi-stage rocket took flight from the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico shortly after the end of World War 2. The creator of the document was a remarkable Austrian military engineer named Conrad Haas.
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An illustration from Haas’s manuscript showing the tools and techniques of rocket making.