The Sibiu Manuscript: Pioneering Rocketry in the 16th Century

The Sibiu Manuscript, also known as the Sibiu Experiment, stands as a remarkable testament to the early advancements in rocketry during the 16th century. At over 500 years old, this historical document contains invaluable insights into the principles of rocketry, marking it as one of the earliest known records of its kind.

Penned by the Transylvanian Saxon scholar Conrad Haas between 1529 and 1553, the manuscript delves into various rocket designs, propulsion methods, and the theoretical underpinnings of rocket technology. In this article, we will explore the historical context, the life of Conrad Haas, and the significance of the Sibiu Manuscript in the development of rocket science.

Historical Context

The 16th century was a period of immense scientific curiosity and exploration. Europe was undergoing the Renaissance, an era marked by renewed interest in classical knowledge and a burgeoning spirit of inquiry. It was against this backdrop that Conrad Haas, a Transylvanian Saxon, undertook his groundbreaking work in the field of rocketry.

The Sibiu Manuscript was written during a time when gunpowder-based technologies were rapidly evolving, and scholars across Europe were exploring novel applications for this explosive compound.

Conrad Haas: The Enigmatic Rocket Pioneer

Conrad Haas, the author of the Sibiu Manuscript, was an enigmatic figure whose contributions to rocketry have only recently gained recognition. Little is known about his early life and education, but he served as a military engineer in the Principality of Transylvania during the 16th century.

Haas was stationed in the town of Hermannstadt (modern-day Sibiu, Romania) and was responsible for overseeing the town’s defense. His role as a military engineer provided him with the ideal platform to experiment with rocket technology, as he had access to resources and expertise in firearms and gunpowder.

The Sibiu Manuscript

The Sibiu Manuscript is a handwritten document that spans over 150 pages and provides a comprehensive account of Conrad Haas’ work in rocketry. It consists of detailed descriptions, illustrations, and diagrams of various rocket designs, as well as theoretical explanations of rocket propulsion.

Some of the key aspects covered in the manuscript include:

  1. Multi-Stage Rockets: Haas described multi-stage rockets, featuring separate propulsion units that would ignite sequentially during the rocket’s flight. This concept would later become a fundamental aspect of modern space exploration.
  2. Nozzle Design: The manuscript includes detailed information on rocket nozzle design, focusing on the shape and size of the nozzle’s throat and exit, which are crucial for optimizing thrust and efficiency.
  3. Stabilization: Haas discussed techniques for stabilizing rockets during flight, such as the use of fins or vanes.
  4. Liquid Fuel: Interestingly, Haas also explored the use of liquid fuels for rockets, a concept that would not be fully realized until the 20th century.
  5. Scientific Legacy: The Sibiu Manuscript is a testament to the spirit of scientific inquiry and exploration that defined the Renaissance. It is a crucial piece of evidence demonstrating that early scientists and scholars were actively investigating the possibilities of rocketry, even in relatively remote regions of Europe.


The Sibiu Manuscript, authored by Conrad Haas in the 16th century, represents a remarkable piece of history that sheds light on the early development of rocket technology. Haas’ visionary concepts, including multi-stage rockets and liquid fuel propulsion, continue to inspire contemporary rocket scientists and space enthusiasts.

This manuscript is a testament to the enduring human curiosity that drives technological innovation and exploration, whether it be in the 16th century or the present day.


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