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History of Aviation, Rocket Technology, and Aerospace Engineering

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Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS,volume 45)


This chapter is a synthesis of the aerospace engineering activities in Romania or performed by Romanians. Important contributions to aviation and space flight since the earliest times demonstrate Romanians’ vocation and passion for flight. The chapter is structured in three parts: aviation and aeronautical industry, space flight and rocket technology, and aerospace sciences and engineering education. The activity of aviation pioneers Traian Vuia, Aurel Vlaicu, and Henri Coandă is better known, but many other less known aviation pioneers are presented. Their contribution is important nonetheless: Anastase Dragomir who invented the ejectable pilot seat, Ion Stroescu, who designed and built some of the most innovative wind tunnels of the time, and George de Bothezat, who built some of the earliest helicopters. After the First World War, Romania developed its aeronautical industry. IAR Brasov was the leading aircraft manufacturer of the time, with the military fighter IAR-80 as an iconic success of these times. After WWII, the Romanian aviation industry recovered, relying on four aircraft manufacturing plants: ICA Ghimbav (IAR Brasov), IRMA/IAv Bucharest (ROMAERO), IA Craiova (Avioane Craiova), and IAv Bacău (Aerostar). In addition to those, Turbomecanica Bucharest was specialised in turbine engines manufacturing, and Aerofina Bucharest was supplying avionics. For the aircraft design, the Institute for Aerospace Scientific Research and Technological Engineering (ICSITAV) became the only research and design institution in the aerospace sector in Romania. After 1990, ICSITAV split but the National Aerospace Research Institute INCAS continued this central role activity. The second part of the chapter is about astronautics and space research and industry, starting with a history of Romanian contributions, mainly with the visionary work of Hermann Oberth. The Romanian Space Agency established at the initiative of Cosmonaut Dumitru Prunariu in 1990 coordinated the activity of the Romanian space industry and research, with notable achievements. The early accession of Romania to the European Space Agency (ESA) accelerated the development of space activities in the country. The third part of the chapter presents the Romanian aerospace engineering school, with a tradition of almost 90 years. The school was established in the Polizu Campus of the University Politehnica of Bucharest by Academician Elie Carafoli. Thousands of Alumni made a decisive contribution to the Romanian aerospace industry and research, but also worlwide.

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Correspondence to Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu .

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Prunariu, DD., Antoniu, D., Olivotto, C., Berbente, C., Pleter, O.T. (2024). History of Aviation, Rocket Technology, and Aerospace Engineering. In: Banabic, D. (eds) History of Romanian Technology and Industry. History of Mechanism and Machine Science, vol 45. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39191-0_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39191-0_8

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-39190-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-39191-0

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