Rocket Mail

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Rocket Mail
Rocket Mail

History of Rocketry

Rockets have been utilised for over 1000 years. The Chinese were the first to master the mixing and use of gunpowder (200 BC). By 1000 AD they were using gunpowder to propel ballistic fire arrows. In the 13th century it was introduced into Europe. Over the next six centuries it's use was refined and incorporated into military activities as weapons of war and rockets. In 1885 the first two-stage rocket was introduced. Over the latter half of the 19th century the use of rockets declined because of improvements in military artillery. Renewed interest after WWI spurred its dramatic development. Rockets were used to propel automobiles, sleds, guided missiles and even trains (for a very, very short time). Development peaked in the 1950's culminating in the launching of the Sputnik satellite and man to the moon. Today rockets are used to launch satellites and other vehicles regularly into space.

Rocket Mail

Rockets were apparently used as early as 1902 to deliver mail from ship to shore in the Fiji islands. No known covers survive. On February 2, 1931 Friedrich Schmiedl successfully launched a rocket containing 102 covers and cards from the Austrian town of Schöckl to the village of Radegund. This date is regarded as the beginning of rocket mail usage. On September 9, 1931 Schmiedl initiated the world's first official rocket mail service. Many countries soon followed suit. However, a number of spectacular failures, including the explosion of a canister containing some 30,000 pieces of mail in Northern Scotland, doomed rocket mailed service as a viable entity. Today rocket mail is primarily used for commemorative purposes.

In the 1930's mail was usually transported in container either in the nose or attached to the side of the rocket. A safe landing was achieved by the deployment of a parachute from the rocket's nose as it descended.

The most successful early rocket mail pioneer was Stephen Smith in India who initiated some 80 rocket mail flights, including several Silver Jubilee flights, between 1934 and 1944.
Silver Jubilee Rocket Mail was also used in Australia.