Institute >  History 


In 1947 Prof. Burkard from the Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics of the Karl Franzens University Graz installed an ionosonde to measure the electron density profiles of the electrically conductive upper layers of the atmosphere. This laid the foundations of ionospheric research.

From 1966 artificial satellites were photographically recorded at the Observatory Graz-Lustbühel by Prof. Rinner, the Chair of Geodesy II of the Technische Hochschule Graz.

In 1969 Prof. Riedler became the head of newly-founded Institute of Communications and Wave Propagation of the Graz University of Technology. The Norwegian Research Council invited the Institute to develop the first Austrian instruments for space research purposes which were launched on November 26, 1969 on board a sounding rocket (see illustration) from the launch site in Andøya, Vesterålen Islands, Norway. This was the first launch of Austrian instruments into space.

On 24 April 1970 the Austrian Academy of Sciences decided to establish the Space Research Institute. It started its activities in 1972 at different departments spread all over Austria (Graz, Innsbruck and Vienna).

In 1974/75 the Institute concentrated its activities in three departments in Graz. Prof. Burkard became the Managing Director.

In 1982 Prof. Bauer first followed Prof. Burkard at the University Institute and as Department Head.

In 1984 Prof. Riedler was appointed Managing Director.

In 1990 Prof. Sünkel followed Prof. Rinner as Department Head.

In 1999 Prof. Rucker followed Prof. Bauer as Department Head.

In 2001 Prof. Baumjohann followed Prof. Riedler as Department Head. Prof. Sünkel and Prof. Rucker were appointed Managing and Deputy Director, respectively.

In 2004 Prof. Baumjohann and Prof. Sünkel were appointed Managing and Deputy Director, respectively.

IWF owes its high reputation to a large extent to the sophisticated instruments, which have been developed and built for numerous space missions since the eighties. ESA, NASA, and other organizations invite institutes worldwide to apply for participation in such missions. Many IWF proposals have been accepted.

Austria's history in space was compiled by IWF staff member Bruno P. Besser. It was published in the ESA series "History Study Reports": Bruno P. Besser, Austria's History in Space, ESA HSR-34, 74 p., 2004.

Last update: 12/09/14