Announcement – In Memoriam

Prof. Willibald Riedler, one of the founding fathers of space research in Austria and an active IAF member passed away on 24 January 2018 aged 85


Willibald Riedler was a Professor of Communications Technology at the Graz University of Technology and from 1975 – 1977 also President of the University.

Since early childhood Willibald Riedler has been fascinated by the Moon and since the AUSTROMIR mission he has been most closely connected to Austria’s space research. After his studies in Vienna and years of research in Swedish Kiruna he accepted a call to become Professor at the Graz University of Technology in 1968. Only one year later, at his initiative, the first Austrian space research equipment was launched to space, the first steps of Austria to become a country active in space. In the years to follow, Riedler managed to send space measurement equipment made in Graz to space onboard European, American, Russian and Chinese satellites on interplanetary missions. These projects brought international recognition and he was assigned Science Lead of the AUSTROMIR mission, an Austro-Soviet project of sending the first Austrian astronaut Franz Viehböck on a 1-week mission to the Russian space station MIR in October 1991 to perform a rich scientific microgravity research programme. Under his leadership a whole series of experiments in space physics were developed and successfully accomplished during AUSTROMIR and also later during missions of the European Space Agency ESA onboard the MIR space station.

In addition to  his activities at the Graz University of Technology, Willibald Riedler was also leading the Institute of Space Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and he was also heading the Institute for Applied Systems Technology of Joanneum Research in Graz. Riedler has also been a great mentor to many young research talents and provided continuous inspiration to the young generation.

Willibald Riedler was born in Vienna on 1 September 1932 and studied Communication Technology at the Vienna University of Technology, as well as Metoerology and Geophysics at the University of Vienna. Riedler received numerous high-level honors and awards, amongst them the Great Golden Honorary Award for Services to the Republic of Austria and the Austrian State Prize for Special Achievements in Science and Technology. In 1986 Riedler was awarded the Soviet Order for International Friendship “Druzhba narodov”. He also received the Great Golden Medal of the Province of Styria and the Honorary Ring of the city of Graz.

Willibald Riedler was a long-standing and active member of the IAF community and he led the organization of a very successful International Astronautical Congress in Graz in 1993.

The IAF expresses sincere condolences to Prof. Riedler’s family, friends and colleagues.