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(Leipzig 1933, NASA 1962-2012)

Happy Birthday Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer

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2 p.m., Photo opportunity at the memorial plaque at the birthplace, Salomonstr. 25, Leipzig
3 p.m., Jesco von Puttkamer Schule, Wurzner Str. 4, Leipzig

today: 22.9.2022, Leipzig /Huntsville AL /Alexandria VA, International Space Education Institute e.V.


On Friday, September 22, 2023, the German-American NASA scientist born at Salomonstr. 25 in Leipzig would celebrate his 90th birthday. His father worked as an editor at the Reclam publishing house and emigrated to Switzerland with his young family after the seizure of power in 1933. After the war, 12-year-old Jesco moved to his grandmother in Bavaria and attended school there. He often spoke of how the starlit Bavarian nights were his inspiration for space. He completed his mechanical engineering studies in Aachen in 1962. He financed his studies as an author of sci-fi paperback novels such as "Galaxis Ahoy" and "The Timemanuskript".

After receiving a telegram from America: "Don't go into business, come to Huntsville, we're going to the moon, stop," the young engineer emigrated and worked on the Apollo program. His responsibilities included lunar gravitational anomalies and studies on the reusability of Saturn V stages, from which the space shuttle fleet emerged. His commitment to the Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) program comes to impressive heights with SpaceX and other competitors this decade.

Never putting aside his pen as an author, von Puttkamer wrote countless non-fiction and technical books on spaceflight as head of the Strategic Planning Division beginning in the 1970s. He also remained loyal to science fiction, advising Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek as a NASA representative and enlisting African-American Nichelle Nichols (known as Lt. Uhura) as an ambassador for NASA youngsters of the 1970s.

His family's Slavic roots allowed him a conciliatory mentality with the scientists of the then-Soviet Union in the Apollo-Soyuz program, which, thanks in part to von Puttkamer's driving force after perestroika, resulted in various MIR missions with space shuttle flights and ultimately the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). Von Puttkamer held the post of NASA director for the ISS at Washington headquarters from 1998 until his death in 2012. Despite the Russian war of aggression, the ISS remains to this day a multinational peace ambassador for humanity in space and a guarantor of scientific cooperation.

The engineer received various honorary doctorates and professorships for his tireless international work with students, which today already includes several generations of space scientists. In 2005, Prof. Dr. von Puttkamer decided to found a school for the early promotion of young space engineers together with citizens of Leipzig as a support association. At the turn of the millennium, he selected the then young Leipzig couple Yvonne and Ralf Heckel as personal aspirants for this development work. This school has achieved impressive results to date, producing numerous international space scientists, engineers and even aspiring female astronauts. Today, the school bears his name and comprises a small climate and science campus of 2000 m² in the east of Leipzig, not far from the house where he was born.


Von Puttkamer received numerous awards. Above all, 2 outstanding honors should be mentioned here. In 2008 von Puttkamer received the title "Distinguished German American" with congratulations from the 43rd US President and NASA. In the same year the Jet Propulsion Laboratory dedicated a newly discovered asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, the "266752 Vonputtkamer". In 2007, von Puttkamer and his Leipzig school opened the gates for the first time for non-U.S. citizens to participate in NASA junior competitions at the NASA Moonbuggy Race (later NASA Roverchallenge). From this more than 100 teams grew up until today and already 3 world championship titles went to Leipzig.


Puttkamer was a visionary who saw the future as a body in front of him and could explain it in an understandable way. Each of his lectures between Moscow and California was an experience. It is as if this future built by him would bow deeply in these weeks, because:

1. valuable hand drawings and manuscripts in poster format from the Apollo period were recently found in the attic of his former home in Huntsville - they will be shown in Leipzig on his birthday.

2. the ISS shows itself on the evening of his birthday over the native city Leipzig at 20 o'clock on 90 degrees over Leipzig with -4,2 Mag particularly bright and close.

3. asteriod 266752 Vonputtkamer is currently in an unprecedented opposition to Earth and could actually be photographed by the institute's own self-built observatory 7 days ago at a distance of 150 million km (distance Earth-Sun) despite its small size and light faintness of -20 mag. It is currently found to the west of Jupiter between Aries and Pisces (the photos will be presented on Sept 22, 2023 for the birthday).

4. NASA and DLR sealed the return to the Moon last week by joining the Artemis program.

5. the first European young talents who were allowed to accompany an Artemis launch as VIP visitors are from Leipzig. They are 3 students aged between 8-18 years.

6. the COTS program of the NASA experienced a momentum of its own, so that now to the birthday the largest ever built moon rocket stands ready for takeoff on the test launch site in Boca Chica Texas. It is Elon Musk's Starship and a visualization of Puttkamer's vision.

7. the management of the Jesco von Puttkamer School already accompanied the first launch of the Starship on April 20, 2023 and is now opening educational tours to subsequent launches.

8. all over the world former "Puttkamer students" are involved in space missions and moon missions. This ranges from India to Leipzig to California. Since 2018, the Jesco von Puttkamer School also has a branch in India. A delegation from India is currently visiting Leipzig.

Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer was the NASA face on German TV for over 50 years. His "children" now dominate social media with educational partners in over 30 countries, driving our future forward. He himself was never in space, but described himself as a "desk astronaut" and in his last book described the "millennium project Mars" and the landing of man on it. Today, he is commemorated by a plaque at the house where he was born in Leipzig and a plaque at his home in Huntsville, Alabama.

Above all, however, his life's work lives on in the steady stream of spaceflight students from the Leipzig school who bear his name. For this 90th birthday, considerable investment has been made in the school this year in the main building, outdoor space and workshops. Take a look for yourself.

Vor allem aber lebt im steten Raumfahrt-Nachwuchs aus der Leipziger Schule mit seinem Namen sein Lebenswerk fort. Für diesen 90. Geburtstag wurde in diesem Jahr beträchtlich in die Schule investiert in Hauptgebäude, Außenbereich und Werkstätten. Machen Sie sich selbst ein Bild.

Those interested in lectures, talks, reminiscences and, above all, the future are very welcome.

The program on 22.9.2023:
2 p.m. Photo meeting at the memorial plaque at the birthplace, Salomonstr. 25, Leipzig
3 p.m. Speech, coffee, cake, tours and lectures on the Puttkamer Campus, Wurzner Str. 4, 04315 Leipzig
7 p.m. get-together for current and future members of the sponsoring association

The program afterwards:
Sep 2023 Start of the 1st student world tour as a 1-year internship.
Oct 2023 Trip to the 2nd test launch of the Starship, Visit to NASA Headquarters
Nov 2023 Indian ISEI partners present Chandrayaan 3 at the "Day of Spaceflight"
Dec 2023 Lectures in India and Africa
Jan 2024 Lectures in Brazil, Mexico and Central America
Feb 2024 NASA rover workshop in Leipzig, Germany
Apr 2024 Contribution to 30 years NASA Roverchallenge in Huntsville AL
May 2024 lectures and exchange programs in Washington DC
2024 regular educational trips to Starship launches with field trips
international summer camp Leipzig
first European Roverchallenge with craft, industry and partners
2025 trip with students to the launch of Artemis 2

International Space Education Institute e.V.
in the campus of the Jesco von Puttkamer School,
Wurzner Str. 4, 04315 Leipzig

Contact person:
Ralf Heckel, chairman
mobile phone/Whatsapp: 0172-7949375
email:Ralf dot Heckel at SpaceEducation dot de

Registration for the birthday party is required via WhatsApp. Admission is free, but birthday gifts are expected in the spirit of the professor after his words: "This youth must be actively supported. This is our debt to bring!"

Birthday gifts please to the donation account:
International Space Education Institute e.V.
Commerzbank Leipzig, IBAN: DE48 8604 0000 0209 9810 04, BIC: COBADEFFXXX

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or in the following currencies in the next months and years to continue Puttkamers life's work: - time - commitment - ideas - and also money

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