Design In Detail – Ze Wunder

1956 September


Ze Wunder is a heavy lift rocket developed by the Illyrien Space Program in the late spring of 1956, designed by Werner von Kerman. It is capable of lifting 40t to LEO. At the time of its development it was the highest capability lifter in the world.

Fact Sheet

Price 26.880
Weight 1317t
LEO/% 40t/3%

Stage breakdown

Main Stage Circulation Stage Lunar Transfer Stage (example)
Initial mass 1317t 222t 40t
Initial TWR 1.52 0.74 0.41
Engines (9+3) * RD-253 N1 Block V RD-210
Fuel type UDMH/NTO Kerosene/Oxygen UDMH/NTO
Tank type (100% utilization) Ballon ServiceModule Ballon
Thrust 17.695-> 19.620 1608 582
ISP 285->316 353 111

Design Challenges

Main Stage TWR

The size of rockets are limited by how strong the thrust of the engines are. The Wunder has taken this to the limit of what can possibly be done at current levels of technology, with its 12 main stage engines. Future rockets would need to use either stronger engines or boosters, to break this soft limit on rocket size.

Circulation Stage TWR

A secondary restriction is the circulation stage. This stage need a thrust high enough to accelerate the cargo into orbit, before the trajectory leads it down into the atmosphere. Therefore, the cargo capacity is limited by the thrust of the engine(s).

Other Notes

Fuel Safety

Concerns have been voiced regarding the commonly used rocket fuel mix UDMH/NTO. Investigations are underway.

Comparison with fictional rockets

Compared to the fabled Saturn V, as described the the famous science fiction stories by Jules Kerman, the  Wunder is less efficient, with a lower lift capacity and lower capacity%. Compared further to the “Nest” mission to the Moon, it fares less favourably. In the story, Journey to the Moon, the Saturn V is described in some details, which compares as follows.

Ze Wunder Saturn V
Weight  1317t  2950t
LEO/% 40t/3%  140t/4.7%
TLI/% 11.2t/0.6%  48.6t/1.6%

Skærmbillede 2017-03-10 23.08.44 - Copy



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