Robert Lusser
Robert Lusser was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 engineer, aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 designer and aviator. He is remembered both for several designs significant during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and for his theoretical study of the reliability of complex systems. In the post-war era, Lusser also pioneered the development of modern ski binding
Ski binding
A ski binding is an attachment which anchors a ski boot to the ski. There are different types of bindings for different types of skiing.-Universal designs:...

s, introducing the first teflon anti-friction pads to improve release.


He was born in Ulm
Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 , forms an urban district of its own and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and...

. As a pilot, Lusser won the International Light Aircraft Contest in France in 1928. Next he participated in three out of four FAI
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

 International Tourist Plane Contests, flying Klemm aircraft, and completed all three taking quite high places (Challenge 1929
Challenge 1929
The Challenge 1929 was the first FAI International Tourist Plane Contest , that took place between August 4 and August 16, 1929 in Paris, France. Four Challenges, from 1929 to 1934, were major aviation events in pre-war Europe.-Overview:...

: 4th, Challenge 1930
Challenge 1930
The International Touring Competition in 1930 was the second FAI international touring aircraft contest, that took place between July 18 and August 8, 1930 in Berlin, Germany. Four Challenges, from 1929 to 1934, were major aviation events in pre-war Europe....

: 13th, and Challenge 1932
Challenge 1932
The Challenge 1932 was the third FAI International Tourist Plane Contest , that took place between 12 and August 28, 1932 in Berlin, Germany. The four Challenges, from 1929 to 1934, were major aviation events in pre-war Europe.-Overview:...

: 10th). In August 1930 he was 3rd in the handicapped race Giro Aereo d'Italia in Italy.

Lusser's first jobs were with the Klemm
The Klemm Leichtflugzeugbau GmbH was a German aircraft manufacturer noteworthy for sports and touring planes of the 1930s.The company was founded in Böblingen in 1926 by Dr...

 and Heinkel
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

 companies, before joining the newly-relaunched Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraft Works, later Messerschmitt
Messerschmitt AG was a famous German aircraft manufacturing corporation named for its chief designer, Willy Messerschmitt, and known primarily for its World War II fighter aircraft, notably the Bf 109 and Me 262...

) in 1933. There, he assisted Willy Messerschmitt
Willy Messerschmitt
Wilhelm Emil "Willy" Messerschmitt was a German aircraft designer and manufacturer. He was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of a wine merchant...

 with his design for a touring aircraft, the Messerschmitt M37. This was later put into production as the Messerschmitt Bf 108
Messerschmitt Bf 108
-Popular culture:Bf 108s and postwar Nord 1000s, played the role of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in war movies, including The Longest Day, 633 Squadron, Von Ryan's Express and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.-See also:-References:Notes...

, and formed the basis for the company's best known product, the Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. By 1934, Lusser was head of Messerschmitt's design bureau and in charge of the Bf 110
Messerschmitt Bf 110
The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often called Me 110, was a twin-engine heavy fighter in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten...

 heavy fighter project.

Lusser stayed with the company until 1938, when he returned to Heinkel
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

. There, he led the design of two highly sophisticated aircraft that would never reach their full potential - the He 280
Heinkel He 280
The Heinkel He 280 was the first turbojet-powered fighter aircraft in the world. It was inspired by Ernst Heinkel's emphasis on research into high-speed flight and built on the company's experience with the He 178 jet prototype. A combination of technical and political factors led to it being...

 and the He 219
Heinkel He 219
The Heinkel He 219 Uhu was a night fighter that served with the German Luftwaffe in the later stages of World War II. A relatively sophisticated design, the He 219 possessed a variety of innovations, including an advanced VHF-band intercept radar...

. The He 280 was the first jet fighter to leave the drawing board, but which the RLM
Reich Air Ministry
thumb|300px|The Ministry of Aviation, December 1938The Ministry of Aviation was a government department during the period of Nazi Germany...

 (Reichsluftfahrtministerium - "Reich Aviation Ministry") passed over in favour of the Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944...

. The He 219 was an advanced night-fighter design that was rejected by the RLM in August 1941 as being too complex to order into production because of its many innovations. Ernst Heinkel
Ernst Heinkel
Dr. Ernst Heinkel was a German aircraft designer, manufacturer, Wehrwirtschaftführer in the Third Reich, and member of the Nazi party. His company Heinkel Flugzeugwerke produced the Heinkel He 178, the world's first turbojet aircraft and jet plane, and the Heinkel He 176, the first rocket aircraft...

 immediately dismissed Lusser and resubmitted a simplified design that eventually saw limited production.

From Heinkel, Lusser went to Fieseler
The Gerhard Fieseler Werke was a German aircraft manufacturer of the 1930s and 40s. The company is remembered mostly for its military aircraft built for the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.-History:...

, and there became involved with the company's efforts to produce a pilotless aircraft, initially designated the Fi 103. This was a collaborative effort between the company and engine manufacturer Argus
Argus Motoren
Argus Motoren was a German manufacturing firm known for their series of small inverted-V engines and the V-1 pulse jet engine.-History:...

, who were developing a pulsejet. Lusser worked with Argus engineer Fritz Gosslau
Fritz Gosslau
Fritz Gosslau was a German engineer, known for his work on the V-1 flying bomb.-Study:...

 to refine the design. The project was an initiative of the two companies, begun by Argus as early as 1934, and received little official interest until Erhard Milch
Erhard Milch
Erhard Milch was a German Field Marshal who oversaw the development of the Luftwaffe as part of the re-armament of Germany following World War I, and served as founding Director of Deutsche Luft Hansa...

 recognised its potential in 1942 and assigned it high priority. Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 propaganda would soon dub this flying bomb
Flying bomb
A flying bomb is a manned or unmanned aerial vehicle or aircraft carrying a large explosive warhead, a precursor to contemporary cruise missiles...

 the V1, (Vergeltungswaffe - "revenge weapon"). It was a design competing with Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

' s "V2" vertical takeoff rocket. Despite initial demonstrations before Luftwaffe made the V2 look more reliable, it was decided both designs should proceed into production. Lusser and von Braun were rivals, and even later their relationship was never frictionless. Near Wolfsburg, Lusser found the main design flaw of his rocket, which turned out to be an underdimensioned main wing spar, as the ramp up of production began. From there on, the design worked.

Like many important German engineers, Lusser was brought to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 after the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. There, he worked for the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

, and in 1953, re-joined von Braun's rocketry team at Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

. During his six years there, he formalised his theories of reliability, which focus on the contribution that the reliability of each part makes to the reliability of an overall system. This is now known as Lusser's Law
Lusser's Law
Lusser's law, named after Robert Lusser, is a prediction of reliability named after Robert Lusser. It is also called the "probability product law of series components". It states that the reliability of a series system is equal to the product of the reliability of its component subsystems, if their...

. Based on these calculations, he was to pronounce that von Braun's ambitions of reaching the Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 and Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 were doomed to failure because of the complexity of the spacecraft required.

He returned to Germany, and to the Messerschmitt company, by then, Messerschmitt-Bölkow. His alarming reliability study of the adaptations that the company was making to the F-104 Starfighter
F-104 Starfighter
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic interceptor aircraft originally developed for the United States Air Force by Lockheed. One of the Century Series of aircraft, it served with the USAF from 1958 until 1969, and continued with Air National Guard units...

 that it was building under licence soon turned out to be tragically correct.

In 1961 he ruptured his achilles tendon while testing his ski's cable bindings in his hotel room at Saas-Fee
Saas-Fee is the main village in the Saastal, or the Saas Valley, and is a municipality in the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

. He decided to attack the binding problem, developing the first bindings that gripped the toe of the boot, rather than the flange projecting from the front of the sole at the toe. This allowed the toe binding to release in any direction. In 1963 he quit his job at Messerschmitt to start the Lusser Binding Company. This was a major brand until his death in 1969. He died on 19 January 1969 in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

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