Dipl. Ing. Franz A. Viehböck

Spaceflight - Career - Speaking Engagements

Franz Viehböck, the first Austrian in space, fulfilled his dream of the space flight, developed an impressive international career and continues to enjoy new challenges associated with advancement, innovation and his vision of the future. 

Franz Viehböck worked as an Assistant Professor at the Vienna Technical University when a newspaper announcement of a possible Austrian flight to the space station “Mir” caught his attention. Sending an application meant not only an adventure but also a challenge that could shape his future in an unexpected way. He knew, two years training in Star City near Moscow would test his mental and physical limits, but first he had to be elected as one of the best, between many ambitious, competitive young people.

After exhausting selection, he and Clemens Lothaler were chosen as candidates for the joint Austrian-Soviet Mission in space. From now on, Franz Viehböck concentrated enormous energy, completing one test after another, all with outstanding results. The vision of him sitting in the cockpit of a space rocket made him use his mental and physical capabilities to their utmost. Until shortly before the launch it was uncertain who from the two trained cosmonauts will join the first team – the tiny difference in mental preparedness made Franz boarding the cockpit of the rocket on October 2, 1991.

The successful launch wasn’t only the start of an unforgettable space adventure but also the beginning of new challenges and opening of new horizons in his professional and private life. The rewards of seeing the beauty of our planet from a different perspective and feeling the excitement of weightlessness overshadowed the exhaustion of hard working schedule in the space station. The return to Earth with the landing on solid ground, the most dangerous part of the mission, was followed by an unexpected popularity and public interest throughout the country.
For the next two years, he toured through Austria and several other countries sharing his experience and impressions with countless people: children, students, public, scientific and corporate organizations.

In early 1994, following his ambition to enter the world of High Tech industry, he accepted a position with Rockwell Space Systems Division in Los Angeles, California. His motivation, flexibility, team spirit and international connections accelerated a remarkable career. Shortly after Boeing acquired the former Rockwell Aerospace and defense group, Franz became Director of International Business Development. In support of Boeing’s vision to become a global company, he went for an assignment to Austria as Director General and European representative for Boeing’s Space and Communication Group.

The dynamics and development of international space and defense business made it necessary for Franz to return to California in early 2002. For the first time in his career, his children expressed the wish not to relocate again (he is the father of four children). For Franz, this was an opportunity to start something completely new, he was ready for the new challenge: he accepted a position of the president of Berndorf Band, a company using high technology in the production of endless steel belts. In the meantime he became a member of the Management Board of the Berndorf Corpoartion.

Franz Viehböck has boundless energy and rarely stops moving. In his speeches, he draws upon the experience and insights of the space mission emphasizing the importance of stress and conflict management, teamwork, motivation and innovation for managers of successful companies. He isn’t only sharing the memories of his momentous space adventure, but encouraging the audiences to believe in the values of human spirit and to “reach for the stars”.


Franz Viehböck was engaged as spokesperson for such companies as:

Ascom, BA-CA, Boston Consulting Group, Compaq, Epson, Eunet, Eurisy, Generali, HP, IMAX, KLM, Kuffner Sternwarte, Merck Sharp & Dohme, NASA, NÖGKK, OMV, Oracle, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Österreichische Computer Gesellschaft, Postbank, Saab Ericsson, Siemens, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Swissair – Sabena, T-mobile, T-Systems, Tupper Ware, Unternehmen Erfolg, Wirtschaftskammer Tirol, Vorarlberg und Steiermark, Zeiss Planetarium, etc.

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