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
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