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Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky

 Tsiolkovsky.jpg (38860 bytes)


Soviet Space Scientist

1857 - 1935

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was born on September 17, 1857 at Izhevskoye, Russia. His formal education was terminated tragically at age ten when he suffered a near-total hearing loss from scarlet fever. Unwilling to accept defeat by his handicap, he began to educate himself at home. His extraordinary success at this venture was recognized by his family who then sent him to Moscow to complete his education. Because of his proficiency in mathematics and the sciences, he eventually won a teaching post at Kaluga.

Tsiolkovsky, the schoolteacher, was consumed by his passion for the sciences. He tried his hand at science fiction and with the inspiration of Jules Verne's stories began to write of interplanetary travel. He soon introduced real technical problems into his writings, such as rocket control in moving into and out of gravitational fields. Tsiolkovsky evolved from fiction writer to scientist and theoretician. Hypotheses and calculations followed on a broad spectrum of matters: gyroscopic stabilization; escape velocities from the earth's gravitational field; the principle of reactive action; and the use of liquid propellants for rockets. His "Tsiolkovsky Formula" established the relationships between rocket speed, the speed of the gas at exit and the mass of the rocket and its propellant. This fundamental principle remains basic to contemporary astronautics.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is generally considered the father of astronautics and rocket dynamics. Entering the world more than one hundred years before Sputnik became the first object rocketed into space, he prepared the way for it and all space exploration that followed. Tsiolkovsky died in 1935.

Invested 1989 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

The photograph of Dr. Tsiolkovsky is reproduced from the Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics   (http://www.informatics.org/museum/) in Kaluga, Russia.

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Updated: March 12, 2004