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Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky Edit Profile

research scientist

The Russian scientist Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky formulated the mathematical fundamentals of modern astronautics.

He showed that space travel was possible only by means of rocket propulsion.


Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was born on September 17, 1857, in the village of Izhevskoye, Ryazan Province, Russia.


He made an ear trumpet himself and attended lectures and studied in libraries.

Regular attendance at the university was out of the question because of the costs involved and his deafness.


Tsiolkovsky seriously began considering the problems of space exploration.

It was a box in which there were two steel rods with balls on their ends.

When the rods were set in motion, their vibrations (in Tsiolkovsky's theory) would produce an upward movement because of centrifugal force, but they did not. In 1876 Tsiolkovsky went home, which was now in Viatka in the Urals.

He converted a room into a workshop in which he built machines.

He took a job as a teacher of arithmetic, geometry, and physics at the district school in Borovsk near Moscow. In 1880 Tsiolkovsky wrote his first serious scientific paper, "The Graphical Depiction of Sensations. "

He began to concentrate on aeronautics: a streamlined airplane, an aerostation, an all-metal dirigible, and space travel.

In 1886 he published an essay on the theory of the dirigible and was invited to Moscow to lecture on his ideas.

He proposed all-metal airships with a variable volume to preserve constant buoyancy at different temperatures and altitudes.

The tone of this letter was to become familiar to him over the remainder of his life.

The only funds he ever received from any outside source came from the Academy of Sciences and amounted to only 470 rubles ($235).

In 1892 Tsiolkovsky became a high school teacher in Kaluga.

In 1894 he published the article "The Airplane or Bird-like Flying Machine. "

In 1897 Tsiolkovsky built the first wind tunnel in Russia.

In it, he tested a number of different airfoils to determine their lift coefficients.

He built a bigger machine, but even as he was wrapped up with his wind tunnel, he found time to think about rockets and space travel. In 1897 Tsiolkovsky derived the relationship of the exhaust velocity of a rocket and its mass ratio to its instantaneous velocity.

Known today as the basic rocket equation, it is expressed as V = c In (W i /Wf ), in which V is the final velocity, c is the exhaust velocity of propellant particles expelled through the nozzle, Wi is the initial weight of the rocket, and W f is the final, or burnt-out, weight of the rocket.

Of course, it does not consider the retarding forces ofgravity and drag, which Tsiolkovsky knew affected the rocket and later took into account in refining his equation.

What his equation proved was that the velocity of a rocket in space depends on the velocity of its exhaust and the ratio of the weight of the rocket at lift-off and at burn-out.

Today this concept is known as "staging. "

Thus, he suggested that rockets could be clustered in the tandem, or parallel, configuration.

As stages burned out, they dropped away, and upper stages gained in velocity as a result—as his rocket equation proved.

In 1903 Tsiolkovsky finished a paper that was to become his famous article "Investigation of Outer Space by Reaction Devices. "

It did not appear in print until 1911 and 1912, when it was published serially in the Aeronautical Courier (Vestnik Vozdukhoplavaniva).

He reiterated his rocket equation and modified it to include the forces of gravity and drag.

He examined the energies involved in a vertical and horizontal launching, and he considered the best overall shape for a rocket.

In considering various liquid propellants, he arrived at liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as the most practical.

He also mentioned the theoretical advantage of ozone instead of diatomic oxygen.

The concept of the regeneratively cooled engine is also found in this work. During the late 19206 and the early 19306, Tsiolkovsky's interests shifted to the airplane, especially the rocket-propelled model.

Of the articles appearing in this period, typical are "The New Airplane" (1929), "The Reaction Airplane" (1930), and "Rocketplane" (1930).

After Tsiolkovsky retired from teaching, he continued to write on space and aeronautics. In 1934, as he knew he was dying of cancer, Tsiolkovsky became worried about the future welfare of his family.


  • Tsiolkovsky worked out the theoretical problems of rocket travel in space.

    He predicted that liquid fuels would provide the best propulsion for launching space probes, designed steering vanes for rocket-exhaust nozzles, and correctly specified the combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as potentially the most powerful rocket fuel.

    He suggested the construction of space stations orbiting around the earth to serve as intermediate bases for travel to other planets.


Quotations: He coined the famous metaphor that "the earth is the cradle of the mind, but one does not live in a cradle forever, " and made the stirring prediction that "in search of light and space, humanity will at first venture beyond the limits of the atmosphere and then boldly move out to occupy all of the solar system. "