Konstantin Tsiolkovsky: Wikis


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Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Born September 17 [O.S. September 5] 1857
Died September 19, 1935 (aged 78)
Nationality Russian/Soviet
Fields astronautic theory
Known for Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (Russian: Константи́н Эдуа́рдович Циолко́вский; Polish: Konstanty Ciołkowski) (September 17 [O.S. September 5] 1857 – September 19, 1935) was an Imperial Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. He is considered by many to be the father of theoretical astronautics.[1] His works later inspired leading Soviet rocket engineers such as Sergey Korolyov and Valentin Glushko and contributed to the early success of the Soviet space program.

Tsiolkovsky spent most of his life in a log house on the outskirts of Kaluga, about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Moscow. A misanthrope by nature, he appeared strange and bizarre to his fellow-town folk.



He was born in Izhevskoye (now in Spassky District, Ryazan Oblast), in the Russian Empire, to a middle-class family. His father, Edward Tsiolkovsky (in Polish: Ciołkowski), was Polish; his mother, Maria Yumasheva, was an educated Russian (Tatar origin[2]) woman. His father was a Polish patriot deported to Russia as a result of his revolutionary political activities. At the age of 9, Konstantin caught a serious illness and became hard of hearing.[3] He was not accepted at elementary schools because of his hearing problem, so he was self-taught.[3]

Tsiolkovsky theorized many aspects of space travel and rocket propulsion. He is considered the father of spaceflight and the first man to conceive the space elevator, becoming inspired in 1895 by the newly-constructed Eiffel Tower in Paris.

He was also an adherent of philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov, and believed that colonizing space would lead to the perfection of the human race, with immortality and a carefree existence.

Nearly deaf, he worked as a high school mathematics teacher until retiring in 1920. Only from the mid 1920s onwards was the importance of his work acknowledged by others, and Tsiolkovsky was honoured for it. He died on 19 September 1935 in Kaluga and was buried in state.


Monument to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Moscow

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Tsiolkovsky delved into theories of heavier-than-air flying machines, independently working through many of the same calculations that the Wright brothers were doing at the same time. However, he never built any practical models, and his interest shifted to more ambitious topics. Because Tsiolkovsky's ideas were little known outside Imperial Russia, the field lagged until German and other scientists independently made the same calculations decades later.

In 1923, German physicist Hermann Oberth published his thesis By Rocket into Planetary Space, which triggered wide-scale interest and scientific research on the topic of space flight. It also reminded Friedrich Zander about once having read an article on the subject. After contacting the author, he became active in promoting and further developing Tsiolkovsky's work. In 1924 Zander established the first astronautics society in the Soviet Union, the Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel, and later researched and built liquid-fuelled rockets named OR-1 (1930) and OR-2 (1933).

In 1924, a writer for the Russian newspaper Izvestiia reported on A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, a groundbreaking work on the rocketry experiments being done by Robert Goddard, which had been published in 1919 but was not noticed in the Soviet Union until Hermann Oberth referenced it in his later work. When news of the article reached Tsiolkovsky, he decided to republish his early works along with a flurry of new articles about space.[4]

1 ruble, 1987

Only late in his lifetime was Tsiolkovsky honoured for his pioneering work. On 23 August 1924 he was elected as a first professor of the Zhukovsky Airforce Academy named after N. E. Zhukovsky (Russian: Военно-воздушная академия им. Н. Е. Жуковского).

His most important work, published in 1903, was The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices (Russian: Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами),[5] arguably the first academic treatise on rocketry. Tsiolkovsky calculated that the horizontal speed required for a minimal orbit around the Earth is 8,000 m/s (5 miles per second) and that this could be achieved by means of a multistage rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

Monument to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Moscow

During his lifetime he published over 500 works on space travel and related subjects, including science fiction novels. Among his works are designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multi-stage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship into the vacuum of space, and closed cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies.

Tsiolkovsky had been developing the idea of the air cushion since 1921, publishing fundamental paper on it in 1927, entitled "Air Resistance and the Express Train" (Russian: Сопротивление воздуха и скорый поезд).[6][7] In 1929 Tsiolkovsky proposed the construction of multistage rockets in his book Space Rocket Trains (Russian: Космические ракетные поезда).

Tsiolkovsky's work influenced later rocketeers throughout Europe, like Wernher von Braun, and was also studied by the Americans in the 1950s and 1960s as they sought to understand the Soviet Union's successes in space flight.


Draft first space ship by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

In fiction

See also

The cover of the book "The Will of the Universe. The Unknown Intelligence." by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1928


Modern day references

  • In the computer game, Civilization IV, when the player researches rocketry the quote, "The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot eternally live in a cradle", appears on screen.
  • In the movie Far Side of the Moon, the main character is doing research based on Tsiolkovski's theories.
  • Hachirota Hoshino's father quotes Tsiolkovski in the seventeenth episode of the anime series, Planetes.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now" features a science vessel called the "К. Э. Циолковский" [[2]] [[3]]

Further reading

  • Andrews, James T., Red Cosmos: K.E. Tsiolkovskii, Grandfather of Soviet Rocketry, Texas A & M University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-60344-168-1[13]


  1. ^ American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics - Home Page
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Narins, Brigham (2001), Notable Scientists from 1900 to the Present, 5, Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, pp. 2256–2258, ISBN 078765454X  
  4. ^ Asif Siddiqi, "Deep Impact: Robert Goddad and the Soviet Space Fad of the 1920s", History and Technology June 2004.
  5. ^ (Russian) Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin E. (1903), "The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices (Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами)", The Science Review (5), http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/dorev-knigi/ciolkovskiy/issl-03st.html, retrieved 2008-09-22  
  6. ^ Gillispie, Charles Coulston (1980), Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 484, ISBN 0684129256  
  7. ^ (Russian) Air Cushion Vehicle History, Neptune Hovercraft Shipbuilding Company, http://www.hovercraft.ru/history.html, retrieved 2008-09-22  
  8. ^ The Life of Konstantin Eduardovitch Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, http://www.informatics.org/museum/tsiol.html, retrieved 2008-09-22  
  9. ^ Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky Scientific Biography, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, http://www.informatics.org/museum/tsilbio.html, retrieved 2008-09-22  
  10. ^ Soviet Missions to the Moon
  11. ^ International Space Station Imagery
  12. ^ name=Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAGSeSTvwlc
  13. ^ http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1508/1

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky article)

From Wikiquote

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (Konstanty Ciołkowski, Константин Эдуардович Циолковский; September 17 (old style: September 5) 1857 - September 19, 1935) was a Soviet Russian rocket scientist and pioneer of cosmonautics.


  • Планета есть колыбель разума, но нельзя вечно жить в колыбели [1]
    • from a letter written in 1911
    • Transliteration: Planyeta yest' kolybyel razuma, no nyelzya vietchno zhit' v kolybyeli
    • Translation: A planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.
    • usually cited as Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. [2]
  • His epitaph, written by himself (translation): Man will not always stay on Earth; the pursuit of light and space will lead him to penetrate the bounds of the atmosphere, timidly at first, but in the end to conquer the whole of solar space.
    • Mentioned in Beyond the Planet Earth, by K. Tsiolkovsky (1920), translated by K. Syers (1960), reviewed by M. G. Whillans, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 55 (1961), p. 144 [3]
  • Translation: All the Universe is full of the life of perfect creatures.
    • from "The Scientific Ethics", 1930 [4]
  • Translation: The blue distance, the mysterious Heavens, the example of birds and insects flying everywhere —are always beckoning Humanity to rise into the air.
    • from "The Successes of Air Balloons in the XIX Century", 1901 [5]
  • Ничего не признаю, кроме материи. В физике, химии и биологии я вижу одну механику. Весь космос только бесконечный и сложный механизм. Сложность его так велика, что граничит с произволом, неожиданностью и случайностью, она дает иллюзию свободной воли сознательных существ. [6]
    • from Монизм Вселенной ("Monism of the Universe"), 19?? (= "The Cosmic Philosophy", 1932 ?)
    • Translation: I recognize nothing that is not material. In physics, chemistry and biology I see only mechanics. The Universe is nothing but an infinite and complex mechanism. Its complexity is so great that it borders on randomness, giving the illusion of free will.


  • Men are weak now, and yet they transform the Earth’s surface. In millions of years their might will increase to the extent that they will change the surface of the Earth, its oceans, the atmosphere and themselves. They will control the climate and the solar system just as they control the Earth. They will travel beyond the limits of our planetary system; they will reach other Suns and use their fresh energy instead of the energy of their dying luminary. [7]
  • Man must at all costs overcome the Earth's gravity and have, in reserve, the space at least of the Solar System.[8]
  • A lot of my discoveries have already been discovered before. I only see personal significance in these works, as they gave me self-confidence... At first, I've been making long-known discoveries, then not so long-known ones, and then completely new ones.[9]

External links

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