Happy birthday to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of spaceflight, born on September 17, 1857 in Izhevskoye, Russia. To celebrate, let’s do some fun facts:
- He was the son of a Polish deportee to Siberia.
- At age ten he nearly became deaf from scarlet fever.
- Like many pioneers of space travel, he was inspired by the science fiction of Jules Verne. (See Hermann Oberth for another Verne fan.)
- Tsiolkovsky wrote his own sci-fi stories.
- He built the first Russian wind tunnel in 1897.
- In 1903 he published the rocket equation in a Russian aviation magazine. Called the Tsiolkovsky formula or Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, it described the relationships among rocket speed, the speed of the gas at exit, and the mass of the rocket and its propellant.
- In 1929 he published his theory of multistage rockets, based on his knowledge of propulsion dynamics.
- He was a big proponent of humanity moving out into the vastness of outer space: “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever.”
- Inspired in 1895 by the newly constructed Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tsiolkovsky was the first person to conceive of a space elevator.
- During his lifetime he published approximately 90 works on space travel and related subjects, including designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multistage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship, and closed-cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies.
- There’s a crater named in his honor on the far side of the Moon.
- He is often called the “father of spaceflight.” He’s also been called “the father of theoretical and applied cosmonautics.” (One has more dramatic punch than the other.)
- Interestingly, Tsiolkovsky never built a rocket.