Konstantine Eduard Tsiolkovsky/Tsiolkovskii is The Father of Space Flight.
Tsiolkovskii was born in 1857 in Russia, and lived most of his life in the small provincial town of Kaluga, where he worked as a school teacher.
Tsiolkovskii became interested in the works of Nikolai Fedorov, and adopted many of his ideas, with a healthy dose of Jules Verne, believing that one day man would merge with the 'animal being' that was the universe, and human individuals would become immortal radiation. He also believed the universe was populated with races of super-beings which humanity was unable to perceive. Many of his pseudo-philosophical and mystical ideas have trickled down into works of SF by authors such as Arthur C Clarke and Olaf Stapledon.
Tsiolkovskii is known as the father of space-flight for his article 'Exploration of the Universe with Rocket-Propelled Vehicles' published in 1903 in the St. Petersburg journal 'Nauchnoye Obozrenie' (Scientific Review); this was the first article to suggest the use of a liquid-fuel, multiple-stage rocket for the conquest of space. Although Tsiolkovskii never made practical headway on rocketry experiments, he was adopted by the Soviet regime after 1917 and popularised his ideas in dozens of popular-science books, as well as acting as a consultant on at least one Soviet SF film. Despite this fact, suggesting that liquid-fuel rockets were a good thing had an awkward habit of increasing one's chances of gulagisation.
Tsiolkovskii's ideas were appropriated by many Russian mystics, becoming part of the 'cosmism' of the 1920s. One of the other founders of this trend of thought was the Russian biochemist Vladimir Vernadskii, the originator of the term Noo Sphere.
Writing about Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is something Tom Anderson has been meaning to do. Lazy arse. Busted. Well, i'll write about Yuri Artsutanov instead. -- TA
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