K. E. Tsiolkovskii, Grandfather of Soviet Rocketry
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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In 1935, in Stalin’s times, a young journalist working for the Young Communist Youth League’s Newspaper (Komsomolskaia Pravda), Evgeny Riabchikov, made a pilgrimage to Kaluga in provincial Russia to interview the grandfather of Russian cosmonautics, K. E. Tsiolkovskii. ...
Prelude Before Tsiolkovskii: Russian Rocketry from Peter the Great to the Nineteenth Century
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In April of 1961, just after Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to rocket into orbit, the Soviets held a diplomatic gala in the Moscow Kremlin in his honor. At the event, the beaming Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, embraced Gagarin and then made a toast. ...
Introduction Envisioning the Cosmos: K. E. Tsiolkovskii, Russian Public Culture, and the Mythology of Soviet Cosmonautics, 1857–1964
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In the final year of his long life, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovskii was sanctioned by Josef Stalin and the Communist Party’s Central Committee to give a popular speech from his provincial home in Kaluga, where he researched and taught for the majority of his life. It was no ordinary speech, because this canonized local hero ...
Chapter 1. Beginnings, Teaching Science in a Provincial Context: Tsiolkovskii’s Years in the Russian Locale, 1857–1917
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Konstantin E. Tsiolkovskii was born on September 17, 1857, in the Russian village of Izhevskoye, Spassky District, in Riazanskaia Province. His mother, Maria Ivanova Yumasheva, was a Russian of Tatar background, and known to be intelligent and hard working, and his father, Eduard Tsiolkovskii (1820–80), a Pole from Lithuania, ...
Chapter 2. Dreaming of the Cosmos: Early Scientific and Technical Experimentation in Pre-1917 Kaluga, Russia
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There has been much conjecture on when Konstantin Tsiolkovskii first began writing scientific papers or theoretical pieces on rocketry. While living in Riazan between 1878 and 1879, he sketched in a notebook humans living in outer space, with mathematical annotations. ...
Chapter 3. Getting Serious about Rocket Flight in Revolutionary Russia, 1917–1928
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In the revolutionary era of 1917, during the Russian civil war (1918–20), and the period of the New Economic Policy (NEP, 1921–27), Tsiolkovskii’s ideas became more widespread nationwide than they did in tsarist Russia. Three venues or media accounted for this transformation and evolution: Tsiolkovskii’s pamphlets and science fiction novels, ...
Chapter 4. Cross-Fertilizing Futuristic Literary Genres: Utopian Science Fiction or Didactic Popular Technology in Revolutionary Russia, 1890–1928
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In July 1935, K. E. Tsiolkovskii published an editorial entitled “Is This Mere Fantasy?” in the Soviet youth newspaper Komsomolskaia pravda. He wrote this piece near the end of his life when he was simultaneously a consultant on the science fiction film Cosmic Journey. ...
Chapter 5. Stalin, Khrushchev, and the Spaceman: Technology, Soviet National Identity, and the Memorialization of a Local Hero in the Dawn of Sputnik, 1928–1957
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In the final years of his life, K. E. Tsiolkovskii continued to theorize and write about the possibility of spaceflight and inhabiting other worlds in the cosmos. He was in voluminous correspondence with a variety of technical and engineering institutes involved in rocket research. Throughout the last seven years of his life, ...
Epilogue and Conclusion: Chudo (Wonder) or Chudak (Crank), the Legacy of Tsiolkovskii in the Khrushchev Era and beyond 1964
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The year after the 1957 Tsiolkovskii centennial celebrations, laudatory memorialization of his legacy continued at the local, national, and international level. In 1958, the Khrushchev regime approved the building of a monumental statue to Tsiolkovskii in a local Kaluga park near his home. ...
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Note on Sources
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The literature on Konstantin E. Tsiolkovskii in English is sparse, and there has been no extensive biographical study on his life and its resonance in the English language. While some short Russian biographies exist (as listed in the bibliography), they tend to be more narrowly focused on Tsiolkovskii’s technical achievements ...
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Page Count: 168
Illustrations: 20 b&w photos. 6 line art.
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Centennial of Flight Series