Yuri Kondratyuk, Ukrainian mathematician

Yuri Kondratyuk, Ukrainian mathematician

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Credit: SPUTNIK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Yuri Vasil'yevich Kondratyuk (1897-1942), Ukrainian-Soviet mathematician and spaceflight pioneer. Kondratyuk was born as Oleksandr Gnatovich Shargei. He was educated at Petrograd before being enlisted into the Russian Army. During World War 1 he spent his spare time on the mathematics of lunar flight. He calculated the best route for a spaceship and devised the concept of a modular vessel, one part staying in lunar orbit while a separate lander descended. After the Revolution he adopted the identity of one Yuri Kondratyuk (who had died of tuberculosis) - as a former officer of the Tsarist Army his life was in danger. He settled at Novosibirsk and worked as an engineer. He designed huge grain elevators entirely of wood and a four-bladed wind turbine of 80m span. He re-enlisted in the Army in World War 2 and died in combat. Photographed in 1934.

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