SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935), Russian rocket pioneer. He is surrounded by models of one of his rocket designs, in his study in 1919. Although he never built a rocket, Tsiolkovsky's work was highly influential in the development of Soviet rocket and space technology. He became deaf after contracting scarlet fever at around the age of 10 and from then on he schooled himself, mainly from books in his father's library. He determined that the Earth's escape velocity was 8 kilometres per second and showed that this could be achieved using liquid-fuel rockets. He predicted many aspects of space travel, including double-walled hulls for meteor protection and the problems of weightlessness.
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