DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935), Soviet rocket pioneer, commemorated on a Soviet stamp for his 100th birthday (1957). 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.
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