Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, the founder of austronautics, was born in 1857 in the village of Izhevsk in Ryazan province. When he was ten he had scarlet fever, and was left permanently deaf. This had a great influence on his life.
Only when Tsiolkovsky reached the age of fifteen he began to study elementary mathematics. At about this time he first thought of constructing a large balloon with a metallic envelope. Realising that his knowledge was not enough, he began to study higher mathematics. The result was that he became a mathematics and physics teacher and remained a teacher for nearly forty years.
Tsiolkovsky carried out experiments on steam engines for a time, but then he returned to the theoretical study of the metallic dirigible. In 1887 his first published paper on the metallic dirigible appeared. Mendeleyev was interested in this work and helped Tsiolkovsky. The account of this work was submitted to the Academy of Sciences who regarded it favourably and made Tsiolkovsky a grant of 470 roubles.
He had not given up his idea about space travel. A popular report on this subject was first published in 1895. Tsiolkovsky’s idea of a spaceship was based on the use of liquid fuels.
During the next fifteen years Tsiolkovsky worked over other designs for spaceships. They were not meant to be working drawings for the constructions of these vessels but as a rough guide to the equipment. Some of them are now standard practice in the guided missile field. He published several articles and books dealing with the mathematical theory of rocket flights and space travel. His calculations were used in modern theory of cosmonautics and practical space flights. They showed that it would be possible to travel out into space in rockets and even to set up manned space stations around the Earth.
Tsiolkovsky’s contribution to science is so great that he is considered to be “Father of Cosmonautics”.