Born: Sept. 5 [Sept. 17, New Style], 1857, Izhevskoye, Russia
Died: Sept. 19, 1935, Kaluga, Russia, U.S.S.R.
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was a Russian research scientist in aeronautics and astronautics who pioneered rocket and space research and the development and use of wind tunnels for aerodynamic studies. He was also among the first to work out the theoretical problems of rocket travel in space.
In 1892 Tsiolkovsky took up the problem that occupied almost all his life: the problem of constructing an all-metal dirigible with an adjustable envelope. In order to demonstrate the validity of his experiment, he built a wind tunnel, the first in Russia, incorporating into it features that would permit testing the aerodynamic merits of various aircraft designs.
Tsiolkovsky's experiments were subtle and extremely clever. He studied the effects of air friction and surface area on the speed of the air current over a streamlined body.
In the final 18 years of his life, Tsiolkovsky continued his research, with the support of the Soviet state, on a wide variety of scientific problems. His contributions on stratospheric exploration and interplanetary flight were particularly noteworthy and played a significant role in contemporary astronautics. In 1919 Tsiolkovsky was elected to the Socialist Academy (later the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.).