In this volume of science fiction revisited, a special significance is let to what might otherwise be considered generic science fiction, since – throughout Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s long and noteworthy career – he did produce some hard scientific papers, in which – among other theories – he elaborated on the principles of jet-propelled groundcraft, aircraft, and spacecraft.
One of his earlier science fiction stories, "On the Moon" was originally published in the Moscow magazine, Vokrug Sveta in 1892.
On the Moon is a blending of pure fantasy (lunar beasts carouse through the pages), and sound scientific conjecture (the work abounds with sound information on actual lunar conditions as they are now known to exist). This blending of a fantasy that covers the spectrum from wild to almost plausible, with scientific reasoning that covers the spectrum from almost plausible to impossible, was to become the trademark of the bulk of Tsiolkovsky’s writings.
So intertwined do the concepts of fantasy and sound scientific reasoning become in Tsiolkovsky’s works, in fact, that there are many instances in which their separation is the subject of some controversy. Galloping lunar beasts can be accepted as entertainment, his critics are wont to exclaim; but is the man trying to palm off as "scientifically sound" the idea of suns that cool off enough to force mass galactic migrations? Going even further, his critics allege that, where scientific accuracy is expected, Tsiolkovsky’s writings are replete with inaccuracies. Among these inaccuracies are some untenable conclusions on the effects of gravity and acceleration in "free space," and the promotion of something like a "butterfly net" in which to ensnare flying micrometeorites (or is this simply an excursion into a highly imaginative mind?).
On the other side of the controversy, and with typical grandiosity, the Soviet Union called Tsiokovsky "the father of the theory of jet propulsion and interplanetary travel," celebrated the centennial of his birth in September, 1957, and – surely not accidentally – a few days later (October 4, 1957), launched Sputnik.
Critics and/or supporters notwithstanding, Tsiolkovsky’s works, taken en toto, make an important contribution to the collective knowledge that has sought to solve the secrets of astronautics.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
A pioneering Russian aeronautical theorist and writer, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is the father of the Soviet space program. He built the first wind tunnel and solved fundamental problems about space travel, such as use of liquid rocket fuel, long before such activity was feasible. Although he was unappreciated in his lifetime, Sputnik's launch was made to coincide with his centennial. His works and his ideas have become the scientific basis of the modern theory of jet propulsion. He foresaw the significance of jet propulsion and the conquest of the stratosphere, of flights at supersonic speeds.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's tombstone bears the following prophetic words inscribed under the bas-relief of a rocket: "Mankind will not remain on the earth forever, but, in search of light and space, will at first timidly penetrate beyond the limits of the atmosphere and then finally conquer the spaces of the solar system."
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