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Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (Russian: Константи́н Эдуа́рдович Циолко́вский; Polish: Konstanty Ciołkowski) (September 17 [O.S. September 5] 1857 – September 19, 1935) was a Polish-Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of cosmonautics who spent most of his life in a log house on the outskirts of Kaluga.
He was born in Izhevskoye (now in Spassky District, Ryazan Oblast), Imperial Russia, in a middle-class family. His father, Edward Ciołkowski, was Polish; his mother, Maria Yumasheva, was Russian and an educated woman. As a child, Konstantin caught scarlet fever and became hard of hearing. He was not accepted at elementary schools because of his hearing problem, so he was home schooled until the age of sixteen.
Nearly deaf, he worked as a high school mathematics teacher until retiring in 1920. Tsiolkovsky theorized many aspects of space travel and rocket propulsion. He is considered the father of human space flight and the first man to conceive the space elevator, becoming inspired in 1895 by the newly-constructed Eiffel Tower in Paris. His most famous work was "Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами" (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices), published in 1903, which was arguably the first academic treatise on rocketry. Tsiolkovsky calculated that the speed required to orbit the Earth is 8 km/second and that this could be achieved by means of a multistage rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. During his lifetime he published over 500 works on space travel and related subjects, including science fiction novels. Among his works are designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multi-stage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship into the vacuum of space, and closed cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. Unfortunately his ideas were for many years little known outside Russia, and the field lagged until German and other scientists independently made the same calculations decades later.
Tsiolkovsky also delved into theories of heavier-than-air flying machines, independently working through many of the same calculations that the Wright brothers were doing at the same time. However, he never built any practical models, and his interest shifted to more ambitious topics.
Friedrich Zander became enthusiastic about Tsiolkovsky's work and active in promoting and developing it. In 1924 he established the first Cosmonautics Society in the Soviet Union, and later researched and built liquid-fuelled rockets named OR-1 (1930) and OR-2 (1933). On August 23, 1924 Tsiolkovsky was elected as a first professor of the Military-Air Academy N. E. Zhukovsky.
In 1929 Tsiolkovsky proposed the construction of multistage rockets in his book Космические ракетные поезда (Space Rocket Trains).
The basic equation for rocket propulsion, the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, is named after him.
He was also an adherent of philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov, and believed that colonizing space would lead to the perfection of the human race, with immortality and a carefree existence.
Tsiolkovsky died on September 19, 1935 in Kaluga and was buried in state. A museum of cosmonautics in Kaluga now bears his name, as do Tsiolkovskiy crater on the far side of the moon and asteroid 1590 Tsiolkovskaja.  
"The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever." 
"Men are weak now, and yet they transform the Earth’s surface. In millions of years their might will increase to the extent that they will change the surface of the Earth, its oceans, the atmosphere and themselves. They will control the climate and the solar system just as they control the Earth. They will travel beyond the limits of our planetary system; they will reach other Suns and use their fresh energy instead of the energy of their dying luminary."
"Man must at all costs overcome the Earth's gravity and have, in reserve, the space at least of the Solar System." 
- Exposition at the NASA Space Museum (US Space and Rocket Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama) begins with a portrait of Tsiolkovsky.
- A fictional ship, the К. Э. Циолковский (K. E. Tsiolkovsky), was named after him for the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode it appeared in was entitled "The Naked Now". A copy of the dedication plaque of that vessel, with a rough rendering of Tsiolkovsky's Cyrillic name, was seen in the ship's set dressing. (the artist mistakenly used "З" instead of "Э" for the middle initial, and "п" instead of "л" in the last name).
- К. Э. Циолковский at Memory Alpha
- A space station is named Tsiolkovsky 1 in William Gibson's short story Hinterlands.
- The band The Picture Show pay tribute to him in their song The Revolutionary
"Konstantine oh Konstantine/ Wants to build rockets to the stars/ Spends all day looking up at them/ Lying in the long grass/ Inspired he says to leave the cradle soon/ To see what there is outside."
- The Light Of My Betelgeuse. 7 limit 53 EDO approximation in memory of K. E. Tsiolkovsky for alto recorder, choir & Bosanquet Enharmonium by M. Khramov
- In the French comic Aldebaran, the first spaceship to reach Betelgeuse is the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
- 1903 - «Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами». It is available online here
 External links
- The life of Konstantin Eduardovitch Tsiolkovsky An excellent article with refererences, facsimile articles and more
- Tsiolkovsky's Imperative in the 21st Century Academic paper
- Virtual Matchbox Labels Museum - Russian labels - Space - Page 2 - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Historic images
- Tsiolkovsky from Russianspaceweb.com
- Spaceflight or Extinction: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Excerpts from "The Aims of Astronautics", The Call of the Cosmos
- The Foundations of the Space Age
- The SS Tsiolkovsky at Memory Alpha - the Star Trek wiki