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Space History 

an introduction to the birth of astronautics.

This site was created on the 15th April 2003

©John Gwynn and sons2003 

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Tsiol Rocket 1903

Konstantin Edouardovitch Tsiolkovski ( 1857-1935)

 Russian theoretician and astro physicist. Father of modern rocket theory. Who established the basic laws of astronautics and predicted multiple stage rockets.

V2 = Vin*Ln(m1/m2) m/s    10th May , 1897

Derivation of Tsiolkovski Formula Version Pdf

Unrecognised for the first 60 years of his life. Tsiolkovski was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1919 after having been initially imprisoned in 1918 following the Revolution. A year later in 1920 Tsiolkovski was awarded  a Soviet state pension/sponsorship in recognition for his pioneering work in astronauntics.

This support became stronger when  motivated by Herman Oberth's claim for the originality of being the pioneer of modern astronautics in 1923/24.

During the last 10 years of his life Tsiolkovski published some 58 books and over 500 scientific papers. That provided the foundation for future Russian rocket design and  space exploration. Tsiolkovski writings inspired a generation of young soviet scientists and engineers that would apply his theories during his own lifetime and lead the world in space exploration.

Following a high fever induced by contracting scarlet fever at the age of nine he became almost completely deaf. The Russian education system was unable to cope with his special needs and he was forced to leave school  and educate himself through reading. Motivated to prove that having a handicap did not make him any less a person or less intelligent.

In 1873 aged sixteen and hungry for knowledge Tsiolkovski was sent by his family to Moscow supported by a small pension. Autodidact he was capable of studying mathematics, analytical mechanics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, as well as classical literature at the Chertkovskaya Library. 

Moscow at this epoch was illuminated by rapid change reflected in the works of Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy.  In science Dmitri Mendeleev had developed the first periodic table of elements  and Nikolai Zhukovsky did his pioneering work on the study of aerodynamics.

Reference Menelev's Periodic table


"Exploration of the Universe with Reaction Machines", First reached an international readership when it was  published as an article in the monthly science magazine.

'The Science Review' No 5 St.Petersburg, in 1903.  

This developed his earlier theories,identifying the escape velocity of 7.8Km/s ( this is known as the first cosmic velocity) required to escape the earths gravity and  place a satillite in base orbit of 200kms. . 

Note: To put this into a clearer perspective this is the same year that the Wright brothers first  achieved powered flight.


Qualifying to become a teacher in 1876, Tsiolkovski taught  physics and mathematics during the day. Returning home to develop  his ideas on  aerodynamics and  powered  flight. His  experiments involved using one of the first known windtunnels and scale models of airships and aerofoils. That he had manufactured in his small workshop.

Reynolds Number the dimensionless parameter which is required to analyse aerodynamic flow over scaled models in a wind tunnel had been identified in 1883.

From 1885 Tsiolkovski became determined to pursue his interest in aeronautics. By reducing his sleeping hours he could work on his projects and carry out research before going to teach .

First theory 28.3.1883 'Naoutchnoie Obozreniye’ later published in 1898. 'Free Space' Exploration of space by rocket . 

In which he calculated the force necessary to leave the Earth's atmosphere and described in theory why and how a rocket jet engine unlike other means of propulsion could function in a vacuum.

V2 = Vin*Ln(m1/m2) m/s    10th May , 1897

Established that a rocket powered by a reaction jet could travel at a velocity greater than the velocity of its jet stream. 

Effectively opening the way to the stars.

'Cosmic rocket trains'

In 'Rocket space trains' 1929

He  explained in detail how multistage rockets could be used to achieve the first cosmic velocity. This was a logical development from the

V2 = Vin*Ln(m1/m2) m/s    10th May , 1897 Tsiolkovski formula

Application of Tsiolkovski's formula to multistage rockets 1924

Excel Spreadsheet for changing mass variables of 2stage rocket.

PDF file explaining the formula for a  multistage rocket Tsiolkovslki understood the importance of multi-staging not just of modules assembled in series piled one on top of the other but also using parallel modules. 

This was clearly transmitted to the next generation of Russian rocket engineers who successfully developed the R7 in  August 1957. Now nearly fifty years and 2000 launches later the R7  is still the benchmark launcher.

However  it was  a 'technology blind spot' for engineers in the west until  the 'Sputniks' launcher technology was better understood.

Note: Below is the link to a Nasa reference to Tsiolkovski's work in1958 following 'Sputniks' launch 4.10.1957

Appendix 2a Interesting to note that there is no reference to the original date of publication of the Tsiolkovski work just the nasa translation date.


A good example of the rocket modules piled high in series is the US Saturn V  launcher used for the Apollo moon missions. Today rocket engineers would not follow the same design philosophy prefering that of parallel modules that can be rejected earlier in the rocket flight.

In 'Investigation of Cosmic Space by Reaction Vehicles' published in 1903 

Tsiolkovski developed the ideas of his earlier work into a detailed rocket specification that included the aerodynamic form and shape of rocket required to leave the earths atmosphere, and proved the possibility of artificial satellites orbiting the earth.

 By 1914 in the 4th edition. He predicted the use of liquid hydrogen (-2530C) and oxygen as the ideal fuels (or liquid propergols) mixed and fed into a combustion chamber. Then expanded through a divergent nozzle. Heat transfer  was controlled by regenerative cooling of the combustion chamber and nozzle using the same liquid fuels before they were  passed into the combustion chamber.

Tsiolkovski also suggested the use of oxygen and kerosene as alternative propellants.

Reference to discover the properties of  hydrogen H


Reference to discover the properties of  liquid oxygen O2


Amongst the many details concerning future space travel he suggested a system of gyroscopic stabilisation.

The building of  interplanetary space stations  made up from several   inter-locking  rocket modules. 

 He suggested  using solar radiation and solar energy to provide the power for future rockets.etc.

These are no longer the hypotheses of his writings. Our ' vie quotedien' is shaped by the satellites he envisaged and the calculations of  how to put them in orbit.

An original thinker and visionary of the 21 centuary and beyond.

In 1957 the USSR launched the worlds first man made satellite 'Spoutnik' on  4th October to coincide with the centenary of Tsiolkovski's birth.

"The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but we cannot live in a cradle forever". 

?. ?. Tsiolkovsky Kalug,1911.

Anniversary of Tsiolkovsky's birth 17th September 1857.

In 2007 the esa will launch a payload of 50 Nano satellites to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sputnik and the 150th of Tsiolkovski.

Tsiolkovski also has the largest crater  on the far side of the monn named after him.

He should also be remembered as an ambassador for the deaf. Who accomplished more than those gifted with hearing.

Links to some of Tsiolkovski's other projects


Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (Konstanty Ciolkowski), (1857-1935)

(?????????? ?????????? ???????????)

Born Izhevskoye in September 17th, 1857  – Died September 19th, 1935 Kaluga USSR Russia

  Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of astronautics who spent most of his life working as a mathematics and physics teacher living in a simple small two story log-house on the outskirts of the Russian town of Kaluga.  An old Russian city on the river Oka,  situated approximately 200 km south of Moscow.

Left almost completely deaf following bout of scarlet fever at the age of nine Tsiolkovski was rejected by the Russian education system and left to educate himself from text books at home.

Completely overlooked for the first sixty years of his life, most of his original research and  self financed scientific writing was completed before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Imprisoned in the famous Lubyanka prison1918 he was then promoted as a symbol of oppressed  creativity under the Czar by the new Soviet regime.

He was born in Izhevskoye (now in Spassky District, Ryazan Oblast) Russia into a poor middle-class  family of 17 children. Tsiolkovski's Russian mother died when was just 13.Leaving his father a Polish immigrant forester to look after the family.

Tsiolkovski had no formal universty training.

His overiding passion was to help free mankind from the bounds of the Earth to explore the universe beyond.

1.Tsiolkovski Rocket formula

V2 = Vin*Ln(m1/m2) m/s    10th May , 1897

2. Tsiolkovski Tower 1895 the Space Elevator or stairway to heaven.

Building a physical link with geostationary orbit.

  • Geostationary Orbit > satelllites.

  • Multi stage rockets

  • Rocket fuel using the combination of liquid propergols liquid Oxygen and liquid Hydrogen.

  • Rocket fuel combination of liquid oxygen and kerosene.

  • Combustion chamber in which fuel was supplied by pumps so that the fuel flowrate could be adjusted during the rocket flight.

  • Regenatively cooled combustion chamber using the cold liquid fuels to extract heat from the chamber prior to entering the combustion chamber.

  • Rocket convergent divergent thrust nozzle.

  • Regenarative cooling of the nozzle.

  • Fuel mixing vanes prior to combustion.

  • Gyroscopic stabilsation of rockets

  • Utilisation of solar radiation to propel rockets.

  • Use of atomic energy to power rockets

  • Interplanetary space station made up of several satellised rocket modules. Maintaining orbit by burning small amounts of fuel.

  • Cosmology.> Human exploration of the cosmo etc.

 Inspired scientists and engineers:

Serguei Korolev(1907-1966) , Valentin Glushko(1908-1989), Kondratyuk(Shargei)(1897-1942), Friedrikh Tsander (1887-1933)

Mikhail Yangel (1911-1971), Vladimir Chelomei (1914-1984)

Many others....

Links to some of Tsiolkovski's other projects

S P Korolev 'The Chief designer' Russia's Secret Weapon.

 The life of Korolev is an example to us all of the power of the human spirit in overcoming adversity 


Serguei Pavlovich Korolev  


Russian Space Academician.

korolev.jpeg (34511 octets)




He opened the way to the stars.
Father of  Soyuz with 1729 launches.

101th Anniversary of Korolev's birth 12th January 1907

Korolyov (?????? ???????? ???????) Born in Zhitomir near Kiev in central Ukraine.

Ukranian/Russian  rocket engineer and pioneer. Arrested in July1938 during the Stalin  purges and accused of " subversion in a new field of technology"  he was sentenced to10 years in prison, the loss of his rights as a soviet citizen for an additional five years and the confiscation of all his property. 

Severely  treated as a prisoner in the Siberian  'Kolyma' goldmine Gulag,  (Where the expected survival rate was only 2-3% and had a death rate of 30% per year).

 Korolev's  transfer to a 'Sharashka' ( Intellectual prison) in September 1940 almost certainly saved his life.

 Tupolev,  who had been Korolev's professeur at the Moscow Technical Institute,  wrote to the Soviet Government demanding  for Korolev to come and work for him at KB29 on an important military aircraft development poject the Tu 2 light bomber. 

The only problem was to get to Tupolev and the Sharga  KB29 in Moscow he had first to walk the 150 km to Magadan in severe Siberian weather  without adequate clothing. Clothed in what fellow prisoners had given him Korolev set off without any food to complete the 150 km journey. Arriving too late, he missed  the last boat leaving Magadan before the winter ice closed the access to the mainland.

Unknown to Korolev the ship he missed was lost in a heavy storm in the Okhorst Sea.

 Korolev then had to find some way of surviving the extreme cold of -45 to -50oC until Spring when he could get back to the mainland by boat  and catch a train that would take him to Moscow.

Over the intervening months without proper clothes or food he contracted scurvy and had to be  taken off the train to Moscow  at  Khaborovsk Where an old man treated his gums with a species of wild garlic and stablised his swollen condition enough for Korolev to continue his journey to Moscow a couple of weeks later.

As a consequence of his poor state of health he lost all his teeth and developed a heart condition.

According to a biographer of Stalin, Dmitri Volkogonov who had been a Colonel General in the Red Army during the period 1937-1938 when Korolev had been arrested ;4.5-5.5 million people where detained of which 8 to9 hundred thousand where executed.

Between 1935 and1940 a whole generation of  Soviet scientists, technologists and managers were systematically discredited, humiliated or destroyed.

Korolev was classed as a 'Zek' or social outcast until officially excused by the Soviet regime . Released in 1945 he was finally exhonerated during the Khrouchtchev thaw in 1957, Nineteen years after his initial arrest and six months before the successful Sputnik launch. Between 1938 and 1957 even his best freinds where restricted from mentioning his name in public unless they refered to him as an enemy of the people. This included his wife.

After the shock of Korolev's sudden arrest in 1938 his wifes blonde hair suddenly turned grey

Once released Korolev talked at length with his family about his ordeal in prison. Then deciding to turn the page on his nightmare experiences in the Kolyma gulag. He never talked about it for the rest of his life. Except one evening shortly before he died on the 3rd January 1966 after a meal to celebrate his birthaday he spoke to his friends cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Alexei Leonov.

The history above is based on Korolev's testimony during his last evening with his cosmonaut  friends.

Korolev died several days later after an operation in the Kremlin Hospital 14th January 1966.

Having survived what he had been through as a 'Zek' ment he was frightened of nobody and nothing He was independent and confident enough to challenge people who he believed where wrong or had made a poor decision. He also had an empathy for  basic  human values

Respected by most he was always a Zek to some of his peers. 

During his imprisonment Korolev moved to various prisons,  July 1938 Lefortovo, Butyrka , August 1938 Magadan Prison Ship , September 1938 Kolyma Siberia, Sept1940 Tupolev 'sharaski' KB 29 Moscow,1941 Tupolev 'sharaski' Ormsk, Siberia and  at the end of 1942  NKVD Glushko 'sharaski' Kazan.

Korolev surmounted these considerable setbacks and astounded everybody in the west. Korolev put Tsiolkovski’s ideas into developing the R7 Semiorka space rocket in 1957.Subsequently used as the platform for launching a series of space firsts and to date more than 1700 subsequent launches.


  • Jodrell Bank radar and radio telescope tracks, records and confirms Soviet first satellite Sputnik.

    In October 1957 Jodrell Bank , near Manchester in  northern England,  was unique in being the only structure capable of tracking and communicating with spacecaft.

    Joderall Bank identified both  the satellite Sputnik and the third stage of the rocket had reached Earth orbit.

    Sir Bernard Lovell offers the future use of Jodrell Bank to provide independent confirmation of Soviet space probes


Radio amateurs listening to Sputnik

  • November 3rd 1957 Spoutnik 2 marked the successful launching of a small dog called 'Laika' into space.

  • Spoutnik3 May 15th 1958 R7 satellised mass msat 1327 kgs.

  • Spoutnik 4 was launched on 15 May 1960.

  • 20th August 1960 Spoutnik 5 saw the first successful launch and recovery of animals .With two dogs 'Belka' and 'Strelka', 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants on board. The spacecraft returned to Earth the next day and all animals were recovered safely. Marking an important progression in developing a capability to put the first man into orbit around the Earth.

Vostok 1

Korolev was a brilliant engineer and team motivator.   With the release of information about the soviet space programme following the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1989. We are only just begining to appreciate the advances made by him and his team of engineers.

Before the Second World War Korolev's  knowledge of rocket theory rivalled that of Wernher Von Braun in Germany and Goddard in the USA.

Korolev's  arrest in June 1938  successfully delayed further Russian  space developments until 1944. A large number of the soviet rocket research and defence leaders were arrested and shot during the same Stalin purges. Some arrests were based on German intelligence or supposed German connections/sympathies.  Or simply fabricated anti Soviet comments.

Note:  Earlier in January1938 the leaders of the RNII  rocket research group ( For whom Korolev and Glushko worked ) Kleinov and Langemak were arrested and executed by Stalins secret police.NKVD

Following his release from the gulag Korolev's identity remained a closely guarded secret to the outside world until  his death in 1966.

Ironically he died during an operation that was made difficult due to a broken jaw restricting normal ventilation. His jaw  had been broken whilst he had been beaten  by the guards of the Kolyma gulag during his imprisonment.

The first successful launch of the R7 Semiorika was on the 21 August 1957 following 2 failures and 3 aborted launches the R7 travelled a distance of 6500kms.

His story like that of Tsiolkovski is one of human triumph in the face of extreme adversity. Classical in the Russian Tolstoy/Pasternak sense.

Photograph of Korolev in Germany 1946 taken by Boris Chertok 

Copyright Boris Chertok

His legacy is that the original Korolev design bureau is now RSC Energia and the unrivalled succes of the R7.

Europe is currently installing a special launch pad in Kourou next to the 'pas de tir' of Ariane to enable the R7 Semiorika to gain the benifits of being launched from a site closer to the equator. So increasing its launch payload capacity.

Somehow this is a fitting tribute to both the R7, SPKorolev and his team. 

Today we depend on Korolev's R7 to supply the international space station ! 50 years after it first propelled man into Space.

Anniversary of Korolev's birth 30th December 1907 using the Old Russian calander

The survival rate at the artic  Kolyma gulag where Korolev was initially imprisuned in 1938 was only 2-3%.

If ever there was an example of the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity Korolev is it!



May 1961 

Photographs Source Natalya Koroleva

Reaching for the stars. Korolev with Yuri Gigarin and the Cosmonauts training group 

May 1961.

" The route to the stars is open" S.P.Korolev Russian Space Academician. 

Yuri Gagarin The First Man in Space

Mission Code Name:Kedr April 12th 1961

Launch lift off 09hr 06min 59sec Moscow Time

Flight duration:1hr 48 mins

Orbit :89mins 34sec

Landing site:Near the village of Smelovka in the  Saratov region of Russia.

Spacecraft Vostok :3KA No3

Launcher Vostok :r7 8K72K

Back up cosmonautes: G.S.Titov and G.G Nelyuhov

  The history of the Cosmonaute Training Center< Click Cosmonautes and astronautes launched into space by R7 < Click up to the year 2000  

The R7 Soyuz Fregate launch vehicle specification


Lectures that influenced Korolev.

  • 'The Society for the Study of Interplanetary Travel' founded in 1924, by Tsiolkovski with Frederich Tsander and Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk

  • The Mykhailo Krawtchouk Case

  • Mykhailo Krawtchouk Internationally renowned mathematician and Korolev's  Mathematics Professor at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. Provides an interesting link .Mykhailo Krawtchouk was directly connected to a subsequent patent for the electronic computer in the USA and the evolution of rocket technology in the Soviet Union. The John Atanasoff letter that contribiuted to Krawtchouk's arrest by the NVKD and death at Kolyma.

  • http://individual.utoronto.ca/ikatcha1/PDAPSA.pdf     

    Page 41>44

  • The Great Terror

  • Tupolev lectures on the aerodynamics of flight and the dynamics of aircraft structures MVTU Moscow Technical Institute.(Later known as the Bauman Institute) and its convenient proximity to the TsAGI Aerohydrodynamics Institute.

  • 'From human flight in air to flights in space' by Gyorgi Polevoi Russian inventorApril 1927

  • Lectures on rocket powered cars that had first been developed in Germany  by Max Valier where given by Alexander Fedorov at the Moscow Technical Institute in April 1927.

  • The First 'World Exhibition of Interplanetary  Apparatus and Devices' was held in Moscow during 1927.

  • That contained exhibits refering to the concepts of Tsiolkovski, Goddard, Max Valier and Herman Oberth.

  • 1929 Tsiolkovski lectures and presentation of his publication on multi -stage rockets.

GIRD  X 23 Nov 1933

The Moscow GIRD (Gruppa Izucheniya Reaktivhogo Dvizheniya)1930-33

Founded by F. A.Tsander.(1887-28th March 1933)

The Worlds first rocket propulsion research group. Financed by the Osoaviakhim Soviet government ministry .

Rocket Propulsion Research Group for the study of reaction propulsion. 

Korolev is at the top left of this group photograph  taken on 23rd Nov 1933.

It is chilling thought  that within a few years of this photograph being taken most of the people in this group would  be arrested and either imprisoned or shot during the Stalin purges.

The Origins of GDL and GIRD

Note: Later in September1933 the Russian RNII  rocket group  was formed  following the merger of the GIRD (Moscow) and GDL(Leningrad) military rocket research associations. RNII was directed by Soviet Army Engineers Kleimenov  and Langemakwho had  prevoiusly been responsible for GDL. Until there arrest and execution on January 10th and January 11th under orders from  Stalin in 1938. Due to there connections with German technical exchanges and there links with Marshall Tukhachevsky

In 1937 Marshall Tukhachevsky the Soviet leader responsible for armaments and soviet military rocket strategy was revealed as a German spy and Soviet traitor following  evidence provided by Nazi Germany. 

Promenant members in the development of new rocket technology within RNII were

S P Korolev, V. Glushko, Y. Pobedonostsev, M. Tikhonravov, Vidimir Vetchinkin and Yeveniy Shchetirkov


GIRD was organised into four project working groups each having its own special objectives.

GIRD Group 1

Was responsible for liquid propergol rocket testing using rocket motors designed by Tsanders.

The team was made up from six engineers and six designers
F.A. Tsander
L.K. Korneev
A.I. Polyarny
      A.I. Gryaznov
L.S. Dushkin
A.V. Salikov
      N.M. Vever
L.N. Kolbasina
E.K. Moshkin
      A.I. Podipaev
S.S. Smirnov
A.V. Lavrov

During 1932 Tsander was suffering from overwork and failing health. Korolev managed to organise a pass for Tsander to take a break to recover at a clinic at Kislovodsk in the Crimea

When Tsander died suddenly from typhoid on the 28th March 1933 Leonid Konstinovich Korneev became group leader. Korneev can be seen above in the group photograph standing to the right of the

GIRD X rocket.

Tsander's engines (Used on projects 01, 02 and 10) dating from 1929-1933 are the earliest examples of regeneratively cooled rocket engines, .Following closely the ideas of Tsiolkovski



Image courtesy British Science Museum

GIRD rocket  'GIRD 09' was successfully launched from the Nakhabino forest near to Moscow on 17 August 1933. The  rocket attained an apogee of aproximately 400m. Landing some 150m from the launching site. 'GIRD 09'  had a good  vertical flight trajectory after launch , that flattened out as a secondary lateral gas jet leaked from a hole pierced in the side of the rocket nozzle Created by hot exhaust gases burning through the structure. The rocket  fuel was solid gasoline paste with liquid oxygen.LOX

M1=18kgs M2=13.5kgs Tvol=18s

Length 2.46m, 

Rocket diameter 0.17m,  

Jet Thrust Force at launch 294N

Soviet Russia's first liquid propellant rocket.

Development was started under Group 2 Lead by Tikhonravov,  with Korolev joining the group to help design, manufacture and  analyse the causes of two earlier launch failures.


The KB 7 Avianito with 12 K

GIRD Design Group 2.
M.K. Tikhonravov
N.I. Efremov
Ya.A. Golyshev
      V.S. Zuyev
Y.A. Fedul
F.L. Yakaitis
      V.N. Galkovsky
Z.I. Kruglova
O.K. Parovina
      N.I. Shulgina
V.A. Andreev
E.I. Snegireva

Tikhonravov's group worked on the 03 rocket fitted with the RDA-1 rocket engine  that was pump fed  with LOX and gasoline used as liquid propergols. Never reaching completion, prioity was given to developing a rocket design 05 to incorporate Glushko's ORM 50 engine. Which used nitric acid as a regenerative cooling fluid oxidiser and kerosene. This engine was first static tested in November 1933.

Glushko worked with D. Shito, V Galkovskiy and S Rovinskiy on developing rocket engines based on these propergols.

Perhaps the most interesting was the 'Aviavnito' rocket  powered by Leonid Dushkin's 12-K engine, Which used LOX and 96% alcohol as propergols. First launched in 1936, the rocket achieved an altitude of 3000m during a subsequent launch in 1937.

Note:Tikhonravov would later be the engineer reponsable for the Sputnk and lunar probes.

GIRD 3 Concentrated on the design and development of RAM jet engines.
Yu.A. Pobedonostsev
G.I. Ivanov
M.S. Kisenko
      V.E. Lisichkin
V.A. Timofeev
L.E. Bryukker
      I.A. Merkulov
O.S. Oganesov
      A.B. Ryazankin
N.N. Krasnukhin
Comprising five engineers, two designers and four technicians


Korolev's work on rocket planes at the GIRD4 started from his early interest in building a rocket powered glider.

Inspired by Tsiolkovski's 1929 publications and lectures identifying the fact that a rocker powered plane would have no restriction on the altitude/ceiling it could fly. Unlike an air breathing means of propulsion.

S.P. Korolev
N.A. Zheleznov
A.V. Chesalov
      E.S. Shchetinkov
S.A. Pivovarov
G.N. Fedotov
      V.V. Gorbunov
V.V. Ivanov
B.A. Bivovarov
      A.M. Durnov

The group was made up from six engineers, two designers and two mechanics


212 Cruise missile 1938

Korolev and the GIRD RNII 1933 -1938 Soviet Cruise missle RAM jet development program 

German military knowledge of the various Soviot rocket projects could be the reason the German secret service wanted to disrupt the Soviet rocket developmenet program..

In May 1938 one of Korolev's projects was the development of a solid rocket accelerated, , winged 212 cruise missile/ ram jet  . 

After his arrest in 27th June 1938 his work was continued by Leonid Dushkin and Alexey Isaev

When Kleimenov took over control of the GIRD in late 1933, it became increasingly clear that he would not encourage the utilisation of liquid propergols in rocket design and in particular liquid oxygen as an oxidiser. The fusion of GDL and GIRD into the  RNII Rocket organisation never really happened as it was intended. With different factions aligning with Kleimenov representing the military on one side and Korolev on the other.As a consequence Korolev was removed from his position as assistant director of RNII

Tukhachevski and Korolev supported the development of liquid propergols and disputed the logic of Kleiminenov with his goverment sponsor G V Sergo Ordzhonikidze( From the ministry of heavy industry) in adopting  a strategy to preference solely solid propergol rocket development. similar to the Katyushka.

Encouraged by Tukhachevski a splinter group was created in 1934, when Korneev and some members of his Design Group1 left RNII and started a new design bureau: KB-7 in 1935 that would later be re-combined with NII 3 in 1939 after the Stalin purges.



KB7 Polyamy with R-06 1937

KB 7 (1934-June1939)

They built the R-03 and R-06 rockets, which were tested in 1937. The R-03 was estimated to reach an altitude of 3.7 km, and the R-06 exceeded an altitude of 4 km. Although Glushko described their work as a failure, the KB-7 rockets probably held the world record for rocket altitude until the German A4 in 1942!

During the Satlin terror purges from 1937-1938 Korneev was one of the engineers to be arrested and imprisoned charged with 'Crimminal negligence'

World War 2  Soviet 'Katyushas '

NII-3 Katyushas

The design and development of the 'Katyushas' solid propellant rockets was undertaken at  NII-3  by Georgy Erkhovich Langemak who lead a team of three principle engineers

Vladimir Artemiev, Boris Petropavlovskiy and Yuri Pobedonostsev

KB         Design Bureau

OKB      Experimental Design Bureau

NII         Science Research Institute

NKVD   Ministry of Internal Affairs. That also controlled the Secret Police.

How many GIRD members survived

Three GIRD  enginneers who published articles about rocket propulsion prior to 1935

I. A. Merkulov, Yu. A. Pobedonostsev, and M. K. Tikhonravov went on to play a very important role in the field of rocket propulsion and space flight.

The list of survivors:

L S Dushkin, S P Korolev, A I Polarniy, V S Zuyev,I. A. Merkulov, Yu. A. Pobedonostsev, and M. K. Tikhonravov

General Gaydukov's directive from Stalin to set up a Soviet ballistic rocket programme at the end of World War 2 led to the immediate release of many Zeks who would become leaders and chief designers of the Soviet rocket development programme:

Korolev, Glushko, Pilgugin, Mishin, Chertok, Voskrensky and Boris Rauschenbach

Who donnit? Who supplied the evidence that led to the destruction of Soviet rocket development.?

 It would have to be someone who knew about rocket design and the names of the most important leaders in this field of research in Russia. Someone who had worked with them during the German-Soviet technical exchange prior to1936.


External Influences:

  • Heinrich Himmler:Chief of the German SS. By leaking false documents through Czechoslovakia to Stalin in order to discredit Soviet military officials who supported rocket development.

  • Note:Wernher von Braun was a member of the SS

          Based on knowledge gained during technical exchanges between Gremany and Russia

Rolf Engel © EADS

  • VfR members communicating with Russian rocket engineers.

  • By 1932 the VfR group due to the effects of the depression began to break up with several members seeking to advance the development of rockets abroad to avoid potential problems with having to work with the German army. There where three choices:

  • Work for National socialism.

  • Leave and work abroad 

  • Do nothing and risk imprisonment. Due to religious or politcal beliefs.

  • An interesting document (1) refers to an offer made in 1932 by Rolf Engel, who was a member of the VfR German rocket group, to the Soviet military. Offering to bring a team of German rocket engineers to Russia to help develop Russian military rocketry. This contact was passed to Marshall Tukhachevsky.

  • Note: Rolf Engel (1912-1993) Early rocket pioneer, Officer in the SS , supposed communist1932 ?,            Israelis spy and EADS rocket engineer ?


        During 1932  the VfR German rocket group was suffering from lack of funding due to the            

       effect of the economic depression on the German economy.

       With the prospect of the VfR rocket group being absorbed by the German army. 

       Through  interest shown by Army General Dornberger.

       As Hitler and National Socialism Party gained power they set out  legislation to effectiveley ban 

       all independent rocket development in Germany and forced the closer of the VfR.

       Rocket development them was brought under the control of the German army and the direction 

      of  General Dornberger.

       Initially only a few of the VfR moved with Wernher Von Braun to work on the military rocket    

       development project.



        Russian reference document: RGVA 34272/1/146 28-39 1932

        RGVA Red Army Russian State Military Archive.

  • Karl Ludwig Heimberg  (The wanderer!) German rocket engineer opposed to Hitler travelled through Russia during 1936-1937 to a job he had been offered in Japan. Returning to Germany 1941on leave he was drafted immediately to work at Peenmunde. With the general distrust of all things German at this time in Soviet Russia how did he survive his travels through Russia?Without ending up in a Gulag.

  • International scientific exchange was encouraged by the Soviet Russian  Academy of Science. From 1920 until the outbreak of  the second world war the academy invited visits from world class specialists. Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, Joliot-Curie all visited the  Russian Academy of Science, Loffe Institute in St. Petersburg.
  • For example Paul Dirac (1902-1984) visited the Soviet Union in 1928 shortly after gaining his Phd at Cambridge on Quatum Mechanics and working at the Bohr Institute. It was the first of many visits for he went again in 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1937. Because of the Cold War and his involvement on Quatum Physicx and refining uranium, the British government prevented Dirac from visiting Russia again until 1957. His last visits where in 1965 and 1973. Russian quatum phycist Igor Tamm was at the Bohr Institute in Copenhagen with Dirac in 1927. Following a lecture tour of the USA in 1929,  Dirac and Heisenberg travelled across Soviet Russia to Europe. 1931 Paul Dirac was appointed academician of The Soviet Academy of Science.
  • Himmler wrote two letters to Heisenberg whilst he was at the Russian Academy of Science.
  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0306810115/ref=sib_dp_pt/105-6035909-9962015#reader-link

Internal Possibilities:

  • Andrey Kostikov who succeeded Kleimenov as head of RNII , after the Stalin purges. Is known to have used the dispute between former GDL and GIRD factions to develop his own career.

  • Stalin's  general paranoia about intellectuals.

  • The 'Katyusha' rocket programme based on the German six-barrelled Nebelwerfer rocket mortar. Under the German -Soviet techinical exchange agreement.

  • Russian spy German SS officerWilly Lehmann reported to Stalin on Geramn rocket developments starting in 1934,

Video of GermanWW2 Nebelwerfer six-barrel rocket launcher.


Marshall Tukhachevsky subsequent arrest and execution in May 1937, lead to a whole chain of arrests and imprisoments within the rocket design and developoment organisation.

Tukhachevsky was later rehabilitated by Nikita Krustchev in1956 when it was discovered that Germany had supplied falsified documents to Stalin to convince him of Tukhachevsky treason.

soyuz_family.gif (32386 bytes)

Valetin Glushko (1908-1989)

GDL Gas Dynamics Laboratory  Valetin Glushko (1908-1989) Ukranian/Russian rocket engine engineer. Responsible for the RD-107 and RD-108 rocket engines that power the R7.Efficient and reliable.

These engines where considerably more efficient, and generated an equivalent thrust at one third of the weight of  the German V2 rocket engines. Packed in clusters of four and fed by a single turbo- pump the RD 107 had a shorter installation length than the equivalent Von Braun developed US Atlas rocket engines.

R7 produced 500 metric tons.f  of  thrust whilst the equivalent US Atlas produced a thrust of 200 metric tons.f.

Less  well known is the early work Glushko did when he first started work at the GDL on electrothermal rocket engines 1929-30 Again probably inspired by Tsiolkovski. This pre -dated work on electrical thrusters developed in the USA during the 1960's by thirty years.

From the age of 15 Glushko is known to have corresponded with Tsiolkovski by letter.

 As an adolescent living in Odessa Glushko experimented with explosives that he had recovered from unexploded artillary shells left behind by the retreating 'White Guards'.

During his later years Glushko recalled that during the pioneering period of rocketry just after the revolution and during th1920's. Rockets where regarded as on the fringe of science. Where the amateurs involved where refered to as 'Lunatics'.

There is known to be an exchange of scientific ideas between Russia and a Germany during the late 20's and  30's.Up to the point when Stalin broke all relations with Hitlers Germany.

An example of this is the famous 'Katyusha' rocket which was based on the Germans six-barrelled Nebelwerfer rocket mortar development project started in 1936 . Details of which where made available  to the Soviets due to the technical exchange of information under the Soviet-German Friendship Treaty

The Soviet Katyusha solid propergol rocket was developed in 1938 by I. I .Gvay the RNII-1 design group; (where Glushko and Korolev worked before there arrest), and first used in July 1941 against the German invasion .at the Orsha railway station.(Belarus)


The relationship between Stalin and Hitler started to decay rapidly from May 1937. Tukhachevsky was arrested on 11th June1937 and shot.

During the Stalin purges of 1938 Glushko was  arrested three months before Korolev, tortured and sent to a soviet work camp or Gulag. The evidence which was brought against Korolev came from three of his design bureau colleages Terentievich Klieimenov, Gyorgi Erikovich Langemak and Valentin Glushko. Accusing Korolev of squandering money on developing liquid propergol rockets. Effectively German intelligence, by leaking miss informationm had stopped the Russian liqiuid propergol rocket development until after the end of WW2

Hypothesis Was Wernher Von Braun involved > Probably >

Providing information on the Russian rocket group to Himmler SS who produced miss information documents sent to >Stalin

The original documents leaked by the Germans were created by Himmler and passed through a contact in Czechoslovakia to Stalin.

 Later Korolev was moved to a 'Sharaga' after a request from Tupolev. These were prison camps where interllectuals could work on fixed projects yet kept under strict supervision.You where certainly less likely to die form either cold or hunger

The chilling novel written by Solzhenitsyn "The first circle" describes what life was like in a 'sharashka'. This word derives from Russian slang used for a sinister enterprise based on half truths and psycological deceit. 

The big question is. Why would Korolev, Glushko and other engineers later carry out pioneering work under the same regime?

My view is that they where genuinely dedicated to pushing the frontiers of science in order to help mankind explore space.

The Stalin Purges
A poem in memory of the  Zeks.
And fate made everybody equal
Outside the limits of the law
Son of a kulak or Red commander
Son of a priest or commissar . . .
Here classes were all equalized,
All men were brothers, camp mates all,
Branded as traitors every one . . .
-Alexander Tvardovsky,
"By Right of Memory"



1938 Korolev's Gulag identity photograph 

Source Natalya Koroleva.

Joseph Stalin

Reference: 'Gulag' A history of the Soviet Camps. by Anne Applebun.

Published by Penguin Allen Lane 2003  Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer for non fiction

From 1929 until 1953  18million where imprisoned in the Soviet concentration camps 

For most of them the Gulag ment working to death.

In Auschwitz you could die in a gas chamber, in Kolyma you could freeze to death in the snow.

http://www.anneapplebaum.com/gulag/intro.html  "The Rockets' Red Glare: Technology, Conflict, and Terror in the Soviet Union"by Siddiqi, Asif A. 1966
Technology and Culture - Volume 44, Number 3, July 2003, pp. 470-501
The Johns Hopkins University Press

The Stalin purges We have no idea how people in the USSR and Ukraine suffered

During the Stalin purges (1930-1953) it has been estimated that  20 million people where killed, the male population of the 1930.s decimated  and  one in twenty on the population.arrested. The reign of terror ment that half the population had a NKVD dossier and all the population lived in fear.


In the Land of the Zeks by Julius Margolin





The history of the Soviet Gulag system needs to be put in the same context as the Nazi Holocaust

Modern western history needs to be brought up to date following the end of the Cold War


Holodomor'  Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 approximately 5 million people starved to death in the Kharkiv and Dneiprpetrovak regions when Stalin inflicted punishing grain quotas on the Ukraine.

Genocide by famine of  a well organised social group of Ukraine farming peasants who opposed Stalin's collectivism. It has been estimtaed that as a consequence 1 in 4 of the Ukranian rural population perished.

Other victims of Stalin's repression where the  Kulak peasants who lived along the Volga, the Cossaks north of the  Caucase and the nomads from Kazakhstan.

During this period Glushko would have been aged 24 and Korolev 21. Glushko was working at the GDL in St Petersbourg  and Korolev at the GIRD in Moscow

A similar famine had occurred  in Ukaine during 1921-1922 due to Lenins Soviet grain production collectivisim.



This would correspond to when Glushko was (13) and Korolev (10).So they would definitely be aware that there was a deep distrust by the Soviet political adminstration of people from Ukraine.

Seventy fifth anniversary 2007 of the 1932 Ukrainian Holodomor  BBC

Opposed by Russia the Ukraine will ask the UN to officially recognise the Holodomor


Early Russian rocket development history at GDL


15th May 1929 A specific department for the development of liquid fueled and electrical propulsion system rockets was formed at GDL  Leningrad (St. Petersburgh)

Boris Chertok (1912-     ) Russian Space Academician.

.Deputy to Korolev at OKB1 Responsible for control systems.

(Rocket guidance, control and communication)

His early career mirrored Korolev's in that they were both arrested during the Stalin purges and somehow survived .To become leaders in the Soviet rocket programme. 

Here is a photograph taken  at the Centenary celebrations of  Korolevs birth at  RSC Energia. January 2007 aged 95.

'Creating the rocket industry' by Boris Chertok <Click a member of Korolev's engineering team on the Soviet rocket programme. 

'Rockets and People' Book 2

Boris Chertok (????? ?????? )

Edited into English by Asif Siddiqui

http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4110/vol2.pdf <Click 

Essential reading in that this is written by a contemporary of Korolev's giving an important human dimension to the reminisences of Boris Chertok. That is direct and less distorted by western researchers with limited access to archive material and soviet culture. As a tribute to S P Korolev please read this important reference. 'Rockets and People' Book1<Click  by Boris Chertok. First meeting with Korolev Ch24 Page325. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4110/vol1-1.pdf

Boris Chertok (95)

International Astronautical Fedeartion 50th anniversary of Sputnik March 21st 2007


Professor Boris Chertok said that he was one of the last living witnesses to the early Soviet space programme.

After World War II, Stalin decided to modernise the Soviet Union's defence and Sergey Korolyov decided to fulfil Stalin's wish - nobody realised it might lead to Sputnik.

The theory of space exploration was well-established by the writings of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who published pioneering papers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Germans become experts both in the interwar years and during the Second World War. The Soviets reached the V-2 production sites in 1945 and went on to build a replica of the V-2 called the R-1. The weight of the Soviet nuclear warheads required a powerful booster and this was developed during the 1950s.

After the United States announced its intention to launch a scientific satellite, the Soviet Union announced its intention to do the same, based on its military R-1 rocket. During celebrations for the centenary of Tsiolkovsky's birth in 1956 and in time for the International Geophysical Year of 1957/58, Korolyov announced that a light-weighing satellite could be quickly launched, beating the USA into space.

A simpler satellite than that planned the previous year, Sputnik 1 became the first satellite with its launch on 4 October 1957. It stunned citizens the world over.

Boris Chertok made an invaluable contributions to first the Soviet, and then the Russian space programme.

He joined the Soviet Research Institute of Aircraft Industry in 1930 as an electrical engineer. Immediately after the Second World War, he was head of the Rocket Technique Research Institute in Bleiherode, Germany. Back in the Soviet Union, he worked as one of the chief designers on control systems for rockets and space apparatus from 1947 to 1951. Professor Chertok served as deputy to the principal designer at the Central Design Bureau from 1951 to 1966 and at the Rocket and Space Energy Corporation from 1966 to 1992.

He was key to the design of the control systems of the Mir space station. For 15 years, research conducted on the Mir fostered breakthroughs in astronomy, space science, medicine and other disciplines.

An academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Chertok is a recipient of the highest award in Russia, Hero of Socialist Labour, and a recipient of the Lenin Prize.

An fimed interview with Boris Chertok in 2004 containing archive film of Korolev



Japanese Space Exploration Agency link


Copyright Boris Chertok

The Technology Gap


Until the launch of 'Spoutnik' 4th October 1957 the first man made satellite by Korolev and his team.  The West comprising the United States and the OTAN signatory countries considered the USSR as technologically inferiour.

The USSR was respected because it possesed a massive land arm supported by tens of thousands of battle tanks which effectively created an 'Iron curtain' between communism and the West. 

Former allies in WW2 were now engaged in a post war conflict for World dominance based on ideals. Referred to as 'The Cold War'.

It must have been extremely difficult to change attitudes and motivatie people at a personal level who had worked together during the WW2.

There needed to be another large power base to counterbalance that of the USA after WW2.

Pre 1957 and despite evidence provided during the Korean War where the superiority of the USSR built MIG15 interceptor jet aircraft was generally acknowledged. The US continued to believe that the USSR was incapable of developing sophisticated aircraft or master the production of electronic circuits.

After the 4th October 1957 and the failed attempt by the USA to launch the more modest Explorer satellite when the rocket exploded. This confirmed there was a technology gap.

Hidden behind the accomplishment of putting the first man made satellite into orbit was the technical capability of  long range nuclear strike using the same missile. This left post 1957 Europe and OTAN wondering whether the US had technological superioirity.

Nasa reference to Tsiolkovski work1958.AppendixA2


A credability gap opened in 1961 when the USSR (thanks to Korolev and his team of engineers) successfully launched the first man into space.

After this point, rocket development became a political football with the engineers having less power whilst the politicians and military strategists controlled how the budget would be spent. Up to this point the politic elite had been unaware of the significant political status that could be gained from space in addition to its  strategic military value.

Engineering realism took a back seat in the USSR.

Chelomei's close ties with the Kruschev family diverted finance required by Korolev onto an alternative moon rocket project on which Krustchev's son was working. So political competition and in fighting prevented Korolev from building on his earlier sucess. Never gaining the finance he needed even for basic static rocket engine ground tests.

This effectively split the Soviet Space effort into several competitive programmes fighting for military approval from which it never fully recovered until 1992. Without this interference Korolev ( USSR)  might have achieved considerably more.

Whilst the US strategy of 'if you throw enough money at a problem; then statistically you will find a solution that will work' took hold. 

Todays space budgets have to be justified before expenditure is released.

The most cost effective are those of the esa and Russia.

The R7 Soyouz launch vehicle is a lesson we should all try to appreciate as a human triumph.

Forget the politics and the nationalism. 






Gleb Evgenevitch Lozino-Lozimsky.

An important space engineer whos name was kept a secret until 1999

Engineer responsible for the Bourane Soviet space shuttle

Born 25th December 1909 Kiev Ukraine.

Worked with Mikoyan at OKB 155 to design and develop a series of MIG jet fighter aircraft probably the most famous being the Mig 25 capable of flying at 25000m at a velocity in excess of 3000Km/hr.

From 1966 Mikoyan started to develop a design for a future re-usable space shuttle. Centered at an office of OKB 155 in Moscow. Appointing  Lozino-Lozinsy as chief engineering director responsible for the Bourane (Boran) project. Powered by a biphase RD701 twin rocket motor propulsion module.Phase1 produced a thrust of 400tonsf using oxygen/hydrogen and kerosene whilst Phase 2 produced 162 tonsf used only  the ergols oxygen/hydrogen. Sole automatic flight 1988.

Boran was launched using the Energia launch vehicle that was given to the Chief Designer Glushko.

The begining of the end of the moon mission...

Priorities to land a cosmonaut on the moon changed when military chiefs calculated that the flight path of the American space shuttle from Vandenburg AFB military base overflew sensitive strategic military sites in the USSR and would be capable of delivering a nulcear strike capability within 3.5minutes as compared to the 10minutes required for an intercontinental  strike launched from a Polaris submarine.

Hence the priority switched to producing a ussr space shuttle Bourane even though it was quickly realised that the economics of using a reusable flight vehicle was not cost effective.

The logic went .... Well if its not cost effective why are the Americans building a space shuttle


We will make one to counter the threat of the USA. The rest is now fortunately history...

With the end of the Cold War there was no longer any need for either the 'Boran ' or Energia programmes to continue> So the project was mothballed and funding finally stopped in1993.

Thanks to the development of surveillence or spy satellites. The cold war came to an end when both opposing factions could reliably monitor weapons development and deployment.

Policing  a nuclear proliferation treaty became a possiblity.

There is another  statistic worth mentioning:

Nasa space shuttle launches STS 116  Total 118

Russian R7 Launcher                           Total 1929

  On the 25 th February1956 in closed congress Nikita Khrouchtchev denounced the personality cult that had been pursued by Stalin and brought to light the devastating effect and scope of the Stalin purges within the USSR. Source: Sam Russell journalist for the Communist Party Newspaper UK Le Monde 19Mars 2006

VIP Tour of Peenemunde.

BraunV2.jpg (53191 bytes)

Wernher von Braun


Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977) 

German pioneer and rocket scientist of WW2's  infamous V2 and V1.Wernher was born into the Prussian aristocracy. At the end of WorldWar2 (1945) he emigrated to the USA  with a large group of  German engineers that had worked with him on the V2 programme in  Peenemunde (Near the Baltic coast in Germany). Von Braun and his team subsequently worked on several US military rocket programmes ( Redstone, Jupiter and Atlas)  and the Saturn5 rocket for the Apollo moon missions. 

Wernher Von Braun developed the ideas of Oberth and others. Financed by the Third Reich Wernher Von Braun directed a rocket  programme that  overcame many of the serious practical problems  to produce a series of rockets that culminated with the 12.5ton A4(V2)  that had a range of 200Kms carrying a charge ms1000 Kgs.

Cross section of the A4 rocket

From 1932 Wernher Von Braun worked under the control of Army General Ing. E.Walter Dornberger to set up a rocket design, development and manufacturing facility at Peenemunde.On the northern German coast.

In 1943 control of Peenemunde passed under the control of SS Director Hans Kammler when Dornberger opposed the creation of an underground rocket production facility at Mittelbau. He wasn't to concerned about  using slave prison labour. Just that it would effectively delay the availability of the weapons of mass destruction.

During1943 Wernher von Braun, a member of the SS, was made a technical director of Dora Mittelbau underground prison factory.

Wernher von Braun worked with SS Brigadier Hans Kammler to control the production of A4(V2).

Protected by the Allies in 1945 by a cover up during operation 'Paper clip' Wernher von Braun  did not have to stand trial at Nuremberg with other members of theNazi elite.

The principle objective of operation 'Paperclip' was to find  all the engineers and technical data on the Nazi rocket programme; as the allied forces advanced through Germany in 1945 during the final phase of the war. This knowledge would then be returned to the USA.This was also one of the principle objectives for the Soviet army as it advanced into Germany from the East.

This photograph shows Wernher von Braun walking behind  Himmler wearing an SS uniform.

Note:( This image obviously missed the eliminate the evidence directive. During both the German clear up and allied operation Paper clip )

Army General Ing.E Walter Dornberger can be seen walking to the left of Himmler in the enlarged image.Click 

Image dated April 1943

 To be objective we should at least open the question of Wernher von Brauns political views.

Even if it has been a forbidden subject since 1945

Wernher Von Braun joined the National Socialist Party in 1932. Because it sponsored him and his project to develop rockets as military weapons.

 Braun was sponsored by Army General Ing. E.Walter Dornberger during his two year doctorate at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität.

Became a member of the SS riding club in 1933

The SS in 1940 or earlier.

Himmler had shown a keen interested in destroying the Soviet rocket development team  1932>1936.

Feeding false documents to Stalin that led to the excecution or imprisonment of all key engineers  and researchers.

To eliminate the competition.Informed by whom?


As a consequence a considerable number of lives were treated as expendable.

I suspect the discussion could go on for some time.

Towards the end of the war large numbers of prisoners were moved away from the Dora Mittelbau complex and several of the camps demolised. making it difficults to accurately estimate just how many perished. A very conservative estimate is that 20 000 of the 60 000 slave labour that  entered Dora were worked to death.

Operation 'Paperclip' Reference Tom Bowers' The Paperclip Conspiracy"


Thesis on the Peenemunde engineers at Dora Mittelbau.

Most middle and lower management civilian positions where filled by experienced Peenemunde engineers.

Hans Lindenburg,  Von Braun's deputy was based at Mittelbau and was responsable for implicating changes necessary to simplify and mass production of the A4.He remained in frequent contact with Von Braun and was also responsible for introducing production and systems quality procedures written by Braun.

Of the Peenemunde engineers transfered to Mittelbau at least 20% were resposible for crimes against humanity whilst the rest at best can be accused of humanitarian indifference.Perhaps influenced by there increased salaries, promotion and inducments package

Sawatzki was one of the engineers responsible for the day to day production and worked with Hans Lindeburg.

Based on numerous accounts from prisoners who survived Sawatzki took pleasure in beating his production slave labour.  .

Former Peenemunde engineers Seidenstucker and Jakob worked  as deputies  for Rudolph who was reputed for his ruthless use of slave labour. Who along with Sawatzki and Siegel,  where all known for there cold ruthless and inhuman mistreatment of prisoners. There was one value given to staff and engineers who were German then there was another code of conduct for non Germans.Where almost anything was accepted if it helped the objective of mass producing A4 rockets.

Rudolph first introduced slave prison labour when he was at Peenemunde

Dornberger quote on the status of prisoners at Peenemunde:

"In the near future convicts will arrive here to work,  I say to you now directly that they are all thieves , murders and crimminals, and every crimminal will always pronnouce his is innocent"

This statement clarified the elite status of the engineers at Peenemunde and set the role of the slave labour as comparitively worthless.

Thesis on the Peenemunde engineers at Dora Mittelbau. Engineering Consent Peenemunde, National Socialism and the V2  1924-1945   2005


Hannelore Bannach was secretary to Sawatzki  and Wernher von Braun.

Wernher von Braun:

 Baron, member of the Nazi party elite and Sturmbannfuhrer , equivalent to major in the SS.

With an important number of Russian prisoners used as slave labour in Dora Mittelbrau. Wernher von Braun was frightened of the consequences if he was captured by the Soviet army . Helmut Gottrup

Chertok Rockets and People book1 P305-307<Click link

Korolev would also have been aware of Von Braun's involvement at Mittelwerk Dora.  

Dora Mittelbrau memorial Germany under National Socialism. Herman Oberth Verein fur Raumschiffarht '.The German Rocket Society'.  

Treatment of Soviet population and soldiers during the German invasion of the  Soviet Republic. I think if I were Von Braun I would  have been concerned about being captured by the Soviet army. http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/world_war_2/3037296.html?page=1&c=y  

Dr Walter Thiel

3rd Oct 1942 

First A4 launch to reach space

courtesy videospacevideo.ru

Dr Walter Thiel

Between 1936 and 1941 Dr Walter Thiel  developed  rocket engine performance from a thrust of 1.5tonsf to 25tonsf  introducing fuel injection into the combustion chamber and generally increasing reliability and efficiency during the transition from A1>A4.

Responsible for introducing the turbine driven propellant pump to increase the fuel mass flowrate fed to the combustion chamber. Refered to as a 'turbopump' initially they where driven by steam due to there development from steam turbine technology. Later they would be driven by exhaust gas generated from a seperate combustion chamber.

In 1942 a A4(V2) travelled faster than the speed of sound 340m/s.

Note: Dr Walter Thiel also developed  a hypergolic fueled rocket engine for the Wesserfall anti-aircraft missle that was a quarter the size of the A4 but had the additional requirement of being easy to store and launch. Making the use of liquid oxygen  as used in the A4 unsuitable. The hypergolic fuel was made up from Visol (vinyl isobutyl ether) and SV-Stoff,  that is an oxidising agent mixture of (90% nitric acid, 10% sulfuric acid).With hypergolic fuels the oxidising combustion process only occurs when the two chemical  parts are brought into contact with each other. Todays anti aircraft missles prefer to use solid propergol fuel.

The Wesserfall was later adopted by the USA refered to as the 'Nike Project' and by the USSR in there  R101 anti aircraft missle programme

Dr Walter Thiel was killed along with hundreds of other engineers , during an allied bombing raid on Peenemunde during the night of 16/17th August 1943.

Part of the same allied night bombing raid overshot by 3kms and bombed a prisoner work camp killing an unknown number of prisoners. Amongst them  some of the Polish prisoners that had managed to get the original information to the allies about the rocket research and production site at Peenemunde.

Forty allied aircraft where lost during the raid.

The important work of Dr Walter Thiel and his team in developing the V2 rocket engine is frequently undervalued or attributed to Werhner Von Braun.


v2munich_front.jpeg (31895 bytes)

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon photo: NASA-JSC

A4 reliability on reaching its programmed target was only 45%.

In order to research and develop the A4 the German engineers had to build a supersonic wind tunnel and also developed a system of electrical analogue circuits to model  the dynamic flight performance of rockets.  Data recovered from test launches was then used to refine the model.

German rocket achievements during this period created the foundation technology for both Russian and US rocket programmes immediately after the war. 

Note: Smaller teams also helped France>with the Viking rocket engine, Britain>with the BlackKnight rocket programme and in the 1950's the Russains gave ChinaV2 technology.

Between 1946 and 1947 German rocket engineers joined the French research team of the LRBA at Vernon in the Eure. Research in developing the V2 ballistic rocket technology was later diverted in 1949 to designing an atmospheric  test or sonde rocket code named 'Veronique'.

In all, 67 V-2 rockets were assembled and tested by the US at White Sands between 1946 and 1952, providing the U.S. with valuable experience in the assembly, pre-flight testing, handling, fueling, launching, and tracking of large missiles. The scientific experiments conducted aboard the V-2 yielded significant information about the upper atmosphere.

Only 68 percent of the US V2 flights were considered successful. However, much valuable information was gained from flights with known malfunctions and classified as failures

In 1946 a test firing of a captured V2 rocket at White Sands  USA  by Von Braun's team, recorded some of the first film taken from a rocket as it pierces the earths upper atmosphere  leaving behind the shrinking curvature of our  Earth. Destined to discover an unknown world beyond that of our own.

V-2 WhiteSands No. 13: Motion pictures showing Earth's curvature: October 24, 1946
Historic film of V2 leaving Earth's atmosphere. See below

This marked the begining of a technological  battle for supremancy between two super powers U.S.S.R. (Russia) and the U.S.A. That had two parallel objectives:

1.The race to control the  new frontiers of Space. Signalling the true start of  space exploration 

2.The Nuclear arms race Or 'Cold War' period.  To develop  nuclear armed rockets that could wipe the other super power off the face of the Earth. Or hold the world at peace by the threat of reprisal..

The deterrent strategy.

UK Polaris Submarines



Nuclear deterrent

Fortunately the space race took precedence with  spy satellites policing anti prolifilaration agreements. By observing what each other was doing with  their nuclear weapons. Priority was then focused on the need to develop peaceful applications of the technological advances in satellites. 

Slava boga ( Thank God )

The stakes where very high and there was a lot of failures  on the way to success in the Space Race.

Probably the most significant advantage gained by the USA space development programme.  Was the development and integration during the 1960's of computers and lightweight control system electronics. That would allow them to pull ahead of the Russian space programme.

Developments in second World War England1943 ,  by Max Newman, Alan Turing (Mathematicians) and Tommy Flowers  a GPO telecommunicatioins engineer had produced the first code cracking computer called 'Collosus'. Working on a system of thyraton triode valves this massive device  would later be drastically reduced in size  by replacing the valves with microcircuits and transistors.

So radically improving calculating speeds required for both designing rockets and calculating the orbits required to arrive at  objectives like the moon and the planets.

Consequently in 1957 when the engineers in the USA discovered that the USSR had the technological advantage. They where able to accelerate the design programme and take the lead in the race for the moon. 

The history of the first computer.Click


Courtesy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

 Ultimately leading to

Saturn 5, Apollo11     21 July1969 Man first walks on the moon.

Satellites > Weather forecasting. With more accurate prediction of potential disasters cyclones, floods;  geographic mapping and analysis of our world, internatioanl television, digital communications/telephone, GPS for verifying the accurate postion of aircraft and shipping etc.

Today real time television reports from all over the world have kept  the worlds population better informed than at any time in our history.

Note: A completely transparent account of developments during this period is only just becoming possible. Satellite orbits required for :

  • Communications satellites are geostationary orbit of 35800 Kms.
  • Meteorological satellites are used either for orbital observation between 600 and 800Kms. or geostatiohnary.
  • Earth Observation satellites like Spot and Helios is  800Kms.
  • Localisation satellites for navigational reference and postioning like GPS(100m) or the European Galileo ( positional accuracy 1m ) system 23000Kms.

Apollo Moon missions.

'The time of Apollo' 1975 NASA documemtry onthe Apollo space programme.




To find out more about the race to the moon


Then select  Apollo 11 mission to the moon.


History of the race to take man to the moon.

Courtesy Smithsonian Institute

The Engineer October 1957 Sputnik article pdf

The legacy of Sputnik and the battle in the USA between the Vanguard and Redstone projects

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sputnik/TOC.html SMART1  esa satellite mission video http://mfile.akamai.com/14448/wmv/esa.download.akamai.com/13452/wmv/destmoon_04042005_wmplow.asx

JPL History Site covering the history of NASA space exploration. A good site for reference.


Historic film of V2 leaving Earth's atmosphere. See below V2 USA WhiteSands test rangeV2 flight No. 13: Film showing Earth's curvature at an apogee of 105Km above the White Sands test range in New Mexico USA  October 24, 1946


Video Courtesy of Whitesands Missile Range © (New Mexico USA) and Virgin Galatic.

With kind permission of Flight International Magazine and Internet Site.

Note: To get the maximum effect of this historic event the suggested accompaning sound track is the superb Michael Nyman's music from 'Gattaca'  The arrival.(3.53)

What a fantastic achievement after all that had gone before, Just reading a few of the histories on these pages will give depth to the supreme effort and dedication that has opened the way to stars and discover our universe.

 ' This is the culmination of no one man but of mankind'. .

Gattaca Film  'There is no gene for the human spirit' Michael Nymans music from 'Gattaca'  Virigin records 7243 8 45018 2 2 The one moment (1.40)                                               Top  

USA Space strategy post 'Sputnik' The Formation of NASA In reply to ' Sputnik' Werhner von Braun's  Time cover of February 17th 1958.
America in Space the first 10years 1968 Nasa archive http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7120242879616552990&q=space
 Nasa Space shuttle
 Man made satellite table <Click



esp1.jpeg (12664 bytes)

Early  French aviator and rocket theoretican .The first Engineer to become involved with rocket propulsion.

1912 15th November. At the meeting of the French Physical Society, Robert  Esnault-Pelterie delivers a scientific paper with the ambiguous title 'The considerations on the Results of Unlimited Reduction in Engine Weight.' Discussing the possibility using rocket propulsion for exploring space.

Co-founder of the REP- Hirsch prize awarded by the French Astronomique Societe  for the advancement of the science of astronautics. (REP) Robert Esnault-Pelterie. 

Engineer and inventer of the 'Joy stick' aircraft flight control system and development of the radial aircraft engine.


Nicolai Ivanovitch Kibalchich


Transport Engineer form Chernigov Northern Ukraine.

Studied at the St.Petersburgh Institute of Transportation Engineers enrolling in 1871.

 Who in 1881  wrote about his ideas for a projectile launched by the force of reaction supplied by multiple combustion chambers in which packets of slow burning combustible powder where contained. 

Written during the last days of his life in prison for his part in the assasination of Czar Alexandre 2.

Established as the first person to show scientifically that an engine using the energy of a slow burning explosive could be used to create a jet propelled flying machine. Capable of propelling man.

The first step in the history of space flight.

Science and rocket flight became equated with the new revolutionary anti-czar era .

Kibaltchich(22) had been imprisoned earlier in 1875 for three years for the distribution of subversive literature shortly after a failed attempt to assasinate Alexander2.

Somewhat ironically Czar Alexander 2 had done more than any previous Czar to enlighten the University system and produce more practically oriented engineering graduates.

Kilbaltchich was executed along with the other members of the Peoples will asasination group Sophia Perovskaya, Andrei Zheyabov, Gesia Gelfman, Nikolai Sablin, Nikolai Rysakov and Timofei Mikhailov.


Just Buisson and Alexandru Ciurcu  3rd August 1886 They dreamed of developing the first jet propelled dirigable..

The Rocket powered boat of Just Buisson and Alexandru Ciurcu 1886 Seine Paris

Alexandru N, Ciurcu is the person you can see  standing second from the lright in the above photograph.

My research indicates that this could be a photograph taken after development tests at Sevran in 1887.

Buissonjet.jpg (287995 bytes)

The Rocket powered boat of Just Buisson and Alexandru Ciurcu

1886 Pioneers Just Buisson French inventor and Alexandre.Ciurcu (Romanian) pronounced Tchurcou developed and patented a rocket powered boat.

This marked the start of the development of the solid propellant rocket motor as used in booster rockets today. The slow burning explosive of Kibaltchich had become a reality.

The jet boat was demonstrated on the river Seine during a series of tests carried out from August until December 1886 to convince military officials. That someday  rocket propulsion could be used  for dirigibles, boats and heavier than air machines (aircraft).. 

Brave men indeed. Subsequently a similar rocket motor was tested as a means of propulsion for a rail wagon  at Sevran in 1887. With an orientable jet version  developed to power a dirigable 'Zepplin' or aeroplane.

Having concieved the idea of using jet propulsion they had eleminated the possibility of using either high pressure steam or compressed air during the early development phases and concentrated  on producing a powerful slow burning explosive mixture to generate the pressure. A bronze combustion chamber was used to generate a high energy proplusion jet. 

The material weight associated with controlling the high combustion pressures  probably ended the project. Not to mention the danger of explosion! They faced  a daunting task of technology transfer from the era of vapour to rocket jet propulsion. The new century would eventually provide a solution to their problem in 1943.


Alfred Nobel

One of the principle sponsors of the project was  Edmond Blanc a member of Nadars Aviation Society created in 1863. That included Jules Verne amongst its members.

Severan at this point was the area where production and development of explosives was undertaken.

Where interestingly a certain Mr Nobel (1833-1896) also worked


' Nobel established operations in Sevran,where he was occupied with research that led to the invention of ballistite in 1887. This was a gunpowder that left behind no solid particles when it burned, only small quantities of steam. In other words, it was virtually smokeless.'

Van Gogh Pont de Clichy 1887

 I have discovered the original text in La Nature late 1887 edition about there demonstrations.

Fatal explosion December 16th 1886 on the Seine near the Pont de Clichy. P70 La Nature Article late 1887 introduction written by Editor Gaston Tissandier with the main article written by Alexandru Ciurcu

Jet Propulsion experiment of J. J. Buisson and A. Ciurcu.

Title: Disaster of 16th December 1886. On the 16th December 1886 a terrible accident left the population of Asnieres and its vicinity in a state of  shock. after an engine used to power a whaling gaff exploded on the river Seine. Just downstrem from the Pont de Clichy bridge..... Read the translation in English<Click

There first boat was 8m long with a displacement for six oarsmen and had been modified by adding a 28L portable bronze combustion chamber 50cms high and with a diameter of 30cms. Operating within a pressure regime of 10 to15 Bar. What's more it worked.

Encouraged by the success of the early development phase from 3rd August to December 1886 where they achieved a propulsion autonomy of 15mins.They increased the jet power output by raising the system operating pressure and improved the autonomy by introducing  a primary pressure generator. 

Like many early rocket pioneers after many successful trials over the prevoius 4 months they just went a bit too far. Precipitated by an important visit of Mr Edmond Blanc and M le Conte d'Herisson, who where interested in helping finance there  jet propulsion development project. Without the luxury of time or the special test facilities to confirm the integratiy of the new combustion chamber under excess pressure loading, they installed the new system in the boat during the days leading up to the demonstration and on the 16th Dec. set out on the Seine to impress there visiters and see what  improvements to performance the changes had produced.

During  one of there initial trials with the Mk2 boat they  ruptured  the high pressure combustion chamber after the pressure  control valve jammed in the closed position. The resulting violent explosion killed Buisson and a young helper almost instantly. Al Ciurcu although severely burned survived to write this article and continue the development of rocket propulsion.

The boat had been blown into a thousand pieces with Al Cuircu blown clear by the blast. Suffering severe burns to the face and one hand. Still conscious he was able to swim to the river side and safety.

Seurat's steam tug

Just Buisson died shortly afterwards in the arms of M le Comte d'Herisson and in the company of his friend who had been recovered from the Seine by a passing steam tug. Note: Maurice d'Irisson, comte d'Herrisson (1839-1893) Orientalist and fomer Maire of Paris during the Prussian seige of 1870

Seurat 1884 Bathers at Asnieres.


Monets 1877 Gare Saint -Lazare

Setting the scene....

After recovering in Bucherest Al. Cuircu returned to Asnieres (Haute Seine) in 1887 determined to continue his research and expertiments.

Note: Asnieres at this time was home to the impressionist movement Seurat, Renoir, Monet.

 Boating and sailing on the Seine was a popular pastime followed by meeting socially to eat , drink and relax at restraunts and cafes at Asnieres, La Grande Jatte and Argenteuil.

New social life-styles where being adopted by those aspiring to be recognised as intellectually middle class..

The advent of railways provided easy access to the countryside on the ouskirts of Paris. The impressionists Seurat, Monet and Van Gogh not being afraid to show smoke , trains and industrialisation that the others appear to have censored from there images of life.

 Trains ran from Gare Saint-Lazare to Asnieres and Argenteuil.

You can almost smell the vapour and coal smoke.



Van Gough 1887 Bridges  Asnieres

Following the recovery of  the rocket propulsion unit from the bottom of the Seine. Ciurcu identified that the cause of the accident was due to the failure, at high pressure, of a  metal access panel at the front end of the chamber. It was not an explosion as such but a rupture of the metal used for the panel. He attributed the cause of failure as being a combination of the quality of the steel used and the thickness of panel selected for the design. He estimated that a force of 105Kg 

( Which I interpret to be 9.81* 105 N ) was generated on the interior surface area of the combustion chamber..

Seurat Dimanche a la grande jatte 1884 modified 86, 88 and 89.

Translated this would indicate a material yield stress of 46 N/mm2 MPa. For steel at this period I would expect to see a yield value of no less than 230MPa.Rp0.2

Note: 46 N/mm2 is quite low and would indicate either a fatigue or fabrication procedure problem. What he probably was unable to define was the rate of  increase in pressure to which the pressur vessel/combustion chamber was exposed.

If a plate buckled under pressure it could have been due to the plate not being either thick enough, being made of a none homogenous material or the use of an inappropriate locking and fastening system.Elsewhere in the text he refers to the rupture of the cylinder occurring  when the pressure was in excess of 20bar.

Renoir Asnieres 1878

When the cylinder ruptured it would be analagous to a boiler explosion; the energy of the expanding hot gases leaking from the hole in the reservoir would have had a devastating effect.

According to the account given by Cuircu. The rupture in the front of the main cylinder reversed the thrust of the combustion chamber. That immediately broke free from its mounting and transformed into a projectile impacting Buisson at the rear of the boat. Whilst the front panel was projected like a bullet impacting the young lad at the front controlling the rudder cords. Cuircu who was close to the source of the explosion and was blown sideways. Recieving severe burns from the burning combustion product. That disfigured the righthand side of his face, hand and back.

Unfortunately Just Buisson died shortly afterwards in the arms of M le Conte d'Herisson after asking if his friend was alright.


After the accident the fight for credibility...

In the conclusion to the article in 'Nature' Cuircu expresses his determination to continue with the research into jet propulsion as he is convinced it would be important for the future. He would not allow the development to be stopped because of the accident that had claimed the life of his best friend. Quite the opposite.

The cause of the accident had been generally misunderstood by the general public who had assumed incorrectly that Buisson and Cuircu had been playing with explosives that would inevitably lead to a devastating explosion. Cuircu appealed to the public to try and understand the basic principle of rocket jet propulsion. Based on the simple Newtonian principle of every active force being acccompanied by a reaction force.

So if there was a jet force pointed towards the rear of the boat the reaction force would propel the boat forwards.

Secondly he appealed to the scientific community to let him continue his rocket development project. Since the accident had been due to lack of adequate test facilities and a material failure. Qualifying that the accident had in fact occurred following several months of successful trials without incident.

The basic idea of rocket propulsion was sound.

Moral and financial support was provided by Edmond Blanc and M. le Comte d'Herisson ( Formerly Governor of Paris 1870 during the Franco-German Siege ) who had both witnessed the successful trials and where following the progress of the phase 2 boat  from the river bank when the combustion  chamber ruptured causing an explosion.

The two figures can just be made out at the top righthand in the illustration in 'La Nature' showing the accident.

 Both where members of the 'Heavier than air Aviation Society' of Nadar.


1887 Combustion chamber test at Sevran

What people actually thought after the accident is not recorded. It can be assumed that the generally low level of scientific knowledge in society during the late 19th century would not have made Ciurcu task an easy one.

But we can imagine that he was written off as some form of derranged scientist

What we do know is that  Beau de Rochas, Gaston Tissandier, Mr Mourouard ( Ministrie deGuerre ) and a few others like Desire Thomas Piot and (The  Nadar heavier than air aviation Society) where  sufficiently convinced with his idea for the future of jet propulsion.

But they where in the minoirty.


But at this epoch the  technological revolution was focused on steam.  the development of electricity and the internal combustion engine. Horse feed was in short supply, the roads where polluted by horse manure and there  was a major shift of population from the country to the large industrial towns where an alternative means of  transport was required. metro, train, motor driven transport etc

A report by Mr Mourouard the Director of Poudres est saltpetres at the Ministrie de Guerre (Defence Department) authenticates the success of the initail trials.

It is probably with his help, that after the accident further developoment work was carried out in  a rail yard at Sevran under his control in 1887.

Severan at this point was the area where production and development of explosives was undertaken.

Where interestingly a certain Mr Nobel (1833-1896) also worked


' Nobel established operations in Sevran,where he was occupied with research that led to the invention of ballistite in 1887. This was a gunpowder that left behind no solid particles when it burned, only small quantities of steam. In other words, it was virtually smokeless.'


Monet 1857 Pont Asnieres

The famous Monet painting 'Deschargeurs des charbons' is painted at the bridge at Asnieres with the bridge of Pont de Clichy in the background.

The picture records the unloading of coal from barges at Clichy next to the bridge to Asnieres. Which was then used to produce gas in Clichy for the city of Paris.

Asnières and Argenteuil where the social focus for boating regatta's and bathers who would arrive at the weekend.

 The  source of the original text in La Nature late 1887

Is taken from the french National archive of the CNUM CNAM.

If you need a full translation you can contact me.


Click on this title to see the original text> 

.Nature P70

 Nature P75

Interestingly the images in the article bare no resemblance to the installatioin in the photograph. So it is possible that the photograph shows the results of the rocket development work carried out on a rail wagon during 1887.

The earlier images show 28L bronze combustion chamber, where the hot exhaust gases of combustion , generated by the slow burning solid propergol fuel cartidge,  are then directed through  a  nozzle in the side of the pressure vessel, developing thrust force to propel the boat. 

In some of there early patents they use the heat energy created by the combustion to generate high energy steam vapour.  However the use of high steam pressure was eliminated in the early stages of development in  preference to using simply the high energy combustion products expanded through a nozzle in the side of the bronze combustion chamber.

The definition of the primary cycle would then more closely resemble a air cooled rocket combustion chamber. Although only operating at 15 to 20 bar.

The later Phase 3 development (Post Dec1886 seen in the photograph) is a large single combustion chamber. 

Which had the facility of intoducing two propergol cartridges to extend the combustion autonomy.

Somewhat understanderbly there are numerous control valves and maximum pressure safety valves to avoid excess pressure rupturing the combustion  cylinder.

The operating pressure is unknown but we can assume that it would operate with a suitable margin of safety at 20bar.


The solid fuel booster cross section for the new esa Vega launcher rocket is shown here.

The star shaped profile of the burning combustion face of modern solid fuel rocket motor is a derivativeof the  cartridge shape used by Buisson and Ciurcu in there patent for the rocket powered boat.

Initially Buisson and Cuircu used a cylindrical hole at the center of the combustion material and later modified this for the fuel to be moulded into a cylindrical block with a hollow star shape at its center. Effectively to increase the surface area exposed to the combustion flame and improve the burn rate .Ignition would be started by lighting the hole at the outside of the combustion carteridge.

Alexandru N. Ciurcu (1854-1922)

Alexandru N. Ciurcu  Born 29th Jan 1854 Sercia. Died 22th Jan 1922 Bucharest.

Ciurcu studied law in Vienna 1873.

Working as a journalists in Bucharest he was forced to flee Romania after writting an article criticising the Romanian government. Arriving in Paris where he met a old friend, Just Buisson, who was also a journalist. Both where fascinated by technology and the technological revolution they where experiencing.

Albert and Gaston

Photographed by Nader

During the 1881 International Exhibition of Electricity in Paris.(l'Exposition Internationale d'electricitie)

The two journalists meet Gaston Tissandier Editor of the publication La Nature and suggest he uses a jet of compressed gas to propel his dirigable balloon.

Note:Gaston Tissandier (1843-1899) with his brother Albert where  famous pioneers of balloon flight and had flown in a balloon behind the German lines during the seige of Paris. September 1870.

In 1883, Tissandier fit a Siemins electric motor powered propeller to a balloon, thus creating the first electric-powered flight.

Successful trial flights where accomplished  8th October 1883 and 26th September 1884 in an electrically powered balloon built by Albert . Some 28m long the elongated gas balloon was driven by propellor Using  power supplied from a 1.12KW Siemens   electric motor and 24 bichromate voltaic cells.

Albert Tissandier (1839-1906)

Piloted a ballon out of besieged Paris 14th October 1870 accompanied by two passengers M. Banc and M. Ferrand along with 400Kgs of letter post..

Albert was an architect and illustrator. Working for his brother to illustrate La Nature publication.

So he would have been responsible for designing the illustrations of the  Buisson and Cuircu rocket boat.

Below is a record of balloon pilots known to have carried out balloon flights during the Prussian siege of Paris (1870-1871)

http://www.ballooninghistory.com/whoswho/appendix1n.html Paul Tissandier (1881 -1945) Son of Gaston  Learned to fly balloons and dirigeables before becoming the second student pilot to learn to fly with Wilbur Wright at the I'ecole de Pau..Gaining his flying licence No.10 in September 1909

Gaston Tissandier

(1843 1899)

Editor of Nature, Chemist and aeronaute/ballonist.

The development of dirigibles with a more aerodynamic (Ruby ball) shape had created a need for some form of light weight propulsion system.

Propulsion by an electrically driven propeller had been suggested. But the weight of batteries or generator required brought with it a serious weight penalty

Gastons/ Nadar balloon trips over Paris had produced a series of detailed aerial photographs (Taken by Nadar ) which the Ministry of defence had noticed might enable them to develop a system of aerial survaillence

Enter stage right Just Buisson and Alex Ciurcu with there rocket propulsion proposal.

Interestingly the development of a better aerodynamic shaped dirigable was the focus of a wind tunnel research project by Tsiolkovski in Russia about the same time.

The French Ministry of Defense had shown a keen interest in using a powered dirigable as an observation platform that did not require to be tethered. Unfortunately they refused to fund the research of jet propulsion necessary. 

The escape from the besieged Paris in 1870/71 had also proved that balloons could be a strategic tool. Although it was the Russians who where the first to developed the use of ballons for aerial bombardment.

Santos Dumonts developments in flying balloons , dirigibles and aircraft during the 1890's and early 1900's can be recongnised as having similar origins.

Plan of Asnieres NW Paris

On the river bank at Asnieres looking across to the island of La Grande Jatte. 

From the island looking back at the Asnierse river  bank

Undeterred Buisson and Ciurcu decide to develop the idea by using a rocket jet to power a boat.

Given a Patent No 172461 23rd Nov1885.

Technical specification:

Reservoir 1.5m long *0.4mdiam wall thickness e = 7mm

 Minimum mass of  combustion reservoir 1052Kgs.

Power estimate 26.6cv.

The initial patent describes a generator of steam vapour  at very high pressure using a cartridge of slow burning explosive mixture.

After looking at the patent I think it is fair to say that the steam generator was more a water cooled rocket combustion chamber than a vapour generator..

There patent describes the chemical composition of the slow burning explosive charge and the design of a two cylinder jet motor. The chemical composition of the rocket fuel had been covered by an earlier patent by Just Buisson No153785 10th January 1885.Partricularly interesting in that it left no solid pariculates after the combustion.

The next logical step was to forget about high pressure steam and concentrate on a pure rocket jet produced from the exhaust gases.

Phase1 goes well ,with encouraging results.

Closely observed by the French Ministry of Defense  Buisson and Ciurcu manufacture and successfully test there first rocket powered boat on the Seine from August to December1886.


A larger more powerful version of the rocket motor was manufactured  with the pressure reservoir rupturing during testing on 16th December 1886,  instantly killing Just Buisson and a young man at the helm of the boat.

Alexandru Ciurcu is acquitted of manslaughter following the accident and continues to develop the idea with some help from Emil Sarrau and Paul Vieill ( a slow burning expolsives expert). Encouraged and helped by Gaston Tissandier  and Mr Mourouard of the Ministry of Defence.

They develop the worlds first rocket propelled rail wagon at Sevran railway yard 1887.

The rail wagon was probably selected to act as a good test bench for developing the rocket motor.

It could also be tested without the need for technicians to be in the close proximity to the rocket motor.

After hearing about there experiment in the La Nature magazine article Alphonse Eugene Beau (1815-1893) Beau de Rochas the famous French thermodynamician takes up the idea and writes out some of the first mathematical analysis of rocket propulsion in a 24page reference note for the Academie of Science.

"Conversion de l'énergie potentielle des fluides élastiques à haute tension en travail direct de translation"1887.
A project that was unfortunately forgotten after his death in 1893.

Fortunately Tsiolkovski had been working on his own ideas for rocket propulsion...

Background research of the Asnieres area where Just Buisson and Alexandru Cuircu lived and developed there rocket boat.

Seurat (1859-1891) Asnieres link to the history of 'Les baignés' and  'Dimanche a La Grande Jatte'. Les baignes is the view seen from Asnieres river bank looking across to the island of the Grande Jatte. 

Which record the social scene on a Sunday near Asnieres. Which Juste Buisson and Alexandru Cuircu would have been  familiar.


The Chicargo Institute of Art.

Fantastic book to explore and a good reference on impressioinsm originally published in Italian and translated into French.

Petite encyclopedie de I'impressionnisme by Gabrielle Crepaldi Publisher Solar

ISBN 2-263-04125-7

La Nature 1858 Gaston Tissandier publishes an article on the first aerial photography made by Felix Tournachon (Nadar)(1820-1910).

Nadar is also famous for allowing his photographic salon to be used to hold  the first 'Impressionist' art exhibition in 1874 that comprised a group of artists whose work was shunned by the  official French art establishment.

Monet, Renoir, Sisley,  Pissarro, Degas, Cezanne etc. All they knew was they where anti the existing French art establishment of the day. Which had both alienated them and made the sales of there paintings  a rare event.

The name 'Impressionist' was coined by an art critic who attended the exhibition who ridiculed there art. But somewhat ironically the name taken from Monet's painting 'Impression Sunrise' stuck and the names of the artists  he ridiculed entered the world stage.

Before the exhibition at Nadars salon in 1874 they had no common identity.After it they where recognised as having a common cause.

Nadar worked amongst the avant garde society of this epoch and had the reputation as being a pioneer in many of his projects.

Natural character photography.

Aerial photography.

Electric illumination used for photography...

Helping the impressionist movement.

Nadar also worked with his son Paul Nader to produce some of the first examples photo-journalism.

Refer to photographs at the end of page on the site below:


Micael Ardan alias Nadar in 

From the Earth to the moon 1865

Jules Verne photographed by Nadar

French Society for encouraging the development of flight.1863

Nader with Gabriel de La Landelle, Viconte La Ponton d'Amecourt and Jules Verne was the founder of the 

"La Societe d'encouragement pour la locomotion aerienne au moyen d'appareil plus lourds que l'air"

Fondee1863 by Nadar.

The society for encouraging  aviation using  a machine heavier than air.

Membership of the Society in 1865 included:

"Edmond About, Louis Blanc(French Socialist), Brierre de Boismont, Dentu, Maxime Du Camp, Alexandre Dumas père et fils, Farcot, Paul Féval, Emile de Girardin, Victor Hugo, Hector Malot, Jacques Offenbach, le Prince Poniatowski, Adrien Tournachon, George SandJules Verne and Elisee Reclus.
Baron Taylor and Yves Guyot economist anti-empire and future minister of finance."

So although well experienced with balloning Nadar was convinced that a flying machine heavier than air driven by a propellor would in the future be superior to a balloon.

Nadar was made fun off in the press characterised as an idiot for imagining that a steamtrain powered by a propellor could fly... Yes well in 1863 Nadar was in the minority and everybody had a good laugh. 

It wouldn't be until 43 years later in 1906 when Santos Dumont first flew in an aeroplane in front of an enthralled public followed by the sensation in1909 when Bleriot  flew across the English channel that the Nadar heavier than air aviation society was proved right.

Jules Verne

'Cinq semaines en ballon' Five weeks in a ballon Written in 1862-63 is based on the ballon adventures of Nadar. Nadar aided by Reclus during the Prussian seige of Paris 1870. Managed to ferry important leaders and mail out of besieged Paris by balloon.

In 1865 in the story 'From the Earth to the moon' ( De la Terre a la Lune ) Jules Verne.includes a character  Michael Arden which is an anagram of 'Nader' in honour of his friend.and source of inspiration.

"I do not remember how it got into my head to make the first calculations related to rockets," Tsiolko vsky later wrote, "It seems to me the first seeds were planted by the famous science fiction writer, Jules Verne."

 The heavier than air societe encouraged the development of flight in all its forms and this is perhaps reflected best by the determined efforts of Santos Dumont and Bleriot. What is less well known,  as this document illustrates, is its role in encouraging and inspiring the origins of rocket motors and rocket propulsion.

Chevreul Nader interview 1886

Felix Nader with Chevreul 1886

Centenary interview with Eugene Chevreul (1786-1889)

Photographs taken by Nadar's son of an interview between Nadar and the French chemist and colour chemist Eugène Chevreul in1886 to mark his centenary. Where used to illustrate an article in the le Journal illustré 5th Septembre based on the interview with the scientist.

Chevreuls 1839 theory of the effect of placing complimentry contrasting colours next to each other to produce an optical amplification of colour and contrast , directly influenced the 'Impressionist',  'neo Impressionist' and cubist movement of artists. 


Example complimentry colour wheel.

There is a strong link between the scientific revoltion during the 19th century and the change in art.

Science began to explain how colour worked optically. Then how colour pigments could be used in complementry colour brush dabs and yet have the same effect as the fine brush work of the fine art school of realist painting.

Basic points or blocks of colour could be left for the eye of the observer to mix and produce the contrast avoiding the muddy greys produced by mixing colour pigments that reduced the brightnmess of a traditional painting.

Colour pigments and oil paints where starting to be pruduced using industrial process that standardised colour and reduced costs.

So who do you think the photographer was of the proud rocket boat crew?

Could it be Nadar?.There is a high possibility it be either Nader or his son Paul.

Its difficult to imagine that Nader would not have been aware of the rocket propulsion project or that he never heard of the 1886 accident.

From the photograph with Chevreul in 1886 we can see felix nader had grey receding hair.

So we can say he is not one of the people in the boat.

The most probable candidates for those in the boat are:

From right to left:

Mr Mourouard or Gaston Tissandieror his brother Albert Tissandier

Mr Alexandru Ciurcu.

Emil Sarrau and Paul Vieille inventor of "Powder blanche"  one of the first smokeless nitrocellulose based propellants in1886 adopted by the French army to replace 'black powder' in munitions  Paul Vieille (1854-1934)  After studying with the chemist Marcellin Berthelot, Vieille collaborated with him in researches that led to important discoveries in the physics of shock waves (1881). He then undertook to solve the problem of harnessing the powerful but unstable substance nitrocellulose as a propellant…

In 1887Alfred Nobel invented and patented a smokeless propellant he called Ballistite. It was composed of 10% camphor, 45% nitroglycerin and 45% collodion (nitrocellulose).But like thePowder blancheit became unstable once the solvent had evaporated.

Link to Desire Thomas Piot and the pulse jet boat 1891.

Piot had been inspired by the trials of the rocket boat and developed a toy vapour pulse jet boat which fascinated children and adults all over the world.

Desire Piot had copied the 2 tubes which the rocket boat of Just Buisson and A Cuircu used to exhaust excess pressure to the rear of the boat. That exhausted below the water line.

The toy boat that inspired a generation  and led to the development of the V1 Note: The  rocket boat used 2 pressure exhaust pipes  to exhaust excess combustion chamber pressure That ran from either side of the pressure cylinder  to  the stern of the boat that released the gas pressure below the water line.

Nadar reference for further information


Nadar photographic archive Patrimone numerique


The Legacy of the Heavier than air club. 1898 Creation L'Aero Club de France 1901

On the19th October 1901

Following four earlier attempts and a lucky escape during August 1901 when his dirigable No.5 crashed into the side of the Tracadero restaurant following a sudden loss of hyrogen pressure.

 Santos Dumont can be  seen  successfully flying around the Eiffel Tower in his engine powered dirigable No6 competing in the Henry Deutche de la Meurthe competition  to be the first person  capable of flying from St.Cloud around the Eiffel tower and back to St.Cloud equivalent to a distance of 10kms in less than 30mins. Winning the 100,000Francs prize Santos Dumont gave half to his workforce and half to the poor of Paris. 1905 14th October the foundation of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale 1906 23rd October 1906 Santos Dumont achieves powered flight in his aircraft 14bis.Observed by    the FIA     http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/santos/ 1909 Bleriot crosses the channel. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bleriot/ The 'Jules Verne'  Automatic Transfer Vehicle ATV is due to be launched in 2007 to supply the International Space Station and boost its orbit delta V.

Jules Verne esa ATV Technical Specification and layout

esa ATV site


The Jules Verne site

http://www.jules-verne.net/ Independent article on Santos Dumont  

All rights reserved © by John Gwynn.

This is an original research document and should be credited as your source of information.

Please refer to myself and Prof. Jean Le Bot.                                                                                                                     Top

Max Valier




German rocket cars. Max Valier was a member of the VfR German rocket society. Lectures on rocket powered cars developed by Max Valier are known to have been given in Moscow in April 1927 by Alexander  Fedorov.

In order to bring rockets to a wider public Max Valier adapted rocket propulsion to conventional means of transport. Developing a rocket powered sledge and a series of rocket powered cars.

On 23 May 1928 the Opel RAK2 achieved a velocity of 170Kms./hr. Powered by the thrust  force generated from of a matrix of 24 solid fuel rockets.

RAK 6  produced in 1930 used the thrust provided by a liquid oxygen and methonal rocket motor.

All this rapid development came to a tragic end when Valier was killed; after the rocket motor for RAK 7 exploded during static testing in his laboratory 17.5.1930.


The experimental USA McDonnell Douglas DC-X Delta clipper(1991-1993)

Re-usable single stage launcher test programme pioneered vertical launch and landing.

A one third scale rocket first flight 18th August 1993 

Maximum altitude 2500m

Total number of flights 8

Test programme ended when a heavy landing at 4.27m/s cracked the shell structure of the  DC-X. and research funding was stopped. DC-XA  Delta Clipper Nasa McDonnell Douglas   March-July 1996

Saw the joint cooperation between Nasa and RSC Energia who both contributed to reducing the original DC-X weight by 600Kgs  introducing the use of lightweight graphite aluminium honeycomb composites for the liquid hydrogen tank and  special lithium alloy liquid oxygen (LOX) tanks .

Programme ended when the  DC-XA toppled over on landing due to one of the support legs not functioning because one of the helium pipe couplings used to actuate the leg not being attached.

Maximum altitude 3140m

Total number of flights 4

Turn around between flights 26hrs. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/x-33/dc-xa.htm

Nasa Delta Clipper video

DC-XA launch


DC-XA landing


The end of DC-XA Landing on three legs.


Nasa DC-X 5mins


Blue Origin November 2006

Development flight of 85m Vertical take off and landing

Fuel hydrogen peroxide and kerosene


NASA Hypersonic prototype X 43A   27.3.2004.

Based on a scram jet. The objective is to produce a cheaper and more efficient propulsion using air to replace the oxygen (ergol).

Mach 7  = 2252m/s

 Tvol = 11secs

  M1 = 981kgs.

Surface temperature 16050C.

The 'scram jet' relies on  air  entering the intake at supersonic velocity to rapidly compress the air charge. Before the hydrogen is added. This ram air replaces the oxygen usually used in conventional rocket jet combustion.

So potentially  reducing the mass of first stage launcher systems up to 40kms.

Booster rockets would be used to propel the scram jet to the required supersonic speed for the scram jet to begin to function. So reducing the need for oxygen for the main first stage of the launcher.

16.11.2004 X43A Third  test flight.

Mach 9.6 = 3130m/s

Surface temperature 22300C.

The speed of flight development:

17th Dec 1903. Wilbur and Orville Wright,Kitty Hawk USA

First powered flight lasted  12secs and covered 36m, V=3m/s 

Windspeed assisted lift A=43.4km/hr 12.06m/s

Power to weight 0.0264KW/Kg


Courtesy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


27th March 2004  Nasa X 43A  Hypersonic prototype.

Tvol =11secs V = 2252 m/s

Who really was the first aviator to fly an aeroplane?

Was  Santos Dumont really the first avaitor to fly a powered aeroplane in Paris on 23rd October 1906. Flight officially recorded at more than 50m

Santos Dumont showed the world how to fly mastering balloons, dirigables and aeroplanes.

BBC programme on Brazils famous aviator.


He also invented the wristwatch.... Santos Dumont flying  14bis 23rd October1906 at Bagatelle Nr Paris. 

This was his forteenth aircraft and had an undercarriage  to allow a rolling take-off and landing. It was powered by a pusher propller driven by a V8 Antionette engine capable of 18Kw (24HP)

Power to weight ratio 0.06KW/Kg A second flight of 14bis on the 12th November 1906 fitted with  an engine of 37.3KW(50HP) covered 220m at a height of 6m. Power to weight ratio 0.12KW/Kg http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=428

bbc news article with original film footage


His next plane 'Demoiselles'  a simple monoplane No20 1908 was the first to be produced in large numbers and can be identified as  bringing flight to a larger population of aspiring aviators.

 A precurser of todays ULM 'Demoiselle' was an ultra light aircraft  of a simple design optimised for power to mass ratio and maximum lift. Based on his experiecne of building 19 previous flying machines. Mass empty 56Kgs and fitted with a flat opposed 2 cylinder engine capable of producing 26KW  (35HP) and 85Kgf of thrust force. Flown at an estimated ceiling oif 3000m

His aircraft No22  a modified 'Demoiselle' version Clement- Bayard   fitted with a four cylinder 37.3KW(50HP) was flown by Santos Dumont at a recorded 112.6Km/hr.

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in1909 his doctor advised him that his flying days were over . In 1916 Santos returned to his native Brazil where he  died in 1932. Some believe he became depressed after seeing the use of aircraft being adopted as a weapon to wreak death and destruction during the First World War 

Over 20,000 pilots were killed during WW1. Somehow he felt responsible

We all, without realising it,  carry a little momento , even space astronautes, as he invented the wrist watch. Which he needed to be able to tell the time whilst using both hands to pilot his aeroplane.

1909 Demoiselle in flight Independent

article on Santos Dumont

Nova documentry on Santos Dumont



Film of the Demoiselle during take off and flight


Space Ship One

4th October 2004

Majave, California USA

Independent Space Venture 'Space Ship One'

'Space Ship One' and 'White Knight' were designed and manufactured by Burt Rutan and his team of engineers.

On 4th October 2004, 'Space Ship One' rocketed into history, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 100Kms (328,000 feet) twice within the span of a 14 day period, thus claiming the ten million dollar Ansari X-Prize that had been set as a challenge 8years earlier.

Subsequently a joint company has been created with Virgin Galatic to launch low cost space flights.

Space Ship One is launched from a mother aircraft 'White Knight' at 15240m.

Your own chance to visitspace might not be far away. Virgin Galaxtic offers a space experience.

Flight sequence plan.

Independent article about Virgin Galaxtics plans to launch Space Ship 2 in 2008.
Designed to carry six passengers into space.

Some of Tsiolkovski’s other interests and inventions.

The wind tunnel.

In1897 Tsiolkovski built one of the first wind tunnels to study and identify the best aerodynamic forms for his all metal dirigable (airships) and perfect the design of his all steel monoplane 1894.Which later flew in 1915.

Reference to development problems with the first German monoplane.

Note: During the First World War Germany had lost nearly as many pilots developing a monoplane fighter (the wings kept on breaking off) as had been shot down by the allies.

The origin of the problem was that the role of the torsion box that had been created by the trussed double wing of the biplane had not been completely understood.

The pressure center formed under the wing created a twisting moment or couple  about the shear center of the wing section. When the two centers are closer to one another the twisting energy involved is reduced. The torsion box created by the two wing system absorbed the  twist energy well.



The main problem was that nobody had told them about torsional loading and the need for box or tube wing spars positioned at the centre of lift. That are required to control wing twist or torque loadings created when pulling a high g turn manouver.

With the initial monoplane design A>0 so K>0.

So the wing was violently twisted away from the fuselage when it pulled a tight turning manoeuvre.

Up  until this point in aircraft structures  the simple beam theory similar to that used for designing buildings and bridges was used.

Wing laoding was reproduced by physically turning the aircraft structure upside down and quasi statically loading the wings using bags filled with sand or lead shot.

Consequently when the wings first started falling off the first reaction of the design engineers was to stiffen up the wing spar beam section.

Only problem was it made the problem worse.

 Maybe Tsiolkovski knew?

Refer: Structures JE Gordon Pelican

Tsiolkovski's interest in aerodynamics may have been influenced by Nikolai Zhukovsky (1847-1921) Russian pioneer in fluid flow and aerodynamic theory.

During 1890-91 Zhukovsky experimented with different disc shaped elements placed in an airstream to discover the parameters that affected air resistance. Which later developed into a study of flight dynamics 1891. In 1895 he visited Lilienthal in Berlin , a German engineer  who had developed a series of gliders. One of which  Zhukovsky purchased and took back to Russia. In an extract from a biography on Zhukovkys 

... observed several of Lilienthal's flights and was most impressed. After returning to Moscow, he spoke before the Society of Friends of the Natural Sciences: "The most important invention of recent years in the area of aviation is the flying machine of the German engineer Otto Lilienthal.

Lilienthal P87 History of aerodynamics Anderson< Click

 His work in developing the study of aerdynamics at the Moscow Technical Institute. Where he had built one of the worlds first wind tunnels in 1902. Would later  influence the young Ukranian student Korolev who was already designing gliders. When he started studying at the MTI in 1926. His professors included Andrei Tupolev

In 1906 Zhukovsky published two papers in which he gave a mathematical expression for the aerodynamic lift on an airfoil. Today it is known as the Kutta-Joukowski theorem.


Zhukovsky aerodynamics

Zhukovsky Aerofoils (also refered to as Jowkowski aerofoils)

Zhukovsky's transformation is the map of a complex function from C to C 

given by w = z + 1/z  more commonly used in the form  w = z + a2/z.

It was studied by Zhukovsky because the image of a circle which passes through the point where the values of z = 1 or z = -1  creates a curve shape similar to the that  of an aerofoil.

Tsiolkovski used his wind tunnel to develop aerofoil sections and also refine the best form shape for airships that would produce the lowest drag force ( resistance).It  is for this reason  that based of this research his first rocket designs resembled  a streached tear drop shape.

Like the image on the right above.

Tsiolkovski's later interest in aircraft was focused on developing winged space craft .

Similar to the shuttle in that it had a central winged fuselage with two booster rockets.1929

.The history of the first wind tunnel


Note: The work carried out in Russia by Zhukovsky and Tsiolkovski needs to be taken into account.


Design by Maurice Koechlin

Seurat's Eiffel tower 1889

Tsiolkovski's tower1895.

This was a project to calculate the feasiblity of building a physical link to access GEO orbit.

"The space elevator"

Tsiolkovski imagined constructing tall towers from the surface of a planet to access a geostationary orbit (GEO) that is sychronous with the planet rotation. Where the gravitational and centrifugal forces on a body are in balance. So that the point in space is stationary relative to a point on the Earths surface.

Tsiolkovski calculated the synchronous altitudes for the five other visible planets, and the sun.

What inspired Tsiolkovski ?

Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) had managed both  the design and construction phases of the 300m tall Eiffel tower  in Paris between 1887-1889. Ready  for the l'Exposition Universelle de 1889 ( Universal Exhibition).At which all the major powers where present including Russia.

The tower was the technological symbol of a new era . Inspiring heated debate about its affect on the Paris skyline from the artistic community. Whilst inspiring many engineers and new technologists. 

The basic design had been proposed by Eiffel's two principle engineers Maurice Koechlin and  Emile Nougeur in 1884.

Arthur C. Clarkes ( Fellow of Kings College London) science fiction publication 

" The Foutains of Paradise" was inspired by Tsiolkovski's proposal.

 Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise. Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, N.Y.; Gollancz, London (1979).

Clarkes scientific papers on the subject can be found on


"Clarke orbit." or geostationary orbit of 35900km was identifed by Clarke in 1945.

Recent NASA presentation April 2004


Calculate the geostationary orbits GEO for different planets.

Look under space elevators 


Link to documents on the Eiffel tower


Tour Eiffel 'La Nature' Vol 835 1889


Nasa Space Elevator Presentation pdf\ The mechanical properties and strength of materials required to construct  a space elevator currently surpass our current material knowledge by a factor of  250 times that of steel. A possible solution could be the development of  new Nano Material technology. Nano 10-9m Properties of the materials required:
  • High tensile strength 250 * high grade steel,  20 * Kevlar 
  • Low density.
  • Good electrical conductor
  • Good thermal properties capable of coping with extremes of temperature.
  • High fatigue resistance
  • High homogenity
  • Easy to manufacture.
  • Consistant quality over extreme distances 36000Kms
  • Easy to repair and maintain.( Remember the team of painters required to maintain the Eiffel tower. Full time)
Material properties required for space elevators.pdf

Nova program on space elevators 9.01.2007


esa Spider silk research helps nano tube structure design


Gustave Effel the aerodynamicist

Gustave Eiffel during the last 21 years of his life was also a pioneer in the study of aerodynamics.

After developing an interest from examing the speed with which objects of a certain shape and form fell from the second platform of the Eiffel tower. Probably influenced by Santos Dumont's quest to find the best aerodynamic form for his dirigibles.

In 1909 in conjunction with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale he built his first electrically driven wind tunnel on the edge of the Champs de Mars.

Its design incorporated a convergent intake duct leading to a test section 1.5m in diameter and was capable of producing a air flow velocity of 20m/s. Although most of his work was carried out at 12m/s.

He derived that the aerodynaic force produced by an object placed in the airstream was  proportional to the  square of the air stream velocity..

P268 Anderson  History of Aerodynamics.


1924 The Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel

Tsiolkovski,  June 20th 1924 fondation of the Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel,

with Frederich Tsander and Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk psuedonim for his real name  Alexander Ignat'jevich Shargey (b June 21 1897 - d1942).Who pioneered the rocket flight strategy refered to as the "Kondratyuk's loop" that was later adopted by the USA to place man on the moon.

Urkrainian , Shargey had fought in the First World War as an officier at the Transcaucasian  Eastern Front.At the frontier of Turkey and Armenia. During this period  he completed four note books of calculations developing his ideas on interplanetary space flight.and pioneering the use of a gravitational sling shot to aid interplanetary travel. 

Leaving the Russian army in 1918 following the revolution he found life difficult. 

Identified as an enemy of the revolution for having fought as an officer for the Czars White army  by the Bolsheviks whilst conversely treated as a deserter by the White army supporting the old Csarist regime. The Ukraine was the traditional Cossack region which had been historically the backbone for the defence of Csarist Russia prior to the Revolution.

In 1925 he was caught by red guards as he was trying to escape to Poland.. Seriously ill with suspected typhus he was left for dead by the red guards but taken in and nursed back to full health by friends and given the false identity of Kondratyuk who had actually died in 1921.

In January 1929 using his new identity and working as a mechanic in Siberia, he managed to publish a scientific publication by partly financing and then completing the type setting himself entitled "The Conquest of Interplanetary Space", describing his ideas on using the gravitational slingshot for sending a mission to the moon. Copies of which he sent back to his friends in Moscow.( Tsiolkovski and Tsanders )

Shargei was responsible for the design and manufacture of large wind turbines long before it became todays ecological alternative. He designed and supervised the building of large grain silos from wood without using nails. Misunderstood  this was then used to support the theory that they had been designed deliberately to collapse. Sabotage

In 1930 he was investigated as a saboteur by the NKVD Soviet secret police and convicted of anti-Soviet activity, Kondratyuk was sentenced to three years in a gulag, but because of his interllectual capacity was sent to a sharashka (research facility prison) rather than a labour camp.

 Shargei was killed during WW2 in early 1942 defending Russia from the Geman invasion.

He died unimportant and forgotten, just one Soviet soldier amongst many hundreds of thousands who helped turn the tide of the second world war.

Note: Approximately 11,000,000 Russian soldiers and between a minimum of 7 and 20,000,000 Russian civilians died during WW2.known in the USSR as the Great Patriotic War for freedom? 

Early History  Shargei (Kondratyuk) was born in Poltava,Ukraine. Shargei's mother Ludmila Lvovna Schlippenbach was a social activist who taught French at a Kiev high school, and came from a family bearing the name of a Swedish general Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach  who had  fought in the 'Great Northern War' campaign  between Russian- Sweden  during the reign of Charles XII.King of Sweden.  General Schlippenbach (51) would have fought at the Battle of Poltava 28th June 1709 in which the Swedish  army was outnumbered and defeated by the  Russians lead by Csar Peter the Great. 

When Shargei was still quiet young his mother was sent to an asylum following her continual demonstrations for social justice and subsequent imprisonments; gained her  the reputation of being a social nuisance and obviously suffering from some psychiatric disorder. Shargei was then brought up by his grandmother and became interested in reading the science and mathematics books of his father  Ignatiy Benediktovich Shargei,  who had studied at Kiev University.

So Shargei (Kondratyuk) was Ukranian with  Swedish noble anscestry. It is difficult to imagine how somebody with such a high profile. Coupled with his role as an Officier in the Csars army during end WW1 could disguise his identity for long.

The Ukraine region was associated with Cossack anti revolutionary resistance.

In 1709 the Cossack's had made a pact to fight with Charles XII of Sweden but had been broken by the Russian army of Peter the Great before they could help fortify the Swedish forces. There had always been an underlying wish for Ukrainien autonomy.

He had also to publically conceal his interest in rocketsand space exploration for fear of attracting attention.

To some extent Korolev, Glushko and Kondratyuk would all have suffered under the Stalin regime because of their Ukranian origins.

Stalin had little time for Ukranians:

The Soviet collectivism policy of Satlin was instigated specifically to break the Ukranian village community resolve to protect thereb independence from Soviet collectivism by demanding excessive cereal quotas to be given by the Ukranian farmers for the Soviet cause. The consequence was severe famine in Ukraine 1932-33.With it is estimated, the loss of between 10 and 15 million people in Ukraine. In parrallel there was  a determined effort by Stalin to eliminate the Kulaks.


Reference Trotskys letters on the Ukraine 


Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach (born 1658, died 1739) was Governor General of Swedish Estonia from 1704 to 1706.


1924 TsiolkovskiKondratyuk(Alexander Ignatjevich Shargey) and Tsander proposed using the Earths gravity to retard the re-entry of space vehicles returning to Earth.

That all three are associated with Interplanetary space exploration, space elevators and early space rocket designs should come as no suprise! They probably discussed all there projects  and motivated one another to develop them. Along with other young members..... Glushko and Korolev would certainly have heard about these lectures.

I have  a funny story for you which is indirectly connected with Yurri Kondratuk..
Alexander Ignatjevich Shargey

A true space story...
Its Guaranteed to make you smile..

On July 20th 1969 the commander Neil Armstrong of the Apollo11 lunar module
was the first pearson to set foot on the moon

His first words as he stepped on to the moons surface are now carved in
 ' Thats one small step for man , Thats one giant leap for mankind.'
. heards by millions across the planet..

However a less well known comment was made as he re entered the Apollo
the enigmatic remark..' Good luck Mr Gorsky...'

Some people in NASA thought it was a joke for there Russian.rivals or a
specific Russian cosmonaut..

However checks at both the indexes of the Soviet or Nasa personel drew a
Who was Mr Gorsky ?

Over the years many people asked the question  to Armstrong to find out what
he ment..he always smiled quitely and refused to answer..

However on July 5th 1995 in Tampa Bay Florida  ..
While answering questions from the press a  reporter brought up the old question about Gorsky
..... this time Armstrong finally replied..

 Mr Gorsky had during the intervening years died.... so Niel Armstrong felt he could
at last safely tell his story..

As a boy in 1938 Armstrong had been playing base ball with a friend in the
back yard.;
When his friend had hit the ball into the yard of the next door neighbour where
it rolled right next to there bedroom window.. of Mr and Mrs Gorsky...

As Niel Armstrong  leened down to pick up the ball he over heard Mrs Gorsky shouting at Mr Gorsky

'Sex   You want sex ,!!!! You'll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon...'

A nice story...:)))

After his return to earth Armstrong visted the birth place of Yurii (Alexander Ignatjevich Shargey) in the Soviet Union and collected some earth to take back to his home in the US. As a sign of respect for his pioneering the the Kondratuk Loop which had safely taken him to the moon and back..






1925 First Exhibition dedicated to Interplanetary space travel takes place in Kiev Ukraine.

1927 April 24  The world's first exhibition of technology for interplanetary travel opens in Moscow.

Electric space propulsion

Tsiolkovski Electric rocket motors idea inspired the early research work of Glushko at the GDL.1929

Refer to PDF file of recent scientific paper on Electric propulsion in 2004 by Choueiri

Princton University Press Page 9 Kondratyuk

Mit SPL http://web.mit.edu/dept/aeroastro/www/labs/SPL/electric.htm

1917 4th July Petrograd

1918 Red army

Tsiolkovski's early life

In 1873 whilst studying in Moscow as a young student  Tsiolkovski met Nikolai Fedorov, a Russian philosopher and science fiction writer  who allowed him access to his personal library and became his tutor. Fedorov  theory of "cosmism" had a profound effect on young Konstantin. Fedorov prophesied that progress in science would eventually allow humans to achieve immortality and even resurrect long-dead ancestors. The population would swell so much that humanity would have to spread across the universe.

No doubt thought of as a bit of an eccentric by his peers Fedorov was obviously a free thinker,

To get a feeling as to what life was like in Russia 1917-1989 one route open to us is to explore Russia through the eyes of Pasternak, Tolstoy, Fedorov and Solzhenitsyn.

Tsiolkovski's circle of friends and admirers included Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Leonid Pasternak Naturalisim painter and writer. Whose son was the author Boris Pasternak.(1890-1960) who wrote Doctor Zhivago published in 1957.That was banned in the USSR and was finally smuggled out and printed in Italy. Boris Pasternak was later rejected by Russian literary society as being anti soviet (Open minded).The story of Dr Zhivago reflects the pain and suffering experienced by many that had been labelled intelligensia in Russia after the revolution.

Boris Pasternak was forced to decline the award of the Noble prize for literature in 1958 due to pressure from the soviet police.1957 was the same year 'Spoutnik' was launched.

Note:Boris Pasternaks  book did not become available in the ex USSR until 1988.

The story of Dr Zhivago mirrors that of  many labelled 'anti- soviet interlectuals' after the 1917 revolution in Russia . Korolev and Kondratyuk(Shargei) included.

Those who could escaped to Poland or Germany to avoid the Stalin purges.

Pasternak's parents left Russia after the revolution  settling in Oxford England where   his father died in 1945. Boris Pasternak stayed behind initially supporting the social revolution then becoming progressively disillusioned with the totalitarian state that replaced it.. Which suppressed free expression.

The characters used in Dr Zhivago were based on the people Pastenak knew and his own experience.

He certainly would have been aware of Tsiolkovski, Korolev and Kondratyuk(Shargei) personal battles with the totalitarian system. And in no small way this  is a story that is an amalgam of their individual lives. It also illustrates an empathy for how they suffered .  It is a story to honour there courage and the thousands of other people who suffered under the Stalin regime.

When he won the Noble Prize for literature this was the side of communism that only he and Solzhenitsyn had the courage and determination to communicate to the outside world.


Tsiolkovski Cosmic Progression

In 1926 Tsiolkovski defined the evolutionary steps  for human exploration of the Cosmos.

in a programme known as Tsiolkovski Cosmic Progression consisting of sixteen steps for human expansion into space:

1) Creation of rocket airplanes with wings. 2) Progressively increasing the speed and altitude of these airplanes. 3) Production of real rockets-without wings. 4) Ability to land on the surface of the sea.

5) Reaching escape velocity (Approx 8 Km/second), and the first flight into 

    Earth  orbit. What is now known as the First Cosmic Velocity  6) Lengthening rocket flight times in space. 7) Experimental use of plants to make an artificial atmosphere in spacships. 8) Using pressurized space suits for facilitating activity outside of spaceships. 9) Making orbiting greenhouses for plants. 10) Constructing large orbital habitats around the Earth.

11) Using solar radiation to grow food, to heat space quarters, and for   transport throughout the Solar System 12) Colonization of the asteroid belt. 13) Colonization of the entire Solar System and beyond. 14) Acheivement of individual and social perfection.

15) Overcrowding of the Solar System and the colonization of the Milky Way   

     (the Galaxy)

16) The Sun begins to die and the people remaining in the Solar System's 

      population go to other suns.

Tsiolkovski also wrote some science fiction books

 "On The Moon" (1895), 

 "Dreams of the Earth and Sky "(1895),

 "Beyond the Earth" (1920).

Tsiolkovski's philosophical  beliefs got him into trouble .

Most of his pioneering work was carried out before the Russian revolution.

Immediately after the revolution in 1918 Tsiolkovski had been arrested by the  Bolshevik Chk secret police and imprisoned in Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison because some of his philsophical writings where thought to be anti soviet. Fortunately after several weeks he was released following intervention by a high authority in the soviet government and subsequently treated as a hero of the soviet republic. The details of his arrest and release where subsequently hidden by the authorities but could probably have been aided by the earlier sacrifice of Kibaltchich. Who in 1881 had both helped in the assasination of Czar Alexander 2 and also established rocket science as being new era or revolutionary science. Or might possibly be due to his connections within Russian society.

 Tsiolkovski's philosophical writings where supressed until the fall of the USSR in 1989. 

Why? He believed that all life in the universe was controlled by some universal evolution of the cosmos. Our destiny was therefore far beyond that of even Soviet and Marxist control.

This apparantly supportive yet suspicious relationship that existed between the political power base and the free minded intellectuals on which it relied for its future. Would be symptomatic of the future. Where the governing party of the USSR  would either be constructive and 'in phase' with rocket and space development or catastrophically destructive and paranoid.

Stalins suspicion of the  intelligentsia was a major problem for rocket development.

Throughout this development the single minded determination of the individual engineers and scientists involved would play a significant part in future success.                                                                                                                                            Top

Nasa image

The large 'Tsiolkovski' crater on the far side of the moon dedicated to Tsiolkovski after the pioneering orbit of Korolev's Luna3  probe in October 4th 1959.Which was the first satellite of the moon that filmed what the far side of the moon looked like and transmitted the pictures back to Earth.


Sources of pictures:
Korolev : digital copy obtained from New Mexico Museum of Space History www.spacefame.org

Science Museum London GIRD09 image


James Harford book  



Analysis of the development and financing of early Soviet rocket and jet propulsion.GIRD, .RNII,  KB 7


Essential reading

Boris Chertok  'Creating the rocket industry' NASA History Series Rockets and People Vol2 Edited by Asif Siddeqi TL 78985C48132006

http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4110/vol2.pdf <Click 

'Rockets and People' Book1<Click  by Boris Chertok. First meeting with Korolev Ch24 Page325.

'Creating the rocket industry' by Boris Chertok <Click Book 2 a member of Korolev's engineering team on the Soviet rocket programme.   14th April 2007 "Korolev" feature film directed by Yuri Kara

Sputnik  Oct 1957.When Sputnik was launched it was the signals recorded at Jodrell Bank in England that confirmed its existance.


Sound recording of the Sputnik signal


Photographs from RSC Energia Museum of satelites Sputnik series


Soyuz Fregate launch video of Galaxy mission 4mins First and second stage seperation.


First Russian biography on Korolev  by Golovanov, Ya., Korolev: Mify i Fakty (in Russian) Moscow 1994



Tsiolkovski : from http://www.th.physik.uni-frankfurt.de/

Tsiolkovski Museum Kaluga Russia http://www.informatics.org/museum/welcome.html

Nikolai Alexsevitch Rynin (1887-1942) 

Who wrote the first biography on the life and works of K .E. Tsiolkovski as part of a 9 vol. encyclopedia on 'Space Travel '1928-1932. Entitled Interplanetary Flight and Communication ( Mezhplanetynie soobshenirya )

Available in English from the Nasa Technical translations reference:

Rynin, N.A. Interplanetary Flight and Communication. Washington, D.C.: NASA and NSF, 1970-71. (NASA TT F-640, TT F-642 through TT F-648) (Holdings: Vol. 1, Nos. 1 and 3; Vol. II, Nos. 4 and 6, Vol. III, Nos. 7, 8 , 9).

Soyouz: courtesy esa  rscEnergia http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/index.html

Cutaway diagram of Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle image courtesy of Starsem www.starsem.com

Good research source site for Russian Space history http://russianspaceweb.co

"The Rockets' Red Glare: Technology, Conflict, and Terror in the Soviet Union" by Siddiqi, Asif A. 1966
Technology and Culture - Volume 44, Number 3, July 2003, pp. 470-501
The Johns Hopkins University Press

MIG15 reference http://www.acepilots.com/russian/rus_aces.html

Russian Space video


Buisson boat: Origin Copyright Jacque Villian

L'Aventure Millenenaire des Fusees. Pub Explora La Villette 1991

A4 V2 Rocket: From the Deutsches Museum Munich  Science Museum www.deutsches-museum.de/

Wernher Von Braun:

Several pages are referenced Courtesy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Further reading: Dornberger's account of the A4 development project.


US White Sands missle range site


Operation 'Paperclip' Recruitment of Nazi Engineers and scientists after WW2

'The Paperclip conspiracy' Tom Bowers

'Secret Agenda' Linda Hunt

Frightening account on USA recruitment and cover up of war crimes commited by German engineers and scientists.


Nasa reference to Tsiolkovski and Goddards works


Electric powered ion propulsion jets for satellite propulsion Boeing UTC


esa Smart1

Russian space history


(1815-1893) Beau de Rochas French thermodynamicist student of Carnot Animated cycle in French


1928 Film by Fritz Lang 'Frau im Mond' for which Herman Oberth was technical adviser


Background reading 'The Cold War Experience' by Norman Friedman  Published by Carlton books limited.

Michael Nymans 'Gattaca'


Important JPL History site presenting the historical developoment of space exploration


Bleriot1909 monoplane.


Santos Dumont Brazilian aviator 23 Octobe1906



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Signal emitted by Sputnik 1 on 20,007 MHz on October 1957

Fantastic book to explore and a good reference on impressioinsm originally published in Italian and translated into French.

Petite encyclopedie de I'impressionnisme by Gabrielle Crepaldi          Publisher Solar

ISBN 2-263-04125-7

 We have a large data base of videos and photographs that we can use for development of TV or press articles

 Contact us if you are interested.


This site was created on the 15th April 2003

©John Gwynn and sons2003 

You're welcome to reproduce any material on this site for educational or other non commercial purposes

 as long as you give us proper credit (by referring to "The Water-Rocket Explorer" http://waterocket.explorer.free.fr".