Pioneers of Space Travel

"The earth is the cradle of mankind - one cannot remain in the cradle forever" -- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

What to Put on Your Collector's Card

For our scouts, here's how I suggest to make up the card (of course, how you do it is entirely up to you): Put a picture on the front (like the ones below -- you can find others by doing an image search on Google). Then on the back put

Working Out the Theory - Pioneer Scientists

To design and build a spacecraft, you need to be able to figure out how big to make it, how heavy it can be, how fast it will have to go, how much fuel it needs and so forth. For that, you need a theory of how objects move in space and how to make the calculations. Almost all theory of space flight was worked out by three brilliant men over a period of nearly three centuries - from 1600 to 1900.

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630)
was the German mathematician who, in 1609, figured out the equations for orbiting planets & satellites - that they move in ellipses (flattened circles). He gave three fundamental laws of planetary motion. His equations are used today for calculating orbits for satellites and planets. He also did important work in optics and geometry.

Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727)
English scientist and mathematician. in 1687 he wrote what is probably the single greatest intellectual achievement of all time, establishing the basic laws of force, motion, and gravitation and inventing a new branch of mathematics in the process (calculus). He did all this to show how the force of gravity is the reason that planet’s orbits follow Kepler’s equations.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857 – 1935)
a Russian school teacher with a scruffy beard who, without ever launching a single rocket himself, figured out all the basic equations for rocketry in 1903. From his very broad and extensive reading, including Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon”, he concluded that space travel was a possibility, that it was in fact man’s destiny, and that rockets would be the way to pull it off.
He anticipated and solved many of the problems that were going to come up for rocket powered flight and drew up several rocket designs. He determined that liquid fuel rockets would be needed to get to space, and that the rockets would need to be built in stages (he called them "rocket trains"). He concluded that oxygen and hydrogen would be the most powerful fuels to use. He had predicted how, 65 years later, the Saturn V rocket would operate for the first landing of men on the moon.

Building the First Rockets - Robert Goddard (1882-1945)

Convincing the World - Hermann Oberth (1894-1989)

Taking Man Into Space - Wernher Von Braun (1912 - 1977)

Riding the Rockets - Pioneer Astronauts

First Man Into Space – Yuri Gagarin (1934 – 1968)

First American in Space – Alan Shepard (1923 – 1998)

First American in Orbit – John Glenn (1921 – )

First Man on the Moon – Neil Armstrong (1930 – )

Second Man on the Moon – Buzz Aldrin (1930 – )

More History (nicely done) at From Stargazers to Starships

Back to Space Exploration Home Page


Your questions and comments regarding this page are welcome. You can e-mail Randy Culp for inquiries, suggestions, new ideas or just to chat.
Updated 8 September 2008