Izsledovanie mirovykh postrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami (dopolnenie k I i II chasti truda togo-zhe nazvaniya). [Investigation of cosmic space using reactive devices. (Supplement to Parts I and II of the Works of the same Title)].

Kaluga: by the author, 1914.

First edition, very rare, published by the author at his own expense, of the first separately-printed scientific work on space rockets, preceding by five years the first publication on rockets by Robert Goddard. Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) began research into rocket propulsion and the theoretical and practical aspects of space travel in 1896, formulating many of the basic principles that govern space flight today, such as “his now widely known formula establishing the analytical dependence between the velocity of a rocket at a given moment, the velocity of the expulsion of gas particles from the nozzle of the engine, the mass of the rocket, and the mass of the expended explosive material … Tsiolkovsky contributed to the recently established mechanics of bodies of changing mass. He evolved a theory of rocket flight taking into account the change of mass while in motion; he suggested the concept of gas-driven rudders for guiding a rocket in vacuum; and he determined the coefficient of a rocket’s practical operation. From 1903 to 1917 Tsiolkovsky offered several plans for constructing rocket ships. He considered such questions as guiding a rocket in a vacuum, the use of a fuel component to cool the combustion chamber walls, and the application of refractory elements … Tsiolkovsky’s advanced ideas did not find acceptance. He was met with indifference and disbelief, and many considered this autodidact to be a rootless dreamer. Having received neither material nor moral support, Tsiolkovsky was left to his own resources. ‘It has been difficult for me,’ he wrote with bitterness, ‘to work alone for many years under unfavourable conditions and not even to see the possibility of hope or assistance’” (DSB). “Tsiolkovsky pushed back the frontiers of human knowledge, and his idea of using the rocket for the exploration of space is only now, in our own time (i.e. 1954), beginning to be fully appreciated. He was the father of the theory of long-range liquid-fuelled rockets and the founder of a rigorously scientific theory of inter-planetary travel” (Collected Works, NASA, 1954, Vol. II, p. 3). “The significance of Tsiolkovsky's work in rocketry and space travel was greatest in Russia where it inspired the early development of rocketry and aerospace research independent of American and European workers. Tsiolkovsky's writings were also known to German rocketry researchers by the 1920s.. The present work is a supplement to two earlier works of the same title which had appeared in two different journals in 1903 and 1911-1912 (no offprints known); these are listed on the back cover together with his other works, dated from 1891 onwards. Until the 1960s it was believed that no copies of the 1903 work had left Russia, but then a copy of the journal containing Tsiolkovky’s article was found in the Library of Congress. The offered pamphlet is also very rare: Tsiolkovsky was employed as a school teacher and could afford to print only a few copies of his works, which therefore had very limited circulation. Only three copies have appeared at auction. The first four lots in the Russian Space History sale at Sotheby’s New York on December 11, 1993 included a total of 38 papers by Tsiolkovsky, the property of his family, but this paper was not among them. Not on OCLC.

“At the close of the 19th century scientific and technical research into rocketry was resumed in Russia by Tsiolkovsky who created many original types of rockets. His long-range rockets and liquid-fuel space rockets were an important new step in the development of the rocket. Prior to Tsiolkovsky’s works only gunpowder rocket motors (solid-fuel rockets) were studied and offered for use. The introduction of liquid fuel (the fuel proper and an oxidizer) facilitated the construction of an original liquid-fuel rocket motor with thin walls cooled by the fuel (or oxidizer), light and dependable. Such type of motor was the only one acceptable for large rockets.

“The first type of long-range rocket was described in Tsiolkovsky’s Investigating Space with Rocket Devices, published in 1903. The rocket was an elongated metal chamber resembling in shape a barrage balloon, a dirigible, or an immense fish-sound. ‘Picture to yourselves,’ Tsiolkovsky wrote, ‘an apparatus consisting of an elongated metal chamber (the shape offering the least resistance) equipped with lighting, oxygen, carbon-dioxide absorber, miasma and other excretion absorbers, designed to house not only various physical instruments but the man who is to direct it … The chamber is provided with a large store of substances which, on being mixed, produce an explosive. These substances explode in a correct proportion and at equal intervals at a regulated point, from which in the form of heated gases they flow along widening tubes (just like a speaking trumpet or a wind instrument). In a narrow part of the tube the explosives mix, producing condensed and heated gases. At the other, wide, end of the tube the gases, rarefied and, consequently, cooled, escape through the nozzle with a very high relative velocity …

“The motion of the rocket is directed by means of rudders in the exhaust. The development of the rocket during the Second World War proved the expediency of cooling the walls of the combustion chamber and of the nozzle with the liquid fuel. The rudders in the exhaust (the gas rudders) were used in the German long-range V2 rocket for steering it along a precalculated course … [As shown in the illustration in the text and on the front wrapper,] the explosion tubes were coiled and gradually widened towards the jet opening. Some of the coils went lengthwise, others crosswise. The exploding gases, revolving in two mutually perpendicular planes, stabilized the rocket.

“The envelope of the rocket was made of three layers. The innermost layer was of a durable metal with quartz windows covered with a layer of ordinary glass, and with hermetically shutting doors. The second layer was of a refractory, non-heat-conducting material; the third, outer, layer was a very thin layer of highly refractory material. During its rush through the atmosphere the outer layer of the rocket became white-hot, but the heat was radiated into space without penetrating inside the rocket through the remaining two layers. Besides, between the two outer layers a cooling gas circulated, permeating the non-heat-conducting friable middle layer.

“Tsiolkovsky foresaw the necessity of equipping the rocket with chambers containing liquids where the travellers were to plunge as their relative weight increased with great accelerations. He had studied the idea of preserving delicate objects and organisms from concussion, shocks and over-weight by plunging them into liquids of equal densities as far back as 1891. Here is the description of a simple experiment proving the correctness of Tsiolkovsky’s idea as regards homogeneous bodies. ‘Let us take a fragile wax figure scarcely capable of sustaining its own weight. Then pour into a solid vessel a liquid with a density equal to that of wax, and put the figure into it. Then, with the use of a centrifuge, increase the weight of the vessel and its contents a thousand-fold. The vessel may break if it is not strong enough, but the figure will remain intact … Nature has long been using this method by placing into liquids the embryos of animals, the brain, and other delicate parts of organisms. In this way it protects them from injury. But man has not used this idea as much as he should …

“In investigating the laws governing the flight of the rocket, Tsiolkovsky followed the well-tried path of scientific research – he introduced, one by one, the forces on which the motion of the rocket depends. First, he wanted to know what potentialities lie in the reaction principle of mechanical motion, and solved a simple problem, in which he assumed gravity and air-resistance non-existent … This problem is today called ‘the first problem of Tsiolkovsky.’ In the simple instance under discussion the motion of the rocket is determined only by the process of ejection (efflux) of particles of matter from the chamber of the rocket motor. In solving the problem Tsiolkovksy assumed the exhaust velocity constant – an assumption, called ‘Tsiolkovsky’s hypothesis,’ used by all authors of present-day theoretical works on rocket dynamics. Here is the substantiation of this hypothesis which he gives in his Investigating Space with Reaction Devices. ‘In order that the missile should attain maximum velocity, each particle of the combustion products, or of other exhaust, must receive maximum relative velocity. There is no room here for economizing energy – it is both impossible and unprofitable. In other words, constant relative exhaust velocity must be taken as the basis of the theory of the rocket.’

“Tsiolkovksy discovered and studied in detail the equation of the rocket motion with constant exhaust velocity and arrived at a very important mathematical result known as ‘the Tsiolkovksy formula’ … It follows from Tsiolkovsky’s formula for maximum velocity that: a. the greater the exhaust velocity, the greater the velocity of the rocket at the end of its powered flight. If the jet velocity is doubled the velocity of the rocket also increases two-fold; b. the velocity of the rocket at the end of its powered flight increases with the ratio of the initial weight of the rocket to that at the end of combustion. But the dependence here is more complicated and is formulated in the following proposition of Tsiolkovsky: ‘When the mass of the rocket plus the mass of the explosives of the rocket motor increase in the geometrical proportion, the velocity of the rocket increases in the arithmetical proportion’ … The important practical conclusion to be drawn from Tsiolkovsky’s formula is that if highest possible velocities are to be obtained at the end of the rocket’s powered flight, it is far more advantageous to increase the exhaust velocity than to increase the quantity of fuel … On the basis of his formula, Tsiolkovsky proved that with exhaust velocities of the order of 5 km/sec the rocket’s velocity would be high enough for interplanetary flight …

“Having made quite clear that rocket motors enable man to obtain cosmic speeds of flight, Tsiolkovsky studied thoroughly the influence of gravity on the maximum velocity of the rocket. Tsiolkovsky regarded gravity as a chain holding man to the Earth. He called the sphere where the Earth’s gravity exercises a noticeable influence ‘gravity panzer’ … The question is how much work must be done for the man to break through the gravity panzer? Tsiolkovsky’s calculations provide the following answer: ‘Suppose gravity does not diminish as the body moves away from the planet. Suppose the body has climbed to a height equal to the planet’s radius. Then it has done work equal to that necessary to overcome the planet’s gravitational pull’ …

“Tsiolkovsky devoted a great deal of attention to the problem of air-resistance. He was thus the first in the history of rocketry to calculate the amount of fuel a rocket needs to break through ‘the panzer of the Earth’s atmosphere’ … Tsiolkovsky calculated the optimal angle of departure of the rocket to penetrate an atmosphere of variable density; he also investigated the conditions of departure from different planets and asteroids and solved the problem of the amount of fuel necessary for the return flight to Earth” (Kosmodemyansky, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. His Life and Work, 1956).

“Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was born Sept. 17, 1857, in Izhevskoye, Russia. He was the son of a Polish deportee to Siberia. At age ten he nearly became deaf from scarlet fever and had to quit school. He refused to be handicapped by his deafness and continued his education on his own at home. His family recognized his thirst for knowledge and sent him to Moscow to attend college. He was accomplished in both science and mathematics and became a teacher at Kaluga, Russia. Even as a teacher, Tsiolkovsky found time to learn. He read Jules Verne's stories of space travel and began to write science fiction stories himself. He introduced elements of science and technology into his stories, such as the problem of controlling a rocket as it moved between gravitational fields. Gradually Tsiolkovsky moved from writing science fiction to writing theoretical papers on topics such as gyroscopes, escape velocities, the principle of action and reaction, and the use of liquid propellant rockets …

“Tsiolkovsky is remembered for believing in the dominance of humanity throughout space, also known as anthropocosmism. He had grand ideas about space industrialization and the exploitation of its resources. Tsiolkovsky has been honored since his death in 1935. A far side moon crater is named in his honor. In 1989 he was invested in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. The Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics in Kaluga, Russia, keeps the importance of his theoretical work before the public. In Russia, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is called ‘the father of theoretical and applied cosmonautics.’ Although the Romanian Oberth and the American Goddard conducted similar research and arrived at comparable conclusions, there is no evidence that each knew details of the other's work. Therefore, all three of these scientists share the title of Father of Rocketry” (nasa.gov).

Tsiolkovsky’s ‘Issledovanie mirovykh prostrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami’ was published in three parts. The first part appeared in May 1903 (issue no. 5) of Nauchnoe Obozrenie; part 2 in Vestnik’ Vozdukhoplavania, 1911 (nos. 19, 20, 21, 22), and 1912 (nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9). “The third part [offered here], published by Tsiolkovsky, was intended as a supplement to the first two parts, which even then had become very difficult to find: In a note printed on the inside front cover of the 1914 pamphlet, Tsiolkovsky stated that the earlier works were unobtainable, and that he himself had only one copy. According to historian of rocketry Frank Winter, most copies of Tsiolkovsky’s 1903 paper were suppressed, as ‘the May 1903 issue of Nauchnoe Obozrenie also contained a politically revolutionary piece that led to the confiscation of almost all issues by the authorities’ (Winter, ‘Planning for Spaceflight: 1880s to 1930s,’ in Blueprint for Space, ed. Ordway and Liebermann (1992), pp. 104-5)” (historyofinformation.com).



Large 8vo (261 x 175 mm), pp. [1] 2-16, with an illustration of a ‘manned rocket’ (labelled ‘skema raketsi’), repeated on front cover. original printed wrappers, old handwritten number to upper right corner of front wrapper, very light sunning to spine strip, overall a very fine copy with no restoration. Rare in such fine condition.

Item #4700

Price: $12,500.00