[Caption title:] Kosmicheskaya raketa. Opytnaya podgotovka. [Cosmic rocket. Experimental preparation.]

Kaluga: Gostipografiia, 1927.

First edition, extremely rare, of this important sequel to Tsiolkovsky’s multi-part work of 1903-14 in which he first set out the basic principles of the construction of space rockets. While these earlier articles dealt mainly with the theoretical aspects of space flight, in the present work, Tsiolkovsky addresses the detailed engineering problems involved in the construction of the rocket and the tests that must be carried out on the ground to ensure that the vehicle is ready for flight. “First, it is necessary to conduct stationary experiments without any noticeable displacement of the device. It is proposed to develop suitable construction and a control system for the explosion, the direction of the device, its stability, etc.” (NASA translation TT-243, p. 231). 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). OCLC lists Harvard and NYPL only. Only one copy sold at auction (Sotheby’s 1983, £560 to Quaritch).

Tsiolkovsky summarizes the initial construction of the rocket in a full-page schematic (p. 21). “We begin our description by going from right to left [of the schematic]. On the right we have a gasoline motor for pumping out or pumping in liquid air, oxygen or its endogenous compounds. The muffler should be removed and the products of combustion should be ejected in a direction opposite to that of the proposed travel. This will produce a slight increase in the reactive action of the rocket …

“O.P. and H.P. are two pumps which are driven by one engine. The first pumps oxygen into the explosive tube while the second pumps hydrogen. Their volumes must be such that we have complete combination of the explosives. In general, the volume of the oxygen cylinder is greater than the volume of the hydrogen cylinder. Ultimate control maybe achieved by varying the travel of one of the pistons. Control is of the utmost significance: if we have more oxygen than necessary, the explosion tube may start to burn; if we have less oxygen than necessary, we shall waste hydrogen …

“PV, PV are pump valves. One of the pumps has two oxygen valves, while the other has two hydrogen valves (i.e., valves which control the hydrogen compound). The valves are situated some distance from the point of explosion and, therefore, will not be damaged. In addition, the oxygen mixture is very cold and the hydrogen compound is even colder, so that the heat of explosion does not reach the valves and the pumps in any detrimental fashion. The valves leading to the explosion tube are automatically closed with a very strong force at the instant of explosion. Only when the pressure in the tube decreases and the products of explosion have been partially removed will the valves open again to supply a new quantity of explosives to the tube …

“O.S.L. and H.S.L. are the supply lines for oxygen and hydrogen. They connect the storage tanks and the pumps. Like the tanks they are not subjected to the pressure of explosion and, therefore, may be constructed of very thin material.

“O.S. and H.S. are screens with oblique holes for the optimum mixing of the hydrocarbon and oxygen mixture. The initial part of the explosion tube is partitioned in half. The oxygen mixture is directed along one half and the hydrocarbon mixture along the other. At this point they are cold and cannot mix. Mixing and explosion take place beyond the screens, where a multiplicity of nonhomogeneous jets collide and mix. The tube inclined at this point causes them to react chemically or to explode. The purpose of the partition is to protect the valves from the extreme heat, to cool the explosion tube slightly, and to decrease the force of explosion and its pressure on the base of the tube. If the holes in the screen are too small and if there are too many of them, the explosion may take place too rapidly and the resulting shock may damage the tube …

“E.T. is the explosion tube of conic shape which which expands towards the exit … The explosion tube must be made of strong material (even at high temperatures) which is heat-resistant and noncombustible; it is also desirable that it be a good conductor of heat. It would be easier to make the tube of two shells: the first, inner shell would be very strong and heat-resistant, the second would be less heat-resistant, but quite strong and a good conductor of heat. Then the heat from the tremendous heating of the tube near the screen will be carried away faster by the external tube in both directions and will be useful to both sides of the tube: on the right, the cold, unmixed liquids will be heated while, on the left, the expanding and cooling gases will be heated. The heating will give them additional velocity, which is what we want. In addition, the tube will also be cooled by the liquids. The hydrogen compound cools the tube and is cooled itself by the mixture of liquid oxygen.

“H.T. and O.T. are the internal hydrogen or hydrocarbon storage tank, which surrounds the hot surface of the explosion tube, and the external tank with liquid oxygen, respectively. The oxygen tank surrounds the hydrogen tank and cools it. The tanks must not be welded to the explosion tube since the latter is subjected to explosive shocks and will rupture the tanks if they are rigidly attached to its walls. Hermetic coupling is possible by the use of bellows.

“The vertical and horizontal rudders are situated opposite the outlet of the explosion tube. Since the future device flies alternately in air and in vacuum and descends to Earth by gliding, the rudders must operate equally well in air and in vacuum. They must also function properly when the device is tied down to Earth during the initial tests. Before the experiment, the device must hang by means of a cable whose lower part is attached to its center of gravity to achieve neutral equilibrium. An appreciable inclination is not possible since the ground (soil or pavement) will be in the way. During the first experiments indoors (or outdoors), only the average reactive force or thrust should be measured … Subsequently, the effect of the rudders is tested. The device is secured so that it is free to rotate, and the rudders are manipulated to control its direction. Initially only the vertical rudder is tested. Although the projectile will be inclined slightly, we shall, nevertheless, be able to vary its position in the horizontal plane. Next the horizontal rudder is tested. The latter consists of two planes (somewhat like the split tail of certain birds) and of a double lever for manual control. In this fashion we attempt to direct the longitudinal axis of the rocket independently of the ground. The lateral stability is achieved by the mutual inclination of the components of the horizontal rudder, which is achieved by separating the levers of the double beam …

“The frame F and the support are described. The explosion tube at its narrow beginning must be particularly massive. Here it has a protruding section which bears on the cross beam of the frame. The support withstands a rapid series of powerful shocks. The large resulting pressure must be withstood by the cross beam and the frame … Explosion cannot be entirely uniform; due to the massive nature of the entire system and to the large number of explosions per second (up to 25) … By performing a great many experiments we should be able to achieve economy, strength, and light weight for our device. Strength is achieved by using durable material, by selecting the optimum shape (or construction), by having adequate cooling, by having an expansive portion of the explosion tube and by decreasing the quantity of exploding matter and its force” (NASA TT-243, pp. 231-237).

In the next section, Tsiolkovsky carries out calculations to determine the correct dimensions of the fuel pumps and the nozzle tube, the necessary quantity of fuel and its flow rate, and the efficiency of the vehicle.

He then turns a discussion of the type of fuel required – the rocket is powered by burning hydrogen or some hydrocarbon in oxygen or air. “Initially we may utilize liquid air. The addition of nitrogen weakens the explosion and lowers the maximum temperature. In time the quantity of nitrogen should be gradually decreased. This will cause the temperature to rise slightly due to the phenomenon of dissociation. The cold liquid which enters the compartments of the explosion tube is very useful for cooling it …

“In general, hydrogen cannot be used, particularly in the initial stages. The reasons are as follows: high cost, low temperature, heat of vaporization, and difficulty of storing. It is more practical to use hydrocarbons with the largest possible relative quantity of hydrogen. Their energy of combustion is almost the same as that of the individual hydrogen and carbon. The products of combustion are vaporous or gaseous. The addition of carbon increases the combustion temperature due to the extreme difficulty of its dissociation. However, hydrocarbons which have the largest percentage of hydrogen are gaseous such as, e.g., methane or marsh gas. It is difficult to liquefy this gas and, initially, it will not be applicable … Petroleum is more suitable and has a greater content of hydrogen …

“If we did not have artificial or natural cooling of the tube, its highest temperature could reach a value of 3,000°C. However, the gases, which have mixed, exploded and achieved a high temperature, move towards the exit of the tube, expand more and more and are cooled in this way: the tube converts the random thermal motion into the controlled mechanical motion of the jet. In vacuum the temperature of the ejected gases should reach absolute zero, since explosion is not limited by external pressure. In the atmosphere, however, if we have a sufficiently long conic tube the temperature will drop to 300-600°C. Therefore, the average temperature of the explosion tube cannot be very high: the heat from its red hot part moves very quickly toward its cold part. In addition, the tube is continuously cooled from the outside and the inside. Indeed, at its partitioned beginning two very cold liquids flow in: liquid air and petroleum cooled by it. The external walls of the tube are also cooled by the cold petroleum, which itself is cooled by the liquid air around it …

“Would it be possible for the tube to fuse and burn under these conditions? Or could only part of it burn - the part subjected to the high temperature? The burning of metal (i.e., its combination with oxygen and other substances) at the beginning of the tube is prevented by the low temperature of the liquid and the cold walls of the tube. The partition prevents a chemical process and consequently prevents the liberation of heat … Nevertheless, we must find a material for the tube which is not only strong and heat-resistant, but which also has good thermal conductivity and a low chemical affinity for oxygen and other elements which enter into the composition of the explosives …

“The success of the experiments on the test stand consists of the following:

  1. The device must remain intact, and the explosion tube must not be completely destroyed after all of the explosives have been used up.
  2. The mass of the device must have a minimum value.
  3. The reactive pressure must have a maximum value consistent with the rate of fuel consumption and its property.
  4. To achieve this, combustion must be as complete as possible.
  5. The temperature of the gases that leave the tube must be as low as possible.
  6. The device must rotate in accordance with the desires of the experimental operator, and it must retain the desired position.
  7. The pumps must not be overdriven.

“After stationary experiments have been successful the projectile should be placed on four wheels and propelled by reactive action along the airfield … It is possible that it will be necessary to remove the wheels and use a hydroplane on a quiet lake. When we have four wheels we shall be able to achieve control with one vertical rudder for turning; if we have two wheels in line, we shall be able to use the turn rudder and the rudder for lateral stability; finally, when we have only one wheel, we shall be able to use all of the controls. As the next step we can use the airport or the lake to start flights, without leaving the limits of the troposphere. To simplify this, our device should be equipped with aeroplane wings, and the rudders should be increased in size so that they can be used for gliding when explosion does not take place” (ibid., pp. 242-247).

Tsiolkovsky, Works on Rocket Technology, 1947, NASA translation TT F-243 (ia801600.us.archive.org/0/items/nasa_techdoc_19650027274/19650027274.pdf).

12mo (172 x 130mm), pp. [1], 2-24, including full-page schematic on p. 21 (browned as usual with Tsiolkovsky’s early works). Self-wrappers as issued.

Item #5974

Price: $1,250.00