Thursday, July 15, 2004

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky goes to the Moon

Last night I went to a screening of a 1935 Russian Science Fiction film, called "The Space Race", on which Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was the scientific adviser. This was arranged as part of the International Space University by Kerrie Dougherty of the Powerhouse Museum.

Tsiolkovsky is often called the father of modern rocket science; he published a book in 1903 that suggested interplanetary travel using rockets. His main innovation was the use of liquid instead of solid fuel.

The film contained microgravity sequences, among the earliest to be attempted, and wonderful scenes on the surface of the moon. Little animated figures leap about in slow motion, in a landscape very much more interesting than we know it to be now!

And, get this: the spaceship had automatic doors. Now, I'm not a Trekkie, but I understand from Trekkie friends that automatic doors were an innovation of that series, and it took some time before real life was able to catch up. They had people hidden out of sight to pull and push the doors! This may or may not be true; however, there were automatic doors in this 1935 film .....

And in 1935 the predicted future when men and women went to the moon wasn't 1969, or 1984, or 2001, but 1946! Ambitious, and yet, given the extraordinary achievements of Russian and American space programmes with what seems to us now to be such primitive technology, perhaps it was not entirely unrealistic.



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