Who the heck is…

A new installment in the “Who the heck is..” series



Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He launched rockets against the oncoming British forces and their allies during their 1792 and 1799 Siege of Srirangapatna. He is considered a pioneer in rocketry warfare. His refinements in rocket construction including a iron tube increased the rocket’s flight distance to nearly 2Km. He also adorned the rocket with blades and spears making them terrifying tools of war.

Tipu Sultan: Rocketman



more from the Who the heck is series

The Russian Space Program was successful in many areas and it’s success is partly due to Boris Chertok. Boris Chertok was Korelev’s guidance and control engineer from 1946 – 1992. His most famous contributions include the Soyuz and N1 control systems.

Chertok was born in 1912 he became an electrician at the age of 17. He started work in an Avionics plant in 1930 and began a University education to support his role. He began his rocket career working on the BI-1 rocket plane.

In 1945 he was brought in to the group working on German rocket technology. This led to his appointment as Korolev’s chief deputy of rocket control and guidance.

He is the author of the book Rockets and People which provided us with the best inside view of the Soviet rocket program.

Boris Chertok turns 99 today - 03-01-11

Another entry into the “Who the heck is seriesof often forgotten rocketry pioneers.

A Young Josef Stemmer

Josef Stemmer was an early Swiss space pioneer. At the early age of 11 years old he began to design spaceship based on some of his heroes of the day including Oberth and Goddard. Around 1930 he began building small solid propellant rockets and began experimenting with liquid fuel in 1938. Soon after he stopped his experiments and began publishing on the subject. In 1944 and 1945 he published booklets on rocket propulsion. These were some of the first “How To” publications on the subject. His publications also contained details on the German war rocket developements.
In 1950 Stemmer founded the Schweizerische Astronautische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Swiss Astronautical Study Group). In 1951 he served as the president of the new International Astronautical Federation (IAF).He gave talks on spaceflight and rocket propulsion at this time. Even though he was often ridiculed he stood fast to his beliefs of space travel.

This is part of the continuing “Who the Heck is” series

G.I.R.D. (Gruppa Izucheniya Reaktivhogo Dvizheniya) translated “Group for the Investigation of Reactive Motion”

GIRD was the world’s first large professional rocketry program. It was started on September 15th 1931 as a bureau in the Soviet Union. Fridrikh Tsander gave up his job and devoted himself to the group’s formation. The goal was to create a efficient working rocket engine. The group adopted the slogan “Onward to Mars, onward to Mars!” – A slogan that would be useful today. The group consisted of 4 brigades each headed by brilliant Soviet researchers. The group included:
Fridrikh Tsander – 1st brigade (rocket engine research)

1st brigade's GIRD-X rocket launching

Mikhail Tikhonravov -2nd brigade (rocket engine research)

2nd brigade's GIRD-9 & GIRD-13 rocket schematic -click to enlarge

Yuri Pobedonostsev – 3rd brigade (ramjet research)

3rd brigade's GIRD-08 phosphorus-fueled ramjet

Sergey Korolev – 4th brigade (rocket plane research)

4th brigade's RP-1 Rocket glider

Tsander inspired the group until his untimely death of Typhus in 1933.

For more info on GIRD see the following sources:
Wikipedia article on GIRD
Don Mitchell’s article

Find out about many more Rocket Pioneers by visiting the “Who the heck is…” series  (scroll down after clicking link)


Kazimierz Siemienowicz

(born)1600 (died)1651
Kazimierz Siemienowicz, born near Raseiniai in Samogitia, was a Polish-Lithuanian commander in the Polish Royal Artillery. He was fascinated by artillery from childhood and studied to increase his knowledge in this area. He became an expert in the fields of artillery and rocketry. His Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima which was first printed in Amsterdam in 1650 became the standard book on firework displays, military and recreational pyrotechnics and rocketry for well over a century. In Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima, he published designs for multistage rockets, batteries of rockets, and delta wing stabilizers.

A few of Siemienowicz's rockets

A few of Siemienowicz's rockets

Images from the pages  Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima can be found here.


Friedrich Zander was born August 23rd 1887 in Riga Livonia. Friedrich studied and became an engineer. In his studies he came across the ideas of Tsiolkovsky. Zander was very interested in Mars and “toward Mars!” became his own personal rallying cry. He had calculated a precise trajectory that a spacecraft would take to Mars and fantasized many aspects of interplanetary travel. His ideas boosted rocketry and ideas of spaceflight in the Soviet Union.
Here are some of his revolutionary ideas:

Greenhouses on spacecraft for food production and limited oxygen production.
Suggested using the earth’s atmosphere for braking a spacecraft
First to envision the use of a solar sail as a means of propulsion

He was a founding member of GIRD. He designed the first liquid fuel rockets in the Soviet Union. He died of Typhus in March of 1933 seven months before the first successful flight of the GIRD-X rocket that he designed.

gird-xA GIRD-X model

Model Rocket Plans for the GIRD Razumov-Shtern LRD-D-3 can be found here.

More in the Who the heck series can be found here.

another in the “Who the Heck” series

paisleyrocketeers30th PRS 30th anniversary launch in 1965

Did the Paisley Rocketeer’s Society start Model Rocketry?

The Paisley Rocketeer’s Society (PRS) was formed by John D. Stewart in 1935 in Scotland. Stewart was inspired by H.G. Wells and the early rocket mail experiments of Gerhard Zucker. The PRS is responsible for many rocketry first. Among them and maybe most sustantial was the first recorded launch of a complex 3 stage rocket. This basic design was continued to be used in early space programs. The Paisley Rocketeer’s Society were know for their research rockets. Each of the research rockets were known by the desigination of R.R.-x. Another possibly great contribution was the Paisley Rocketeer’s Society was the Rocketry education of generations of rocketeers across Great Britian including hosting launch events. Many believe that the Paisley Rocketeer’s Society were the first to promote rocketry as a hobby/sport.

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