Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29: Mikhail Tikhonravov

Luna 3

Mikhail Tikhonravov
July 29, 1900 - March 3, 1974

Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov, soviet pioneer of spacecraft design and rocketry. Mikhail Klavdievich attended the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy from 1922 to 1925, where he built gliders and was exposed to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's ideas of spaceflight. In 1932, he joined GIRD, as one of the four brigade leaders. His brigade built the GIRD-09 rocket, fueled by liquid oxygen and jellied gasoline, and launched on August 17, 1933.

Tikhonravov remained in GIRD as it evolved into RNII, the jet propulsion institute, and then NII-1. In 1946, he became deputy chief of NII-4 in the Academy of Artillery Science. There, he lead a team of researchers that did important studies on packet rockets, satellite orbital motion, optimal pitch control programs for launching into orbit, reentry trajectories and heat shielding. This team designed Sputnik-3, Luna-1, Luna-3, Luna-4 and the early Venus and Mars probes. In 1956, Sergey Korolev had Tikhonravov and his team transferred into his bureau, OKB-1.

Tikhonravov Crater on Mars is named in his honor.

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