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 Friedrich Zander

Born:   23 August 1887
Deceased:   28 March 1933

eminent Soviet engineer and physicist


Friedrich Arturovich Zander, a scientist and engineer, a pioneer of Soviet aviation and rocket industry, was born in Riga. His father was Doctor of Medicine. In early years Friedrich already dreamt of reaching distant stars and was fond of science fiction.

Dawn of Zander’s scientific career dates back to 1907-1908, when the scientist started thinking about design of space ships. Friedrich Zander was curious about shape of space vehicles, fuel storage, solar heat conversion, moving force preferences and many more things. At that time, Zander made his first calculations on gas escape from vessels, on necessary work for escaping Earth’s gravity field, and some other problems of astronautics. It was 1909, when Zander first came up with an idea to use solid construction materials of rockets as fuel. In 1909-1911 the scientist performed necessary calculations for jet engine proper functioning, and determined amount of energy, required for reaching high altitudes. After finishing Riga Polytechnic University in 1914, Friedrich Zander moved to Moscow, where worked for the rest of his life. In 1917 Zander started systematic studies of interplanetary communications and dedicated his entire life to this problem.

In early twenties of the previous century, Friedrich Zander already developed a number of novel suggestions for spaceship design: equipping extraterrestrial vehicles with wings during take-off for flying in dense atmospheric layers; using air oxygen as oxidizer during initial stage of ascending; using no longer required ship parts as additional fuel; using wings for gliding descent to Earth or other planets with atmosphere. Zander considered these ideas to help solving the problem of traveling to other planets in the nearest future. Friedrich Zander also patiently searched for most appropriate fuels for rockets. In order to make combustion products leave jet engines faster, the scientist suggested using high–energy metallic fuel, however, Zander understood that metallic fuel wouldn’t make these products leave engines fast enough. The scientist kept searching for other fuels, which could be a comprehensive solution for space traveling.

Another idea of Friedrich Zander was using light pressure for moving in space. The scientist thought space flight could be possible either with mirrors, thin panels or solenoids, which were parts of a ship, or with giant mirrors, located in space, which would collect sunlight and redirect it to spaceship’s panels.

Zander had a vivid interest in astronavigation. In 1925 the scientist already thoroughly examined such things, as spaceship moving in gravitation fields of the Sun, planets and their satellites; determining trajectories and flight durations, as well as, values of additional velocities for such flights.



Scheme of a jet engine
Friedrich Zander was first Soviet engineer, who dedicated himself to astronautics. The scientist, though, didn’t forget about another field of his research: developing basic design theory of jet engines. In this field, Friedrich is known to be a gifted theorist and engineer, since he found solutions for several very important problems of jet engine design. Being a talented researcher, Friedrich Zander also was an enthusiastic supporter of spaceflights: he eagerly participated in various meeting and conference, where made reports on traveling to other planets.

In late 1920s Zander many times applied to various state and public organizations, trying to organize scientific practice in rocket techniques. In 1930s Friedrich Zander was among organizers of the Group, Studying Jet Propulsion (GIRD in Russian) in Moscow and its first head.

In 1928 Friedrich Zander started realizing his rocket technique ideas in practice. Obsessed by an idea of high-energy metallic fuel, the scientist performed experiments on making light alloys, which contained magnesium, and burned them in air. 1928 was the year Zander started projecting his first jet engine OR-1 (test rocket engine), which would have helped the scientist checking his calculation techniques and gaining first experimental data. OR-1 worked on gasoline and atmospheric oxygen. Construction of OR-1 was anticipated with thorough engineering analysis. The engine was tested during 1930-1932, and testing results allowed building much more advanced engines, using liquid oxygen as oxidizer.

In 1932-1933 GIRD under supervision of Friedrich Zander worked on building liquid-fuel rocket engines for further installation on boost-glide vehicle RP-1 and rocket GIRD-X. Results of experiments and calculations in theory of liquid-fuel rocket engines were later generalized in Friedrich Zander’s book “Issues of fights by means of jet-driven flying vehicles”, which came off the press in 1932.

Premature death prevented genial Friedrich Zander from finishing many things that he wanted to. Numerous students, followers and companions did that for him.


Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian physics     

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