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Some of the individual Biocosmists, Tsiolkovskii’s contemporaries, would eventually go on to occupy important scholarly positions or institutional posts in the post1917 Soviet era. As mentioned briefly above, they included the renowned academy geochemist V. I. Vernadskii, Valerian Muraviev (an important leader of the Central Institute of Labor in Moscow), and the controversial Bolshevik organizer and economic administrator Leonid Krasin, to state a few. 16 Regardless of the debates around Fedorov’s influence on Tsiolkovskii’s future ruminations on space flight, Tsiolkovskii left Moscow confident he could begin his own independent experiments, popularize his unique ideas on the cosmos, and teach basic sciences in high school.

The societies involved in regional knowledge (kraevedenie) were especially dedicated to spreading knowledge about the local environment, local economy and general utilitarian scientific knowledge. They funded a number of Tsiolkovskii’s popular scientific lectures on a variety of topics, but mainly those dealing with flight, space travel, and astronomy. In April 1914, Tsiolkovskii gave one of these lectures on the topic of a metal aerostat that he was designing (see figure 4). indd 27 5/18/2009 3:01:38 PM 28 chapter 1 traveling in airplanes and spaceships.

Locals continuously witnessed Tsiolkovskii bicycling or walking in nature with his students while he discussed basic scientific principles with them after school (see figure 2). He had designed tin “listening tubes” so that he could hear better. 18 It was not uncommon, in the late imperial period in Russia, for local school inspectors to visit teachers’ classes and evaluate their curriculum. indd 20 5/18/2009 3:01:37 PM beginnings, teaching science in a provincial context 21 capital cities, was aided by a variety of educational officials in gleaning knowledge of local school conditions.

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