Esnault-Pelterie, Robert-Albert-Charles

Esnault-Pelterie, Robert-Albert-Charles


Born Nov. 8, 1881, in Paris; died Dec. 6, 1957, in Nice. French scientist and aviator; pioneer in aviation and astronautics. Member of the Académie des Sciences (1936).

Esnault-Pelterie graduated from the University of Paris in 1902 with a degree in physics. In 1906 and 1907 he built the world’s first monoplane, which was a prototype of the modern airplane. He also built the first radial aircraft engine and invented the airplane control system based on the control stick. Esnault-Pelterie worked on the theory of interplanetary navigation and computed the most advantageous flight trajectories for spacecraft.

Esnault-Pelterie experimented with rocket fuels and suggested using atomic energy to obtain ultrahigh speeds. He was the first to apply the theory of relativity to the motion of rockets traveling at speeds close to the speed of light. Esnault-Pelterie was granted more than 200 patents on inventions in such fields as aviation and aircraft-engine construction. In 1927, together with the French industrialist A. Hirsch, he established the first international prize in astronautics, the REP-Hirsch International Astronautical Prize. A crater on the far side of the moon is named for Esnault-Pelterie.


L’Astronautique. Paris, 1930.
L’Astronautique: Complement. Paris, 1935.
In Russian translation:
Kosmicheskie polety. Moscow, 1950.