If Vernadsky is correct in saying that we humans are “the children of the sun”, then, we have to think about the nature of human kind on planet Earth. If we think about matter as life – like humans are – at which level should we understand this process? At the level of the Earth? Of the solar system? Of the Milky Way? Of the universe itself?
To resolve this difficult question, we have a historical figure that followed the same path as Vernadsky in Russia: a scientific that greeted the 1917 October Revolution and became a part of the USSR, as a great scientific.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) is the founder of cosmonautics; he's the one who expressed first the principles of the space rocket.
In “Free Space” (1883) he formulated already the principle of a spacecraft in a zero gravity field; in “The Investigation of Space by Means of Reactive Devices” (1903), published in “The Science Review” n° 5, printed in St.Petersburg, he theorized spaceflight and the principle of the rocket to leave the Earth (it is known today as the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation).
In 1926 – in Soviet Russia – he elaborated the map for the colonization of the universe in 16 stages, in “Plan Of Space Exploration”; the points were the following:
1) Creation of rocket airplanes with wings.
2) Progressively increasing of the speed and altitude of these airplanes.
3) Production of real rockets-without wings.
4) Ability to land on the surface of the sea.
5) Reaching escape velocity (about 8 Km/second), and the first flight into Earth orbit.
6) Lengthening rocket flight times in space.
7) Experimental use of plants to make an artificial atmosphere in spaceships.
8) Using pressurized space suits for activity outside of spaceships.
9) Making orbiting greenhouses for plants.
10) Constructing large orbital habitats around the Earth.
11) Using solar radiation to grow food, to heat space quarters, and for transport throughout the Solar System.
12) Colonization of the asteroid belt.
13) Colonization of the entire Solar System and beyond.
14) Achievement of individual and social perfection.
15) Overcrowding of the Solar System and the colonization of the Milky Way (the Galaxy).
16) The Sun begins to die and the people remaining in the Solar System's population go to other suns.
In 1929 he explained in “Rocket Space Trains” the principle of a rocket with a booster.
In 1932, he published “The Cosmic Philosophy”, where he explains that all living beings were looking for “Universal Happiness”. Suffering would be abolished with the use of the energy of the stars.
It is not difficult for us to see that this is communism - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's vision is exactly ours.
And as we see, space travel is not a thought that “fell from the sky”, it is not a by-product of technology. It is a thought produced by communism.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky believed that humans will colonize the Milky Way – as a logical expression of their situation on Earth, as a result of the process of matter in movement.
He was a materialist, defining himself as a “Citizen of the Universe” ; like Vernadsky, he knew that humans were playing an important role in shaping the Earth, and because of this, it is necessary to think about it not on a small scale, but on the level of the Milky Way itself:
“Men are weak now, and yet they transform the Earth's surface. In millions of years their might will increase to the extent that they will change the surface of the Earth, its oceans, the atmosphere, and themselves.
They will control the climate and the Solar System just as they control the Earth. They will travel beyond the limits of our planetary system; they will reach other Suns, and use their fresh energy instead of the energy of their dying luminary.”
If our website has “Voie Lactée” i.e. Milky Way for name, it is exactly because of this understanding. Tsiolkovsky, as he developed the concept of space flight, understood the movement of life, matter in movement, that's why he explained that “The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but we cannot live forever in a cradle”.
In 1931, he published “The Monism of the Universe”, where he explained the principle that the universe is one – which is the thesis of Spinoza and Einstein, of all materialists:
“We preach monism in the universe, and no more. This whole process of science consists of this striving towards monism, towards unity, towards the elementary source. Science's success is being determined by the level of the approach to unity. Monism in science comes from the structure of the universe... It is impossible to deny the unity or sort of monotony in the structure and formation of the universe: the unity of matter, light, gravity, life, and so on.”
What means Tsiolkovsky with unity of the universe? Basically, that the qualitative leap drives us to the unity of the universe, exactly like Asimov in his novels of the Foundation series explains us that it goes from Gaïa to Galaxia (and then of course to Universalia).
Here is how Konstantin Tsiolkovsky explains this, in Synopsis of Cosmic Philosophy:
“There is no substance which cannot take the form of a living being. The simplest being is the atom. Therefore the whole universe is alive and there is nothing in it but life.
But the level of sensivity is endless various, and depends upon the combinations of which the atom is part (…).
I recognize nothing that is not material. In physics, chemistry and biology I see only mechanics. The Universe is nothing but an infinite and complex mechanism. Its complexity is so great that it borders on randomness, giving the illusion of free will”.
Here, we have exactly the point of view of dialectical materialism, of Oparin and Vernadsky about life. The teachings of this great scientifics show us how marvelous was the USSR under the leadership of Stalin.
And of course, with the rejection of anthropocentrism, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky explained that there were logically others civilizations on others planets, because trillions of suns have logically some planets in the same situation like the Earth, and then the same chemicals aspects would play (again, or even differently in different situations).
“Millions of milliards of planets have existed for a long time, and therefore their animals have reached a maturity which we will reach in millions of years of our future life on earth. This maturity is manifest by perfect intelligence, by a deep understanding of nature, and by technical power which makes other heavenly bodies accessible to the inhabitants of the cosmos”.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky also explained why civilizations of others planets could choose to not take contact yet – why should they want to take contact with humans, that kill each others and mistreat animals?
Here is what he says, in If these beings exist they would have visited Earth”:
“We are brothers, but we kill each other, start wars, and treat animals brutally.
How would we treat absolute strangers? Wouldn't we consider them our rivals for the possession of the Earth, and wouldn't we ruin ourselves in this unequal struggle?
They cannot wish this struggle and destruction. Mankind, in its development, is as far from more perfect heavenly beings as lower animals are from people. We would not visit wolves, snakes or gorillas. We only kill them. Perfect heavenly animals do not want to do this to us. Can we really have rational relationships with dogs and monkeys? In the same manner, higher beings are not able to communicate with us for the present.”
Here we have a wonderful thought, which explains with its small error why we on Mily Way (voie-lactee.fr) are for respecting animals. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is here in contradictory position: he explains that the most developed animal doesn't kill, but he doesn't move to the point where he should say: let's begin in not killing wolves, snakes and gorillas.
This is interesting to see, because it means that he understands the humans as a by-product of the Biosphere – when in fact, humans are a part of the Biosphere.
Vernadsky was very clear here. If the catholic thinker Teilhard de Chardin used the concept of “noosphere” from Vernadsky, it was to put it “on” the Biosphere, as if human thought was a spiritual entity above matter.
According to Vernadsky, who was materialist, the “noosphere” - human thinking – was a part of the Biosphere, which is totally different.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky came here on a idealistic point of view – we can only agree with him with space colonization, but he did not understand that our first mission is to protect the Biosphere.
This is very clear when he says :
"Man must at all costs overcome the Earth's gravity and have, in reserve, the space at least of the Solar System. All kinds of danger wait for him on the Earth... We are talking of disaster that can destroy the whole of mankind or a large part of it... For instance, a cloud of bolides [meteors] or a small planet a few dozen kilometers in diameter could fall on the Earth, with such an impact that the solid, liquid or gaseous blast produced by it could wipe off the face of the Earth all traces of man and his buildings.
The rise of temperature accompanying it could alone scorch or kill all living beings... We are further compelled to take up the struggle against gravity, and for the utilization of celestial space and all its wealth, because of the overpopulation of our planet.
Numerous other terrible dangers await mankind on the Earth, all of which suggest that man should look for a way into the Cosmos. We have said a great deal about the advantages of migration into space, but not all can be said or even imagined."
The risks are indeed true, but the humans must for this reason protect all life in the Biosphere. They have the ability to do it, so they must do it. Here, Tsiolkovsky made an error in separating the humans from the rest of matter in transformation – a idealist error, but an error that should not put any shadow on the formidable value of his work for dialectical materialism.