Barys Kit is a Belarusian mathematician, physicist, chemist and developer of space fuel.
Kit was born on April 6, 1910 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire in the family of the Post and Telegraph Department employee, a Belarusian in origin. In 1918 Kit’s family moved to Belarus, to their native village Aharodniki (now merged with the town of Karelichy, Hrodna Region).
After graduation from Navahrudak Belarusian Lyceum in 1928 Kit entered the physics and mathematics faculty of Vilnius University. After graduation in 1933 he worked as a teacher at Vilnius Belarusian Lyceum. In 1939 he was appointed its Principal. After the Vilnius Region had been annexed to Lithuania in 1939, Kit returned to his native region. He was the Principal of Navahrudak Belarusian High School there and later a superintendent of a large school system district. Hundreds of elementary schools and several dozen high schools were opened in the region within a year due to Kit's direct participation.
During the Nazi Occupation of Belarus (1941–1944) Kit worked as a teacher in the village of Lebedzeva near Maladzyechna and later as a director of the Pastavy Teachers College. He was suspected of having partisan connections and was arrested by the German SD punitive bodies. He spent a month in prison and was saved from execution by his former pupils.
In 1944 Kit and his family moved to Germany, first to Offenbach-Lindau in Bavaria, then to Munich. In 1948 Kit emigrated to the United States. There he worked as a chemist in different firms. Then he got a job at North American Aviation, which is engaged in development of liquid hydrogen rocket, participated in the development of fuel for spacecraft "Apollo", the shuttle spacecraft "Shuttle" and other projects. In 1972 Kit moved to Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany.
Barys Kit held the first in the history basic research of a fuel, which then was used as the main propellant. The result of this research made it possible to make the first manned flight to the moon and the further development of space. Moreover, the spacecraft flight to the moon is also the work of Belarusian. The first-ever textbook on rocket technology and rocket fuel "Rocket Propellant Handbook" (1960) and the first in the West, a study on the history of Soviet space "USSR Space Research and Development" (1964) belong to his authorship. The books received many positive reviews and is referenced in rocket science publications even today.
In 1982 Kit earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and science history from the University of Regensberg.
Kit is a long-standing member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, an honorary member of the Hermann Oberth German Astronautics Society Board of Directors, a member of the International Astronautics Academy in Paris, Vice-President of the Eurasian International Astronautics Academy, Professor Emeritus of Maryland University, Honorary Doctorate of Science of Hrodna State University, and Navahrudak's honorable resident.
The walls in Barys Kit's apartment are covered with awards and certificates for his achievements in space exploration.
A "time capsule" with Kit's name was immured in the wall of Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Kit has always remained a conscious Belarusian: “Everything I did in my life —- I did for my homeland and its fame”.
Vasil Bykau and the Belarusian number one in the world Barys Kit, 2001, Frankfurt.