An engineer constructs a pulse detonation rocket and sets course for Mars



Alexei Tolstoy : Author
"The story begins in the Soviet Union, just after the end of the Russian Civil War. A lonely engineer, Mstislav Los', designs and constructs a revolutionary pulse detonation rocket and decides to set course for Mars. Looking for a companion for the travel, he finally leaves Earth with a retired soldier, Alexei Gusev. Arriving on Mars, they discover that the planet is inhabited by an advanced civilization. However, the gap between the ruling class and the workers is very strong and reminiscent of the early capitalism, with workers living in underground corridors near their machines."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aelita_(novel)