Friday, December 15, 2006

Sergei Pavlovich Korolev

40 years ago, the key player in the Soviet Union's race into space died. Sergei Pavlovich Korolev - the Chief Designer - was brought back from the gulag to mastermind the Soviets' mastery of transcontinental and, ultimately, space rocketry. Working in conditions far more primitive than Von Braun and his German/American counterparts in the US, Korolev achieved massive success, launching Sputnik and following with Yuri Gagarin's first-ever earth orbit.

Balancing his desire to reach out to the moon and the planets with the expediency required to create rockets that could deliver the Soviet nuclear arsenal, Korolev also continually had to pull rabbits out of a hat for Khruschev to ensure the perception that the USSR led the space race.

Little was known of him until after his death. There's still not a huge amount written about him and his achievements in English. I'm no rocket scientist, and I haven't got an 'ology' to my name - but I need to learn as much as I can about Korolev (Koralyev) and his achievements over the next five weeks. I'm relishing the challenge - and if anyone can suggest good source material, please let me know.

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