A deadly race to the moon

Could the Soviet Union come first in the race to the moon?

I could, but not without the secret chief designer, who prematurely passed away when he was needed most.

The cherished desire of the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was never fulfilled. He was appointed the first man to set foot on the moon, but it’s a dangerous journey, he never went.

The Russian rocket to the moon was impossible to rely.

Leonova have actually had double the chances to reach the moon. If his superiors did not make a blunder, he would be able to make a flyby around the moon before the Americans. The prerequisites for this were. The landing was much harder, and for him the Russian rocket technology was not yet developed enough.

“When chief designer Sergei Korolev died in 1966, the new leadership began to behave very carefully, — said Leonov during a recent visit to Stockholm, it was Considered necessary to conduct several unmanned missions before Oleg Makarov and I would have received the nod to fly”.

© RIA Novosti, Sergeev | go to photomangagement Sergei Korolev and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin

And so it was that the American “Apollo 8” with three astronauts first orbited the moon at Christmas 1968. After that, the Russians lost interest in this flight. As for planting, they are far behind. Necessary for this huge rocket N-1 four times has failed during trial runs.

“From that moment to overtake the Americans we could not. We still had to continue working on our lunar program, despite the fact that Neil Armstrong (Neil Armstrong) was the first. It was necessary to continue to test N-1, and the lander for the moon was in principle ready. I was ready.”

Chief designer unleashed

It upset the Soviet Union, who for many years was a leader in the space race. Communist leaders realized the propaganda advantage of having to go ahead of the US with various large-scale achievements. But they do not fully understand the essence.

When in 1957 they launched Sputnik, in the party newspaper “Pravda”, the title was very modest. Only when the Western media started to go crazy, and the US went into shock, realizing that the Russians did everything first, “Really” broke loose, and the leader of the party Nikita Khrushchev became an active patron of the space program.

In principle, indispensable to the chief designer of a fully unleashed and provided unlimited amounts of money. No one in the West knew his name, as ordinary Russian citizens. Political leadership was keeping the name a closely guarded secret for fear that it may kill Western agents.

Space research is not a one-man show, but without Sergei Korolev — his name was disclosed after his death the Soviet Union would not be able to lead in the space race. He stood for the first “Sputnik”, the first launch of a living creature in orbit (the dog Laika), first human flight into space (Gagarin), the flight of the first woman (Valentina Tereshkova), the first flight crew of two, of three, the first spacewalk (Leonov) and many others.

Imprisoned as an “enemy of the people”

Temperamental Queen, originally from Ukraine, is usually described as the Soviet equivalent of the American Werner von Braun (Wernher von Braun). But the chief designer was much more of an effect on the entire space program. He participated in everything and were carrying an inhuman amount of work.

A child king was obsessed with flying. Technical education has led him to participate in various missile projects. But the leader of the country Stalin suspected everyone and everything. During the great purges in 1938 Korolyov as “enemy of the people” without trial was sent to prison, and then to the GULAG.

The horrors of Siberia led to the heart problems, he lost all his teeth, his jaw was broken. This is, without doubt, shortened his life. The prison was also the father of Leonov. He was sentenced to three years. However, neither the chief designer, nor the astronaut did not Express any bitterness about the Communist system.

After a year the Queen was moved to special prison for scientists and researchers in Moscow. In 1944 the designer was released, when I needed his expertise in connection with the German rockets V-2. Only in 1957 he was acquitted of all charges. He became the head of the Russian space program. “Crosse” (Khrushchev — ed. ed.) loved the Queen and knew that from him much good.

The dog Laika was launched into space

The space of the Soviet Union were to send a missile with a nuclear warhead, the R-7. She was several times stronger than American Atlas. But the first five test launches of R-7 failed. The people working in this area have already begun to worry whether they will be able to run your very advanced satellite, created just for this purpose. Time was short. The US openly talked about the fact that they are preparing the startup. But the Russians were late.

In this situation, Korolev decided to bet on a simple “space ball”, equipped only with a thermometer, a radio transmitter and batteries. It was created in just a month. It weighed 83 pounds and was given the name “Sputnik”. The whole world has gone crazy when he orbited the Earth in October 1957.

“Crosse” showered praise on the Queen, but then gave him a new task: in the short term to achieve a new achievement to mark the 40th anniversary of the Russian revolution. Incredibly, the Queen and his designers managed to launch “Sputnik 2” on 3 November. He weighed 508 kg, on Board was the dog Laika. The world was again stunned. A “Companion-3”, which was initially supposed to be a “Sputnik-1” has dealt another crushing blow to the US — with all his weight 1.3 tons. The impression he made is not less than the hydrogen bomb.

The US is hopelessly behind. First run attempt ended with the explosion of the rockets on the launch pad and the satellite — measly 1.3 kg — lay food on the ground. The first successful launch (1958) yielded much valuable data, but the satellite itself weighed only 14 kg.

The leadership of the Soviet Union seemed indisputable

The next major breakthrough came on 12 April 1961. Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. USA did not even have time to swallow this humiliation, the Soviet Union launched “Vostok-2” with 25-year-old Herman Titov on Board, the youngest astronaut in history. Only six months later it was the turn of John Glenn (John Glenn) with his five-hour flight.

The Russian rattled by the whole world. In August 1962, was launched “Vostok-3” and “Vostok-4” with a gap of a day. On Board was Andrian Nikolayev and Pavel Popovich, respectively. The closest approach of the ships was only six kilometers, but the meeting was not. Vostok could not change its orbit. USA continued the race by launching its astronauts “mercury”, but it was not so impressive.

The leadership of the Soviet Union seemed absolutely impregnable, when Valery Bykovsky set a record, having been in space for almost five days. Even worse, the US felt when around the same time, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. The record for the U.S. at the time was 34 hours.

On Russian on schedule to launch three astronauts in one ship, called the “Voskhod-1”. The crew consisted of Vladimir Komarov, Boris Yegorov and Konstantin Feoktistov. But it was a Scam for the sake of propaganda. The spacecraft actually was transformed “East”, was originally designed for one person. The astronauts were in this cramped, like sardines, and no suits.

The chief designer died and the program has stalled

In March 1964, Gagarin and Bykovsky on the week came to Sweden. And in June, with an official visit “Crosse”. Four months later it was dismissed and he was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev, who is not so much interested in space exploration.

Another Russian triumph became the world’s first space walks in 1965. Leonov got a job that could end very badly.

“Space suit inflated, I was very sweaty, fogged up my visor, I had to turn to lifeline and save the camera. To go back into the capsule, I had to let the air out of the suit, which was very risky”.

The United States conducted ten runs of the double capsule “Gemini” before the next flight took place of Russian in space in 1967. “Chief designer,” died during surgery on the gastrointestinal tract a year later, when he was 59 years old, and the space program immediately stalled. When Gagarin and Leonov came to congratulate him on his birthday, they discussed future space missions. Instead, on the wave of success after the Queen was followed by a struggle for power.

Heroes forever

In any case, finally, the day came when it was first launched a new spacecraft “Soyuz”. With him were a lot of problems, and the flight ended in disaster. Vladimir Komarov died due to the fact that when you return to the ground the parachute lines tangled. But later “Union” proved to be very reliable, and its modified versions are still used today for flights to the international space station and back. The US was forced to buy there waiting to be created the successor to the space Shuttle.

© AP Photo, NASAИсторическое handshake Alexei Leonov and Thomas Stafford in space

Leonov made a prestigious space flight. He was the commander of the Soyuz that docked with the “Apollo” in 1975. Finally it’s time for Russian-American cooperation in space. It continues today.

The astronauts of the first generation of heroes forever. They were bombarded with orders and medals. In honor of Gagarin called the town, he put a lot of monuments. Same with Valentina Tereshkova. She and Leon — “ambassadors” of Russian cosmoplane. Queens also received belated recognition. In his honor named the town, as well as a crater on the moon, a crater on Mars and an asteroid.