16th of January 2016 marks 50 years since the death of a the brilliant Russian space engineer, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Everyone remembers the heroic deed of Yurij Gagarin, the first man to fly into space. But it was the visionary thought and ingenuity of Korolev that made that flight, as well as many other “firsts” in space exploration, possible.
Russian news weekly “Argumenty i Fakty” published an article about this outstanding man. About his illness and death, about his life and work, about the repressions, about his realistic view on USSR’s outlook for taking the lead (he though that USSR would only be able to take the second place in the space race), and how he, with his out-of-the-box thinking managed to prove himself wrong on that account.
In this post I want to concentrate on translating two infographics. The first is the list of the “firsts” in space, largely achieved thanks to Korolev. The second is a short collection of ideas and sketches that Korolev had, but which were never implemented.
The following infographics was taken from AiF article “The First to Mars and Moom. The achievements of our space exploration.” Translation follows below the image.
- 3rd of February 1966. Soviet lander “Luna-9” is the first to make a soft landing on the Earth’s satellite and transmits images of the lunar surface.
- 21st of September 1968. Return of the probe “Zond-2” after making a flight around the Moon. The probe contained living creatures: tortoises, fruit flies, worms, bacteria.
- 24th of September 1970. Station “Luna-16” returns to earth first samples of the Moon rock. This was the first automatic space probe that brought to Earth extraterrestrial material.
- 17th of November 1970. The first in history remote-controlled rover intended for exploration of an extraterrestrial body arrives to the Moon. It was the Soviet “Lunokhod-1”. It worked there for three times as long as initially designed, covered 10.5km and transmitted to Earth 25000 images.
Exploration of Venus
- 1st of March 1966. The first in history flight of a probe from Earth to another planet. Station “Venera-3” reached the surface of Venus, delivering there the pennant of USSR. It is noteworthy that the probe was launched while Korolev was still alive, but he didn’t live to see the end of the mission.
- 18th of October 1967. Station “Venera-4” for the first time in history performs a flowing descent in the atmosphere of another planet.
- 15th of December 1970. Probe “Venera-7” made the first soft landing on the surface of Venus.
- October 1975. Probes “Venera-9” and “Venera-10” sent to Earth the first photo images of Venus’s surface.
Exploration of Mars
- 27th of November 1971. Soviet station “Mars-2” reached the red planet. That was the first man-made object to end up on the surface of Mars.
- 2nd of December 1971. Lander “Mars-3” for the first time in history performs a soft landing on the Martian surface.
- 30th of October 1967. The first coupling of 2 unmanned vehicles is performed – “Kosmos-186” and “Kosmos-188”.
- 16th of January 1969. “Sojuz-4” and “Sojuz-5” perform the first in history coupling of two manned space ships.
- 19th of April 1971. The first orbital station/laboratory “Saljut-1” is placed into orbit. It existed for 175 days.
- 20th of February 1986. The basic module of space station “Mir” is placed into orbit. This was the first in history orbital station with modular composition.
The first “freighter”
- 20th of January 1978. The first automatic cargo transport cargo ship “Progress” is sent into orbit.
The infographics below was taken from AiF article “Into Space despite the rules. How Sergei Korolev ensured USSR’s leadership in space”. It showcases some of Korolev’s sketches, which were realistic, but never implemented as finished projects. Translation follows below the image.
The most ambitious and beautiful of Korolev’s visions. It was planned to send to Mars a crew of 3 people. Start of the expedition – 8th of June 1971. Return on the 10th of June 1974. A Heavy Interplanetary Spaceship (HIS), weighing 83.1 tonnes was to travel to Mars. To build the system in Earth’s orbit, 15 launches of super-heavy rocket N1 were planned, each having the length of 105 metres and having a lifting capacity of 100 tonnes.
The development of the project was started already in 1959. The Council of Ministers of USSR and the Central Committee of the Communist Party approved the Martian project in 1960. However, it was shut down because of the “Moon race”.
On the 3rd of August 1964, the Central Committee of the Communist Party sets Korolev the following goal – to bypass Americans in landing on the Moon. A Lunar expedition project is initiated in all haste.
A robotic lunar rover was to be sent first. Its task would be to scout the landing site and to act as a radio beacon.
It was also planned to build the ship in orbit. 3 launches of the super-heavy rocket N1 were to deliver there the components of the Lunar space ship, weighing in total 180 tonnes. The ship carrying a crew of 3 was to reach the Moon. Soviet cosmonauts were to spend 10 days on the Earth’s satellite. It was planned to implement the project in 1968.
To be more precise – the whole 2 bases. The first was to become a satellite orbiting around the Moon and act as a kind of base of operations en route between the Earth and the Moon. The second was to be assembled on the lunar surface. 9 modular blocks-cylinders – 3 living quarters, command centre, workshop, medical centre with a sports hall, kitchen with the canteen, laboratory. Capacity – 12 people. The development of the project was started in 1962 and finished in 1971. Later the defence minister of USSR, Ustinov, rejected the project, citing too high price tag – 50 billion roubles.
Heavy orbital station
In a note to the minister of defence, dated 23rd of June 1960, Korolev writes: “A manoeuvrable station weighing 60-70 tonnes and having a crew of 3 to 5 people, could perform the following military tasks: surveillance, battle actions against enemy vessels, destruction of the enemy’s ballistic rockets…”
In 1965 a draft project was initiated and a mock-up of the station was built.
A special note about Korolev’s manned lunar landing project, and how it contrasts to the American faked lunar landing.
After sending living organisms to fly around the Moon, it looked like Korolev was aware of the need for proper shielding of the crew – thus the design of a super heavy space craft, which could require multiple component launches and in-orbit assemby.
Korolev was truly a visionary and such a man, about who it is usually said: He was born ahead of his time.