100th anniversary of an outstanding Soviet space rocket designer

On January 12, Russia marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Soviet spacecraft  designer Sergey Korolyov. His achievements in space exploration and weaponry advancement served as defining moments in Russian history.

Among Korolyov's achievements are the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in October of 1957 and the first manned space flight in April 1961.

Korolyov was interested in planes and flying from an early age and by the time he turned 30, he was Russia's leading rocket constructor.

Yury Karash, a space analyst and Moscow Governor's advisor on space issues is sure Sergey Korolyov played a very important role in the development of the Soviet space programme.

“Russia's space programme owes pretty much everything to Sergey Korolyov, from developing the first booster which carried the first man made object – the sputnik – into space, followed by the first living creature – dog Laika and the first cosmonaut – Yury Gagarin. Mr Korolyov also managed to convince Soviet leaders to invest in the development of the Soviet space programme, to demonstrate it was vitally important for the Soviet Union, for its prestige and reputation to beat Americans in space, and mostly due to his political efforts the USSR took a lead in space exploration for a decade – at least till the moment Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969,” he explained.

Vitaly Golovachyov, a space journalist for the weekly Trud said Korolyov's contribution to the country's and the world's space industry is hard to overestimate.

“Sergey Korolyov was an extraordinary man. He was obsessed by space. Sometimes I think he was meant to bring space to the people. Whatever the obstacle, whether it was Stalin’s camps, military orders, or government directives, he always was obsessed with the idea of a manned mission,” the journalist said.

Mr Golovachyov also pointed out that the engineer had good administrative abilities. “At the time when even the word 'rocket' was forbidden, replaced by the neutral term 'product', in conditions of extreme secrecy, hundreds of plants and thousands of people all over the USSR worked as one due to Korolyov’s efforts,” he said.    

“He made an outstanding contribution to the development of the country’s and the world’s cosmonautics. It wasn’t just the launch of the first satellite and it wasn’t merely sending the first human to space, although that was an important breakthrough. It was the beginning of a new era. An era which started in the 1950s, and I don’t think – will ever end,” Mr Golovachyov concluded.

In the interview that he gave to Russia Today, James Oberg, NASA expert on the Russian space programme, expressed his respect and admiration of Korolev’s contribution to the world history of the space exploration.

“Every flight now, every space exploration probe is a consequence of the initial surge of the space race, and that surge of the space race, I think, is a, uniquely, product of Korolev’s work. Korolev’s period was a unique, as it was the process of the birth of the new age. After the birth, there comes the more tedious but still critical period of growth, which we are still going through now. That shining and short period of birth was the time when Korolev’s work was leading away. For now, it is hard to imagine the technology or space exploration’s event that would be so different from anything, that would so change people’s views, except for, perhaps, the event when we meet alien civilizations or they meet us. Nothing less, I think, can match what Korolev delivered during the birth of the space age,” stressed the expert.