Creating a Rocket Industry (Rockets and People, Volume 2)
Asif A. Siddiqi, Boris Yevseyevich Chertok
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Much has been written in the West on the history of the Soviet space program but few Westerners have read direct first-hand accounts of the men and women who were behind the many Russian accomplishments in exploring space. The memoir of Academician Boris Chertok, translated from the original Russian, fills that gap. In Volume 1 of Rockets and People, Chertok described his early life as an aeronautical engineer and his adventures as a member of the Soviet team that searched postwar, occupied Germany for the remnants of the Nazi rocket program.
In Volume 2, Chertok takes up the story after his return to the Soviet Union in 1946, when Stalin ordered the foundation of the postwar missile program at an old artillery factory northeast of Moscow. Chertok gives an unprecedented view into the early days of the Soviet missile program. With a keen talent for combining technical and human interests, Chertok writes of the origins and creation of the Baykonur Cosmodrome in a remote desert region of Kazakhstan.
He devotes a substantial portion of Volume 2 to describing the launch of the first Sputnik satellite and the early lunar and interplanetary probes designed under legendary Chief Designer Sergey Korolev in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He ends with a detailed description of the famous R-16 catastrophe known as the "Nedelin disaster," which killed scores of engineers during preparations for a missile launch in 1960.
establishment of the missile instrumentation industry in Kharkov. Alas! I was unable to do it. Abram Ginzburg had moved to the U.S. . See Chapter 2. . This plant was also known as Factory No. 897. . FED stood for Feliks Edmundovich Dzerzhinskiy, who was the founder of the predecessor to the KGB. 181 Rockets and People: Creating a Rocket Industry Makushechev, another specialist who went through the Institute RABE in Bleicherode, was appointed supervisor of the NII-885 laboratory for the
we succeeded in developing this system and combined it with an autopilot. The system would issue heading control correction signals to the autopilot and, upon reaching the target’s geographical area, it would switch the missile into a dive. Easy to say! Of course, you can’t come up with everything single-handedly. First we needed to set up a laboratory. The laboratory absolutely would have likeminded individuals. It would be best if these like-minded individuals were young and knew nothing about
top-secret records management system so that documents containing nuclear secrets would not make their way around every “Department No. 1” (information security departments) and dozens of administrators. 13. Arzamas-16 was the closed city where one of the Soviet Union’s two major nuclear weapons laboratories was founded. 14. The IS, named after Joseph [Iosif ] Stalin, was a series of wartime heavy tanks such as the IS-1, IS-2, and IS-3. 277 Rockets and People: Creating a Rocket Industry We
Stalin had ordered the foundation of the postwar missile program at an old artillery factory northeast of Moscow. Chertok gives an unprecedented view into the early days of the Soviet missile program. During this time, the new rocket institute known as NII-88 mastered V-2 technology and then quickly outgrew German technological influence by developing powerful new missiles such as the R-2, the R-5M, and eventually the majestic R-7, the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile. With a keen
All the roads were concrete-paved, and the old firing range song about “dust and fog” was receding farther and farther into the realm of folklore. Finally, missiles at the engineering facility for horizontal tests were given a significantly more comfortable assembly and testing building. The new order at the firing range included brief periods of rest and relaxation. As a rule, we took advantage of them to go fishing. The Akhtuba River and its myriad tributaries were in the immediate vicinity of