Korolev, Sergei Pavlovich (1907–1966)
In the end, Korolev was saved by the intervention of Tupolev, himself a prisoner, who requested his services in the TsKB-39 sharashka. Later, Korolev was moved to another sharashka in Kazan where he led design projects to build jet engines and rocket thrusters. His rehabilitation was complete when he was released and sent to Germany to gather information on the V-2, collecting hardware and German expertise to reestablish Soviet rocket and missile technology. After the War and throughout the 1950s, Korolev concentrated on devising Russian alternatives to the V-2 and establishing a powerful Soviet rocket-production industry (see "R" series of Russian missiles). Trials produced the multistage R-7 with a range of 6,400 km, providing the Soviet Union with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States. To speed development of the R-7, Korolev's other projects were spun off to a new design bureau in Dnepropetrovsk headed by his one-time assistant, Mikhail Yangel. This was the first of several design bureaus, some later competing with Korolev's, that would spring up once Korolev had perfected a new technology. Such immense strategic importance had Korolev's rocket and missile program acquired that it was controlled at a high level in the Soviet government by the secret Committee Number 2. In September 1953, Korolev proposed the development of an artificial satellite to this committee arguing that the R-7-launched flight of Sputnik 1 would serve as a powerful public demonstration of the Soviet Union's ICBM capability. A year later, he put forward even more ambitious plans, for a "two-to-three-ton scientific satellite", a "recoverable satellite," a "satellite with a long orbital stay for one to two people," and an "orbital station with regular Earth ferry communication." All of these were subsequently realized: Sputnik 3 flew in 1958 followed by the first spy satellite Zenit in 1962, the cosmonauts in Vostok in 1963 and Voskhod in 1964 broke long-endurance records, and the first space station Salyut was flown in 1971.
The Soviet lunar program depended heavily on the high technical performance of Korolev's rocket systems and the industrial infrastructure that he built up, as well as his political influence, drive, and determination. At first, all went well. Plans to explore the Moon, eventually using astronauts, were presented in 1957. Successful flyby, landing, and lunar orbital flights were accomplished in quick succession during 1959. But it was clear that these missions were achieved at the limits of the technology available with the R-7 launcher. Sending people to the Moon demanded a much bigger launch vehicle and advances in electronics and guidance systems, and when the Moon race became official policy after President Kennedy's declaration in 1961, the Soviet military-industrial complex failed to keep up. Korolev concentrated his resources on the N-1 rocket, using a cluster of 30 R-7-type engines. An alternative from the military sector called UR-500K which used storable propellants emerged as a competitor. Bureaucratic intervention and personality clashes led to indecision and both projects were supported, but at inadequate levels. The Soviet heavy-lift launchers could not compete with NASA's Saturn and Apollo programs and when Korolev died suddenly following surgery in 1966, the Soviet Moon program faltered. The N-1 failed its test firings and was canceled in 1976 (though the UR-500K survived to become the Proton).
Korolev's legacy is the town named for him and Energia Rocket & Space Corporation (RCS Energia) – the modern Russian business organization that evolved from Korolėv's design bureau - which built Mir and is now a partner with NASA in the production of the International Space Station. Korolev himself was classified as top secret throughout his career, and his name became publicly known only after his death.
Related category ROCKET ENGINEERS AND SPACE SCIENTISTS
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