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Soviet space program
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Soviet space program

From World War II until its breakup, the Soviet Union undertook projects to build rockets, craft, and instruments for war and exploration of space.

The Soviet space program was shrouded in secrecy. The leader of the Soviet space program, Sergey Korolev was known only as the "chief designer" during his life. Announcements of success were delayed until success was certain, and failures were kept secret. Only through glasnost have many facts about the program become public knowledge.

Table of contents
1 Firsts
2 Failures
3 Projects
4 External links


Two days after the United States announced its intention to launch a satellite, on July 31, 1956, the Soviet Union announced its intention to do the same. Sputnik 1 became the first satellite with its launch October 4, 1957. It stunned citizens the world over.

The Soviet space program led the space race from 1957 through 1967:

In 1971 the Soviets produced another first: the Salyut 1 space station. In 1986, Soviets launched the first permanently manned space station, Mir which orbited the Earth until 2001.


The Soviet and Russian space programs have been consistently dogged by a lack of funding which has complicated efforts from the moon mission to cooperation on the International Space Station.

The Soviet space program produced the first fatality on March 23, 1961 when Valentin Bondarenko died in a fire within a low pressure, high oxygen atmosphere.

Director Korolev's death (during an operation to remove a cancerous tumor) in January 1966 preceded the launch of Soyuz 1. The mission launched with known design problems and ended a troubled flight by crashing to the ground killing Vladimir Komarov in 1967, the first in-flight fatality.

The Soviets continued striving for the first lunar mission with the huge N-1 moon rocket which exploded on each of four unmanned tests. Americans won the race to the moon with Apollo 11.

On March 18, 1980 a Vostok rocket exploded on its launch pad during a fueling operation killing 48 people.

The Soviet space program produced the Space Shuttle Buran. Several vehicles were built, but only one flew an unmanned test flight; it was found too expensive to operate.

See also the complete list of space disasters.


The Soviet space program undertook a number of projects: ...

External links