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Artificial satellites, Astronautics, History

GavaghanCommunications | Source material

SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age
Copyright for the book, including research notes, Copernicus/Springer Verlag (New York)

History of artificial satellites
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p238

Other less detailed accounts of Korolev's early years exist. The Kremlin and the Cosmos, by Nicholas Daniloff (Knopf, 1972), for example, provides a good summary of Korolev's schooling without the attempts that Golavanov makes to explore his psyche. The account is hopelessly inadequate once one enters the difficult years of arrest, concentration camps, and divorce. Daniloff does, however, mention briefly that there were "trying and despairing situations" in Korolev's life.

Daniloff also gives an account of the launch of Sputnik and of the engineers retiring to an observation bunker a kilometer from the launch pad (pages 10,18, and 19).

Aleksei Ivanov, an engineer who worked on Sputnik, also recounts the launch (pages 10,18, and 19) in an article in Isvestia marking the tenth anniversary of Sputnik. He wrote, "I watch not moving my eyes away, fearing to blink so as not to miss the moment of liftoff."

Another book, more a hagiography than a biography, about Korolev is: "Spacecraft Designer: The Story of Sergei Korolev" (Novosti, 1976). The author, Alexander Romanov, says that he first met Korolev in 1961. If one is careful, some details seem worth extracting from this book. The author describes Korolev as a heavyset man, a description that photographs support. His account of Korolev's small, wood-paneled office with blackboard, chalk, lunar globe, bronze bust of Lenin, and model of Sputnik seems plausible, as does his account of a formidable intellect and an energetic man with willpower, energy, and vision.

Romanov repeats uncritically the story that Korolev met Konstanan Tsiolkovsky in Kaluga in 1929. Romanov reports that after that meeting. Korolev said, "The meaning of my life came down to one thing-to reach the stars."

Romanov demonstrates Korolev's dedication to rocketry with an extract from a letter that Korolev wrote to his second wife in which he wrote, "The boundless book of knowledge and life ...is being leafed through for the first time by us here."

Romanov also reports that it was Korolev who wanted Sputnik to be spherical, which, given Korolev's authority in the program, seems likely. Romanov says that Korolev said, "It seemed to me that the first Sputnik must have a simple and expressive form close to the shape of celestial bodies."


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Page text content checked against original in print by HG on 1st May, 2013.

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