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Author(s) of the publication: YURI MARKOV

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By Yuri MARKOV, test engineer of rocket-and-space equipment, writer

...October 4, 1957. The top secret rocket range in a severe lost Kazakh steppe. Midnight. The "zero mark" becomes empty: some specialists go to an observation center, others - to an underground bin. Only the R-7 rocket, which is ready for the start, remains motionless. All technical personnel is in uneasy expectation. At 10:28:34 p.m. Moscow time the command "Start!" is given. Lieutenant-technician Boris Chekunov presses a starting button. Glaring light of fire and growing noise of the rocket engines explode night silence. Another moment, and the R-7 will soar sky-high. A few minutes later it finishes its work - it goes beyond the earth's atmosphere. Here a small ball of 580 mm diameter and with a mass of 83.6 kg separates from it, which has become the first artificial satellite. Thus the space age of humankind has begun.

The message about the event, which was transmitted by practically all broadcasting stations of the planet and published on the front pages of the newspapers of most countries in the world literally shocked people. At nights many of them went into the streets to see a tiny star "running" in the sky (the satellite apogee - 947 km, perigee - 228 km, rotation time - 96.17 min). This event, according to the outstanding French physicist, foreign member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Joliot-Curie (1900 - 1958), is "the greatest victory of man, a turning point in the history of civilization".

Delight and amazement of many foreign public figures quickly gave place to the question: Why did Russia's scientists and specialists prove to be the first in such a difficult matter? In search of an answer the US administration, in particular, immediately set up a special committee, whose main conclusion was: "The country of the first satellite managed to establish a harmonious and efficient, possibly,

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the best system of education and training of engineering and scientific personnel in the world".

The well-known German rocket engineer Werner von Braun (1912 - 1977), who directed the work of creation and launching of the first American spacecraft, commented approximately in the same spirit. When once he was asked why Sergey Korolev (1907 - 1966)* had left him behind, he answered: "He had more top-rate specialists than I did".

By the way, Korolev himself time and again said that they had managed to take the lead over the USA with regard to the development of space technology, achievement of practical results due to, above all, implementation of the ideas of great predecessors, one of whom was English mathematician, astronomer and physicist Isaac Newton (1672 - 1727). In his work The World System, the scientist described the possibility of guiding a body into orbit by giving it the required movement speed of 8 km/sec. in order to balance out gravitation by a centrifugal force.

Almost two centuries later our compatriot Konstantin Tsiolkovsky *, whose 150th anniversary will be celebrated this September, supplemented the Newton's theory of celestial mechanics and gave practical recommendations to future conquerors of the Universe. In the Russian magazine Scientific Review (1903) he published the article "Studies of the World Expanses by Jet Devices" in which he determined a real technical means of interplanetary flights. In his opinion, it could only be a large liquid-fuelled rocket. The scientist formulated the laws of its motion, built on the basis of differential and integral equations, determined jet carrier flight speed and expressed other scientific and technical ideas, including the structural diagram of space vehicle, fuel (liquid hydrogen + liquid


* See: Ya. Renkas, "Pioneer of the Space age". Science in Russia, No. 5, 2002; N. Sevastyanov, "The Cause of Legendary Designer Lives on"; N. Koroleva, "His name and Cosmos Are Inseparable", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2007. - Ed.

** See: Yu. Markov, "They Blazed the Trail into Space", Science in Russia. No. 5, 2004. - Ed.

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oxygen), forced feed of fuel to the engine by special pumps, flight control with the help of automatic devices and vanes, located in the stream of outgoing gases, etc.

It would be only fair to mention pilot theoretical and practical developments of the problems of rocket flights of a number of foreign researchers - Frenchman Rober Eswault-Pelterie (1881 - 1957), American Robert Goddard (1882 - 1945), Germans Herman Oberth (1894 - 1989) and Eigen Sanger (1905 - 1964). However, these works appeared after publication of Tsiolkovsky's works.

Further. In July 1924, a Society for Studies Interplanetary Communications was set up in Moscow under the influence of his ideas, and in April 1927, the first international exhibition of designs of space devices and mechanisms was opened.

Meanwhile, the scientist continued to be on the hunt for the ways to overcome terrestrial gravity. As a result, he came to the conclusion: one cannot fly far on one rocket. The calculations showed: even if you bring the efficiency of escape of gases to 4 km/sec, which is the limit of energy capabilities of chemical rocket fuels, and at the same time improve quality of design maximally taking into consideration inevitability of the earth's attraction and resistance of atmosphere, you will not manage to reach cosmic speed. What is to be done? It turned out as if there was no solution ... However, the scientist found it: creation of composite missiles.

In 1929, Tsiolkovsky's another work Space Rocket Trains was published. Sergey Korolev spoke about its importance and fundamental significance for science and practice in great detail. "It's difficult", he emphasized in the report dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of Konstantin Eduardovich on September 17, 1957, "to overestimate the significance of his suggestions on composite multistage rockets and rocket trains. As a matter of fact, this suggestion has cleared the way to outer space for mankind".

The crux of the matter was as follows: a rocket must have several stages. After complete use of fuel the first one is

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automatically switched off and the second one is switched on. The following stages operate according to the similar scheme. Quickness of escape of gases for each one is the same, but only the last stage can obtain final speed. Moreover, Tsiolkovsky calculated: if you use liquid oxygen as an oxidizer and kerosene will be used as fuel, two stages will be sufficient to achieve the cosmic speed. He was right: on October 4, 1957, the two-stage R-7 rocket guided the first artificial satellite into orbit.

The whole galaxy of our outstanding scientists and specialists, we are proud of, put the idea of the patriarch of national cosmonautics into practice. Academicians Mstislav Keldysh (1911 - 1978), Nikolai Pilyugin (1908 - 1982), Viktor Kuznetsov (1913 - 1991), Vladimir Barmin (1909 - 1993), Alexei Bogomolov (1913), Vassily Mishin (1917), Boris Chertok (1912), Georgy Petrov (1912 - 1987), corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Mikhail Ryazansky (1909 - 1987) and many others.

Academicians Valentin Glushko (1907 - 1989) and Sergey Korolev occupy a special place among these famous names. The former got interested in the problems of cosmonautics when he was 13, and from 1923 started to correspond with Tsiolkovsky. In 1929, his electrothermal rocket power plant, by the way, the first in the world, passed the tests. The young researcher soon understood that the main unit to overcome terrestrial gravity would be liquid rocket engines (LRE) and dedicated all his life to their creation. Our country made a breakthrough to space with their help.

As to Sergey Korolev, it is impossible to assess his great contribution to the making and development of national and world cosmonautics in a publication. We will mention only the main milestones of the heroic life of the chief designer of the rocket, which delivered the first artificial satellite to orbit.

The fire of his unquenchable interest in cosmonautics broke out when he studied at the Moscow Higher Technical School named after N. Bauman. At the age of 24, he, young aviation engineer and pilot, took part in setting up a Group for Studies of Jet Propulsion (GSJP) and became the chairman of its technical council. On August 17, 1933, he directed the test of the first liquid-fuelled rocket, which went up to the height of 400 m. A month later he was appointed Deputy Director of Jet Scientific Research Institute (RNII). In December 1934, his book Rocket Flight in Stratosphere was published in Voyenizdat. He sent its first copies to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Marshall Mikhail Tukhachevsky, Academician Sergey Vavilov. In January 1935, Sergey Pavlovich made a brilliant speech at the RNII defending the need to build

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ballistic missiles, as a number of specialists underestimated their role in future.

One cannot forget that the work of scientists (as well as other citizens of the country) was carried out under the conditions of totalitarian regime. Stalin repressions strongly hit at rocket engineers, on March 23, 1938, security officers arrested Valentin Glushko and on June 27 of the same year - Sergey Korolev.

Meanwhile, German designer Werner von Braun under the conditions of another totalitarian regime created the V-2 ballistic missile, which was dropped on London later on and began developing the V-3 for planned bombardments of New York.

By the end of the Second World War the leaders of our country realized that the role of rocket armament would increase year in year out. It is not by accident that a group of rocket engineers, who had survived the repressions, was sent to the part of Germany occupied by Soviet troops to study captured arms. Glushko and Korolev included in this group were set free.

Meanwhile, the Americans managed to capture and take out the lion's share of the German rocketry. Werner von Braun with most of the German specialists also fled with them. However, the Soviet searchmen also seized some equipment. By the way, later on this gave cause for the Western press to ascert that the success of our country in rocket production had been achieved due to German technical developments. In fact, the situation was quite different.

On May 13, 1946, the decree of the USSR Council of Ministers to set up a modern missile producing industry was issued, and on August 9 of the same year Korolev was appointed Head of N11 - 88 Department No. 3 and Chief Designer of product No. 1, i.e. long-range ballistic missile (LRBM) similar to V-2. However, by that time Sergey Pavlovich managed to reveal the drawbacks of the latter and had sketches of his own, more perfect carrier in his bag.

Korolev set about creation of the LRBM with unprecedented persistence. Soon seven rocket complexes were received by the army and fleet. Every year flight range of carriers, mass of their live charge, target hit accuracy were improved.

1954 became crucial in realizing the long-standing dream of Sergey Korolev - spaceflight. It was then that he received the government's assignment to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile to deliver the thermonuclear charge, created in the USSR according to the design of Academician Andrey Sakharov (1921 -1989), to the target.

Shortly, Korolev and his team prepared a sketch design of a new R-7 vehicle and firing range for its start-future Baikonur*. It is worth mentioning that long before the implementation of these plans Sergey Pavlovich had understood: the hour of realization of his dream - breakthrough into space - came, and actively engaged in preparation and launching an artificial satellite of the Earth, trying to persuade public and military officials at the same time. Once one of the generals said: "Well, first, we put the "seven" on the wing, then we will think about a satellite". Korolev answered: "It will be late then". As a true patriot of his native land, he could not risk its prestige - to be inferior in the development of outer space.

The chief designer asked for help the USSR Academy of Sciences and received support in the person of its President Alexander Nesmeyanov (1899 - 1980), academicians: Nobel Prize Laureate Pyotr Kapitsa (1894 - 1984), Mstislav Keldysh (1911 - 1978), Alexander Topchiyev (1907 - 1962) and others. Of course, these scientists understood the importance and scientific value of the breakthrough into outer space. "I don't know what precisely the satellite can give us", Pyotr Kapitsa said, "but I'm sure that the new will produce the new and the satellite will give us new discoveries".


* See: Yu. Markov, "Baikonur: 50 Years of Serving Mankind", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2005. -Ed.

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Thus, on October 4, 1957, the signals "beep-beep-beep", which immediately became known all over the world, were heard from orbit on the Earth. That was extremely important information, which meant: there was connection with space and it could be developed. The "ball" remained hermetically sealed, i.e. micrometeorites spared it; orbital ellipse of flight trajectory was stable, meaning there was practically no braking on the part of earth's atmosphere as it was almost absent at the height of the satellite's flight.

In short, Pyotr Kapitsa proved to be right: even the first national spacecraft gave a lot of discoveries: the impact of weightlessness on a living organism, existence of the earth's radiation belts, high intensity of corpuscular radiation of the Sun.

In the past 50 years our knowledge about space has increased many times with the help of aircraft. Today scientific experiments on orbit are placed on production line. A true breakthrough in astronomy and astrophysics has happened with the help of optical, ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma telescopes, brought outside the earth's atmosphere. A whole class of new celestial bodies has been studied, very significant data have been obtained. Here is only one example. In accordance with the general relativity theory of German theoretician physicist Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), the objects, whose motions surpass light velocity cannot exist in the Universe. However, national satellite "Granat", which was launched on December 1, 1989, recorded existence of such material substances in the world of galaxies. No explanations of this event are available yet. One thing is clear: humankind is on the threshold of new discoveries in space.

In the past years unique information concerning the studies of the Moon*, Sun** was obtained, first of all, of solar-terrestrial relationship (satellites "Prognoz" and "Interball"), the planets closest to us - Venus***, Mars****, Mercury, and the far ones - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranium, Neptune, their satellites.

However, the most impressive results have been obtained in such applied components of cosmonautics, as monitoring of the Earth surface and its atmosphere, military intelligence in the interests of defense of different countries, meteorological observations, telecommunication and information systems, cosmic radio communication, etc. Within the next few years it is planned to put into operation the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONAS), with the help of which it will be possible to successfully solve a wide range of problems.

Implementation of Russia's Federal Space Program for 2006 - 2015 also gives optimism, a number of new projects are funded without delay, certain progress is observed in the development of automatic devices of scientific designation and manned ship "Clipper", more efficiently is developing applied cosmonautics. Aerospace industry is in expectation of future reorganization, powerful holdings are planned to be set up, a new impulse will be given to it.

It remains to hope that having solved all that was planned, our country will again as 50 years ago take the lead in the mastery of the Universe.


* See: L. Bobylev et al., "In Prospect: Sublunar Settlements", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2003; Yu. Avsyuk, "Focus on Lunar Studies"; 1. Mitrofanov, "Mastering the Moon"; E. Galimov, "Luna - Helium-3 Project", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2006, - Ed.

** See: B. Kuzhevsky, "Spotlight on the Sun", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2002; V. Orayevsky, V. Kuznetsov, "The Sun, the Earth, and the Stars", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2002. - Ed.

*** See: O. Korablev, "Another Voyage to Venus", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2006. - Ed.

**** See: I. Mitrofanov, "Unlocking Martian Enigmas", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2002; Yu. Markov, "Destination - Red Planet", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2003; M. Litvak, I. Mitrofanov, "Martian Seasons", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2004; L. Zeleny, K. Pichkhadze, "From Magnetosphere of the Earth to Martian Satellite", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2005; "From Orbital Telescope to Expedition to Mars". - Ed.


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YURI MARKOV, BREAKTHROUGH INTO COSMOS - OUR GLORY AND PRIDE // London: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 20.10.2018. URL: https://libmonster.com/m/articles/view/BREAKTHROUGH-INTO-COSMOS-OUR-GLORY-AND-PRIDE (date of access: 01.12.2021).

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