Space Race - Who Created Sputnik?

What is the background for developing, and launching, Sputnik—the world's first artificial satellite? This clip, from a BBC documentary on the subject, provides some background on what the Soviets were thinking, and planning, at the time.

It focuses on Sergei Korolev, chief rocket designer for the Soviet Union. In the West, Korolev was only known as the "Chief Designer."  His true identity—and the significant contributions he made to the Soviet space program—were kept quiet until after his death.

Korolev worked with the "Chief Theoretician" (Mstislav Keldysh) and Igor Kurchatov (known as the "Father of the Soviet atomic bomb"). The three men were photographed together in 1956 (with Korolev on the left, Keldysh on the right and Kurchatov in the middle.)

Once a prisoner in Stalin's GULAG—where he endured (among other things) the horrific conditions of a Kolyma-area mine —Korolev had a weakened immune system. He died at the age of 60, which was a blow to the Soviets. 

He is buried inside the Kremlin Wall, in Moscow.

See, also:

Sputnik - Reaction by U.S. government

Space Race - America's Rocket Failures

Media Credits

Clip from a BBC series - Space Race - episode 2, "Race for Satellites."  Copyright BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the series.


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"Space Race - Who Created Sputnik? " AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 01, 2020.
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