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Author Topic: The Soviet Union Landed First to the Moon  (Read 2183 times)

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The Soviet Union Landed First to the Moon
« on: July 16, 2019, 05:17:07 AM »
Sputnik the First Satellite

Launched by Soviet Union in October 1957.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable even by radio amateurs and the 65° inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth.

This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the Cold War. The launch was the beginning of a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific developments

Satellite construction project

On 17 December 1954, chief Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Korolev proposed a developmental plan for an artificial satellite to the Minister of the Defence Industry, Dimitri Ustinov. Korolev forwarded a report by Mikhail Tikhonravov, with an overview of similar projects abroad. Tikhonravov had emphasized that the launch of an orbital satellite was an inevitable stage in the development of rocket technology.

On 29 July 1955, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced through his press secretary that, during the International Geophysical Year (IGY), the United States would launch an artificial satellite. A week later, on 8 August, the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union approved the proposal to create an artificial satellite. On 30 August Vasily Ryabikov – the head of the State Commission on the R-7 rocket test launches – held a meeting where Korolev presented calculation data for a spaceflight trajectory to the Moon. They decided to develop a three-stage version of the R-7 rocket for satellite launches.

On 30 January 1956 the Council of Ministers approved practical work on an artificial Earth-orbiting satellite. This satellite, named Object D, was planned to be completed in 1957–58; it would have a mass of 1,000 to 1,400 kg (2,200 to 3,100 lb) and would carry 200 to 300 kg (440 to 660 lb) of scientific instruments. The first test launch of "Object D" was scheduled for 1957.

READ MORE:Sputnik the First Satellite

The Soviet Union Landed First to the Moon

The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union brought an engaging touch of science fiction to the Cold War. To American astonishment and dismay, the Russians at first took a commanding lead. Their programme was directed by Sergei Korolev, a brilliant aeronautical engineer and expert on rockets, who had displeased Stalin and spent time in the Gulag in the 1930s. He was a commanding figure who did not suffer fools gladly and his staff treated him almost as a god. In the 1950s he developed a massive and at the time almost unthinkably powerful rocket, the R-7, which would propel Soviet spacecraft to the Moon.

Sputnik 1, the first satellite ever launched, created a sensation in 1957 when it hurtled out into space and orbited the Earth every 96 minutes before falling back into the Earth’s atmosphere. Sputnik 2 took the first living creature out into space, a sweet-tempered dog called Laika, though she did not last as long as the Russians pretended.

More Sputnik missions tested life-support systems and re-entry procedures. In January 1959 the spacecraft Luna 1 (which Korolev called Mechta, ‘the Dream’) was launched at the Moon, but missed by around 3,700 miles and went into orbit between the Sun and Mars.

Then, on September 12th, 1959 Luna 2 was launched. At just past midnight Moscow time on September 14th it crashed some 240,000 miles away on the Moon not far from the Sea of Tranquillity (perhaps a not entirely appropriate location). Korolev and his people were listening as the signals coming back from the spacecraft suddenly stopped. The total silence meant that Luna had hit its target and there was great jubilation in the control room.

Luna 2 (Luna is Russian for Moon) weighed 390 kilograms. It was spherical in shape with antennae sticking out of it and carried instruments for measuring radiation, magnetic fields and meteorites. It also carried metal pendants which it scattered on the surface on impact, with the hammer and sickle of the USSR on one side and the launch date on the other. It confirmed that the moon had only a tiny radiation field and, so far as could be observed, no radiation belts. The spacecraft had no propulsion system of its own and the third and final stage of its propelling rocket crashed on the moon about half an hour after Luna 2 itself.

The scientific results of Luna 2 were similar to those of Luna 1, but the psychological impact of Luna 2 was profound. The closest any American probe had come to the Moon at that point was 37,000 miles. It seemed clear in the United States that the timing had been heavily influenced by the fact that the Soviet premier, Nikita Khruschev, was due to arrive in the US immediately afterwards, to be welcomed by President Eisenhower. Luna 2’s success enabled him to appear beaming with rumbustious pride. He lectured Americans on the virtues of communism and the immorality of scantily clothed chorus girls. The only way of annoying him seemed to be by refusing to let him into Disneyland. 

Korolev had a clincher to come. Only three weeks later, Luna 3 was launched on October 4th, the second anniversary of Sputnik 1, to swing round the far side of the Moon and send back the first fuzzy pictures of its dark side, which no one had seen before. It was an astonishing feat of navigation and it was now possible to draw a tentative map of the Moon’s hidden side.

While the Americans were in disarray, with their space efforts publicly failing (Russian setbacks were kept strictly secret), Korolev went on to put the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. In 1963, on Khruschev’s orders, he propelled the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova, which enabled the Soviet Union to make propaganda mileage by claiming that under communism women were treated equally to men.

After 1961, under President Kennedy, American efforts intensified while the Soviet programme suffered from infighting after Korolev’s death at 59 in 1966, following an operation that went wrong. The Luna programme continued and in 1966, the year of Korolev’s death, Luna 9 made the first soft landing on the Moon.

Original by Richard Cavendish Published in History Today Volume 59 Issue 9 September 2009

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space

Vostok 1  was the first spaceflight of the Vostok programme and the first crewed spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA space capsule was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961, with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard, making him the first human to cross into outer space.

The orbital spaceflight consisted of a single orbit around Earth which skimmed the upper atmosphere at 169 kilometers (91 nautical miles) at its lowest point. The flight took 108 minutes from launch to landing. Gagarin parachuted to the ground separately from his capsule after ejecting at 7 km (23,000 ft) altitude.

The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States, the two Cold War superpowers, began just before the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957. Both countries wanted to develop spaceflight technology quickly, particularly by launching the first successful human spaceflight.

The Soviet Union secretly pursued the Vostok programme in competition with the United States Project Mercury. Vostok launched several precursor uncrewed missions between May 1960 and March 1961, to test and develop the Vostok rocket family and space capsule. These missions had varied degrees of success, but the final two—Korabl-Sputnik 4 and Korabl-Sputnik 5—were complete successes, allowing the first crewed flight.

Original from Wikipedia Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin  was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space

Valentina Tereshkova: Seagull in Space (RT

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Re: The Soviet Union Landed First to the Moon
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2019, 05:57:49 AM »
These were incredible achievements for the time. Development was very rapid. A pity that they were unable to keep up the momentum, however, I doubt that the Soviet Union could justify the resources that went into the politically motivated Apollo program. That the Soviet mission lost impetus due to infighting was a big loss to the Soviet efforts.

Given that the USA has lost some of the required technology to make another manned lunar landing, I wonder whether similar has happened to Russia? We know that there are necessary metallurgical capabilities that only Russia now has and, of course, the Russians never built a manned lunar landing capability (as far as we know).
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