The Soviets in Space: Keeping Details as Minimum as Possible

This past Thursday we broke up into groups to explore different topics regarding the changes and events going on within the Soviet Union during the sixties.  My group in particular was to investigate the conversations between Khrushchev and Gagarin after he had just landed from the first manned flight into space.  While that conversation seemed basically to be a public relations fluff type piece with the leader of the Soviet Union asking questions such as “Tell me, Yury Alexeyevich, do you have a wife, children?” and  “Are your parents, you mother and father living?  Where do they live now, what do they do?” the more in-depth aspect were the constant mentions on how his actions would speak louder than words to the the rest of the world in regards to how advanced Soviet technology and education was in comparison, especially when comparing to the United States.  Exploring beyond this single document, into places such as the 1961 section of Seventeen Moments on the First Cosmonaut you find that there is more to the story than just smart scientists and a good education system that allowed the Soviets to explore space at a much faster pace (at first) than the United States.  In fact, just as the United States did, it relied heavily on the technology and resources that the military had been developing for long-range missiles.  The fact that it is heavily relied upon by the military work and not pure independent breakthroughs can be seen as you explore into even more detailed bits about his flight on the site Russia Space History: First Flight.  This site exposes the bits that were kept covered up until after the fall of the Soviet Union, such as the fact that Gagarin was not told of his current capsules status because of lack of communication between Ultra-shortwave ground stations, particularly the one in Eastern Russia/Siberia area.  Although the Soviets presented this flight to the world as flawless, the landing was extremely off, the decent and service modules detached much later than planned, and the fact that after the engine braking occurred there was a period when the spacecraft began to spin around at very high speeds, jeopardizing the safety of the mission and the Cosmonaut.  I think this first milestone in manned spaceflight regardless of who had actually done it, the Soviets or United States had the chances of being riddled with errors such as these and it it very interesting that it took many decades for the truth to be told.  The broader implications of what these accomplishments did were more important than the tiny details that at any moment had the possibility to turn them into sheer disasters for the world to see.

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9 Responses to The Soviets in Space: Keeping Details as Minimum as Possible

  1. Connor Williams

    I think that this most was very well done. I particularly like the image you put at the end of the post, that really shows how momentous the event really was in the Soviet Union. The first flight of a person in space really was a tremendous break through in world history. I also like how you tie in the context of the decades of trials and errors that made Gagarin’s flight possible and successful.

  2. brandonlapointe

    I really like how you tied out classwork into this! Not to mention your post is quite well done, and I like your outside sources, and even happened to use some of the same ones in my post. I also like your approach on the secrecy of the whole space race.

  3. I agree – tying in the article you worked on in class bumps this post up a level. And the Russian space website you mention is excellent.

  4. There are rumors that Gagarin actually did not go up but a nameless substitute was switched for him at the last minute (so that not even the boarding crew would notice), just in case the whole thing went wrong. Then they would have shown Gagarin still healthy and said: it was just one more unmanned test flight etc. It sounds quite prudent bit I wonder can it be negated or corroborated by what is known by now?

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