Army under the direction of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.
Nonetheless, the Soviets undertook a series of experiments with animals aboard the orbiters to test the feasibility of manned space flight. One unlucky dog, Laika, became the first animal to travel into space, but she did not return alive.
After similar unsuccessful missions, on August 19,the Soviets launched a pair of female dogs, Belka and Strelka, into orbit aboard a new spacecraft called Vostok.
Belka and Strelka became international media darlings when their module safely parachuted down after orbiting Earth for 24 hours. The canine cosmonauts were retired after their sole flight. Later, Strelka delivered a litter of six puppies, one of which was given as a gift to Jacqueline Kennedy.
Belka and Strelka eventually died of old age and were stuffed for posterity. They can be viewed at the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Moscow.
First on the moon: Luna 2 probe Replica of Luna 1. Long before Neil Armstrong walked on the lunar surface, the Soviets reached the moon. The Luna 1 probe performed the first successful flyby of the moon.
More significantly, Luna 2 became the first human artifact to reach the moon when it crashed near the Sea of Serenity on September 14, Later that year, the Luna 3 probe took the first photographs of the far side of the moon.
InLuna 9 achieved the first soft landing of an object on the moon and transmitted the first close-up photos of the lunar surface. Luna 16 became the first unmanned craft to return soil samples from the moon in This incident represented another milestone: The first space cooperation between the two superpowers occurred when the Soviet Union released the flight plans for Luna 15 to ensure it would not collide with the Apollo capsule.
First man in space: Yuri Gagarin On April 12, the Soviet Union scored another milestone in the space race when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the earth.
Riding a tide of successes in space, the Soviet Union set out to achieve the next logical accomplishment: On April 12,cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin circled Earth one time in a Vostok spacecraft before ejecting 23, feet above the planet and parachuting safely down.
After the flight, Gagarin achieved celebrity status and toured the world extensively to promote the Soviet space program.
Gagarin met an untimely death at age 34 when he and a colleague were killed in the crash of a MiG fighter jet during a routine training mission on March 27, First woman in space: Valentina Tereshkova Valentina Tereshkova in They marshaled a female cosmonaut corps that underwent extensive training, and on June 16,Valentina Tereshkova lifted off in Vostok 6 for three days of Earth orbits.
In order to fly as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova had to be a member of the Soviet Air Force, so she was honorarily inducted prior to liftoff. Tereshkova went on to become a cosmonaut engineer and prominent communist government official. In a interview with the Russian newspaper Pravda, she expressed her desire to return to space.
I wish I could realize it. I am ready to fly without coming back. Alexei Leonov Alexei Leonov in NASA In order to break the bonds of encapsulated spaceflight, the Soviet space program developed the first pressurized spacesuit and created the first multi-person spacecraft, dubbed the Voskhod.
As Leonov recounted in a book about his experience, his pressurized suit became bloated during the minute float in zero gravity, making it impossible for him to reenter the capsule.
Over the course of a few tense minutes, Leonov bled off some of the oxygen in his suit so he could squeeze back through the narrow, 3-foot-wide airlock.
Still, Leonov said the experience of floating alongside his spacecraft was moving.The Soviet Union launched the first Sputnik satellite on October, 4 , ushering in the age of space exploration and kicking off an intense space race with the United States.
Take the Soviet space program. We know they were the first to get both a satellite and a human in orbit, which were both pretty admirable accomplishments. What they kept hidden from the world was that maintaining even minimal levels of safety was a completely foreign concept to them.
The Soviet Space Program In August the Soviet Union carried out the first successful test of the R7 Semyorka, the world's first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICB).
The R7 was the culmination of research and development based upon the Nazi party's V2 rockets, which had been launched at Allied nations during the Second World War. The dog Laika, the first living being to orbit the Earth, lives on in our memories.
Her lethal Sputnik 2 mission, when she was an unwitting pioneer in the USSR’s space program more than 57 years ago, has stuck in our collective consciousness.
The first human in space also happened to be Soviet — Yuri Gagarin, who launched on April 12, The first American, Alan Shepard, launched three weeks later on May 5.
The Soviet space program's use of secrecy served as both a tool to prevent the leaking of classified information between countries and also to create a mysterious barrier between the space program and the Soviet populace.