Yuri Gagarin


From the moment it was founded to the present day, our organization - which was successively known under the names of Special Design Bureau number 1(SDB-1)/TsKBEM/NPO Energia/S.P.Korolev RSC Energia - has been successfully carrying out the most daring rocket and space projects requiring revolutionary engineering solutions. The organization has been changing its name, while preserving and increasing both its production capacity and intellectual resources. Today's powerful scientific and engineering potential of S.P.Korolev RSC Energia allows it to work on the projects of the highest level of complexity.

The history of S.P.Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation is the story of the company and its people, who, in the most difficult years that came after the end of World War II, and then, in the tense years of the Cold War, were destined to become pioneers in rocket and space technology, create a new type of weapon which assured the parity between the two opposing military and political alignments, and, for many decades, retain a leading position in the most advanced and science-intensive area of human endeavor in the twentieth century - the space science.

The story of the pioneering days of the Russian rocket and space technology is a story of people and their deeds, the people who were united in their desire to protect their country and save mankind from self-destruction in a nuclear war. It is more than fifty years now since the day when our company was founded and gave birth to the rocket and space industry. In its early formative days, getting ahead of its time and outstripping the existing level of technology, it made possible a speedy development of the most efficient system for delivering nuclear weapons to their targets, which became the basis for creating the weapon of deterrence - the nuclear and missile shield of our country. Rapid development and improvement of this weapon made the countries in possession of such a weapon to look for mutually acceptable compromises and opened for the mankind the door to the study and exploration of the infinite expanses of the Universe. In the designers' rooms, on the shop floors, in the offices of the management of the Special Design Bureau number 1 - now known as S.P.Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia - a new area of human endeavor - the study and exploration of space as a new environment for human habitation - was being born.

Foundations of the company were laid by S.P.Korolev. Over the course of two decades, his most important contribution consisted in his ability to transfuse his desire to fathom the unknown to thousands of people who were working with him, to continuously confront his team with creative challenges. He knew how to arrive to a trade-off decision to solve a problem, and to direct his team's efforts to the solution of those problems that were the most critical at that moment. At various times the company was headed by members of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences Chief - S.P.Korolev, V.P.Mishin, V.P.Glushko, Yu.P.Semenov, V.A.Lopota, while its Experimental Machine-Building Plant was headed by P.I.Maloletov, F.P.Gerasimov, R.A.Turkov, V.M.Klucharev, A.A.Borisenko, A.F.Strekalov. Always at their side have been their associates, a team of scientists, engineers, workers, with state-of-the-art skills, who are united in their complete dedication to their work, their constant focus on the search for the most practical solutions, systems approach in analyzing development trends, both in the rocket and space technology as a whole and in specialized problems that have to be addressed in order to further its development.

High level of each employee's professionalism coupled with the principle of joint decision-making became the rule guiding the operation of our company, and assured the success of the efforts to develop highly complex rocket and space technology, which made it possible for our country to remain the leader in manned spaceflight for many years. Pride of place in the history of space science in our country is held by the R-7 rocket design effort. This rocket, originally developed at a short notice as a vehicle for delivering a nuclear warhead to any point on the globe, became a starting point for a long line of launch vehicle modifications that are still being used for putting into space manned spacecraft and spacecraft for various applications. The Special Design Bureau Number One, the organization which started the missiles industry and has been continuously building up its intellectual, technological and production potential, happened to be chosen by History to become the pioneer in virtually all the fields of space industry in our country, as well as to play a leading role in bringing into being and developing the world's space science.

The reorientation of the Special Design Bureau Number One towards space science was initiated by an S.P.Korolev's memo "On the Earth's Artificial Satellite" submitted to the Government in May 1954. The launch by our country of the Earth's first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957, ushered in the Space Age in mankind's history. After that event, the Special Design Bureau Number One and its subcontractors began living on a compressed time-scale. While the world was still astounded by the launch of the Earth's first artificial satellite, the company, concurrently with development of missiles, speeded up its work on the interplanetary probes for the study of near and deep space, the Moon, planets of the Solar System, on unmanned spacecraft for observing Earth's surface, and on space communications system based on Molniya satellites. All this work was being done along with addressing complex scientific, technological and logistical problems attendant upon the formation of new production facilities and providing support for the launch of a manned spacecraft.

April 12, 1961 became the day of triumph for the Human Mind. For the first time in history, a man-made vehicle with a human onboard emerged into the expanses of the Universe; for the first time in history, a human voice was heard from space, a voice of a citizen of planet Earth, our compatriot, Yuri Gagarin. It was a real exploit on the part of all the participants in this work.

At the same time, on the initiative of S.P.Korolev, an infrastructure was being established and developed for the newest branch of the domestic industry - the rocket and space industry which, in the ensuing years, was to become one of the most advanced and promising fields of science-intensive technologies. A characteristic feature of that phase was the creation in our country of companies specializing in individual fields of space science, which originated within the walls of the Special Design Bureau Number One, and then evolved into independent organizations. Later on, they became the prime organizations for those fields (missiles systems, communications systems, observation systems, etc.) and developed rocket and space systems that were at least on a par with the world's best technology, and in many cases even ahead of it. The development of rocket and space technology made it necessary to improve the governmental management structures in our country. In 1960, within the organizational structure of the Ministry of Defense, a new branch of military service, Strategic Missiles, was established, from which Military Space Force later emerged as a separate branch. In 1965 the Ministry of General Machine-building was established.

Paralleling this, both in time and from the standpoint of the tasks addressed, was the development of the rocket and space technology in the United States, with the work in both countries being a competition in the implementation of space research programs using manned and unmanned systems and spacecraft.

The spirit of confrontation existing between the two superpowers resulted in the USSR and USA embarking on their independent hugely expensive projects to land a man on the Moon.

That competition, besides achieving political goals, has enriched scientific and technological knowledge. Science has acquired reliable information about the Moon and its surface as a result of studies of the materials brought back by US astronauts and data obtained from our country's unmanned spacecraft, while industry has developed new technologies.

Upon completion of that work, the scientists and designers were faced with a problem of defining what lines of the manned spaceflight development should be further pursued. The USSR chose to develop manned space stations and their transportation and logistics support, while the USA gave the priority to the development of a reusable manned transportation spacecraft.

Common interests in space made the heads of the two countries abandon their political ambitions and start working on the joint Soviet-American project Soyuz-Apollo. Its implementation was a success. Scientists and engineers of both countries have compared the levels of their achievements in the development of space systems, while politicians have displayed signs of the two superpowers' mutual respect towards each other.

Unfortunately, that union proved to be short-lived. The spirit of competition re-emerged. To demonstrate engineering and technological capabilities of our country, a decision was made to build a domestic reusable space system that would be capable of at least as good a performance as its US analog. Aggressive schedules, the need to coordinate a large number of disparate companies, the novelty and complexity of the design effort required a suitably extraordinary approach.

In our country, at that time, NPO Energia was the only company in space industry which had experience in the development of gigantic projects that were unique in their complexity, and possessed the necessary scientific and technological potential, and that was why the prime overall responsibility for the project was given to our company. Despite the fact that the work on that project started later than in the USA, and the scientific, technological and logistical problems that had to be addressed were enormous, our company, together with its numerous subcontractors (amounting to more than 1200 organizations), has accomplished this task. A reusable orbiter Buran was built and, in the course of its first unmanned flight, performed, for the first time in history, an automatic landing of a spacecraft of that class. The capabilities of the Energia-Buran space transportation system were many years in advance of its time, while some of its performance characteristics were higher than those of the reusable Space Shuttle system currently operated by the US.

All the development work on the reusable space system Buran at our company was being done concurrently with the operation of space stations Salyut, development and the initial phase of deployment of Mir space station, which also required selflessness and complete dedication to work from our employees.

The path traveled in the exploration of space cannot be measured in either the depth of theoretical studies, or the number of rockets launched, or the exultation of witnesses of space flights. Only by visualizing the entire path that the mankind had to travel to reach space, the wide variety of scientific, technological and logistical problems that had to be addressed, and by reconstructing the drama of ideas and the roles of personalities, can one truly realize the greatness of this feat of science and the importance of the scientific mission of the people who opened up a new line in the civilization's historical development - the practical utilization of space to benefit life on Earth.

The development of the space science required participation of hundreds of thousands people, hundreds and thousands of institutes, design offices and factories, their close cooperation and coordination. A team effort to develop launch vehicles and spacecraft implies not only the search for a solution to scientific, technological and logistical problems, but also hard, dedicated and selfless labor of their creators who turn individual concepts, ideas and drawings into faultlessly operating structures, equipment and systems; it implies a highest degree of responsibility of the management and engineering staff for working out and adopting specific technical solutions.

Although not all of the things that were originally envisioned have been achieved, the space communications and TV, and the monitoring of weather and the Earth's surface from space have become an integral and essential part of our everyday life. No further advances of mankind in the search for the most efficient areas of space exploration and utilization can be possible without a well-rounded development of space science, and manned space programs are playing a decisive role in this process. The logic of international development of space science has unavoidably led Russia and USA towards cooperation in the development of a new-generation of manned space stations in the name of advancing scientific and technological progress and supporting man's activity in space. Both countries consider cooperation in this field as one of the most important areas that serve the interests of both Russia and USA, as well as the entire world community.

The mankind is given a chance to pool its efforts in space research and exploration to the benefit of the entire Earth's civilization. Such pooling of efforts will allow to implement not only the International Space Station development plan currently under way, but also a more ambitious project of putting a man on the surface of planet Mars!





Official WEB-site of S.P.Korolev RSC Energia