Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12: Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov

January 12, 1907 – January 14, 1966

Korolyov (also spelled Korolev) was the head Soviet rocket engineer and designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He invented the R-7 rocket.

Korolyov's greatest strengths proved to be in design integration, organization and strategic planning. He was appointed to lead the Soviet space program and oversaw the early successes of the Sputnik and Vostok projects. By the time he died unexpectedly in 1966, his plans to compete with the United States to be the first nation to land a man on the Moon had begun to be implemented.

Before his death he was often referred to only as "Chief Designer", because his name and his pivotal role in the Soviet space program had been held to be a state secret by the Politburo. Only many years later he was publicly acknowledged as the lead man behind Soviet success in space.

The Lunar basin Korolev is named in his honor.

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