Planning Object D

Meanwhile in the Soviet Union, Korolev was also one of four st rap-on boosters (bloks B, V, 6, and D)

liquid oxygen tank payload core stage (blok A)

booster engine vernier nozzle instrument compartment kerosene tanks

main engine

Soviet R-7 (Semyorka)



At this stage, a huge gulf separated the missile capabilities of the opposing sides. The Redstone, in the unmodified form shown here, had a range of around 320km (200 miles). However, the clustered design of the R-7 gave it a much longer range, making it the first truly intercontinental ballistic missile.

alcohol fuel tank liquid oxygen

Rocketdyne A-6 motor fin rudder

playing politics. Various satellite projects had been floated since the end of the Second World War, but the first signs of an official commitment to space exploration came in March 1954, with the announcement of Soviet participation in the IGY. In August 1955, a satellite launch was approved, and the Third Commission on Spaceflight, chaired by Mstislav Keldysh, was set up to coordinate the Soviet space programme. But uncertainties over the programme's status lingered, until in January 1956, Korolev seized the opportunity of a visit by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (to inspect the R-7 under construction) to show him Mikhail Tikhonravov's work on a satellite laboratory known as Object D. At first, Khrushchev showed little interest - until Korolev pointed out how, with the R-7 nearing completion, main engine

Soviet R-7 (Semyorka)


The base of an assembled R-7 displays 20 large nozzles - four on each of the booster RD-107 engines, and four for the central RD-108. Smaller vernier nozzles were used to steer the rocket.

the Soviet Union would be able to launch a satellite far larger than anything the Americans could hope for. Enticed by the chance to humiliate the United States, Khrushchev gave the project his backing. Tikhonravov's team were transferred to Korolev's OKB-1, and the project became a top priority. The Space Race was about to begin.

one of four st rap-on boosters (bloks B, V, 6, and D)

booster engine vernier nozzle payload liquid oxygen tank payload instrument compartment core stage (blok A)

kerosene tanks


A technician examines a boilerplate Mercury capsule prior to testing its performance in the huge wind tunnel operated by NASA's Space Task Group at Langley, Virginia.

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