“In Leningrad, Korolev could not then by any means know that, after many very hard times, sometimes cruelly unjust to him, a beautiful spring would come when… would be reflected a world of black sky and blue Earth, a world never before seen by Man/*
—Yaroslav Golovanov, Sergei Korolev:The Apprenticeship of a Space Pioneer
“And all of a sudden you wake up one morning, and here’s this doggone Russian thing flying overhead… Oh, no, there was a great deal of disturbance..
—William Pickering, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in 1957.
From a transcript of an oral history in the archives of the California Institute of Technology.
f they had known then what they know now, would they have done the job? They would surely have been daunted, even given the imperatives of the Cold War. But they did not know how difficult space exploration would be. The “cold warriors” had their incentives: intercontinental ballistic missiles and reconnaissance satellites. And the enthusiasts, who sometimes were also cold warriors, had their long-held aim: to go beyond Earth’s atmosphere. By Thursday evening, October 3, 1957, their destination was less than a day away.
That same evening was one of the last on which delegates gathered at a conference organized by the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D. C. as part of the International Geophysical Year. The focus of the conference was on the rockets and satellites to be launched before the end of 1958. The IGY united sixty-seven nations in a seemingly impressive pax academica, yet, despite good intentions, the satellites of the IGY were about to push the world into a new phase of the Cold War.
Satellites were not part of the original plan. Indeed, when the IGY first endorsed satellites and chose as its logo a satellite orbiting the earth, many considered satellites to be little more than science fiction. In three
years that had all changed. By October 1957, the U. S. and USSR were following one another’s progress keenly Each group of scientists wanted to be the first, and the meeting at the National Academy of Sciences gave them all an opportunity to probe each other’s intentions.
The Soviets were not very specific. Their delegation, led by Lieutenant General Anatoly Blagonravov, knew that a launch was imminent and had announced this on the first day of the conference. But they had not said exactly when. It is doubtful that they knew.
The Soviets would be gratified if the launch took place during the meeting, but they also knew, as the defector George Tokady was to say years later, that “ … the launch of Sputnik was too big a piece of cake to play games with.” Already the centennial celebrations on the birth of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russia’s “father of spaceflight,” had passed on September 17th without a satellite attaining orbit. The cognoscenti had speculated that the seventeenth might be the occasion for a Soviet launch.
But the satellite would be launched when all was ready, and one man would make that determination. Late Thursday afternoon, as the conference workshop on rocketry struggled with the usual committee minutiae, that man, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, lay—perhaps—restlessly in bed. More likely, being who and what he was, he paced the sitting room of his small cottage. It would be nearly a decade before the Soviet leadership publicly acknowledged the existence of this man, whom they called the Chief Designer of Cosmic-Rocket Systems.
Korolev’s cottage was on the grounds of Baikonur Cosmodrome, near the village of Tyuratam in Kazakhstan, one hundred miles east of the Aral Sea. It lay on a parallel with northern Wisconsin and as far east of the Greenwich meridian as Halifax, Nova Scotia, is west.
In Washington D. C., as October 3 drew to a close, workshop coordinators pulled ideas together for the next day.
For Korolev, it was the early hours of October 4. That day Korolev’s team would open the space age.
In future years, on the nights before he sent cosmonauts into space, Korolev would sleep very little. Instead, he worried about the well-being of the young men whom he drove as hard as he drove himself, buoyed by an energy that made his days so much longer than those of other people. But his wakefulness had a second purpose. It helped him avoid dreams in which guards beat him and screamed at him, dreams from which he would wake to a visceral fear of annihilation. These were Stalins legacy, as were his memories of colleagues who one moment were working alongside him and the next were gone.
On October 4, as the sun rose on a clear, cool dawn, Korolev was— comparatively—free. On his wall hung a portrait of Tsiolkovsky. Tsiol – kovsky had died twenty-two years before, but he had been the first to write scientifically about this day. His books, calculations, and ideas had long ago seduced Korolev.
Less than a kilometer away, beyond the small knot of trees that surrounded his house, the rocket glinted in sunlight. Beyond that, where only two years before no launch site had been, the semiarid steppes of Kazakhstan stretched to the horizon and beyond. The American government had known of this launch site, built with forced labor, since the spring of 1957, when a U2 spy plane had returned with photographs.
For Korolev there must have been tension, anticipation, excitement, and fear as he faced the day that would test all that he had become and all that he had dreamed.
As Korolev prepared to leave for the launch site, perhaps he thought briefly of the people waiting for him to fail, the naysayers and his rivals. Earlier in the year, as rocket after rocket had exploded and Nikita Khrushchevs impatience had mounted, Korolevs detractors had pushed for his dismissal. Then, in early August, his team had successfully launched the R7, the worlds first intercontinental ballistic missile. Not for eighteen months would the U. S. launch a missile capable of similar range. A second successful launch followed, and on August 27 the Soviet Union announced that it possessed intercontinental ballistic missiles. It would have been more accurate to say that they had the beginnings of the capability, but the success had satisfied Khrushchev, who now had a rocket that would eventually be capable of carrying a two-ton thermonuclear warhead to the heart of America. As a result, Korolev had won the final go-ahead for his dream, the opportunity to send an artificial moon into space.
The following two months were full of frantic activity. Korolevs team had immediately begun intense preparations for a launch, and toward the end of August the satellite was ready to ship to the Cosmodrome. Korolev moved to his cottage to supervise launch operations. In September, the pace picked up and tempers frayed. The satellite developed an electrical fault. Everyone panicked. Korolev, always relentlessly demanding, became merciless. Time and again, the launch team watched with apprehension as his little finger rose to stroke his eyebrow; it was the signal to move smartly to the next job. They knew his capacity for compassion and for explosions of wrath; that he found people who would argue a case interesting, but would take personal offense at anyone who did not do his job. Korolev drove his engineers and his engineers drove themselves until, crisis by crisis, they coaxed the novel technology to readiness.
At last, toward the end of September, the crane in the assembly building hoisted the small, shiny sphere into the nose cone of the rocket. The launch team was now ready to put on a show for VIPs from Moscow. Members of the State Commission, the secret group that was to control the country’s space program, flew in. Technicians ran a final check on the satellite’s radio transmitter, switching the signal to a loudspeaker so that the commissioners could hear it echo around the building. Then the engineers silenced the transmitter. Some recalled later that their skin tingled at the thought that the satellite would not speak again until it was in space.
On the night of October 2, the launch team moved the rocket. It was four stories high and weighed nearly three hundred tons. Slowly, so very slowly, they wheeled the rocket out of the assembly building on a flatcar, and it began its painstakingly careful journey down the railroad track to the launch pad. It swayed with each uneasy movement. The next morning, Thursday October 3, they began the final preparations for launch—the countdown.
As the day progressed, the launch team worried that the satellite would overheat despite the gaseous nitrogen circulating inside the sphere. They threw a white blanket over the nose to give the satellite further protection from the sunlight. Later, dissatisfied with that solution, they pumped compressed air around the nose cone.
On Korolev’s recommendation, the satellite ensconced in the nose cone was of a very simple design—a two-foot diameter sphere weighing 184 pounds. A sphere, Korolev said, was a fitting shape for what might be the world’s first satellite because it mimicked the shape of the natural bodies of the universe. Consummate engineer that he was, it seems that he could never quite suppress the poet in himself.
Soviet scientists planned both optical and radio tracking for their satellite, with the intention of learning what they could about the earth’s gravitational field and the density of the upper atmosphere. That week in
Washington, Soviet delegates were reemphasizing the frequencies that their first satellites would transmit. And the conference workshop on tracking resolved to establish stations capable of tracking the Soviet satellites, a resolve that, even as they made it, was too late.
The Soviets called their satellite Prosteyshiy Sputnik (meaning “simplest satellite”). Inevitably, the design and launch team had shortened that to “PS”; and Korolev’s staff, who referred to him informally as “SP” (for Sergei Pavlovich), used the initials interchangeably for the man and the satellite.
PS’s surface was buffed, as were those of the American satellites, so that it would shine in orbit as a sixth-magnitude star and could be tracked visually. It had four whiplike antennas that were pressed between the inside of the nose cone and the satellite’s surface. When, or if, Prosteyshiy Sputnik attained orbit, these antennas would relay radio signals at a frequency that every amateur radio operator in the world would be able to detect.
Prosteyshiy Sputnik’s destination was not far away, for the boundary of space is less distant from Earth than New York is from Washington D. C. Yet every inch of that journey would be fought against Earth’s overwhelming gravity, which would yield only reluctantly to human ingenuity. If the launch vehicle did not reach a high enough velocity, PS’s trajectory would be a ballistic path high through the atmosphere and back to the Earth’s surface, like that of the ICBM that Korolev had launched in August. Alternatively, PS might be released into too low an orbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
Prosteyshiy Sputnik’s launcher was designed to put a far heavier cargo in space, but Korolev was moving conservatively. The heart of the launcher was the R7 ICBM; four cone-shaped, strap-on boosters surrounded its base, resembling a stiff pleated skirt. The boosters would peel away when their fuel was spent, leaving the R7, minus the burden of the boosters’ weight, to make the final push to orbital velocity. At liftoff, the R7 and the boosters, each containing a cluster of engines, would push from the Earth with more than half a million kilograms of thrust: power enough, if the launch was successful, to boost Nikita Khrushchev’s domestic reputation and help him to ward off those remaining critics who had participated in a failed attempt to oust him from power just a few months earlier. Khrushchev’s improved status should, in turn, help Korolev win backing for a continuing space program. A failure would set back Korolev’s aspirations, for space was not Khrushchev’s dream.
As it turned out, the wave of excitement that was to sweep the globe when Sputnik was launched seemed to take Khrushchev—and President Eisenhower—unawares. Prosteyshiy Sputnik, the simplest satellite, changed completely the world public’s perception of the Soviet Union’s technical capabilities, and Khrushchev learned quickly that space could yield political advantages. As a result, Korolev’s aspirations were to be harnessed tightly to Khrushchev’s international political goals, often in ways that cost lives and held back scientific advances.
On the morning of October 4, Korolev knew none of this. He needed success. But Korolev was also a dreamer, on a grand and generous scale, and he had dreamed this dream for thirty years. He had first worked with rockets after graduation from the Moscow Higher Technical School. He had stood on a sidewalk in Moscow as Friedreich Tsander, a fellow dreamer and space pioneer, raised his fist and said,“Forward to Mars!” That was in 1930, after the two young men had spent the evening with friends planning a research group to develop rockets and rocket-assisted aircraft. They called themselves the Group for the Study of Reaction Propulsion (GIRD).
Korolev regarded Tsander, who talked of rockets as though they already existed, as an older brother. At first, the two men and their friends had worked with no official backing or financial support in the cellar of an abandoned warehouse. They soon attracted the attention of the Soviet armaments minister, Mikhail Tukhachevskiy, a stroke of good fortune that won the group financial success but within a few years would lead to tragedy. In the meantime, GIRD expanded and joined the Gas Dynamics Laboratory in Leningrad to form the Rocket Research Institute. Korolev was appointed the deputy director, responsible to Tukhachevskiy
Before GIRD moved to Leningrad, they designed, built, and tested the Soviet Union’s first liquid-fuelled rocket. Korolev lit the fuse. The rocket, which was based on many of Tsander’s ideas, flew successfully on August 17, 1933, and landed 164 yards from the launch site. Sadly Tsander, who had died in March at the age of 46, did not witness the short flight.
Despite what must have been grief at the death of his friend, petty restrictions limiting access to foreign journals, and the scarcity of food, even with ration cards, those were good years for Korolev. The government funded the institute because rocket research conformed to the national political goal of establishing Soviet technical supremacy In Leningrad, Korolev met Valentin Glushko, another Soviet space pioneer who designed rocket engines. In future years, Chief Designer Korolev was to collaborate often with Glushko, though the two men were to develop a stormy relationship. At the same time, Korolev’s personal life expanded. He married his school sweetheart, Xenia Vincentini, a surgeon, and they had a daughter, whom they named Natalia. But when Natalia was three, everything changed.
In the early hours of June 27, 1938, Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, arrested Korolev. Though he did not know it at that moment, this was the end of his marriage and the beginning of torture, hunger, and years of imprisonment. He was charged with anti-Soviet activity, and his guilt was determined apparently by his association with Mikhail Tukhachevsky. Tukhachevsky was already dead, condemned and shot a year earlier on the strength of false documents that some suspect had been planted by the Nazis.
The NKVD packed Korolev into a boxcar of the Trans-Siberian Railway destined for Magadan. From there he was transported in the hold of a prison ship to the gold mines of Kolyma, concentration camps where thousands died each month. For nearly a year he was hungry, far hungrier than in the ration-book days of the early thirties. He lost his teeth, developed scurvy, and in winter often woke to find his clothes frozen to the floor; but he survived.
He survived because the authorities transferred him to Moscow, to another kind of prison, one that held the cream of the Soviet Union’s aeronautical designers. Andrei Tupolev, the country’s most eminent aircraft designer at that time, headed the technical work of these scientists and engineers, though he was himself a prisoner.
When new prisoners arrived from the Gulag, Tupolev would ask them for a list of the engineers whom they had left behind in the camps. Some were reluctant to make such a list in case their colleagues had been freed and would be rearrested. That was probably not Tupolev’s intention, and he may have seen Korolev’s name on such a list and asked for him to be transferred to Moscow Tupolev would have recognized the name because he had supervised Korolev’s diploma project—the design of a two-seater glider—during Korolev’s final year at the Moscow Higher Technical School.
Whatever the reason for the transfer, Korolev found himself working long hours in a Moscow prison with sparse comforts. The authorities had a twofold work incentive scheme. They held out the hope of eventual freedom, and they threatened the prisoner’s families. Compared to Kolyma, it was paradise. But now Korolev knew that life could change any moment at the whim of a faceless bureaucrat. He tried repeatedly to impress this knowledge on fellow prisoners—that they might disappear without trace and no one would know of it. That knowledge was the darkness that would follow Korolev through his life, the darkness he would share with his friends in future years when late-night conversation lasted into the early morning hours.
Korolev spent his days like the other prisoners, designing aircraft for the war effort; at night, in the communal dormitory, he worked on rocketry. With the end of World War II, his rocketry research once more emerged into daylight. The USSR and the U. S. were vying for men and equipment from Peenemiinde, the base where Germany had developed the rockets that bombarded London, Paris, and Antwerp in a new kind of warfare. As the Red Army swept into eastern Germany, Stalin remembered the rocketeers he had imprisoned eight years earlier. Back then a magistrate had told Korolev, “We don’t need your fireworks and firecrackers. They are for destroying our leader, are they not?” By 1945, Stalin had changed his mind, and he turned to those rocketeers who had survived his purges.
Stalin was far more strongly committed to missile development than was the U. S. leadership at that time. In 1945, Stalin insisted on seeing prisoner Korolev. Korolev always remembered how without taking his pipe from his mouth Stalin had demanded information about the potential speed of missiles, their range, payload, and accuracy. In his memoirs Khrushchev says that the rationale for official interest was that the U. S. could, if it wanted, station long-range bombers at air bases in Europe close to the Russian border, whereas the Soviet Air Force could not reach the continental U. S.
Korolev was sent under guard to Germany to glean what he could. He was under orders to track down those V2s that were not on their way to America and to select German engineers from among those who had not surrendered to American troops. Korolev sent both rockets and engineers to Russia. In the years immediately after World War II, both the Soviet Union and the U. S. learned as much as they could from German advances in rocketry while simultaneously developing their own missiles. In Russia, the Germans worked separately and did not know what Soviet engineers were doing, which disappointed western intelligence workers when Stalin sent the Germans back to Germany in 1951. Yet this should not have surprised them. Von Braun, who worked on intermediate range ballistic missiles in the U. S., could likewise not have known details of the Americans’ work on ICBMs.
By 1951 Korolev was no longer a political prisoner, at least not obviously so. He and Xenia had divorced in 1946, and he had since remarried. He worked fanatically hard, prompting colleagues to wonder whether he had a home life. Of prison he rarely spoke. Occasionally, he would sip cognac late at night and reminisce with other former prisoners, telling them how those days still haunted him in his dreams. And a few nights before he died, he told two close friends, the cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Alexei Leonov, of some of the pain. His death on an operating table in 1966 was, some speculate, a result of poor health stemming from his days in Kolyma.
In many ways Korolev’s early life must have prepared him for privation. He was born in Zhitomir, in Ukraine, in 1906. Three years later his parents separated, and Sergei went to live with his maternal grandparents while his mother went back to college. She left instructions that the child was not to leave the garden to play because she was afraid his father, who had already threatened her with a pistol, might kidnap him.
Korolev remembered those years as lonely ones. For a few years he wrote poetry. But he remembered vividly that when he was six, his grandmother who was fascinated by gadgets and technology took him to see his first aircraft. This experience touched Korolev as deeply as seeing ballet or theater might define the destiny of another human being.
On weekends his mother would visit. Then they would play, and she would read to him, but she also made him go alone to distant dark rooms because, inspired by her reading of James Fenimore Cooper, she thought that in this way he would conquer fear.
As they did to millions of others, World War I and the Russian Revolution turned Korolev’s life upside down. In 1917, Sergei was eleven. By then his mother was married again, this time to an engineer called Grigory Balanin. The family lived in Odessa, on the Black Sea, and Grigory and Sergei settled to the prickly business of getting to know one another. The world war and foreign occupying forces depleted food stocks. Civil war followed world war. The family was often hungry, and Korolev would hike with his mother to the countryside to barter for potatoes.
When the civil war ended, with Lenin in charge, Sergei’s mother and Balanin sent Korolev to the First Construction School in Odessa. Here he learned physics and mathematics (one of the school’s mottos was “mathematics is the key to everything”) and how to tile roofs. He soon decided that he did not want to be a roofer, because by now he was fascinated by the idea of flying and designing aircraft and gliders.
After an obligatory summer as a mediocre roofer, Korolev applied to and was accepted by the Kiev Technical School. Two years later, he moved to the Moscow Higher Technical School where he earned his diploma in aeronautical engineering. A year later Korolev graduated from flying school. In the meantime he earned money by working in an aircraft design bureau.
He was now twenty-four, interested in rockets, but passionate about designing and flying sophisticated, record-breaking gliders. And in this role, anyone who cared to watch would have seen the character of the future chief designer emerge. Oleg Antonov, another of Russia’s great aircraft designers and also a gliding fanatic, met Korolev at about this time. Korolev was attempting a record flight in a glider of his own design. Inadvertently, Antonov sent Korolev aloft with the anchor still attached to his glider. Korolev flew for four hours nineteen minutes, oblivious of the anchor. When he landed and saw the hole in the tail of his glider, he offered to tear Antonov’s eyes out with a pair of pliers. Yet Antonov remembered Korolev as a man of iron will and boundless humor.
By the morning of October 4, 1957, that combination of will and humor had carried Korolev to the position of chief designer of rocket – cosmic systems. Stalin had been dead for four years. After Stalin’s death, Korolev had been invited to join the Communist Party and had been elected a corresponding member of the USSR’s Academy of Sciences.
Ostensibly, he was a secure member of the establishment, yet the injustice of wrongful imprisonment ate at Korolev. He had asked repeatedly, and without success, to be rehabilitated—for his conviction at Stalin’s hands to be rescinded. Only after the successful launch of the satellite now sitting in the nose of the rocket on the launch pad would this happen.
So, on the morning of October 4, 1957, it was both the chief designer and the prisoner who awakened in terror, who turned a collar to the cold, climbed into his car, and drove to the concrete apron of the launch site. To the colleagues waiting for him, he was SP, a man rapidly becoming a legend among the few who knew of him. He was short and heavyset. He reminded them of a boxer or a wrestler, as much because of his personality as because of his physique. His brown eyes were bright with intelligence and passion.
Korolev saw himself as the designer whose role was to define the job, to listen to the team members, and then to make the decision. This he had done, paying attention to strategy and detail, balancing the consequence of one technical choice against another, seeking the right compromise. Now the product of hundreds of people’s work, of thousands of calculations, of designs and redesigns, was sitting on the launch pad. Would it open a new frontier?
Perhaps for propaganda reasons, perhaps because there would be an emotional symmetry in such an event, and perhaps because it is true, there is a persistent and disputed story that while at the Moscow Higher Technical School, Korolev had visited Tsiolokovsky. The old man, so the story goes, told Korolev that rockets were a very difficult business, and Korolev had replied that he was not afraid of difficulties. It is hard to imagine that en route to the launch complex, Korlev did not remember Tsiolkovsky, who, when he died in 1935, was an old and nationally revered man. Perhaps, too, Korolev remembered Friedreich Tsander, his old friend from the free days in Moscow.
On October 4, 1957, Tsiokovsky’s, Tsanders, and Korolevs dream stood against the gantry, gleaming in the sunlight.
In Washington D. C., delegates awoke to the penultimate day of the rocket and satellite conference. A workshop was to debate what to include in the IGY’s manual on rockets and satellites.
Korolev drove to the launch pad. The countdown was proceeding, and they were about to fuel the rocket. He mounted the platform to brief the engineers and to listen to accounts of the night’s doings. Then, while the launch team pumped liquid oxygen and kerosene into the tanks, he called Moscow with an updated report of the countdown.
Throughout the day, Korolev monitored everyone’s work, outwardly calm but fooling no one. By evening, technical difficulties had halted the countdown several times. Those who could stayed out of Korolev’s way The day moved inexorably forward. A day that for Korolev must have lain before him as a path to forever then passed in a second.
Thirty minutes before liftoff, everyone retired to their posts. Most went into a concrete bunker one kilometer from the launch pad. Those without a part to play in the final countdown climbed onto the bunker’s roof.
Korolev sat at a desk in the bunker, watching through a periscope. Floodlights bathed the rocket. Hope was palpable. As they waited and watched, someone walked beneath the floodlights. The unknown figure raised a bugle and blew clear notes into the midnight sky before hurrying back to safety.
Korolev listened as the loudspeakers relayed the deliberately spoken script of a space launch, a script that is still running, but which played that night to its first audience.
“Duty crew, leave the pad.”
“Fire brigades, on alert.”
“Zero minus one minute.”
“Switch to start vents.”
Korolev knew that nitrogen was sweeping through the pipes, purging the giant rocket before oxidant and fuel met in a mighty chemical reaction. “Auxiliary engines pressurized.”
“Main engines pressurized.”
Stillness enveloped the watchers. They dared not blink. And then it happened. Incandescent vapors engulfed the rocket, throwing stark shadows on the surrounding concrete. The earth rumbled and a thunderous roar washed past their ears. They watched the huge rocket strain, and then—as if in slow motion—the engines lifted the rocket from the earth.
Did Korolev remember what Tsiolkovsky had written? “Mankind will not remain on the earth forever, but in the pursuit of light and space, we will, timidly at first, overcome the limits of the atmosphere and then conquer all the area around the sun.” Well it had begun. And what would those earlier versions of Korolev have thought of his fifty-one-year-old self, sitting, eyes glued to a periscope, watching his dream and an ancient dream of humanity’s ascend? Would the frozen wretch in Kolyma, with hunger griping in his belly, have believed this moment? What of the man who would start awake in terror or the child who saw with joy his first aircraft? What of the teenager in a civil war, the student, or the test pilot? Each gave a gift to the chief designer; surely they watched with wonder what together they had wrought?
Korolev slowly came to himself. Only minutes had passed, and already the rocket was a distant point of light. Around him people hugged and kissed, unshaven chins scraping cheeks a little damp. They danced and shouted, “Our baby’s off” Soon they fell silent and listened. The loudspeaker reported all systems nominal, later that the rocket had reached orbital velocity, and then that the satellite had separated from its rocket.
Now they faced another wait. Was the satellite in orbit? It should be overhead again in about ninety minutes. As the time approached that the satellite should be coming into range, they looked gravely at the radio operator. Then they heard the distinctive beep of their satellite in orbit, the signal they had last heard in the assembly building on that day a lifetime ago. The earth had a new moon. Sputnik I was in orbit.
Korolev notified Khrushchev and received the first secretary’s muted congratulations. The party machinery swung into operation. Soon the world’s teleprinters would carry news of the triumph and Soviet propaganda. Editors around the world would be galvanized as they read reports that included the words, “Artificial Earth satellites will prove the way for space travel, and it seems that the present generation will witness how the freed and conscious labor of the people of the new socialist society turns even the most daring of Man’s dreams into reality.”
At the cosmodrome, Korolev returned to his engineers. The chief designer, who had already experienced tragedy, now knew triumph. He was to know both again. That night, he mounted a platform and thanked his staff, those present and those at home. He was radiant. He continued, “Today we have witnessed the realization of a dream nurtured by some of the finest men who ever lived, including our own Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky. Tsiolkovsky foretold that mankind would not forever remain on the earth. The sputnik is the first confirmation of his prophesy. The conquering of space has begun. We can be proud that it was begun by our country. A hearty Russian thanks to all.”