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Over its sixty-year history, this primarily classified military program was responsible for a number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite (Sputnik 1), first animal in Earth orbit (the dog Laika on Sputnik 2), first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1), first woman in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on Vostok 6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on Voskhod 2), first Moon impact (Luna 2), first image of the far side of the moon (Luna 3) and unmanned lunar soft landing (Luna 9), first space rover (Lunokhod 1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna 16), and first space station (Salyut 1).
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Unlike its American competitor in the "Space Race", which had NASA as a single coordinating agency, the USSR's program was split among several competing design groups led by Korolev, Mikhail Yangel, Valentin Glushko, and Vladimir Chelomei.
Because of the program's classified status, and for propaganda value, announcements of the outcomes of missions were delayed until success was certain, and failures were sometimes kept secret.
The rocket and space program of the USSR, initially boosted by the assistance of captured scientists from the advanced German rocket program, was performed mainly by Soviet engineers and scientists after 1955, and was based on some unique Soviet and Imperial Russian theoretical developments, many derived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, sometimes known as the father of theoretical astronautics.
Sergey Korolev (also transliterated as Korolyov) was the head of the principal design group; his official title was "chief designer" (a standard title for similar positions in the USSR).
“I would have gone up and up instead of going back down to the ground.