Korolov (Korolyev), Sergei Pavlovich

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 12 January 1907 (30 December 1906 Old Style) Zhitomir, Ukraine
d. 14 January 1966 Moscow, Russia
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Russian engineer and designer of air-and spacecraft.
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His early life was spent in the Ukraine and he then studied at Tupolev's aeroplane institute in Moscow. In the mid-1930s, just before his thirtieth birthday, he joined the GIRD (Group Studying Rocket Propulsion) under Frederick Zander, a Latvian engineer, while earning a living designing aircraft in Tupolev's bureau. In 1934 he visited Konstantin Tsiolovsky. Soon after this, under the Soviet Armaments Minister, Mikhail N.Tukhachevsky, who was in favour of rocket weapons, financial support was available for the GIRD and Korolov was appointed General-Engineer (1-star) in the Soviet Army. In June 1937 the Armaments Minister and his whole staff were arrested under Stalin, but Korolov was saved by Tupolev and sent to a sharaska, or prison, near Moscow where he worked for four years on rocket-and jet-propelled aircraft, among other things. In 1946 he went with his superior, Valentin Glushko, to Germany where he watched the British test-firing of possibly three V-2s at Altenwaide, near Cuxhaven, in "Operation Backfire". They were not allowed within the wire enclosure. He remained in Germany to supervise the shipment of V-2 equipment and staff to Russia (it is possible that he underwent a second term of imprisonment from 1948), the Germans having been arrested in October 1946. He kept working in Russia until 1950 or the following year. He supervised the first Russian ballistic missile, R-1, in late 1947. Stalin died in 1953 and Korolov was rehabilitated, but freedom under Nikita Kruschev was almost as restrictive as imprisonment under Stalin. Kruschev would only refer to him as "the Chief Designer", never naming him, and would not let him go abroad or correspond with other rocket experts in the USA or Germany. Anything he published could only be under the name "Sergeyev". He continued to work on his R-7 without the approval that he sought for a satellite project. This was known as semyorka, or "old number seven". In January 1959 he added a booster stage to semyorka. He may have suffered confinement in the infamous Kolyma Gulag around this time. He designed all the Sputnik, Vostok and some of the Voshkod units and worked on the Proton space booster. In 1966 he underwent surgery performed by Dr Boris Petrovsky, then Soviet Minister of Health, for the removal, it is said, of tumours of the colon. In spite of the assistance of Dr Aleksandr Vishaevsky he bled to death on the operating table. The first moon landing (by robot) took place three weeks after his death and the first flight of the new Soyuz spacecraft a little later.
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Further Reading
Y.Golanov, 1975, Sergey Korolev. The Appren-ticeship of a Space Pioneer, Moscow: Mir.
A.Romanov, 1976, Spacecraft Designers, Moscow: Novosti Press Agency. J.E.Oberg, 1981, Red Star in Orbit, New York: Random House.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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