Korolov, Serhii

Image - Serhii Korolov and Yurii Gagarin

Korolov, Serhii [Корольов, Сергій; Korol'ov, Serhij], b 12 January 1907 in Zhytomyr, Volhynia gubernia, d 14 January 1966 in Moscow. Aeronautical engineer, designer of the first Soviet guided missiles and spacecraft; from 1958 full member of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. After studying engineering in Odesa, Kyiv, and Moscow, he began to design gliders and airplanes at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute. His interest in rocketry led him to organize, with F. Tsander, the Group for the Study of Jet Propulsion, which in 1933 launched the first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket, the GIRD-09. In late 1933 he was appointed deputy scientific director of the Jet Scientific Research Institute. He was arrested in 1938, and sent first to a concentration camp and then to a special labor camp for scientists. There he worked on rocket boosters for airplanes. After the Second World War he tested and improved the German V-2 missile. During Nikita Khrushchev’s era Korolov headed many research and design teams developing ballistic missiles, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. He was in charge of designing, constructing, and launching the Vostok and Voskhod manned spacecraft, and the Electron, Kosmos, and Molniia earth satellites, as well as the first space stations. Rockets developed by him launched the first artificial earth satellite (Sputnik), the first astronauts in earth orbit, the first probes to the Moon, Mars, and Venus, and the first unmanned soft landing on the Moon. During his lifetime his name was kept secret and he was referred to only as the Chief Designer. After his death his name became widely known and honored: a memorial museum in Zhytomyr and a monument in Moscow were dedicated to him, and a large crater on the far side of the Moon was named after him.

Lubomyr Onyshkevych

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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