• Post category:Space Exploration
  • Reading time:2 mins read

In this article, we will discuss about the journey from Soviet’s space program to the formation of Roscosmos.

Roscosmos logo (Image credit: Roscosmos.)
Roscosmos logo (Image credit: Roscosmos.)

Soviet experience with space threads through much of the past century. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s pioneering rocketry work extended through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Soviets then supplemented that experience with German V2 missile engineers acquired after the end of World War II in 1945. The United States had another group of Germans from the same program.

The Soviet space program was the national space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), conducted in competition with its Cold War adversary the United States, known as the Space Race from the mid-1950s until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

A replica of Sputnik 1
A replica of Sputnik 1

Under the auspices of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, the Soviets launched the world’s first satellite (Sputnik) on Oct. 4, 1957. Some in the United States worried about the influence of communism in outer space. As Americans scrambled to catch up, the Soviets accomplished many world firsts. Among them were the first man in space (Yuri Gagarin), the first woman (Valentina Tereshkova), the first lunar flyby (Luna 1), and the first three-person crew (Voskhod 1).

Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space.
Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space.

For 35 years after Sputnik, various design bureaus—state-controlled organizations that actually conceived and developed aircraft and space systems—had great influence within the Soviet system. The rivalry between those bureaus and their heads, who were known as chief designers, was a constant reality and posed an obstacle to a coherent Soviet space program.

Roscosmos headquarters building in Moscow
Roscosmos headquarters building in Moscow

Only after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. did Russia create a civilian organization for space activities. Formed in February 1992, the Russian Space Agency acted as a central focus for the country’s space policy and programs. Although it began as a small organization that dealt with international contacts and the setting of space policies, it quickly took on increasing responsibility for the management of non-military space activities and, as an added charge, aviation efforts. It later was renamed the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (or Rosaviakosmos) and then the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) in 2015. It performs numerous civilian activities (including Earth monitoring and the astronaut program) and coordinates with the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation for military launches.


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