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Academician Sergei Korolyov

Дата публикации: 14 сентября 2018
Автор: Yaroslav RENKAS
Публикатор: Шамолдин Алексей Аркадьевич
Номер публикации: №1536957920 / Жалобы? Ошибка? Выделите проблемный текст и нажмите CTRL+ENTER!

Yaroslav RENKAS, (c)

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The name of our compatriot, Academician Sergei Korolyov, is in the galaxy of those who have opened up the space era. A that shook the world in the literal sense. Sergei Pavlovich Korolyov... Mountains of literature are devoted to his bright life, to his research and organizational talents. Still, every new book about the legendary designer of aerospace hardware is an event attracting broad readership. One such book is off the press at Nauka Publishers, a two-volume edition supplied with illustrations. Its author is Natalia Korolyova, the chief designer's daughter, Doctor of Medicine. This publication appeared in 2001 and 2002.

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His very name, let alone his life-work, was a state secret. Soviet censorship put a lid on everything relating to the work of the chief designer of our aerospace technology. All this was taboo. Yet things changed with the declassification of secret materials. Only then could the first works about Sergei Korolyov appear in print. A lot of publications have come out since then. Yet none gives a profile of Korolyov as a person. His daughter's book fills this aching void. Natalia Korolyova combines her research talent with the literary gift. She gives a vivid description of her father's life path down to his deathbed. What she tells of him appears strikingly new and instructive, with many surprising twists.

Natalia Korolyova has done a job of work in collecting material: she has traveled far and wide to visit places where Korolyov lived and worked, where he loved and suffered, where he fought and won. This woman has displayed great stamina in pursuit of her goal. She has been to lots of places: Zhitomir, Nezhin, Odessa, Kiev, Magadan, Omsk, Kapustin Yar, Baikonur. Places in different parts of our vast country and abroad. In Germany, too. And naturally, she has plied from Moscow to Kaliningrad (now the town of Korolyov) a few miles away from our capital. The author has devoted hundreds of pages to her meetings and talks with people who were personally acquainted with the celebrated rocket demon. She got information straight from the horse's mouth. This factual evidence is more forceful than any thought-up plots of fiction. "Natalia Korolyova's work", writes in the preface Academician Boris Chertok, one of the Korolyov cohort, "synthesizes the merits of the literary novel, documentary chronicle, historical study and personal confession. The images of protagonists come alive, so much so that even a reader quite aloof from aerospace technology cannot remain cool."

The first volume of the book tells of Korolyov's younger years, and his keen interest in the mainstream of the universal craze with aviation in the 1920s. Aviation moved into a period of booming growth in those years. Sergei Korolyov lived in Odessa then. These mottoes and slogans could be seen and heard everywhere: "Grow wings!" "Working people, pitch in for your air fleet!" It was there, in the Odessa port, that Sergei learned the flier's ropes and took to the skies aboard a hydroplane. A bird's eye view of the locality overwhelmed the young man.

Hobnobbing with professional aviators, he mastered air pilotship well enough.

In 1923 the air-minded men and women of Odessa and other Ukrainian cities pooled into a Society of Air Reet Friends and a Society of Aviation and Air Navigation of the Ukraine and Crimea to coach would-be aviators. Sergei Korolyov attended all the training lessons. Shortly afterwards he organized an aviation study group at the Odessa ship-repair yard and, at age 17, designed his first glider. In 1924 the youth sought enrollment in the Moscow Institute of Red Air Reet Engineers. In the meantime, however, he was admitted to the Aviation Department of the Kiev Polytechnical Institute. Eager to master airmanship in and out, Sergei often spread himself thin. Simultaneously, he was taking a course training glider sport instructors. This six-month course gave a good grounding in the history and theory of aviation, in the physical facilities of gliders, strength of materials and air navigation. Soon after, however, the lessons in theory were phased out for lack of funds, and one zeroed in on practicals - the designing, building and testing of gliders.

In the fall of 1926 Sergei Korolyov moved to Moscow where he enrolled in the Higher Technical School (now University named after Nikolai Baumann). In fact, he had to look elsewhere since the Kiev Polytechnic closed down its Department of Aviation. Thus the Ukrainian period of Korolyov's life came to an end. Yet for the rest of his life did he keep fond memories of the Ukraine, a land where he had took his first steps on earth, where he had made his first air flight and had chosen his career path.

Sergei was admitted as a junior student to the Department of Aeromechanics of the Moscow Higher Technical School, for his background enabled him to skip the first two years of the course. The famed Nikolai Zhukovsky, Corresponding Member of St. Petersburg Academy, had been among the instructors there for nearly fifty years-a man who organized this country's largest research and design school at the selfsame college. Such prominent aviators as Andrei Tupolev, Boris Stechkin, Boris Yuryev and other celebrities were among the faculty.

The curriculum of the Department of the Aeromechanics provided both for lectures and practicals, also in the laboratories of the neighboring Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics. Since attendance was not mandatory, many students worked on the side at various Moscow plants. At first Korolyov gave up all of his time to studies. But in the spring of 1927, feeling quite at home in Moscow, he took a designer's job at aviation plant No. 22 at Fili, at the other end of Moscow. The ambitious young man was all set to learn the practical side of his future specialty.

Despite this heavy load, he also enrolled in the Piloting Department of

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the Moscow Glider School. He was fond of hovering up in the air and, as eye witnesses recalled, he did it aptly and confidently. The young pilot and designer won kudos: an invitation to take part in the Fourth National Glider Contests. The glider he designed, Koktebel, got top marks.

Meanwhile his course at the Moscow Higher Technical School was coming to an end. For his graduation project Korolyov designed a light two-seater sporting plane, the aviette. The graduation work's supervisor was Andrei Tupolev himself, who noticed the student's extraordinary abilities in designing and predicted a great future for him.

Korolyov the graduate called his first plane SK-4, the two letters standing for the initials of his name and surname. The Osoviakhim* approved the design and even set aside money to have it built. On December 28, 1929, Sergei Korolyov defended his graduation project with honors, whereupon he became a certified aviation engineer and mechanic. His SK-4 aviatte was ready to take to the skies.

Another section of Natalia Koro-lyova's book is devoted to GIRD*, the acronym for a group of aviators involved with jet propulsion; it was set up in 1931 by Friedrich Zander. In 1932 Sergei Korolyov took charge of this group and its technical council.

Explaining Sergei Korolyov's obsession with jet propulsion, his daughter makes a remarkable digression. She recalls what his mother, Maria Nikolayevna, said. In his college years Sergei was overwhelmed by what Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote in his book about space exploration by means of jet propulsion vehicles. The very idea captured his imagination. Korolyov made a pilgrimage to Kaluga, a town south of Moscow where the great space theoretician lived. This is what he recalled: "We were not spurred by curiosity at all. e wanted to have a try at the practical implementation of the ideas of the great scientist."

Upon learning about GIRD, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky sent a message to the young rocket enthusiasts, and he wrote this in part: "You have shown such elan that I do not think I can keep silent. I am amazed at your energy, I am glad indeed... Your work is exceptionally useful..."

By the close of 1932 GIRD had on its staff 44 men in keeping with its table of organization: 19 engineers, 13 designers, two draftsmen, three mechanics, one foreman and two technicians. There were four teams at the GIRD group, each headed by a team leader. It was the first managerial post for Sergei Korolyov; he and his men worked day in and day out.

GIRD crossed a rough patch-its small collective had to grapple with the most formidable technical problems. There were two specific targets at hand: build a jet rocket plane and look into its possible uses on regular piston engine planes for increasing their flight altitude and velocity to a maximum. On sorting out dozens of versions, the GIRD people chose the rocket plane RP-1 and the OR-2 engine with a thrust of 50 kg designed by Friedrich Zander, an engine working on gasoline and liquid oxygen.

Yet another nagging problem was the medical-biological aspect of manned flights beyond the atmosphere, for which purpose it was necessary to study conditions for a crew's normal activity at an altitude 20 to 40 km. Korolyov applied to an airmanship laboratory

* Osoviakhim - the Russian acronym for the Society for Assisting Aviation and Chemistry, an influential public organization in those days. - Ed .

* Literally, Group Investigating Rocket Dynamics. - Ed.

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and asked it to carry out relevant studies. The laboratory was headed by Nikolai Dobrotvorsky, this country's first airman-and-doctor.

Working for GIRD, he drew up concrete recommendations for high-altitude flights. For air regeneration Dobrotvorsky suggested using carbon-dioxide absorbent chambers and a unit of forced ventilation. He recommended extra heating and dehumidification devices for sustaining adequate temperature conditions aboard. Flight safety was to be ensured by an airtight cockpit fitted out with independent facilities of oxygen regeneration and heating, and air pressure monitoring. An exhaust valve was to discharge an excess of carbon dioxide, and an intake valve was to let in oxygen from a cylinder. The airtight cockpit was to be detachable, and equipped with a parachute.

Korolyov directed the ground tests of the rocket plane in hopes that the OR-2 engine would perform well in flight. Yet this project was not brought to an end: in 1933 GIRD and the Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) were merged into a rocket propulsion research center, the RNII, which was to attack new, multidimensional problems. Ivan Kleimyonov was appointed head of RNII and took Sergei Korolyov as his deputy.

Meanwhile the tests of the GIRD-designed rocket 09 ("nine") were in full swing. Korolyov gave it special attention, he believed the job should come off without fail. The 09 rocket was almost two and a half meters long, and had a mass of about 18 kg. Its rated altitude of flight at vertical takeoff was 5,000 meters. Its body was made of aluminum alloy, the duralumin.

The "nine" rocket was launched on August 17, 1933. Zooming up, it stayed aloft eighteen seconds, quite an achievement then. The men's joy knew no bounds: their work for so many long months did not prove futile. As Sergei Korolyov wrote shortly afterwards, "The first Soviet liquid-propellant rocket is off. The day of August 17 is certainly a significant day in the life of GIRD."

The new rocket research center, RNII, turned to the job at hand. The RNII men designed engines and rockets, arranged scientific conferences and meetings, and published specialist literature. Yet it was at this time that Korolyov moved into a gloomy patch. A grave conflict developed between the two organizations (GIRD and GDL) merged in RNII over the goals and targets of research and development works. Korolyov took a negative view of solid-propellant rocket engines, he held that liquid- propellant engines operat-

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ing on oxygen and alcohol had the best outlooks. His boss Ivan Kleimyonov, however, did not support this idea, and it was written off as one of minor importance.

In consequence of this split, Korolyov was relieved of his post of RNII deputy director and demoted to a senior engineer in one of the teams. But this demotion eventually saved his life: during the "great purge" of 1937 Kleimyonov and his new deputy, Georgi Langemak, were arrested and then shot on charges of their alleged "active participation in the anti-Soviet Trotskyite organization within RNII", which, as they confessed, also included Sergei Korolyov, Valentin Glushko (subsequently, a foremost rocket designer) and other men. All this was sheer nonsense, but such confessions were extorted from Kleimyonov and his companion in distress.

Now we know the true worth of such "confessions" extorted under torture. But in those days they were taken in good earnest as a piece of direct evidence and proof positive of the guilt. Korolyov and Glushko were sacked. And in the early hours of July 27, 1938, Sergei Korolyov was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of forced labor in prison camps. Korolyov's daughter tells of this dark period of his life in the second volume of her book. She also tells us about his productive engagement in his field before and during the Great Patriotic War of 1941 -1945 against nazi Germany (though still an inmate, Korolyov and some other fellow-sufferers were given a chance to work in their chosen field at what was known as shamzhkas, or "savvy joints"). The author backs her story by numerous materials from the archives and personal recollections of her father, the former prison inmate.

And yet the most thrilling account we find in the part on Sergei Korolyov's signal role as a pioneer of the space era (" Mark Signal to Takeoff').

Set free, Sergei Korolyov spent the initial post-war years in Germany making a close study of the German flying-bomb rockets V-2(A-2) which the Germans targeted at London in 1944 and early in 1945. Having studied the nuts and bolts of these rockets, Korolyov concluded that the Germans were far ahead of Soviet rocket builders and that a good deal of effort was needed to catch up.

In the late summer of 1946 a government commission made a decision on phasing down research activities in Germany-this work was to be continued on Soviet territory. This also applied to trial launchings of V-2. On August 9, 1946, Munitions Minister of the USSR Dmitry Ustinov signed an order whereby Korolyov was appointed departmental head at a specialized research center (N11 - 88); he had also to double as the chief designer of "Article No. 1". This research institute was set up at Kaliningrad (now the town of Korolyov) near Moscow to tackle rockets and related hardware. The "Article No. 1" meant a long-range ballistic missile (BRDD) of the V- 2 type.

Rolling up his sleeves, the chief designer contemplated rockets superior to the German V flying bombs. He was itching to build rockets like that. As the chief designer of the BRDD missile, he had now wide opportunities for materializing his bold ideas long since on his mind.

The last chapters of Natalia Koro-lyova's book are devoted to her father's work at Kaliningrad. He designed the new Soviet rocket R-l with a range of 600 km. Its final flight tests on the Kapustin Yar range in the fall of 1949 proved a success: out of the twenty "articles" seventeen hit the target. This missile and then its upgraded model, R-2, went into service in the Soviet armed forces.

In April 1950 the N11 - 88 rocket research center moved into a period of reorganization. It gave rise to two R&D offices: OKB-1-for developing ballistic missiles, and OKB-2-for ground-to-air missiles. Sergei Korolyov, now the head and chief designer of OKB-1, stepped up his work in developing innovative rocketry. His teams designed several types of single-stage rockets with a flying range of 300 to 1,200 km, and tested nuclear-armed missiles. All this brought the Soviet Union to the forefront of rocket building in the world.

While upgrading war missiles, Sergei Korolyov never gave up his dream of manned space flights. Our intelligence reports said the Americans were working on a rocket with a range of 8 to 10 thousand km which, among other things, they wanted to use for manned orbital flights. This information made a profound impression on Korolyov and spurred him to redouble his efforts.

As early as 1951 we used rockets in geophysical experiments, namely in

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vertical takeoffs of modules carrying scientific instruments and test animals.

In April 1956 the Academy of Sciences of the USSR held a national conference on rocket-aided studies of the upper layers of the atmosphere. Sergei Korolyov was the main speaker. One of the basic goals along this line, he said in his report, was to apply rockets for piloted space flights. It was at this conference that he first uttered the prophetic words: "...Given the present pace of engineering, we might be in store for an artificial satellite on the Earth in the near future... It's a realistic task to develop a rocket capable of flying to the Moon and back... Such are the prospects, but these are real prospects, and not so distant prospects at that."

This bold forecast came true. On October 4, 1957 (at 22 h 28 min Moscow Time) the Soviet carrier rocket R-7 with the world's first artificial satellite of the earth was launched from the Baikonur spacedrome. The satellite was in the form of a sphere measuring 58 cm in diameter and with a mass of 83.6 kg. A smashing success it was. Yet even the men involved in the project were staggered at the stir this event created worldwide. The launching of the Russian sputnik was of epochal significance, it demonstrated our country's great scientific and technical potential.

Sergei Korolyov lived to see his triumph-and not only his-on April 12, 1961, a day when the first Soviet spaceship with man on board was put in orbit. The pilot was Yuri Gagarin, the world's Number One spaceman. It was the hour of glory of our great rocket designer.

The author concludes her book by a sampling of opinion about Sergei Korolyov's brilliant research and organizational abilities. Here's what Hermann Obert, an eminent German rocket designer said in a letter to a correspondent of the Soviet news agency TASS on the 28th of October 1974:

"I am an old man, but there was a time when I hoped I would be living in a space era. Then the Russian sputnik started circling the earth, and a few years after came the Russian voice from outer space. Gagarin's name is known to me. I saw his smiling face in newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately I do not know the names of other men whom I respect, those who created powerful rockets and the first spaceship.

"Had my colleague Tsiolkovsky, your famous compatriot, been alive-a man with whom I was corresponding-he would have exclaimed on meeting the greatest designer, 'Bravo! Bravo! You have translated into reality the dream that for many years had been swaying our minds, a dream for the realization of which we had expended so much effort.'

"Humankind is grateful to this man for what he has accomplished."

Опубликовано 14 сентября 2018 года

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