No previous maiden launch had gone flawlessly, and the Saturn C-1 was considerably more complicated than any rocket launched thus far. Launch Operations Directorate officials gave the rocket a 75% chance of getting off the ground, and a 30% chance of completing the eight-minute flight…
Just as launch complex 34 dwarfed its predecessors, Saturn’s checkout represented a new magnitude in launch operations. The Saturn C-1 stood three times higher, required six times more fuel, and produced ten times more thrust than the Jupiter. Its size, was only a part of the challenge to the Launch Operations Directorate at Cape Canaveral…
Around noon on January 14th, Boris Chertok was alone in his office studying a folder of classified mail that had accumulated during the past few days. He had asked not to be disturbed. Suddenly his subordinate ran in and shouted, “Sergey Pavlovich died!”
Chertok responded “Are you out of your mind? Which Sergey Pavlovich?”
“Ours, our Sergey Pavlovich Korolev! His wife telephoned from the hospital!”
Chertok stood absolutely dumbfounded, having no idea what to do next. This can’t be! This really shouldn’t be happening! A few seconds later he called the Kremlin for verification.
Sergei Korolev’s life paralleled in many ways the life of Wernher Von Braun. Like Von Braun, as a young man, Sergei Korolev was inspired to dedicate his life to the technology for space exploration after becoming acquainted with the work of a great space pioneer: Hermann Oberth in the case of von Braun, and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the case of Korolev. Both began their careers in space development through serious study, participation in amateur rocket societies, and then support from the military…
His power, influence, and responsibilities during the 1950s and 60s were all encompassing. Not only was he in charge of all space-related issues, he was also in charge of some of the design of rockets for military purposes as well. He oversaw the design and testing of communications and surveillance satellites, too. Although he delegated responsibility for each program to trusted designers in separate engineering bureaus, his workload was enormous. He was the responsible for all the programs including the Soviet equivalent of NASA, which was called the Ministry for Medium Machine Building.
“We had absolute confidence in Comrade Korolev. We believed him when he told us that his rocket would not only fly, but that is would travel 7000 kilometers. When he expounded or defended his ideas, you could see passion burning in his eyes, and his reports were always models of clarity. He had unlimited energy and determination, and he was a brilliant organizer.” Nikita Khruschev
By the late 1940’s, it became obvious that Army ballistic missile research activities required more room than what was available at Fort Bliss, Texas. After a long and through search the decision was made to move to the Redstone arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama. A farm town know for watercress, cotton and mosquitoes. The Redstone Arsenal was chosen for several reasons: it was on a large tract of government property, its location on the Tennessee River gave it access to the electrical power of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the climate was good, and it was not too far from Cape Canaveral, whose long range proving ground was growing in importance.