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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Soviet Space Program: A Review

A look at the Soviet space program from the Soviet point-of-view on the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic flight.

Soviet stamp honouring the October 25, 1975 landing of the Venera 10 spacecraft on the surface of Venus.

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. This was a remarkable accomplishment for Soviet science and the Soviet people having come out of the incredible devastation of the Second World War just 16 years previously.

(We looked at Gagarin previously at: Yuri Gagarin, First Man in Space, born March 9, 1934)

It was not the only Soviet space accomplishment. The USSR had already sent the first satellite into space as well as the first animal. In the following years they would send the first and second woman into space, a Soviet cosmonaut would perform the first spacewalk and they would be the first (and only) country to put a lander on Venus, among other achievements.

The Soviet Union took great pride in its space program as well as the practical advances that it resulted in in other areas such as creating the world's first satellite TV network, its impact on agriculture and climate knowledge, scientific understanding and advancement.

Here we look at some Soviet articles related to their space program. These are drawn from Socialism: Theory and Practice magazine and from Soviet Life in the 1980s. They deal with Gagarin's flight, other "firsts", a look at life aboard a Soviet space station (including a fascinating photo of showering in space), why space exploration is worth the expense, Soviet-Indian space co-operation, the Venera Mission to Venus, a look at the second woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya and more.

Savitskaya, who went into space in 1982 notably says "A hundred years from now no one will remember the flight, and if they do, it will sound strange that it was once questioned whether a woman should go into space".

We have also included some Soviet posters and art related to space flight.

(A version of this post was previously posted on the original The Left Chapter blog on April 12, 2019)


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