Sergei Korolev

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Sergei Pavlovich Korolev (1907-1966) was a Soviet rocket designer and father of the Soviet space programme. During his lifetime his name was never publicly revealed, and he was referred to in news releases as the 'Chief Designer'. Korolev had been involved in rocket research in the 1930s, but in 1938 was arrested and gaoled during Stalin's purges. After a year of imprisonment he was transferred to a 'sharaga', a special camp where scientists and technologists were able to work and were provided with humane rations, while still confined. At the end of the war he was released, made a colonel in the Red Army and sent to Germany to find out as much as possible about the German V-2 missile. On his return to the Soviet Union, Korolev was placed in charge of the R-1 missile programme. A development of this, was to launch the world's first atrtificial satellite, Sputnik I, in 1957. On Aril 12, 1961, his Vostok I spacecraft enabled Yuri Gagarin to become the first man in space, and Venera 3, launched on 16 March 1965, was the first spacecraft to land on another planet (Venus).

Korolev died during an operation on his intestines on 14 January 1966. His remains are buried by the Kremlin Wall, the traditional resting place for Soviet heroes.