This Is Why The Soviet Union Lost ‘The Space Race’ To The USA
“Korolev began designing the Soyuz spacecraft that would carry crews to the Moon, as well as the Luna vehicles that would land softly on the Moon, plus robotic missions to Mars and Venus. Korolev also sought to fulfill Tsiolkovsky’s dream of putting humans on Mars, with plans for closed-loop life support systems, electrical rocket engines, and orbiting space stations to serve as interplanetary launch sites.
But it was not to be: Korolev entered the hospital on January 5, 1966, for what was thought to be routine intestinal surgery. Nine days later, he was dead from colon cancer complications. Without Korolev as the chief designer, everything went downhill quickly for the Soviets. While he was alive, Korolev fended off attempted meddling from designers like Mikhail Yangel, Vladimir Chhelomei, and Valentin Glushko. But the power vacuum that arose after his demise proved catastrophic.”
On July 20th of this year, humanity will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human footsteps on the surface of another world: the Moon. Yet history could have been vastly different had one man in the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, not suddenly died. The mastermind behind Soviet rockets and most of the major successes of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s, Korolev had plans to have humans orbit the Moon in 1967 and land on it in 1968. It’s interesting to think that the USA didn’t take the lead as much as the Soviets lost it, and that’s largely due to the death of one man alone.