Russia has a rich history of scientific invention in a wide variety of fields, from the Sputnik satellite to the coronavirus vaccine of the same name.
On the 60th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space, these are some of the country’s most notable scientific and technological achievements:
– Sputnik satellite –
In one of the most important modern inventions, Russia launched the first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957.
At that time, the beep-beep sent to Earth from Sputnik-1 represented the start of the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War.
Sent into space by an ICBM, which forced Washington to realize that Moscow could attack its territory.
The Soviets maintained their leadership in the early years of the race. They boasted of Gagarin’s first manned flight into space on April 12, 1961, the first spacewalk four years after Alexei Leonov, and the first lunar probe in 1966.
But the United States beat them to the moon with the first manned landing in 1969.
– The AK-47 –
Ten years before Sputnik, Russia had invented a more nefarious tool: the Kalashnikov assault rifle, also known as the AK-47 and created by Soviet military engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov.
With some 100 million Kalashnikovs currently in circulation, the weapon became ubiquitous globally for its low price and reliability in harsh climates, from frozen tundras to dusty Middle Eastern environments.
The weapon also became a symbol of the struggles against colonization and still adorns the flag of Mozambique, which represents the struggle for national sovereignty.
– Tetris and Kaissa –
Less deadly was the Russian invention of Tetris, although it is just as popular around the world.
The tile-matching video game was devised in 1984 by software engineer Alexei Pajitnov, whose stated ambition was to make people happy through computers.
Russia also used software to revolutionize an existing game: chess.
The chess powerhouse, which as the Soviet Union held the world title from 1948 to 1972, invented the computer chess program Kaissa which won the world championship in computer chess in 1974.
– Hypersonic weapons –
But the bread and butter of Russia’s inventions has long been military technology.
More recently, Russia has led the way, he claimed, in developing hypersonic missiles that can go faster than the speed of sound, rendering existing missile defense technology useless.
Vladimir Putin in 2018 unveiled a nuclear hypersonic missile system dubbed Avangard that he described as “invulnerable.”
The Russian president said its creation represented a technological advance comparable to the launch of Sputnik.
– Sputnik V vaccine –
Returning to Sputnik even more recently, Russia registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, which it called Sputnik V, in August 2020 amid the world’s worst pandemic in a century.
Although the move drew criticism both at home and abroad for the fast-track procedure, a leading medical journal later said it is safe and highly effective.
The vaccine has been registered for use in dozens of countries.
To take off! Pioneers of space
Paris (AFP) April 7, 2021: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space 60 years ago next week.
He was one of several stars in the Cold War space race between the Soviet Union and the United States who would become heroes to millions.
But the technology that sent them into orbit had less glorious origins in the last days of Nazi Germany.
– Germans –
Many of the key rocket scientists behind the American and Soviet space programs were Germans, who had worked on Adolf Hitler’s “secret weapons”, the V-1 and V-2 rockets.
Some 1,600 German rocket experts were secretly brought to the United States in the closing days of World War II, while the Russians rounded up about 2,000 in one night at gunpoint and sent them to work in the Soviet Union.
Wernher von Braun
The inventor of Hitler’s V-2 rocket, the world’s first guided ballistic missile, was the architect of the American Apollo program that would land a man on the moon.
Brought across the Atlantic with his brother Magnus, he came up with the Saturn V rocket that powered the American lunar missions. He died in 1977 still defending manned missions to Mars.
Kurt H. Debus
Von Braun’s friend, Debus was Hitler’s flight test director for the V-1 and V-2.
In 1952, he began construction of rocket launch facilities at Cape Canaveral in Florida and later was director of operations for what would become the Kennedy Space Center, overseeing the flight of the first American astronaut Alan Shepard and missions to the Moon. .
– The Soviets –
The first man in space, Gagarin, was chosen from 3,000 candidates.
It completed a single 108-minute orbit aboard Vostok-1 on April 12, 1961 after declaring “Let’s go!”
He died in 1968 at the age of 34 in a still unexplained plane crash.
Gagarin’s understudy for the historic 1961 flight, Titov, never got over disappointment.
Four months later, it orbited Earth 17 times in Vostok-2. He was elected to the Russian parliament in 1995.
The then 30-year-old made the first spacewalk in history since Voskhod 2 in 1965.
It lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds and nearly killed him when his spacesuit inflated due to a lack of atmospheric pressure. He had to purge some of the oxygen, risking death.
Later, Leonov participated in the groundbreaking Apollo-Soyuz mission that ushered in a new era of space cooperation between the Soviets and the US in 1975.
The first woman in space, she spent almost three days in orbit in June 1963.
It had to overcome a number of problems during the flight, which were not revealed until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
She is still the only woman to have carried out a solo mission.
Soviet chief rocket engineer Korolev recorded successes from the launch of Sputnik 1 to Gagarin’s historic flight. His role was only revealed after his death in 1966.
Komarov became the first person to die in space on April 23, 1967 after a 26-hour flight on Soyuz 1.
A parachute failed to re-enter, causing his ship to plummet to Earth.
– The Americans –
The first American in space, Shepard’s flight on Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961 was suborbital, rising to an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers).
He later commanded Apollo 14 in 1971 and became the fifth person to walk on the Moon, where he played golf.
The first American to orbit Earth in February 1962, he was later elected as a United States Senator, in office until 1999.
In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn became the oldest person to go into space when he traveled aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
In June 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to be sent into space, on the Space Shuttle Challenger.
He was also involved in a 1986 commission that investigated the loss of the ship. He died of cancer at age 61 in 2012.
Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Despite softening his line a bit – “That is a small step for (a) man, a great leap for humanity” – it has since been recorded in history.
His crewmates were Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, who followed him 20 minutes later, and Michael Collins, who remained alone in lunar orbit.
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Nevada company plans space station with inflatable capsules
Orlando FL (UPI) April 1, 2021
Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to launch a commercial space station with inflatable human habitats within seven years, the company announced at a news conference Wednesday. Sierra Nevada already has seven contracts with NASA to launch its Dream Chaser space plane, which is being developed to transport cargo to the International Space Station starting in 2022. Now, the firm said it aims to have its own orbital habitat in space. before NASA retires the space. around 2028. The company … read more