Birthday anniversary of S. P. Korolev, Soviet constructor of space rocket systems

12 January 1907

December 30, 1906 (January 12, 1907) in Zhitomir, in the family of a teacher of Russian literature was born a Soviet scientist, designer of space rocket systems, a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, twice Hero of Socialist Labor Sergei Pavlovich Korolev.

In 1924, Sergei Pavlovich graduated from Odessa construction vocational school and filed a request for admission to the Air Forces Academy. The question of acceptance was delayed, and he entered the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, Aviation Department, then transferred to the Bauman Higher Technical School in Moscow. At this time, Sergei Korolev was designing and building aircrafts: gliders “Koktebel", "Red Star "and a light airplane SK-4, designed to achieve a record distance flight. These works have clearly demonstrated the talent of Korolev as aircraft designer.

In 1930, Sergei Pavlovich graduated from Moscow Higher Technical School and began working at the Central Institute of aerodynamic, and in 1933 joined the newly established Rocket Research Institute. In RRI Korolev was working on creation of cruise missiles with a gyroscopic autopilot and a guidance system, equipped with a liquid rocket engine designed by V. Glushko. In addition, he worked on the project of a rocket glider (rocket glider RP-318-1, created on the basis of Korolev’s airframe and Glushko’s engine, made its first flight on February 28, 1940).

At the end of 1930 on false charges of sabotage Korolev was arrested, sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in labor camps of a strict regime and sent to the Kolyma.

July 27, 1944 by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Korolev and several other staff members of the controlled-access Construction Bureau (CB) were expunged from previous convictions. After the war ended, in the second half of 1945, Sergei Korolev, among other specialists, was sent to Germany to study German technology. Of particular interest to him was the German V-2 rocket,   having a flight range of about 300 km while its starting weight was about 13 tons.

From 1946 until the end of his life Sergei Korolev was Chief designer of long-range ballistic missiles, rocket and space systems. In mid-1950s in Korolev’s CB was created the famous R-7 - two-stage rocket, using which on October 4, 1957 was put into near-earth orbit the first artificial Earth satellite in the history of mankind. Its flight was a resounding success and gained for our country a high international prestige.

In 1958, Korolev received the title of academician. Since 1959, he directed the research program of the Moon. Under this program, several spacecrafts were sent to the Moon, including vehicles with a soft landing.

April 12, 1961 Korolev and his team conducted a successful launch of spacecraft "Vostok-1" with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on board. This flight opened the era of manned spaceflight. The similar flight in the U.S. was made more than a year later.

The founder of practical astronautics, an outstanding designer and organizer of the works on creation of space rocket technology in the USSR, died in the sixtieth year of his life on January 14, 1966. The urn containing his ashes was installed on Red Square in the Kremlin wall.

In the history of space exploration with the name of Korolev is associated the era of the first remarkable achievements. Scientific and technical ideas of Korolev have been widely used in rocket and space technology. Under his leadership, were created many geophysical and ballistic missiles, launch vehicles and manned spacecrafts Vostok and Voskhod, on board of which, for the first time in history, were made man’s space flight and man’s space walk. Rocket and space systems, the development of which was led by Korolev, allowed for the first time in the world to launch artificial satellites of the Earth and the Sun, flights of unmanned interplanetary stations to the Moon, Venus and Mars, make a soft landing on the lunar surface.

For outstanding contribution to the defense of the motherland and the development of practical astronautics, Academician Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was twice named a Hero of Socialist Labor (1956, 1961), he was awarded the Lenin Prize (1957) and a gold medal of K. E. Tsiolkovsky. The name of Korolev as one of the founders of practical astronautics was given to the largest formation (thalassoeidés) on the reverse side of the Moon.


Lit.: Апенченко О. Сергей Королёв. М., 1969; Асташенков П. Т. Академик С. П. Королёв. М., 1969; Гордость твоя, Поморье! Архенгельск, 2005; Королёв Сергей Павлович // Большая советская энциклопедия. М., 1969-1978; Сергей Павлович Королёв [Электронный ресурс] // Федеральное космическое агентство (Роскосмос). Б. д. URL:


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Outer Space: [digital collection];

Cosmonauts Training Center created in USSR // On this day. 11 January 1960;

Pilot-cosmonaut of USSR A. A. Leonov the first in the world to conduct a space walk // On this day. 18 March 1965;

Foundation of “Baikonur” Space Center // On this day. 2 June 1955;

The first woman-cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flies to space // On this day. 16 June 1963;

A new arm of the service, Space forces, created under the Decree of the RF President // On this day. 24 March 2001.