Space Race

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    The last four weeks Wednesday evening’s TV here in the UK has been cheered by this excellent Drama/doc on BBC2. Tracing the history of the Cold War ‘Space Race’ between the US and USSR.

    I thought the show was very well done, visually the series captured the era very well, probably even better than Kaufmans Right Stuff – to which there are a couple of quotes. Unlike the Right Stuff, however, we get to see the Russian perspective, and the fight that Karolev had, with petty bitching within the Soviet State apparatus. His come back from banishment in the wastes of the Siberian gulag to realising his dream and putting Gagarin in orbit speaks volumes of the human spirit. Stirring stuff.

    If it comes your way…see it.


    Sounds good!

    I’ll have to check it out. Thanks.


    ah man, this sounds really interesting, anybody know if it’ll be repeated?


    It’s available through bit torrent (downloading it now).

    Here is the wikipedia blurb:

    Space Race is a BBC docu-drama series first shown in Britain on BBC2 between September/October 2005, chronicling the major events and characters in the American/Soviet space race. It focusses on Sergei Korolev, the Soviets’ chief rocket designer, and Wernher von Braun, his American counterpart. The series was a joint effort between British, German, American and Russian production teams.

    Episode 1, Race For Rockets, spans 1944-1949. We see Wernher von Braun’s work on the V-2 for the Nazis during the last years of the Second World War, his surrender to American troops and his move to the USA. We see Sergei Korolev’s release from the Gulag, and how he is set to work on Soviet rockets, first attempting to copy the V-2, then building a more efficient rocket of his own.

    Episode 2, Race For Satellites, spans 1953-1958. As the Cold War intensifies, Korolev is asked to build a rocket capable of carrying a five-ton warhead to America – he designs and constructs the R-7 Semyorka, and is later allowed to use it to launch the first satellite, Sputnik 1. Meanwhile, von Braun struggles to persuade the US government to allow him to launch his own satellite – after Sputnik’s launch and the failure of the US Navy to launch a Vanguard satellite, he is finally allowed to launch the first American satellite, Explorer 1.

    Episode 3, Race For Survival, spans 1959-1961. Both the Americans and Soviets are planning manned space flight, and we see both sides preparing to do so with the development of the Vostok programme (Russia) and Project Mercury (USA). After difficulties and failures on both sides, the Soviets succeed in putting Yuri Gagarin into space first, with the Americans putting Alan Shepard up shortly afterwards.

    Episode 4, Race To The Moon, spans 1964-1969. Both sides now plan to put a man on the Moon – while the Soviets struggle, the Americans pull ahead in the space race with Project Gemini, but then suffer a disaster with the Apollo 1 fire. The Soviet space programme suffers its own blows: Sergei Korolev dies when his heart fails during an operation, Soyuz 1 crashes and kills cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, and their planned moon rocket, the N-1 rocket, fails to successfully launch. In America, von Braun has difficulties with the Saturn V, but they are overcome, and the rocket successfully launches the first manned lunar mission, Apollo 8, and the first manned lunar landing, Apollo 11.

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