"Sputnik"

n the annual report to the USSR Academy of Sciences, submitted on 25 June 1955, Korolyov advocated a major Soviet space effort. In the report, he stated that launches of both satellites and piloted spacecraft had been proven possible, and that a satellite design project could be completed by the end of 1956. He also proposed a single commission to coordinate all work on space, instead of the existing two commissions the Blagonravov Commission for the Investigation of the Upper Layers of the Atmosphere, and Sedovís Commission on Interplanetary Communications. The following day he sent a memo, with the same satellite and human spaceflight proposals, to the Central Committee. The memo proposed a unified method for the control and management of space program and the creation of a special government sub-division on the development of Earth satellites, and also addressed the problem of piloted flights on rockets. However, it is unclear whether these reports had any affect on the final decision to proceed with a satellite. On 2 August a Moscow press announcement stated that the Soviet Union planned to place a satellite in Earth orbit during the International Geophysical Year. At that time, Academician Leonid I. Sedov was attending the 6th International Astronautical Federation Congress in Copenhagen, and added fuel to the story by stating that the Soviets would launch their satellite in 1957. He also said that it would be much bigger than anything that the Americans were planning.

Mikhail Tikhonravov's famous "satellite team" shown here in a photo from 1970. It was during 1950-54 that these young men and women developed the first engineering conceptions of a Soviet Earth satellite. Sitting from left are: Vladimir Galkovsky, Gleb Maksimov, Lidiya Soldatova, Mikhail Tikhonravov and Igor Yatsunskiy. Standing from left to right are: Grigoriy Moskalenko, Oleg Gurko and Igor Bazhinov.


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