Sergei Pavlovich Korolev

Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was the head Soviet rocket engineer and designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. A victim of Stalin's 1938 Great Purge, Korolev was imprisoned for almost six years, including some months in a Kolyma gulag. Following his release, he became a rocket designer and a key figure in the development of the Soviet’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program.

Photo: Korolev and one of the space dog. This is an example of forged Korolev's signature.

In 1957, during the International Geophysical Year, Sputnik 1 was launched into space on October 4 and became the world’s first satellite placed in orbit. The actual development of Sputnik was performed in less than a month and Korolev personally managed the assembly. Then, the Soviets struck again with the launch of Sputnik II on November 3 carrying Laika, the first dog in space.