Sergei Korolev was a major figure an driving force in the development of theRussian space program. Influenced by the ideas of interplanetary flight put forth by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky , Korolev became interested in rocketry, and in the early 1930s helped to found a rocket research group which was responsible for training numerous scientists and engineers who would later become thecore of Russia's space program.
Korolev was responsible for many of Russia's well-known achievements in spaceexploration. He helped design the rocket used for Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. The rocket was a modified Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) about 100 feet (30.48 m) in length with a weight of 300 tons (272,400 kg). This became the most widely used rocket in the world. Another success associated with Korolev was Luna 3, which wasa probe that provided the first views of the far side of the moon. In 1959 it looped around the moon, took pictures, developed them, and radioed them back to earth. This flight bolstered the prestige of the Soviet Union throughoutthe world. It was Korolev who led the design team responsible for Vostok, the first manned spacecraft that went up in 1961 with Yuri Gagarin.
Korolev was also in charge of the Venera 3 mission, the first spacecraft to impact on another planet. It landed on Venus in 1966, and even though it failed to return any information due to loss of contact, Venera 3 was able to relay a great deal of information about interplanetary space beforeit crashed. The same year, Korolev had another first when his Luna 9made the first successful soft landing on the moon. It sent back television images and showed that the feared, deep layers of lunar dust did not exist, allowing further flights and later manned missions. Korolev died in 1966 and was buried in Kremlin Wall, an honor reserved for Russians of exceptional distinction.
Korolev was also responsible for leaving behind a group of dedicated and highly trained scientists and engineers. His job entailed training large numbersof these individuals, who are still working in many space/rocket engineeringresearch institutes and design bureaus. It was Korolev who also left behind the large "cosmodrome" where flights originated. His inexhaustible energy andtalent as a researcher, his intuition regarding engineering problems, and hiscreative boldness in solving difficult tasks have established Sergei Korolevas a founding father of the Russian space program.