Soviet Union

The Sputnik Shock and the Start of the Space Race

The Sputnik Shock and the Start of the Space Race

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union shocked the western world by announcing the first successful launch of an artificial satellite orbiting the earth – Sputnik 1. Prelude – The International Geophysical Year The 1950’s were politically difficult times for the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1952, the International Council of Scientific Unions declared the time lasting from July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958 as the International Geophysical Year…
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The First Woman in Space – Valentina Tereshkova

The First Woman in Space – Valentina Tereshkova

On June 16th 1963 Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman went to space with Russian space mission Vostok 6. She was selected out of more than 400 applicants to pilot Vostok 6, becoming both the first woman and the first civilian to fly in space, as she was only honorarily inducted into the USSR‘s Air Force as a condition on joining the Cosmonaut Corps. On her three-day mission in space, she performed various tests…
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Yuri Gagarin – the first Man in Space

Yuri Gagarin – the first Man in Space

On 12 April 1961, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1), Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin became both the first human to travel into space, and also the first to orbit the earth. Yuri Gagarin was born into a family of farmers. At the age of 16, he an apprenticeship as a foundryman and enrolled at a “young workers school” before started studying at the Industrial Technical School. Voluntarily, Gagarin entered a local aeronautics…
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Ilya Frank and the Cherenkov Radiation

Ilya Frank and the Cherenkov Radiation

On October 23, 1908, Soviet physicist Ilya Mikhailovich Frank was born. Frank received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958 jointly with Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov and Igor Y. Tamm for his work in explaining the phenomenon of Cherenkov radiation, an electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) passes through a dielectric medium at a speed greater than the phase velocity of light in that medium. Ilya Frank was…
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Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

On July 1, 1916, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky was born. Shklovsky identified the continuum radiation of the Crab Nebula as synchrotron radiation, and he linked x-ray stars to binary systems containing a neutron star. He is also remembered for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan in 1966 as ‘Intelligent Life in the Universe’. Iosif Shklovsky studied at…
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Lev Artsimovich, the Father of the Tokamak

Lev Artsimovich, the Father of the Tokamak

On February 25, 1909, Soviet physicist Lev Artsimovich was born. Artsimovich worked on the field of nuclear fusion and plasma physics and is best known for providing the basis of the Tokamak, a device capable of confining ultra-high temperature plasma suitable for research into controlled nuclear fusion. Lev Artsimovich studied in Minsk and starting from 1930 he worked at the Ioffe Institute in St. Petersburg. In 1944 he joined the “Laboratory number…
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Konstantin Feoktistov, Space Engineer

Konstantin Feoktistov, Space Engineer

On February 7, 1926, Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov was born. Feoktistov was part of the team that would go on to design the Sputnik, Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz spacecraft under the leadership of Sergey Korolev.[1] He trained as a cosmonaut, and eventually launched 12 Oct 1964 for 16 earth orbits as one of the crew of Voskhod 1 (with Vladimir Komarov and Boris Yegorov), the world‘s…
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Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

Leonid Kantorovich and the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

On January 19, 1912, Soviet mathematician and economist Leonid Vitaliyevich Kantorovich was born. Kantorovich shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Economics with Tjalling Koopmans for their work on the optimal allocation of scarce resources. Kantorovich was born in St. Peterburg, Russia, into a Russian Jewish family. His father Vitaliy Moiseevich Kantorovich, was a popular medical doctor specialising in sexually transmitted diseases, and his mother was Paulina Grigoryevna Zaks. Kantorovich was a child…
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The Southern Pole of Inaccessibility

The Southern Pole of Inaccessibility

On December 14, 1958, an 18-man traversing party of the 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition reached the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility. The 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition for International Geophysical Year research work was led by Yevgeny Tolstikov. The southern pole of inaccessibility is the point on the Antarctic continent most distant from the Southern Ocean. For the pole, a variety of coordinate locations have been given since some measure the coast to the…
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Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

On November 19, 1922, Soviet linguist epigrapher and ethnographer Yuri Knorozov was born. Knorozov is particularly renowned for the pivotal role his research played in the decipherment of the Maya script, the writing system used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. Knorozov was born in a village near Kharkiv in Ukraine, at that time the capital of the newly formed Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, into a family of Russian intellectuals. At school, it…
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