Korolyov and Von Braun
In the 1930s, Russian engineer and aviator Sergei P. Korolëv headed GIRD, a Moscow-based group of rocket enthusiasts that built and tested the first liquid-propellant rockets in the USSR.
After World War II, Korolëv was appointed head of one of the USSR’s missile-development design bureaus. By 1957, his bureau built and launch the R-7, the first operational intercontinental ballistic missile, which was used to propel Sputniks into Earth orbit and Luna spacecraft to the Moon.
Korolëv’s work defined the Soviet school of rocket and spacecraft design, including the Vostok and Soyuz manned spacecraft, various ballistic missiles and scientific rockets, the Zenit reconnaissance satellite, Molniya communications satellites and manned lunar spacecraft. Korolëv’s design bureau has evolved into a Russian business organization known today as Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, or RSC Energia.
Shortly after NASA was created, the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency research group led by Wernher von Braun was transferred to the civilian space agency, and in 1960 it became the core of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Until 1970, von Braun served as the first director of the Marshall Center, which was responsible for developing rocket engines and launch vehicles, including the American “Moon rocket”, the giant Saturn V.
Von Braun was an avid proponent of space exploration. In the 1950s, he collaborated on a series of popular magazine articles and television shows depicting future space travel.