The magnificent seven
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The magnificent seven The magnificent seven

      1.    In September 1944 London was  bombarded  by  the  world's  first
ballistic missile, V2, "Vengeance  Weapon  No.  2".  It  did  not  make  the
slightest deflection in the course of the World  War  II,  however  gave  an
impetus to brainwork of American and Soviet rocketeers.
      In the course of Hermes operation in  1945  American  agents  secretly
took a group of German rocketeers away from the  Soviets'  occupation  zone.
The group was headed by Walter Dornberger, the leader of  the  Nazi  missile
project, and Werner von Braun, General Designer of A-4 missile  (first  name
V-2). In addition, parts necessary for assembly of one hundred  of  missiles
were taken across the Atlantic.
      2.    Sergei Korolyov, who was sent to Germany with the same  mission,
also managed to select some German  specialists,  documents  and  materials.
One  of  such  engineers  was  Helmut   Grettrup,   Braun's   assistant   in
electronics. The last event on the "rocketry  scene"  in  '45  was  a  trial
launch of several V-2s, organized  by  General  Eisenhower.  Those  launches
were attended by the future General Designer of the Soviet  rockets,  Sergei
Korolyov. A little after the ex-Allies cast the veil of  secrecy  and  began
to actively analyze their trophies. Mr. Braun and his companions tested  A-4
missile in White) Sands, New Mexico. Korolyov did the same on  Kapustin  Yar
rocket range in Russia. Helmut Grettrup and 150 more engineers designed  G-1
rocket, based on A-4 prototype.
      Mr. Korolyov and his teammates clearly saw weak spots of A-4,  however
Stalin's order sounded  unambiguously:  the  rocket  had  to  be  duplicated
without any modifications. On September 1947 the first Soviet  analogue,  R-
1, was launched in Kapustin Yar. Simultaneously,  a  new,  improved  missile
was being designed, R-2. It was commissioned in 1951. Laterthe  experimental
rocket R-3Aand its following modification, R-5 were created. I_By the  early
'50s Soviet rocketeers had enough experience  creating  one-stage  ballistic
missiles.  A  group  of  German  scientists  headed  by  Mr.  Grettrup  also
presented  their  project  in  1947.  Although  the  project  offered  quite
advanced  solutions,  it  was  not  approved  and  the  Germans  were   soon
      3.    In 1947, Mr. M.K. Tikhonravov, a  Head  of  the  group  studying
multistage rockets at the Research Institute of Artillery, proposed  to  use
a bunch, or a "packet" of R-3 rockets as the first  stage.  This  was  named
"packet design". During the years 1949-1950  Tikhonravov  group  designed  a
project of a two-stage packet-design rocket. Calculations proved  that  this
rocket was able to deliver three tons to a distance of 3000 km and, what  is
more important, a spacecraft could be lifted to  the  Earth  orbit.  In  the
beginning of 1953 the Soviet Government commanded  to  start  a  project  on
creation of R-7, a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile.
      4.    Concurrently with the creation of "the seven", a spacecraft  was
also being designed. By the end of 1955 the preliminary  project  was  ready
and creation of Sputnik began. According to the project, the  satellite  had
to weigh some 1400 kg and bear 300  kg  of  scientific  equipment.  However,
parameters of the supposed carrier did not allow the lift  this  much  load.
The decision was made to cut the weight of a satellite  at  the  expense  of
scientific equipment.
      5.    As we remember,  first-rate  German  specialists  and  parts  of
rockets were brought to the United States. In 1946 at the White Sands  Range
the first launch of A-4 rocket was made. The  Americans  started  developing
their rocketry program and Werner von Braun had no small  share  in  it.  He
was the General Designer of a  two-stage  rocket  named  Bumper,  where  A-4
itself served as the first stage. On July 24,1950, Bumper was launched  from
a new range located on the Canaveral Cape. In the same year Research  Center
moved from the White Sands to the Redstone Arsenal, located  in  Huntsville,
Alabama and Mr. Braun's team began to work  on  the  Redstone  rocket  which
also was a further modification of A-4.
      Back in Peenemuende, Germany Werner von Braun already matured plans of
orbiting a satellite for spying upon adversary. These were plans  to  create
a two-stage powerful rocket based on A-4, which would  be  able  to  develop
the first  cosmic  velocity  with  spaceborne  payload.  That  project  died
      In 1948 the Secretary of Defense of the U.S. announced the  intentions
to orbit a shell-satellite in the nearest future, for military  purpose,  of
course. This project required  colossal  expenses  on  both  creation  of  a
booster  rocket  and  a  spacecraft.  It  was  just  about  the  time   when
semiconductor transistor was only patented; electronics  would  have  become
miniature much later.
      In 1951 members of the British  Interplanetary  Society  issued  their
work titled "Minimum Satellite", where a concept of orbiting of a  satellite
was described at utilization of existing technologies  and  components.  One
of the problems encountered by creators of a two-stage  rocket  was  startup
of the second-stage engines in weightlessness. Liquid propellant  would  not
flow to where it was necessary. To make a solid  fuel  stage,  a  completely
new class of solid propellants had to be created. In a packet design  rocket
the engines of the both stages could be started up already  on  earth  which
led to some loss in hoist capacity, but added much robustness.
      The Second International Geophysical Year was  proclaimed  since  July
1957 through December 1958. Within the framework of this event the U.S.  and
the USSR  were  going  to  launch  their  first  satellites.  The  Americans
announced their intention in July 1955.  The  ad  hoc  committee  chose  the
Vanguard project, proposed by the Naval Research Laboratory.
      However, in 1955 Dwight Eisenhower, the then President  of  the  U.S.,
announced about the priority of  military  projects.  This  made  the  civil
program Vanguard a matter of secondary importance. The Martin  Company  (now
Lockheed Martin), where Vanguard rocket  was  being  created,  obtained  the
order on creation of Titan ballistic missile.  The  most  of  the  company's
resources were retargeted to the military project.
      In February 1956 the Vanguard rocket was ready.  The  'Martin  Company
and NRL carried out a  number  of  trial  launches  from  December  1956  to
October 1957. The launch of a satellite was scheduled to December 1957.
      While the Martin  Company  built  their  Vanguard,  Mr.  Braun's  team
designed their Redstone rocket. A modified A-4 was used as the first  stage,
the second and third ones were packets  of  solid  propellant  accelerators.
That rocket was first launched in September 1956. The  carrier  delivered  a
dummy warhead over a distance of 5300 kilometers.
      6.    In 1955 near Tyura-Tam station in Kazakhstan construction  of  a
rocket range began, which later became Baikonur Spaceport.  On  May  15  the
first "seven" started from this range. The first three launches  failed.  On
August 21 the fourth launch was made. The rocket  successfully  started  and
several days after the debris of its head were found  in  prescribed  region
on Kamchatka Peninsula.
      7.    Americans realized that orbiting of the first satellite  in  the
USSR was a matter of weeks. They even called a  conference  devoted  to  the
subject. The conference was scheduled on October 4, 1957, but  a  few  hours
later the world was told the news: the USSR was the first  state  to  launch
an artificial satellite, Sputnik.
      On December, 6 the Vanguard carrier exploded on a launchpad. The first
American satellite, Explorer  I,  was  orbited  on  January  31,1958,  by  a
modified Redstone carrier named Jupiter C.


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