Sergei Korolev

Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer (1907-1966)

Sergei Pavlovich Korolev (Russian: Сергей Павлович Королёв, Ukrainian: Сергі́й Па́влович Корольо́в) (12 January 190714 January 1966) was a lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He is regarded by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was involved in the development of the R-7 Rocket, Sputnik 1, launching Laika, Sputnik 3, Belka and Strelka, and the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, into space.

Sergei Korolev in 1937


  • The further conquest of space will make it possible, for example, to create systems of satellites making daily revolutions around our planet at an altitude of some 40,000 kilometers, and to assure universal communications and the relaying of radio and television transmissions. There is no such thing as an unsolvable problem.
  • The time will come when a spacecraft carrying human beings will leave the earth and set out on a voyage to distant planets to remote worlds. Today this may seem only an enticing fantasy, but such in fact is not the case. The launching of the first two Soviet Sputniks has already thrown a sturdy bridge from the earth into space, and the way to the stars is open.
    • Abbreviated Lives Tragic Tales of Artists Scientists and Writers, pg. 128 (2022)
  • Anyone can build complicated. Our actions are determined by simplicity.
    • SOS im All. Pannen, Probleme und Katastrophen der bemannten Raumfahrt [SOS in Space. Breakdowns, Problems and Disasters in Manned Spaceflight], pg. 163 (2000)
  • Today the dreams of the best sons of mankind have come true. The assault on space has begun.
    • As quoted in 1957, Red Star in Orbit by James Oberg (1981)

Everything is going fine, even better than I thought, and, it seems, for the first time in my life I feel tremendous satisfaction, and I want to shout something into the wind that hugs my face and makes my red bird shudder with gusts.
And somehow I can’t believe that such a heavy piece of metal and wood can fly. But it is enough just to break away from the Earth, as you feel that the car seems to come to life and flies with a whistle, obedient to every movement of the steering wheel. Isn't it the greatest satisfaction and reward to fly in your own car?! For the sake of this, you can forget everything: and a whole string of sleepless nights, days spent in hard work without rest, without a break. — In a letter to his mother after testing his first aircraft design in 1927


Всё идёт прекрасно, даже лучше, чем я думал, и, кажется, первый раз в жизни чувствую колоссальное удовлетворение, и мне хочется крикнуть что-то навстречу ветру, обнимающему моё лицо и заставляющему вздрагивать мою красную птицу при порывах.
И как-то не верится, что такой тяжёлый кусок металла и дерева может летать. Но достаточно только оторваться от Земли, как чувствуешь, что машина словно оживает и летит со свистом, послушная каждому движению руля. Разве не наибольшее удовлетворение и награда самому летать на своей же машине?! Ради этого можно забыть всё: и целую вереницу бессонных ночей, дней, потраченных в упорной работе без отдыха, без передышки…


You can do it quickly, but badly, or you can do it slowly, but well. After a while, everyone will forget that it was fast, but will remember that it was bad. And vice versa. — Лидерство по-русски (2022)


Можно сделать быстро, но плохо, а можно — медленно, но хорошо. Через некоторое время все забудут, что было быстро, но будут помнить, что было плохо. И наоборот.


Patriotism, courage, modesty, sobriety of instant calculation, iron will, knowledge, love for people - these are the defining features, without which there can be no cosmonaut. — «Каким я знала Серёжу» (2019)


Патриотизм, отвага, скромность, трезвость мгновенного расчета, железная воля, знания, любовь к людям — вот определяющие черты, без которых не может быть космонавта.


What seemed unrealizable for centuries, which yesterday was only a daring dream, today becomes a real task, and tomorrow - an accomplishment. — Сергей Королев: «Нет преград человеческой мысли» (2015)


То, что казалось несбыточным на протяжении веков, что вчера было лишь дерзновенной мечтой, сегодня становится реальной задачей, а завтра — свершением.


Cosmonautics has a boundless future, its prospects are boundless, like the Universe itself! — "Всем в космос"


Космонавтика имеет безграничное будущее, ее перспективы беспредельны, как сама Вселенная!

About Sergei Korolev

  • The Soviets deliberately created their own geographic confusion, trying to conceal the location of their manned space center. By 1957, CIA spy planes had spotted the pad near the Central Asian railway station of Tyura-Tam, which CIA analysts proceeded to misspell forever after as "Tyuratam." In 1961, the Soviets, in a vain attempt at ex post facto geographic disinformation, named their launch site "Baikonur," which was itself a clumsy transliteration of Baikonyr, a small mining village hundreds of miles from the space base. When Kazakhstan became autonomous in 1991 and took nominal sovereignty over the spaceport, its leaders began referring to it as "Baikonyr." Perhaps someday the Russians can drop the now- admitted fraud once and for all and name the space base for the man who founded it, Sergei Korolev; then all the world's maps could carry a single -- and honorable -- designation.
  • He was very positive; it was inside him. He tried to attract different people of all levels beginning from the worker. In his work place there was everybody. I worked in the competitive design bureau, but I met with him many times. I have nothing against him, but I had this feeling, which was bringing me to him, because he was the person who could make everybody work for him, and not really pressing them for it.
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