The medal depicts Sergei P. Korolëv (1907-1966), Russian engineer and aviator. During 1930s 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 launched 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. Korolëv's design bureau has evolved into a Russian business organization known today as the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, or RSC Energia.
This medal was created to commemorate the work of Korolëv. The reverse side depicts the first man-made satellite of the Earth, Sputnik, as it orbited the planet. Ironically, despite his pivotal role in the Soviet space program Korolëv's identity was kept secret until the time of his death