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The Soviet Challenge in Space: Illustrating the Threat

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The Soviet Challenge In Space: Illustrating The Threat


Manned Space Flight

Manned space flight symbolized American and Soviet technological achievements and had significant military applications. The technology used to place astronauts or cosmonauts in orbit could also be used in military missiles. The Soviets pursued a permanent presence in space, launching the Salyut space station series beginning in 1971, followed by the Mir space station in 1986. U.S. manned space flight efforts competed with the Soviets in this race for prestige and technological superiority.

 

Vostok

Vostok

Manned space flight began on April 12, 1961, with Yuri Gagarin's single-orbit mission. The liquid-fueled, two-stage Vostok rocket that lifted Gagarin into space was used to launch a variety of military and civilian spacecraft from 1959 to the 1980s. During the 1980s, several years after this illustration was made, the Soviets began using Vostok rockets to place commercial satellites into orbit for other countries. Vostok means "east" in Russian.
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Image courtesy DIA

   
Buran

Buran

Developed in the 1970s, the Buran space shuttle resembled the U.S. Space Shuttle in design and concept. The Soviets planned to use it to place satellites in orbit and to resupply the Mir space station. The Soviets launched the Buran only once, in 1988 without a crew. This illustration was created prior to that launch. Russia canceled the program in the early 1990s after the end of the Cold War. Buran means "snowstorm in the steppes" in Russian.
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Image courtesy DIA

   
Mars Lander

Mars Lander

The Soviet Union had conceptual plans in the 1980s to send manned spacecraft to Mars in the 1990s, even though its program to land cosmonauts on the Moon failed. The mission would have required launching the spacecraft's components into Earth orbit for assembly. The roundtrip journey to Mars would have taken at least a year. This work from 1986 depicts the envisioned landing on Mars. Post-Soviet Russia canceled the program due to its expense and questions regarding its feasibility.
39k JPEG
Image courtesy DIA



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