Audio book - 9 discs
A previous book I reviewed called Command and Control showed just how paranoid the Americans were during the Cold War. The story of the space race is closely tied to the creation of ICBMs and the days of nuclear proliferation. As a matter of fact, the space race and the missions to the moon may not have happened had the Soviets not been having technical difficulties with a heat shield.
With the Americans constantly testing Soviet air pace with bombers and U2 over-flights they felt pressured to develop a capable missile. The flight of Sputnik was a project promoted and engineered by a single man, Russia's Chief Designer, Sergei Korolev, who believed that satellites would be very valuable. Since there had been no satellites to date, neither the Americans nor the Soviets could imagine the usefulness of one.
But Sputnik did go up and it changed the world.
The book follows both sides of the missile race, concentrating on the Soviet side, we discover that they were not nearly so advanced as the United States declared. Money, politics and pride were all very important factors on both sides of the race.
The story sheds light on yet another facet of the Cold War and I found it fascinating. The book does not stop at the Sputnik 1 launch but continues well past Sputnik 2 and on to the successful launch of Explorer 1.
An interesting point to know is variants of the R-7 are still in operation today transporting material and crews to the International Space Station.