Rockets and People, Volume I - Memoirs of Russian Space Pioneer Boris Chertok, Early Years Through World War II, Nazi Missile Technology (NASA SP-2005-4110) by World Spaceflight News

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Book review

Much has been written in the West on the history of the Soviet space program but few Westerners have read direct first-hand accounts of the men and women who were behind the many Russian accomplishments in exploring space. The memoirs of Academician Boris Chertok, translated from the original Russian, fills that gap. This official NASA history series document has been converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction.

In this Volume 1, Chertok describes his early years as an engineer and ends with the mission to Germany after the end of World War II when the Soviets captured Nazi missile technology and expertise.

Chertok began his career as an electrician in 1930 at an aviation factory near Moscow. Twenty-seven years later, he became deputy to the founding figure of the Soviet space program, the mysterious "Chief Designer" Sergey Korolev. Chertok's sixty-year-long career and the many successes and failures of the Soviet space program constitute the core of his memoirs, Rockets and People. In these writings, spread over four volumes, Academician Chertok not only describes and remembers, but also elicits and extracts profound insights from an epic story about a society's quest to explore the cosmos.

Contents: Series Introduction by Asif A. Siddiqi * Foreword by Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.) * Preface to the English Language Edition * A Few Notes about Transliteration and Translation * List of Abbreviations * 1 Introduction: A Debt to My Generation * 2 On the Times and My Contemporaries * 3 Between Two Aerodromes * 4 School in the Twenties * 5 Factory No. 22 * 6 In the Bolkhovitinov Design Bureau and KOSTR * 7 Arctic Triumphs and Tragedies * 8 "Everything Real Is Rational..." * 9 Return to Bolkhovitinov * 10 On the Eve of War * 11 At the Beginning of the War * 12 In the Urals * 13 15 May 1942 * 14 Back in Moscow * 15 Moscow—Poznan—Berlin * 16 May Days in Berlin * 17 What Is Peenemunde? * 18 To Thuringia * 19 Nordhausen—City of Missiles and Death * 20 Birth of the Institute RABE * 21 Operation "Ost" * 22 Special Incidents * 23 In Search of a Real Boss * 24 Korolev, Glushko, and Our First Encounters in Germany * 25 Engine Specialists * 26 The Institute Nordhausen

NASA issued a statement about the passing of this pioneer: Russian rocket designer Boris Yevseyevich Chertok, one of the founding fathers of the Russian space program, passed away on Dec. 14, 2011 at the age of 99. We share the loss of Boris Chertok with our Russian colleagues," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. "He was he a spaceflight pioneer and an inspiration to everyone associated with spaceflight. I remember him coming into the control center in Moscow in the middle of the night at the age of 97. He was an inspiration to every flight controller in Moscow. I also remember fondly sitting in Korolev's apartment in Moscow, now a museum, and having Boris describe meetings with Korolev, the general designer, at his kitchen table. The passion in Boris' eyes and voice gave me a unique insight into the Russian team and operations. Boris's speech this year at the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight was amazing and awe inspiring. His books and memoirs are a true treasure. He was a friend of NASA and he will be missed. His spirit will live on in the hearts of the Russian and American human spaceflight team." Born in 1912 in Poland, Academician Chertok began his career as an electrician in Moscow before joining the aircraft design bureau of Viktor Bolkhovitinov. In 1946, he joined the newly established NII-88 institute as head of the control systems department and worked hand-in-hand with famed Chief Designer Sergey Korolev.


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