He was born 12 January 1907 in Zhytomyr, Ukraine; died 14 January 1966 in Moscow, Russia. He was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s.
His father, Pavel Yakovlevich Korolev, was a Russian migrant and his mother, Maria Mykolayivna Moskalenko, was Ukrainian. His father had originally moved to Zhytomyr to be a teacher of Russian language. Three years after his birth his parents divorced.
Korolev grew up in Nizhyn, under the care of his grandparents. His mother had wanted an advanced education, and so she was often taking courses in Kiev. He grew up a lonely child with few friends, but he proved a good student, especially in mathematics. In 1916 his mother married Grigory Mikhailovich Balanin, an electrical engineer, and Grigory proved a good influence on the child. Grigory moved the family to Odessa in 1917.
Korolev continued his schooling at the Odessa Building Trades School, where he received vocational training in carpentry and in various academics. However his primary interest was in aeronautical engineering. He made an independent study of flight theory, and also worked in the local glider club.
In 1923 he joined the Society of Aviation and Aerial Navigation of Ukraine and the Crimea. There he had his first flying lesson. In 1924 he personally designed a glider called the K-5.
In 1925 he was accepted into a limited class on glider construction. He was allowed to fly the training glider on which he worked, but ended up with two broken ribs. In 1926 he was accepted into the Bauman Moscow State Technical University.
• In 1930, Korolev earned his pilot's license. The next year, on 6 August, he was wed to Xenia Vincentini. • In 1934, Korolev published the work "Rocket Flight in Stratosphere".• On 10 April 1935, Korolev's wife gave birth to their daughter, Natasha. In 1936 they were able to move out of his parents' home and into their own apartment.
Xenia Vincentini and Sergei Korolev
The actual development of Sputnik was performed in less than a month. This was a very simple design. Korolev personally managed the assembly, and the work was very hectic. Finally on 4 October 1957, launched on a rocket that had only successfully launched once, the satellite was placed in orbit. Less than a month away, on 3 November, the result was Sputnik 2.
New spacecraft would have six times the mass of the Sputnik 1, and would include as a payload the dog Laika. It was successfully launched on 3 November and the dog was placed in orbit.
Sergei Korolev and a dog Laika
The dog is prepared for flight.
A monument to Laika near the military research facility in Moscow
Awards and honors
Among his awards, Korolev was twice bestowed the Hero of Socialist Labor in 1956 and 1961. He was also a Lenin Prize winner in 1971, and was awarded the Order of Lenin three times, the Order of the Badge of Honour and the medal "For Labour Valour".
In 1958 he was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1969 and 1986, the USSR issued 10 kopek postage stamps honoring Korolev. In addition he was made an Honorary Citizen of Korolyov and received the 800th Anniversary of Moscow Medal.
Sergey Korolev on a Soviet Union
1969 Stamp (10 kopeks)