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Korolyov’s Childhood

Ilya Pankratov | Russia | 2006 | 4min

A short film about the childhood of Sergei Korolyov, the founder of the Soviet spacecraft
Directing & Concept: Ilya Pankratov

Animation by Ilya Pankratov, dedicated to the first animal in Space: Laika & Sergei P. Koroljov, the Ukrainian father of the Soviet space program.
Laika was a Moscov stray dog born around 1954 and launched into orbit with the Sputnik 2 on 3 november 1957 from Bajkonour cosmodrome. She was planned to die in space as the sputnik would burn up at re-entrance of the Earth atmosphere on May 14, 1958. It was told she died from oxygen depletion and/or she was euthanized. In reality she died after 5 to 7 hours in her fourth orbit from overheating and stress.
Nevertheless she spoke to the imagination of all children all over the world. A monument was erected for her in 2008 near the military training facility that had prepared her for flight.
The Sputnik 2 project was a rush job it was the planned to commemorate the 40 anniversary of the bolshevik revolution 7-11-1957. The Sputnik 3, a bit more suiting environment for a space dog, wouldn’t be ready before that time. So the Sputnik 2 was build.
Koreljov (1907-1966), the motor of the space-race, had a harsh life. Founding and later directing GIRD in 1931, and later RNII, both rocket development groups, he was accused in the great purge of slowing down those programs and send to the Gulag in 1938, to work in a goldmine under very harsh conditions. He barely survived. Others of the group were executed. The rocket program was thrown far behind the Germans by this. After a retrial in 1940 he was placed in a slave camp for intellectuals together with Sergei Tupolev and forced to develop military airplanes. In 1942 he was sent to another slave camp to develop military rockets, where he remained until 1944. The rocket-scientist then were handed over from the secret police to the government aviation program. The charges weren’t dropped until 1957. K. with his family present, worked in a camp behind barbed wire, but under reasonable, even luxury, conditions, compared with Moscow scientists, at the development of ballistic missiles, later the inter-continental missile R7, that after 1957 were redesigned to launch the sputniks and enter the space race with the Americans. His organizational genius brought the Soviets ahead, but from 1960 onward the toll from his gulag years, resulted in kidney failure and a weakened health state, with lots of intestine problems, that made it hard to overcome his heart failure, due to working too hard. ( But he refused to slow down)
He died in January 1966, because of a poorly executed operation for hemorrhoids, that made intubation necessary, but his jaw, also severely damaged in the Gulag, wasn’t able to heal from that. His successors hadn’t the organizational skills to continue his success, and “lost” the “Moon-race”. But after his dead Koreljov was broadly recongnized for the genius he was and as the father of Russian space programs, whose designs are until this very day still in use.
The song used in the video is: “Billie Holiday,Her Orchestra-Long Gone Blues”


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