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  Putin: space history "distorted deliberately"

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Author Topic:   Putin: space history "distorted deliberately"
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-22-2009 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interfax: Putin regrets that space exploration history is often falsified
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has expressed regret over the fact that space exploration history is often distorted and falsified.

"Some facts are distorted deliberately and some are hushed up," Putin said at the opening meeting of the committee tasked to organize events to mark the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin‘s first ever human space flight in 2011.

"Even in Russian shops you can buy books and educational computer programs that do not say a word either about the first satellite from Earth or Gagarin‘s flight," Putin said.

"But you can find any details and facts about Mr. [Wernher] von Braun, who created the V-2 [rocket], and about the flight to the Moon, which is also one of humankind‘s most important achievements," Putin said.

"The 50th anniversary of Gagarin‘s flight is an opportunity once again to remind the international community about Russia‘s key role in space exploration and significance of domestic exploration programs for all of humankind," he said.

"To this end, I think we need to employ the Russian informational resources, such as printed media, the Internet, and television, as much as possible. And, of course, we need to carefully analyze the quality of textbooks used in our schools," he said.


Posts: 507
From: Louisville CO US
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-01-2010 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The basic history of the Soviet era programs is solid, but the detailed history and technical details still nest many distortions and inaccuracies.

I know I have beat this horse to death already, but the solution is fairly simple.
Put real materials online. Bring the real history alive beyond the TASS reports, the same old still photos, and the occasional first hand memory filtered by a journalist.

Bring out the videotapes, transcripts, engineering documentation, and flight reports. Stop teasing the interested parties with little bits and pieces of information that demonstrate that the material exists.

This year we lost two great cosmonauts and dozens of others that made the early programs happen. Yet, all we get is the same basic details and propoganda. Pavel Popovich and Konstantin Feoktistov deserve better than that.

Lou Chinal

Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 01-01-2010 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bravo Kyra! I couldn't agree more. I've also expressed similar ideas on this site. There are a hundred questions about the early USSR programs lingering. I have said it before I would love to see a "Vostok Familiarization Manual".

If Putin is serious he could at least attemp to lift the veil of secrecy.


Posts: 222
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 01-02-2010 02:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem, in my opinion, is that the Soviet manned space programme was run under many separate bodies - Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Heavy Machinery, various - many times heavily competing - construction bureaus (OKBs) and many others. So I think there was nothing like the NASA archives, something under one roof.

Then came the fall of the Soviet Union followed by the chaos where many materials might have been lost forever or moved somewhere without the proper cataloguisation or are still put in some ministry's dusty cellar waiting for some enthusiast to be re-discovered.

Some good materials are owned by the Russian Videocosmos company listed on the Ivan Safronov's page You can find there for example very good Ministry of Defense movies on the flights of all six Vostoks, many films from the N1, Buran, Salyut and Mir programmes, unmanned lunar and planetary missions, etc. Trouble is, it's nearly all in Russian. Some are complete, some are only partial films, the rest maybe lost.

Then there is another view - the propaganda and the propaganda pathos. Let's take the Vostok movies as an example. They are excellent, I did not see anything better yet, but you will hear several times how everything is achieved only thanks to the Communist Party and its clever leadership. But it belongs to that particular period and circumstances, you have to "swallow" it or to ignore it, there's probably nothing better yet. You will see the complete preparation and assembly of both the launcher and the capsule, cosmonaut training, suiting and walkout, the launch pad ceremony with many kisses, interior inflight TV footage. What you will not hear are the problems with the Vostok modules' troubled separations, on the other hand it's clearly said that cosmonauts ejected before landing, which fact was kept in secrecy from the rest of the world. And these movies are from the period 1961-1963, while the launcher and the Vostok capsule were revealed to the world in 1967 in Paris the first time.

And what about Voskhod? I haven't seen any complete material covering the whole flights similar to the Vostok films. Were they not produced? I doubt it, more probably they are forgotten or in the worse case lost.

So to finish this longer post all I want to say is that if Mr. Putin wants better coverage of the early Soviet spaceflight era he needs to establish an official group of experts with full powers to dig everywhere without any limits and to find and restore that what still exists - something similar to the Spacecraft Films for the video part and Apogee Books for the printed materials.

And this rescued pool of the original material can be in the next step used for the new history books and films Mr. Putin is asking for.


Posts: 507
From: Louisville CO US
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-03-2010 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RGANTD in Moscow and RSC Energia have a great deal of material. RGANDT has literally thousands of audio and video reels, technical reports, and schematics.

Here are the issues:

  1. They keep very short restricted hours.
  2. They pre-approve whom they consider to be a researcher, and ask in advance what specific topic they will research
  3. A request for a specific item does not mean they will bring it to the front desk. Unavailabilty can be for many "reasons" at discretion of the staff.
  4. They have strict rules about what, where why and how any copied material is used.
I have heard from several sources and experienced first hand that the staff is not friendly and actually prefer to stall or block serious research.

They do put up a website that advertises the wealth of material they have. But don't expect the staff will even acknowledge any e-mail sent to them. They put up web pages with mostly low resolution material that is rarely useful for any serious research purpose.

Energia's website has only basic facts that have been repeated for over 20 years on historic programs. They will not answer e-mail.


Posts: 150
From: UK
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-04-2010 04:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree totally with Kyra's sentiments, and perhaps the 50th Anniversary of Gagarin represents a 'one off' chance to lift the long standing veil of secrecy, once and for all.

The basic framework of early Soviet space history is fairly well documented and accepted by serious historians, but there are still many gaps in the detail and some figures who's roles have been understated.

As someone who has tried to uncover fresh information and material on the Vostok era, and especially the Tereshkova female group for years, the gaps and omissions in the information which has been released down the years are obvious.

The same old tired images, photos and quotes are endlessly recycled such that the true stories and facts have become swamped in the distortions and rhetoric of the 1960's and the true facts are in danger of being lost forever.

Sadly, Tereshkova, for example, as one of the few surviving principle players, refuses to divulge any fresh material or perspectives, just repeating her carefully rehearsed 1960's soundbites.

From time to time a different photograph or interview does emerge which only serves to evidence the existence of such 'new material' hidden in some unseen, hidden archive and to cast doubt on previously accepted truths, but this process is so painfully slow that all the key players will be long gone, before the full and true picture emerges.

If the committee tasked with celebrating Gagarin's flight wish to create some lasting and enduring memorial to his achievement, then an open, accessible and comprehensive archive, of the history of Soviet manned spaceflight, available to all students, historians and researchers would be a very fitting legacy.

To be fair, Putin's words do seem to allude to creating something along these lines:

"To this end, I think we need to employ the Russian informational resources, such as printed media, the Internet, and television, as much as possible..." he has said.

Whether he and his colleagues will go as far as some of us would like is less certain, but the words do seem to indicated that something exciting may be in the pipeline.


Posts: 888
From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 01-04-2010 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if Putin is also referring to the widely-held belief that in late 1963 Khruschev was going to accept Kennedy's offer of a joint flight to the Moon by US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts? If that had happened, who knows where we would be today.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 01-06-2010 12:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know if we will get anything new on Voskhod considering it first flew right when Nikita Krushchev was pushed out of office. Many of the people that came to power after didn't exactly share his same enthusiasm for space flight.

It was something of a crash program as well to fly three men and as such, the Soviets weren't exactly keen on letting slip too many details about it.

I agree with kyra's remarks. Putin, if you want better reporting, give us more material. Granted there are a lot of very smart western enthusiasts, historians and journalists who have pieced together the material we have now. But it always seems to be a game of hide and seek when it comes to finding new data.


Posts: 222
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 01-06-2010 02:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even in case there are no "official" movies on Voskhod missions there must be a lot of bits which when recovered and put together could result in a very interesting footage.

Assembly, training, pre-launch preparations, launches and post-landing activiies were always covered substantially. Even in Voskhod 2 heavily overshot taiga landing case the first group of rescuers contained of the forest guide, doctor and the cameraman (according to the "Two Sides of the Moon" memoire by A. Leonov and D. Scott).

Voskhod 1 parachute descent has been observed by the rescue plane crew and the helicopter rescue party must have had a cameraman who covered the landing site activities.

The Russian TV First Channel brings very interesting programmes on spaceflight from time to time. Last year I saw a document on the Lake Tengiz emergency landing of Soyuz 23 with a few never before seen photos showing the towing of the spaceship by the helicopter to the shore and maybe 100-200 observers on the shore, both rescuers and bystanders. But no film footage. It's hard to believe there was no film camera there.

This bits recovery will be very difficult and let's just hope that - with Mr.Putin's official "blessing" - this will happen and the result will be very interesting.

There is one condition however - it has to be done by somebody who themselves are spaceflight enthusiasts and who will not exclude or put aside something what in their opinion might not be "interesting enough".

All times are CT (US)

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