Segments in this Video

Introduction: Cosmonauts: Part 2 (02:21)


Though popular history portrays the United States as the victor of the space race, the Soviet Union achieved far more. This second half of the Cosmonauts documentary focuses on the Soviet space program from the race to the moon until the present.

Setbacks in the Soviet Space Program (03:58)

The Soviet Union made many of the early achievements in space, but the United States began to catch up with its ten successful Gemini missions. Soviet fortunes went downhill with the unexpected death of Sergei Korolev, the chief of its space program.

Death of the Soyuz (04:58)

The first Soviet space mission after Korolev's death was the launch of the Soyuz in 1967. The rocket was not ready, but political pressures forced the launch. Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed when the capusule's parachute system failed to deploy.

Further Soviet Setbacks (01:50)

Yuri Gagari was killed in a test flight in March 1968. In just a few years, the Soviet space program had lost its visionary leader, its symbolic hero, and a bright engineer-cosmonaut.

Race to the Moon (04:42)

As the Soviet program faltered, NASA went from strength to strength. The cosmonauts pressed on, training to use the lunar spacesuits and lander. The U.S. successfully tested the Saturn V, but the Soviet N1 exploded on takeoff, destroying the launch facilities.

Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon (02:48)

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, ending what was perhaps the greatest international competition in history. Once the race ended, NASA lost its driving purpose.

Space Colonization (03:42)

In April 1971, the Soviet Union launched the world's first space station, Salyut 1. Its first crew--Georgy Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov--spent nearly a month at the station, but all died when their capsule lost pressure on re-entry.

Life in Space (04:32)

In their experiments with space colonization, the Soviet cosmonauts discovered that life in space required some adjustment. Space sickness was obvious, but muscle and bone wasting wasn't. The cosmonauts had to exercise and take medicines to keep their bodies stable.

Mir: The First Permanent Orbital Space Station (03:28)

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch the first permanent space station. Cosmonauts aboard Mir came to see the Earth as something that transcended borders.

Partnering Aboard Mir (04:08)

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Soviet space program became an underfunded Russian program. The U.S. government partnered with Russia to prevent its scientists from working for hostile nations. Astronaut Michael Foale joined the Russians on Mir.

Cutting Corners (07:18)

To save money, the Russian government decided to have the cosmonauts on Mir bring supplies in by remote control. But the supply ship came in too fast, severely damaging the space station.

From Mir to ISS (03:40)

Mir was decommissioned and burned up in the atmosphere. In its place, 15 different space programs collaborated to build the International Space Station. It was built on knowledge and expertise accrued by the Soviet and American space programs.

Credits: Cosmonauts: Part 2 (00:44)

Credits: Cosmonauts: Part 2

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Cosmonauts: Part 2

Part of the Series : Cosmonauts
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Despite an early lead in the space exploration, the Soviet Union faced a series of setbacks during the race to the moon. The deaths of chief designer Sergei Korolev and hero Yuri Gagarin, as well as the explosion of the N1 rocket, allowed the Americans to land on the moon first. The Soviets instead began working on the first space stations. After the Soviet Union collapsed, international cooperation—not competition—became key to space exploration. 

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL93165

ISBN: 978-1-60057-848-9

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

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