"The following is a complete, unedited, unverified interview, portions of which were utilized in the Red Files PBS broadcast. Statements therein are the sole opinion of the interviewee, and do not reflect the views of PBS, DDE or Series and Web Site producer Abamedia, which are not Responsible for the interview content."

Interview with James Harford
Sergei P. Korolev's Biographer

James Harford being interviewed for the filmInterviewer: Are you interested in this guy Korolev and why?

James Harford: I had heard from a lot of other guys in American rocket program that there was a chief designer. Probably I heard those rumors in the early 1950s, but nobody knew his name. And I had become of course really interested in what the Russians were doing as soon as they launched Sputnik in 1957. So I decided that I was going to be one of those who would really study as much as I could from unclassified sources, what the Russians were doing. I had a rigorous job. I traveled a lot so I wasn't able to put a lot of time into that. But I decided to study the language, went to the Princeton Adult Education School and took courses once a week for 10 weeks and then got cassettes, and kept reading everything that was published. I wanted to stay away from the classified literature. I wanted to be able to speak about whatever I could.

Russians would sometimes come to meetings of the American Rocket Society where I was working and I made it my business to get to know them as well as I could. They were always very standoffish. They had badges, which did not reveal really where they worked. They would say something innocuous like 'Academy of Sciences' or whatever, but I would get to know them. I would sometimes ask them blunt questions about what they were up to but really never got a good response.

Korolev, himself, I never knew like anybody else until he died in 1966. I mean it's incredible that this guy was anonymous throughout his career. It was vexing to him too, I hear, but I never knew who he was until he died. The Russian people did not know who he was until he died; only the insiders knew him.

You have to realize that at the end of the war, these people were absolutely flat on their back. They had lost 20 million people during the war, not counting the 10s of millions that were lost in the Gulags. They were given an old artillery plant outside of Moscow. I mean it was a mess. They used to have to use boxes for their design tables for their engineers. The roof leaked, it was cold as hell inside. And yet these guys were able to develop under those conditions. Workers getting sick, they didn't have any food, they had to actually commandeer plots to grow their own vegetables so that they could feed people. In those days, of course, and for many years, the plant was where everything happened, the doctors, the schools and whatever. They, under those circumstances, started of course with German technology. Stalin insisted that they first learn how to build the V2, which they did. But then taking off from there, they developed the R2. The R1 was the V2. They actually built their own V2s, called it an R1.

This team of engineers who had the job, incredibly difficult job, had come from Germany, where they had learnt what they could about the V2. They were headed by a guy named Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Korolev had been made a colonel in the Red Army in Germany and had really begun to assume his kind of leadership of this group of Russians, while in Germany. Back here he's made head of the Long-Range Rocket Program by Stalin himself. He's in this miserable situation with a factory that was leaking. Terrible. But the team came together. Guys like Valentine Gloshko who was the premier rocket engine designer for Korolev throughout his career, although they had plenty of differences. Boris Chertock who had been in Germany with Korolev. Vassily Mishin is still alive by the way, in his 80s, is still teaching at Moscow State University, had been one of the major figures there. Boris Rauschenbach is still alive today in his 80s, an academician I think. But it was a relatively small group, a 100 or so. And their funding, who knows where it came from, but they were being backed by Stalin and therefore had full-blown go ahead on what they were doing.

Interviewer: They were together in the 30s, well some of them were. What was Korolev doing?

Harford: Some of these people had been in a small team that had really advanced liquid rocket work in the 1930s at about the same level as (Von Braun) had in Germany. Perhaps not as good as what Robert Goddard down in the United States, but comparable. It was a great blow to Korolev in fact, to have experienced what he did during the war. To have been cut off in effect for about 7 years from that work by his Gulag experience. They had really a very good background for rocket work. So it wasn't as if they were at zero speed, even though they were going to pick up on German V2 technology.

You have to remember that Korolev had a consuming passion for space flight way back. I mean he himself, originally as a student, had been a glider designer, glider pilot in his teenage years. This is still way back in Odessa in Kiev, although space flight didn't become his consuming passion until, probably when he got to Moscow. He came to Moscow in 1926. What was he? Nineteen years old. He became a student of Andrei Tupolev and it's then that he must have heard about Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the great thinker. Almost everybody acknowledges him to be the father of space travel. Robert Goddard was the father of American rocketry, but Tsiolkovsky really was the father of space travel. He read about Tsiolkovsky. By the way it's not clear whether he ever met him. It's argued about that. This young fellow whose dreams were not only to go to the Moon but to go to Mars and Venus. You know his bag was a big one. He had wanted to know Gloushko in the 1930s. Gloushko's rocket operations up in St. Petersburg which was then, I guess, Leningrad, were subsistent. Korolev and Gloushko got together because a general, a very very able Red Army general, had discovered what these two different groups were doing, one in Leningrad, one in Moscow, and said "We'd better get them together, we've got something here that's very promising for the Red Army." Well you know what happened to Gloushko? He was arrested for alleged conspiracy with the Germans. A trumped up charge. He was executed and poor Korolev himself in the next year was sent to a camp for alleged subversion of the new technology.

I interviewed one of Korolev's colleagues from back in that time; we are talking 1938 now, at the time at which Korolev was arrested. He said in those days it was only necessary for 2 guys to say a third guy was bad, and that was it. We lost our ability perhaps to speak in those days. So you know it was one of them who told this story and his face looked so sad. He is now in his 80s. It was terrible when you think of what it did to the Russian Space Program, because they could have had those teams working together throughout the war. And likely they would at least have been up to the Germans, and maybe ahead of the Germans. So it was a terrible blow to Korolev and to the team.

Tukhachevsky was arrested and shot and all the members of his family were shot as well. Several of Korolev's colleagues at what was then called the Research Institute for Rocketry, his two bosses in effect, were shot as well. Glouschko was arrested, and sent to jail and Korolev was arrested as well. Taken away in the middle of the night. His wife tells the story of having these 2 NKVD men come in at 3 o'clock in the morning. They take Korolev off, not even allowing him to see his 3-year-old child in bed. She said she was not allowed to give him even a change of clothing and off he went.

So you must remember that Korolev, even though his assignment from Stalin was to build a long-range ballistic missile, wanted to go to space. And he was able to generate among members of his own team a desire to really explore space. He had been doing this work with mice and rats. Sending animals up into space on ballistic trajectories. But I think there's a paper back as early as 1950 on his plans to one day not only to put up a satellite, but to explore the Moon, and Mars and Venus. It was in his plan all along. He hired a very able guy, who had the idea putting a satellite up. It didn't come from Korolev interestingly enough. Tsiolkovsky hadn't even written about the idea of a satellite. Korolev nursed that idea until the time was right. Then he was able to put the ballistic missile up. He goes to Khrushchev and says "'You know I can put a satellite up". You know I sort of fantasized that it went like, "You what? You'll put a satellite up?" "Yes." "What's that?" "Well..." And, "Go ahead and do it." That was the kind of attitude that apparently Khrushchev, in that period, had towards space flight. If you want to do it, but don't let it get in the way of that ballistic missile work.

The military was not sympathetic at all with the idea of colluding their effort to build long-range rockets. And, of course, they were terribly important. The Russians didn't have the bomber capability that we in the United States have. The idea of being able to do something with a long-range rocket was just right. Korolev said, "You know this is my first step towards space flight." You must remember that the ICBM launch took place in August of 1957, after 5 failures by the way, 3 aborts on the launch pad, 2 explosions. Then a successful launch all the way from Baykonur. Six weeks later he put Sputnik up, 6 weeks later! .

Interviewer: Jim, how quickly after the success of the ICBM launch did he make his next move? What happened next?

Harford: Well it seems incredible that it was only 6 weeks after the launch of the first successful ICBM. That was on August 21st 1957. October 4th up goes Sputnik, 6 weeks. It's also kind of ironic that Khrushchev had apparently given tacit permission for this. Nobody really knows what happened there. His reaction at first was rather, maybe phlegmatic is too strong a word, but TASS itself gave only a couple of paragraphs to the successful launch. The world's first successful satellite. It was a TASS bulletin. It didn't even say 'first satellite launch' in the headline. One of the Russians told me "Harford, you must find Pravda for October 5th, only 2 paragraphs, then find October 6th, when Khrushchev found the reaction was around the world." And sure enough the October 6th thing is you know, 6 pages of mostly reproductions of the Manchester Guardian, the New York Times. Even then, the lead story was a total secret. No stories from Korolev or any of the people who did the work. They were super secret and would be super secret forever.

Interviewer: Recap again how much of that was to be focused on Korolev's personal life?

Harford: None. I mean Korolev himself was a total unknown. It must have been very vexing for him. This is a man who, one of his assistants told me, would later on hold pictures of Von Braun and say, "We should be friends." He felt an identification with Von Braun because of, I'm sure, the space flight motive, which both guys were passionate about. He was forever complaining about the fact that he was.. He was terribly hurt, I think, that he was not able to be recognized whenever the cosmonauts would be decorated. He was not there. He was not allowed to wear his medals. All the insiders knew who he was. His own daughter didn't know who he was really until much later. So it was a big tragedy for him.

Of course, even though he was a super secret character, the realization of how important he was to Khrushchev and the high entourage of the Soviet Empire. He was so important that he began to get at least side benefits. He got himself a house. They offered him a datcha. But he didn't want a datcha. He wanted to be in Moscow and got a house that still exists, a nice place to visit.

Interviewer: He's now an important player, right?

Harford: Right. Khrushchev in his memoirs tells the story of walking around the R7 vehicle with Korolev. He said he and his fellows from the Politburo were in absolute awe of this thing and just couldn't imagine that this thing was going to be able to travel 6000kms and be their defense against US possibilities. He was a key player and therefore it's clear that they tolerated his space flight work. Although the military was upset about it. Korolev was given the money apparently. He was an amazingly important person. It's possible that the jealousies that emerged between him and (Glouschkov) might have had their origin there.

Interviewer: Can you describe the impact that his new found fame and power in the system had on his relationships, particularly with Khrushchev.

Harford: The R7 was the major launch vehicle for the space program in those years. And amazingly, by the way, most people don't realize that that same launch vehicle is still being used today to send cosmonauts up to Mir. It has had 1700 successful launches with varying upper stages. It's the vehicle not only for the early Sputnik and Gagarin launches, but the Moon and Mars and Venus explorations. Their Zenit spy satellite is still being used today. It's quite a vehicle, but it was not a good ICBM. Its liquid oxygen and alcohol boil off at the propellants. You had to radiate. It took something like 24 hours to get it ready. So soon it was replaced by more modern ICBMs that had storable propellants that could be fuelled and readied in a couple of hours. The ballistic missile that came from the concept of storable propellants was not made by Korolev. It was built by a former colleague of Korolev's by the way. And they had division. He was persuaded that he's got to go to storable propellants. Korolev never liked storable propellants. Too toxic, too difficult to handle and you didn't get as much performance for space flight missions as you would with kerosene and liquid oxygen, for example. That was one of the reasons Gloushko must have been very jealous, because Korolev was getting a lot of attention among the people in the Politburo and had the power.

Interviewer: In layman's terms, Jim, what's the difference between the R7 and the R16? They've built their ICBMs, what's the basic difference between the two?

Harford: Well, you should really compare the R9 and R16.

Interviewer: Oh right.

Harford: The R7 was soon not going to be an ICBM.

Interviewer: Right OK.

Harford: Korolev wanted to go to the next generation ICBM and there was a competition between his R9 and the R16. And the R9 once again used more advanced engines. But they were still kerosene and liquid oxygen. (Glouschkov) didn't even want to design the engines for the R9. But Korolev, manipulating the hierarchy, insisted that he do it, and he was forced to do it. And he did do it. But at the same time he went over to storable rocket engines for the R16, which turned out to be a much better ICBM. It was, I think, 165 installations of R16s, and only about, I'm not sure what the number is, a much lesser number of the R9. They were both funded you know. It's a classic example that with bureaucracy you can't stop certain programs. Both the R9 and the R16 were funded, but the R16 much more aggressively.

Interviewer: Can I ask you about the explosion of 1960?

Harford: Well I've seen footage of the explosion, and the awful pictures of human torches.

Interviewer: Oh really. Describe the context in what putting the first man in space was like.

Harford: The launch of Yuri Gagarin was monumentally important to Korolev as it was to the world; first man in space; Gagarin. That made possible human space flight, that made his dreams of going to the Moon, and going to Mars, that much closer to reality. And it was very satisfying to him that he was able to get this young son of a peasant to be put in space. It's interesting that he chose Gagarin only about a week before the flight itself. Amazing! Most of the Americans who went up were training for months and months and knew for several months that they were going to be on a mission, like John Glenn. But Gagarin's choice was only about a week before they went up. There was a whole team of guys ready to go. Just look at the headlines for the Gagarin flight and you can appreciate what it must have meant to Korolev because he saw those headlines too in the New York Times. It kind of legitimized it, I think. And once again the reaction by Khrushchev to all of this in the world strengthened Korolev's hands to be able to deal with future space flights including his desire to go to the moon.

Harford: Well he read that piece about the trouble with his automobile.

Interviewer: Yeah!

Harford: It's kind of a joke or comic tragedy. Korolev had rented a limousine from one of the foreign embassies, so that he would properly, in the entourage of people, receive Gagarin. The limousine broke down. He was not able to get to the ceremony. There is a picture, and maybe you could use the still, I don't know. There was a more private reception later, which shows Korolev way off in the right in the corner. Khrushchev and Mrs. Khrushchev and Gagarin and Mrs. Gagarin are there, but Korolev is off and neglected.

Interviewer: And then, the next day or the day after, he was in his own design bureau?

Harford: Yeah. Of course he had his own design bureau. All of the workers turned out. He introduced Yuri Gagarin and then he was able to get the plaudits of the 1000s of people who worked at the design bureau. But only them. No press there. No popular plaudits.

Interviewer: So he's now legitimized in Khrushchev eyes. What sort of power does he have? What was the scope of his responsibilities?

Harford: Just think of what he had achieved. First satellite, first dog in space, first man in space, first 3 men in space, first woman in space, first spacecraft to hit the Moon, first spacecraft to hit Venus, first spacecraft to go by Mars. They claim the first fly by of Mars. The Americans of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories fly by Mars, he missed by 100,000kms! But they claimed it anyway. The first recon satellite, the first spy satellite, the first Russian spy satellite that is. And the first communication satellite. All of these things as well as ballistic missiles. He didn't have a major role in it, but he was still in it.

One of the Russians I've come to know pretty well is the designer of the docking system. By the way, the docking system that was used in the Apollo is also going to be used in space stations. He was a young fellow working for Korolev back in 1950s. He told me that, "You know, don't forget, Jim, one of the major achievements of Korolev, even though he was forced to be anonymous, was what he did to gain public support for the space program." He couldn't write under his own name. He wrote in Prada under K. Sergeyov. He's the one who recommended that the Cosmos Pavilion be built, with artifacts from the space programs, so that the public could come and visit it. He had a fellow on his staff do nothing but film everything, so there's a pretty good record of all of the space craft developments. Some of it's still locked under places where you would like to get it. He also would invite members of the Politburo to come to the Energia, at that time it was called OKB1, the Korolev Design Bureau. Come to the plant and look at these spacecraft. He had special shows just to convince them that this was very very important work. So he had a very very big understanding of how important it was to continue to get the public behind him.

The most important project for Korolev's long term dream of space exploration was the N1 program. This is a giant rocket. Most people don't realize that it is just about as tall as the Saturn 5 Apollo. You put them next to each other, and they are close to the same in height at least. Big differences between the two. The N1 had 30 rocket engines in the first stage, because Korolev really never got the money to develop a giant rocket engine, something that was really crucial to their race. When John Kennedy said, "Let's go to the Moon," he made that proclamation in May of 1961. He knew that we had under way already the F1 engine, a big big rocket engine, and his own spy satellites were working by then. He knew what the Russians had, and they didn't have the big engine. They would've had to increase their capability by a factor of ten. Well they did develop good rocket engines. So good, by the way, that the mature version of those rocket engines has been bought by the Aerojet General Corporation of the United States; it's going to be used on commercial satellites. But they weren't big engines. He had to put 30 of them into the first stage. And he never got support for a liquid hydrogen engine for the upper stages. We now have liquid hydrogen engines, very, very high-energy performers.

Interviewer: What was the general attitude to the pilots? What was the significance about the rocket?

Harford: Well, the N1 was going to be able to take them to the moon, and his hope was that he was going to be able to put upper stages on it, that it was going to take them to Mars as well, and Venus. He never could persuade the military to get behind it. He even, very cagily, was described by Sakarov as "cunning and ruthless," and was able to zigzag his way into the political structure. He went to the military, "Look it's going to be able to do all these other things for you, reconnaissance, human reconnaissance from space." He had an early idea of Strategic Defense Initiative that might be used by the N1. He never sold that idea. But N1 was of monumental importance to him.

Interviewer: Can you connect how Glushko was not a part of the N1, and without his help it was a real problem?

Harford: You have to fault Valentine Glushko for not having gotten aboard the N1 project. He refused to work on it. He didn't want to stick with kerosene and liquid oxygen, which Korolev wanted. Therefore he lost the best rocket engine designer in the Soviet Union. He had to go an aircraft engine designer, to build his rocket engines for him. Now mind you, they might have been able to carry it off. They might have been able to do it. But 30 rocket engines in the first stage, sensing malfunctions in them, never being able to test all 30 engines as a unit, because he didn't have the money to build the static test facilities, because the military kept opposing him.

You know, in the U.S. we have static test facilities coming out the kazoo. They were in Marshall Space Flight Center, at the Plant at California, at the Test Facility in Louisiana. Enormous amounts of money were put into those. Korolev never had that. Although it must be said that the Russians, one of the designers, told me, "You know, we didn't think you were going to be able to do it with Saturn 5. We thought it was too big a launch vehicle. We thought you were not going to be able to develop liquid hydrogen engines. That was a very very difficult assignment. It was our fault we underestimated the capability." They also underestimated the 24-billion dollars that were put into it as a result of Kennedy's proclamation that we were going to go to the moon.

Interviewer: It seems that the Americans focused on space travel. You could sort of sense that Korolev felt under increased pressure.

Harford: There was a tremendous amount of pressure on Korolev in the early '64 - ‘65 period. That's the period when the U.S. was developing the Gemini Program. They had already had the successes of Mercury, putting John Glenn, and Carpenter in space. The Gemini Program was fundamental to the Lunar Mission, that is, learning how to rendezvous in space, learning how to do extra-vehicular activity. These things must have been apparent to Korolev circa 1964, that he was going to have one hell of a time to beat us. Still he had the ingenuity to do things which made it look as if he was doing well.

It's alleged that Khrushchev said that the Americans are going to put two men up in Gemini, put three men up. And thank God, a fella named Feoktistov, a remarkable designer said, "I think that we can do it." And took out space suits for the cosmonauts, took out the ejection system, so there was no safety possibility upon launch. And Feoktistov, himself an engineer said "And I will be one of the cosmonauts," went ahead and did it. That was called Voskhod 1, but it was really Vostok, Voskhod stripped down. It was a sardine, three guys into a capsule. Then Voskhod a few months later, now we're in early 1965. He sends two space cosmonauts, one of them Alexei Alanov, who does the world's first extra vehicular activity. Once again big headlines, and this done weeks before Ed White did it in Gemini. A little aside there, they said he was 20-minutes in space, took him 8-minutes to get back in from space, because his space suit had bloated, and he couldn't fit his way back into the airlock.

Anyway, Korolev is under big pressure. My own feeling is that towards the end of 1965, he knew he wasn't going to make it. 1964, by the way, he didn't even get a decree that authorized him to do testing of the N1 until 1964. He had rivals. Chelomey had a design for going to the moon, and doing a circumnavigation of the moon mission. Yanguel even had a plan called the R56 that never got very far. Chelomey however, was treated rather seriously. Contractors were told, "Hey your design for upper stages and for instruments, make them compatible with Chelomey's design, as well as with Korolev's." So the poor guy never got the kind of backing that he needed. This was equivocating on the part of Khrushchev that was really bad. So January, 1966 he's not feeling well -- he never did feel well -- he goes into the hospital, and you know what happened there.

You know, it wasn't until 1989 that the Russians admitted that they had had a moon program. Up until then, you could suspect it, and, of course, most of us did suspect they had a program, and most of the guys who were in leadership at NASA knew that they had a program. And we had spy satellites which could confirm that they had these vehicles. But you never got an official acknowledgement that they were in the ball game until 1989. I was one of the first Westerners to get in to see the hardware, which is now at Moscow Aviation Institute. That was 1991, and the admission that they had had the program was 1989. That let lose a flood of articles by veterans of the program. Boris Chertok and Vassily Mishin finally felt that they had the authority to go ahead and talk about the program.

Interviewer: Would you say, in the ‘60s people didn't really know, it was still shrouded in secrecy?

Harford: Yeah. But in the ‘60s, themselves, it was very very much secret. We heard about the explosion in 1969, and their first test of the N1. That was pretty convincing that they were trying to do it, and then they had three more explosions, before they finally cancelled the program.

Interviewer: What happened in '69 with respect of the Soviet side of it?

Harford: Well, July, '69, was a black period for the Russians. Early in July they had their second explosion of the N1. Then comes the end of July - July 16th. Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin gets up in Apollo 11, lands on the Moon, comes back on July 24th. Glorious reception, the whole world, and the N1 program, of course, is in eclipse. It would later have two other explosions, before it's cancelled. What a lot of people won't recollect, because it didn't get much attention, is that on July 13th, 1969, as a way to try to (warm up) even Apollo 11, the Russians send Lunar 15 up to the moon. It did 52 orbits. It was supposed to land on the moon softly, grab soil, and return to Earth. And if it had been successful, it would have arrived back on Earth, just before the Apollo 11 astronauts. I doubt if it would have matched it in publicity, but it was, you know, an ingenious attempt at one-up-manship. It crashed, alas. And so the mission was unsuccessful. Once again I was told "Harford, look in Prada and see what they say about Lunar 15". So I got Prada for the day after the crash, and it says "Lunar 15 Mission Completed". No mention of the attempt to get lunar soil. So that was ignominious for them.

With the final explosion, four explosions after Korolev died. Vassily Mishin was given the job of running the program, and so he's the one who experienced this horrible series of explosions. He's been made a scapegoat by lots of people. You know, if Korolev had still been alive, it would have worked. Well, I doubt it, because they really just didn't have the marbles to carry their program out. But the blame was put on poor Mishin. Who gets the job of running the program, of running the Bureau? Valentine Rushkov is the old enemy, firm-friend turned enemy. Mishin told me. I asked Mishin, I said, "What do you think Korolev would have thought about that?" He said, "He would have turned over in his grave to know that Glushko got that job." Well Glushko himself had a plan for a different way to go to the Moon. Even developing a new engine called "Vulcan," but he never got the support for it. And Glushko himself died after a few years. End of the hopes to go to the moon.

Well, with a launch of Sputnik, all of us in the American Rocket Society wanted to know what we could about what they were doing, and who was running it? We had no idea. I remember seeing a CIA document that was later published that listed a whole bunch of people who were involved, and Korolev's name was in it. But nobody knew he was the guy who ran the program. Try as I might, we would ask the Russians who came to our meeting, but they would never tell you anything.

Interviewer: You knew that there were secret designs and rumors?

Harford: Well, we had heard that there was a secret designer called "the Chief Designer." In fact, he was identified in some stories as the Chief Designer, but never with a name, so we all wondered who the Chief Designer was. Actually, in 1959, the New York Times' Moscow reporter ran a story on, maybe, page 14 of the Times, speculating that it might be Sergei Korolev, but that was not confirmed.

Interviewer: Well, now look back from where you sit now. What do you think of this guy? Now you know who he is, what do you think of him?

Harford: Now, my own feeling is that he was one of the historic figures in the history of this earth. To have done what he did, with the little that he had at his command, early in the game, leads me to respect him a great deal. He was a remarkable guy. He must have been a very difficult guy to deal with. Lost his temper, fired people, hired them the next day afterwards. I interviewed people who really didn't like him. Oleg Gazenko of the space medicine guys said he didn't care for him -- "duplicitous." He would grab money from his own safe to pay people. But my own appraisal of him? He's a remarkable contributor to when we, one day, do land on Mars with a man. You've got to say Korolev had an important part to play in that.

One of Korolev's remarkable achievements is when you realize the kind of technology he had to work with. Of course, it was good stuff; it did work. It did the job, but he didn't have microminiaturized electronics. He didn't have decent computers. There are stories that Greshko, one of the cosmonauts, told me of having to work in this heated room where the vacuum tubes were causing so much heat with the one computer that they had to share with the military. And he was sometimes forced to do things like multiply eight digit figures with eight digit figures to construct orbits. They did not have the kinds of materials that we used. Our Atlas vehicle, for example, the skin was so thin that you couldn't even walk on it. You had to pressurize it in order to keep it from collapsing. He could walk on the R7, you know, the rugged vehicle. Their guidance systems were not adequate in the early days. They had to develop them.

Interviewer: What does that mean?

Harford: The technology was not as sophisticated. They had to put up with 5.4 tons of warhead, compared to our 1.8 ton miniaturized warhead. But what they proved is that you can do the job with simple technology. Reliably, I mean don't forget, those R7s go down there, get tilted up, and get sent up, no matter what the weather -- in freezing cold and terribly hot weather. And you know, how many times have we heard NASA say, "No launch today, the winds aloft or too great," or "There's a possible leak in the oxygen system," or "a computer is acting wrong." Those guys get down there and up goes the vehicle, and still does. What's 1700 launches of the R7 in its various forms? Quite an achievement!

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