Red Air Force General Nikolai Kaminin was just one of many players in the Soviet space program. His job was to train cosmonauts. But his legacy -- a candid diary describing Soviet triumphs, setbacks, and reactions to the American program -- is an important relic of the Cold War.
At the time, few in the West knew details of what was going on behind the Iron Curtain, and Soviet leaders realized their space exploration feats could be used as pro-Communist propaganda. It became common practice for the Russians to announce their latest space conquests only after a mission succeeded -- hiding mistakes and creating the illusion of an unstoppable juggernaut of technical prowess.
Read these diary excerpts to learn more about the Space Race, which began in 1961 with President John F. Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon within the decade, in a direct challenge to Soviet space supremacy.