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Space Race Diary

  1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | post-1968

Launch of the Gemini 5 spacecraft 1965 April 29, 1965
In spring 1965, Soviet leaders were basking in the success of cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who had completed the first spacewalk on March 18. But Kaminin, a space program insider, knew that much work needed to be done.

"The flights of American Rangers yielded a lot of new data about the moon, but one of the key questions that remains to be answered is the density of moon rock. Many scientists have compared the moon surface with loose snow or lichen, which spelled considerable obstacles in landing and lift-off...

"I am deeply convinced that given good organization and commitment of all our potential we can put a man on the moon within three years. We have instructions from the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] and the government to fly around the moon in 1967 and to land on the moon before the end of 1968. These were important decisions, but so little is being done to implement them that the deadlines will certainly not be met."

August 27, 1965
The day after the American Gemini 5 mission broke a Soviet space endurance record, Kaminin groused about Soviet leadership.

"During the past year, Americans have made great strides in outer space... This would seem to provide ample grounds for our leadership to show concern and ask the question, what's the matter? Why is the U.S. ahead of us? But the Defense Minister and the General Staff keep mum as if everything is going according to plan. For five years we have claimed that socialism was the best launching site for space flights. And now the U.S. has proved that this is not quite the case..."

September 8, 1965
Kaminin tallied the superpowers' space program expenses -- and found his side lacking.

"The U.S. spent 34 billion dollars on space exploration during the last 12 years (from 1956 to 1965), with 26.4 billion dollars spent in the last four years. Our outlays are much smaller and our financial difficulties are compounded by institutional difficulties. The country does not have a government agency whose sole responsibility is space exploration..."

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