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Space Race Diary

  1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | post-1968

Installation of Soyuz Spacecraft at Baikonur February 4, 1966
Early 1966 brought more Soviet successes, including the first lunar telecasts.

"A TASS report: 'The Luna-9 automatic station launched on January 3 soft landed on the moon surface in the Ocean of Storms at 21:45:30 Moscow time on February 3...' rocked the world. Washington, London, Paris praised the new Soviet achievement in space research...

"...The TV camera on board the Luna-9 operates well... snapshots of the moon surface have been received and analyzed. Those snapshots will be broadcast... tonight.

"Thus the Luna-9 has brought us four major victories: 1. Soft landing. 2. Earth-moon radio communications. 3. Television transmissions from the moon to the Earth. 4. Pressurized cabin with conditions suitable for living beings in it."

July 21, 1966
In an era when such plans were top-secret, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov's revealing comments about Soviet space exploration efforts created a political headache for Kaminin, who was in charge of training cosmonauts.

"V. M. Komarov returned from Japan yesterday. The press in Japan and in France reported that cosmonaut Komarov told an audience of Japanese students that 'the U.S.S.R. will soon send an automatic probe to the moon and return it back to Earth and then a dog will fly to the moon on board a similar probe and then a manned mission will be attempted.' I asked Komarov whether he had said anything like that. Komarov admitted that he did say something along these lines. I have already had calls from the Central Committee and the Council of Ministers regarding the incident."

August 17, 1966
After receiving a letter from chief designer Vasily Mishin listing ideas for cosmonaut training, Kaminin reflected on the problems caused by sparring government bureaucracies.

"Mishin's letter... contains a valuable admission that in designing Soyuz the people from IDB-1 were carried away by automation and that in future they will trust the crews more and will try to make the equipment of spacecraft more simple. This misguided enthusiasm lost us a whole three years and was one of the main reasons for our space lag. I have received reports that on August 20 the Americans will launch their second technological Apollo spaceship and if the launch is successful, in November the U.S. will orbit Apollo with three astronauts on board who will stay in space for 14 days. The success of that mission will throw us further back and consolidate America's lead... Instead of concentrating on the quality of preparation of technology and people for space flights, we, the supervisors... have to spend a lot of time to settle quarrels and differences between agencies."

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