Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Space age technology officially began with the recovery of Nazi Germanys V2 missile program. With this, both Russia and the United States began reverse engineering the German rockets to use for themselves. While most of us know of how the US used this technology in their attempt to reach the stars (at least on the civilian side), not many may know how Russia used it (besides Sputnik). While the US split their program into two different programs (military and civilian), Russian maintained only one, and swore it was only for science and not military gain. That being said, here are some examples of how Russia used that technology:
1. The R-7 was developed by a Ukrainian-born rocket designer Sergei Korolyov to be the ultimate weapon, which Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev hoped would eliminate U.S. nuclear superiority by rendering its massive fleet of strategic bombers obsolete. On Oct. 4, 1957, the R-7 found another use, launching Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite. The program eventually evolved into the modern day Soyuz rocket.

2. When aerial reconnaissance planes were overtaken by orbiting spy satellites in the 1960s, the Soviet Union sought to find a way to destroy the U.S.'s prying eyes in the sky. The solution was relatively straightforward. Pack a satellite's chassis with explosives, and maneuver it close enough to damage enemy satellites with explosive shrapnel as their orbits crossed. The Soviets tested it on their own satellites but never deployed the weapon offensively.

3. Although details remain murky concerning the Polyus spacecraft, over the years reports have begun to surface that show the Soviets were pursuing the development of an awesome battle station in space intended to threaten U.S. President Ronald Reagan's star wars missile defense initiative with its satellite-killing laser. A prototype of the space station was launched in 1987, but failed to reach orbit and fell back to earth, according to Air & Space Magazine.
If its launch had been successful, it would have been a game-changer. The Soviet Union would have beaten the U.S. to deploying a space based laser weapons system — a project that Washington eventually abandoned with little to show for it.

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