100 votes
Accepted

Have any astronauts or cosmonauts died in space?

Yes, the three crew members of Soyuz 11: Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev. On 29 June 1971, their spacecraft undocked from Salyut 1, the first space station, to return to ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
54 votes

Why did the Soviets not shoot down US spy satellites during the Cold War?

The precedent for allowing overflight was first set by the USSR in 1957, with Sputnik I. From then on, neither major power saw it as to their advantage to challenge it - they were both keen to get ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
51 votes
Accepted

Who, if anyone, was the first astronaut to return to earth in a different vessel?

The first people who landed in a different vessel than they took off in were Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov. In January 1969, they took off in Soyuz-4 and returned in Soyuz-5. Crew exchange ...
seven-phases-max's user avatar
51 votes

Why did the Soviet Union out-pace the US during the space-race?

It was more of a back-and-forth. You can build a narrative of one side out-pacing the other if you cherry-pick firsts, but their capabilities were very close. The timeline of first achievements is ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 55.2k
47 votes
Accepted

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

You should define more precisely what do you mean by "space travel" when you are talking about pre-Galileo times. For example, Elijah, the prophet, was taken to heavens in a chariot of fire, ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 38.9k
40 votes
Accepted

Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

SHORT ANSWER Jodrell Bank's first 'coup', tracking Sputnik 1 in 1957 (without Soviet assistance), put it in the news and helped secure funding. It also led to a congratulatory telegram from the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
39 votes
Accepted

What did Yuri Gagarin do while waiting for his ride?

In 1991 Central Committee of the CPSU Archive released several documents related to Gagarin's flight. Amongst them was Gagarin's own after-action report to the government commission. Sadly, Russian ...
Danila Smirnov's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

Which state capital did the Apollo 11 command module NOT visit after it returned from the moon?

The linked Smithsonian page also has this page from a report, which expresses it a bit more explictly: ...completed an earthbound journey of nearly 14,000 miles by land, visiting the capitals of the ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
34 votes
Accepted

Did Yuri Gagarin really hear a ticking sound during his journey into outer space?

I've seen this story a number of times since Another Earth was released in 2011, usually something along lines like this article. The problem is that I've never seen anything about it in any of the ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
27 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

The earliest mention I know of the possibility was the novella A True History by Lucian in the 2nd century AD, where at one point the protagonists are taken to the moon by a whirlwind, meet the ...
PhillS's user avatar
  • 3,204
23 votes

Have any astronauts or cosmonauts died in space?

The only astronauts who have ever died in space are the crew of Soyuz 11: Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev. This took place in 1971. Perhaps that you are thinking about the ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
18 votes

Why did the Soviet Union out-pace the US during the space-race?

I think the premise of the question - that the US ought to have a technological superiority over the USSR, as it did in other areas - is quite sensible here, so I will address the Soviet side of the ...
Kostya_I's user avatar
  • 978
15 votes

Why did the Soviets not shoot down US spy satellites during the Cold War?

You do not shoot down satellites, you destroy them in-situ. That results in a large debris field orbiting the planet that gradually spreads out. Anything passing through that debris file will likely ...
Bib's user avatar
  • 275
13 votes

Did Yuri Gagarin really mention Anna Magnani in his flight in space?

The complete transcript of all the communication of Yuri Gagarin with the command center during the flight on April 12, 1961, as well as the transcript of everything Gagarin recorded with the tape ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
12 votes

How widespread was the notion that space travel was impossible prior to the successful launch of Sputnik 1?

According to books like Profiles of the Future by Arthur C. Clark and Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel by Wily Ley, many scientists and engineers misunderstood the physics enough to claim that space ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 2,172
11 votes
Accepted

Who flew the T-38 "Missing Man" formation at the Challenger Memorial service at JSC, 31 January 1986?

Answer Subsequent to following the suggested lead by Snow's Answer (@Snow deserves credit for this) I have been personally provided the following information by Colin A. Fries, archivist at NASA’s HQ ...
Kerry L's user avatar
  • 6,202
11 votes

Why did the Soviet Union out-pace the US during the space-race?

Your question is based on a misconception, which is that there was any sort of "space race" before the Soviets launched Sputnik. The US had some fairly low budget research programs, such as ...
jamesqf's user avatar
  • 2,905
9 votes

How widespread was the notion that space travel was impossible prior to the successful launch of Sputnik 1?

I have serious trouble believing anyone in the physics community actually believed rockets wouldn't work in a vacuum. The principle that allows them to operate there is Newton's Third Law, which by ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
9 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

Definitely not as old as the other answers, but a classic book about space travel is Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, dating back to 1865. I'm quite surprised you didn't find that one. Of ...
jcaron's user avatar
  • 243
9 votes
Accepted

Why did the Soviet Union out-pace the US during the space-race?

It did so, but only initially. Over the long term, it fell behind in most areas, and once the USA was first on the Moon the space race was over with the USA the victor. Rewind back to the beginning of ...
Ian Kemp's user avatar
  • 261
8 votes

Did Yuri Gagarin really hear a ticking sound during his journey into outer space?

I asked an expert on Gagarin to review the question: "I never heard the story about unexplained ticking, but I do know that he wore Sergei Korolev's wrist watch. At least that is the Russian ...
MCW's user avatar
  • 33.7k
8 votes

Why did the Soviets not shoot down US spy satellites during the Cold War?

It's been alluded to in other answers, but a major problem with shooting down satellites is the satellite is going to fragment and these fragments will fly in every direction. Those pieces of space ...
Machavity's user avatar
  • 263
7 votes

What did Yuri Gagarin do while waiting for his ride?

I'm afraid that the reality of the 1961 Soviet Union was rather different... According e.g. to the Russian Wikipedia and its sources during Vostok-1 landing near Engels it was tracked by the local ...
OON's user avatar
  • 984
7 votes

How did the Apollo-Soyuz test project affect the relationship between the USSR and USA during the cold war?

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the first spaceflight to include two participating nations working together with their own national spacecraft. The Americans sent up an Apollo command module, while ...
Basla Azhar's user avatar
7 votes

What is the earliest mention of space travel?

The Epic of Gilgamesh dates from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC), and mentions travel, e.g., see the Standard Babylonian version tablets II–V, specifically: he spoke to Young Hero ...
A T's user avatar
  • 171
6 votes

How widespread was the notion that space travel was impossible prior to the successful launch of Sputnik 1?

Clarke later apologized for misquoting Wooley on the subject of spaceflight. The passage in question came from a radio interview, so there isn't a solid paper trail, but there's no doubt that summing ...
user23750's user avatar
6 votes

What was the internal Soviet reaction to the moon landing?

Since the answers so far give conflicting accounts on the amount and/or tone of reporting, I decided to add some material so that everyone can judge for themself. Pravda The report in Pravda on 21.07, ...
Kostya_I's user avatar
  • 978
6 votes
Accepted

What were the international space arrangements and scientific purposes Eisenhower spoke of in October 1957?

"International Geophysical Year" (IGY) ran from from 1 July 1957 to 31 December 1958. Eisenhower's speech in October 1957 was being made in that context. Image source Wikimedia The United States' ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k

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