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Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on a Soviet stamp

Space Race

Documents on the 20th-century competition for supremacy in spaceflight capacity between the United States and the Soviet Union. The majority of materials in this collection were selected, edited, and annotated by Dr. Asif Siddiqi. For background and context on these documents, please see his introductions Documenting the Soviet ICBM Program and New Sources on Sputnik.

Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on a Soviet stamp

Popular Documents

June 26, 1958

Letter, A. Bakulev et al. to Comrade N.S. Khrushchev

Proposal from biomedicine specialists addressed to Nikita Khrushchev to create a new scientific-research institution dedicated solely to study the biomedical aspects of space exploration. The authors ask that a unit from the Air Force’s existing Institute of Aviation Medicine be detached and made into a new institute for space medicine.

April 3, 1961

Excerpt from Ninutes Nº 322 of the CC Presidium of April 3, 1961, 'On the Launch of the Satellite-ship'

Final Presidium (or Politburo) decree, entitled “On the Launch of a Space Satellite-Ship,” approving the launch of a spaceship with a human on board.

April 11, 1961

Transcribed Notes Dictated by Nikita Khrushchev while at Pitsunda on the Eve of Gagarin’s Flight

Transcribed notes dictated by Nikita Khrushchev while at Pitsunda on the eve of Gagarin’s flight, on April 11, 1961.

May 3, 1961

Preliminary Report on the Results of the Launch of the Third Vostok-3a Satellite-Ship with Pilot Yu. A. Gagarin on Board (Accomplished On April 12, 1961)

Preliminary Report analyzing the results of the Vostok flight of Yuriy Gagarin, prepared by the design bureau in charge of the flight, OKB-1, based in Kaliningrad north of Moscow.

April 26, 1961

Excerpt from Minutes Nº 325 of the April 26, 1961, Meeting of the CPSU CC Presidium, 'On the Further Commemoration and Popularization of the First Flight of a Soviet Man in Space'

Presidium (or Politburo) decree on publicity for the flight of Yuriy Gagarin.