Category Archives: Soviet and Russian Space Flight

Russian Space History — Imagineering the Cosmos: Astrofuturism at the Movies

The continuum of images in Asif’s last post attests to the emergence of a distinct visual vocabulary of space flight long before it became a reality. It is not coincidental that the first of these images is from Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita, a … Continue reading

Posted in Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 2 Comments

Russian Space History – Imagery

As this week closes, I wanted to highlight that seems somewhat obvious to those with even a casual interest in the history of Russian/Soviet space activities, its incredibly rich visual record. The picture that Andy posted of cosmonaut Shatalov meeting … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Russian Space History — Soviet Women in STEM Fields

In a comment to my last posting, Asif noted that in “group photos of Soviet engineering teams from the 1950s and 1960s involved in the space program, there are a surprisingly high number of women in the pictures, surprising given … Continue reading

Posted in Gender and Sexuality, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Science | 4 Comments

Russian Space History — Philatelists

This is in response to an interesting comment on my earlier post regarding the stamp image I used, which commemorated Aleksei Leonov’s 1965 space walk (http://russianhistoryblog.org/2013/12/russian-space-history-transnational-culture-and-cosmism/#comments). The comment noted differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. Not only … Continue reading

Posted in Russian and Soviet Art, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 6 Comments

Russian Space History — Dreams in Orbit

In an oft-quoted remark, Svetlana Boym asserted that “Soviet children of the 1960s did not dream of becoming doctors and lawyers, but cosmonauts (or, if worse came to worst, geologists.” 1 This illustration from a December 1960 issue of the … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Gender and Sexuality, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 4 Comments

Russian Space History — Transnational Culture and Cosmism

In balmy Culver City near Los Angeles, not far from the campus where I teach, there is a wonderful little museum called the Museum of Jurassic Technology (http://mjt.org/). The museum contains a Russian tea room and aviary on the roof. … Continue reading

Posted in Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Transnational History | 3 Comments

Russian Space History – Part of Soviet History Without Tears?

I am not sure what provoked the outpouring of scholarship on the history of Soviet space culture over the past decade or so. Was it part  of the cultural “turn” that historians of the post-Stalin decades started to take in … Continue reading

Posted in Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Russian Space History – A Blog Conversation

I am very excited to kick off the seventh conversation on the Russian History blog on the topic of Soviet/Russian space history. Instead of the usual focus on one monograph, we are using a number of recent texts that recover, … Continue reading

Posted in Blog Conversations, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Call for a Wider Perspective

Many thanks to Alexander Geppert, a leading figure in the history of space flight and European culture, for this review of two recent volumes on Russian space flight and culture (in which I and fellow blogger Asif Siddiqi have essays). … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Historiography, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reaching out beyond the ivory tower

Here is a first review of my new book on Yuri Gagarin. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2109/1 The publication is read by space enthusiasts and engineers and managers in the space business. I like the fact– which was partly my hope in publishing this … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | Leave a comment

Hot-Tub Diplomacy and Star Wars

I’ve been reviewing documents from the Hoover Archives in connection with my latest project (http://russianhistoryblog.org/2011/10/transnational-history-and-space-flight/). The ones I’ve posted here, with brief commentary and historical context, concern an organization of astronauts and cosmonauts called the Association of Space Explorers, which … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Detente, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Gagarin Coin

My man Yuri Gagarin gets another Russian coin from the Russian Central Bank in honor of the flight’s 50th anniversary last April. He remains one of the few official Soviet heroes to merit being put on a post-Soviet piece of … Continue reading

Posted in Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 2 Comments

Gagarin as Christ

Adding to the previous thread of comments about Gagarin and religion, perhaps the most striking amendment to the Gagarin legend since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been his re-imagination as a devout Russian Orthodox Christian. I often heard … Continue reading

Posted in Post-Soviet Russia, Russian Orthodoxy, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 4 Comments

A Priest Contemplates Gagarin’s Feat

Here is a painting entitled “Meditation,” which was done in 1964 by Pyotr Mikhailov. It is from the old Leningrad Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.  In it a priest … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

Transnational History and Space Flight

Having finally finished my biography of Yuri Gagarin (The Cosmonaut Who Couldn’t Stop Smiling: The Life and Legend of Yuri Gagarin, due out in March with Northern Illinois University Press) I’m trying to figure out my next project. This blog … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russia in World History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 13 Comments

A Provincial Talisman

The heartland of the Russian nation, as seen through the Gagarin cult, was not in Moscow but in Gagarin’s hometown of Gzhatsk. Renamed “Gagarin” after the cosmonaut’s death in 1968, the town is a typical Russian provincial backwater. In the … Continue reading

Posted in Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 5 Comments

The Flight that Launched a Thousand Rumors

As I noted in my first post (“Creating Cover Stories: A National Pastime”), an intense feeling of vulnerability and insecurity had compelled the Soviets, along with Russia’s authoritarian traditions, to surround Yuri Gagarin’s flight in secrecy. But they paid for … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Some Notes from My Gagarin File

When I began my study of Yuri Gagarin many years ago, my biggest challenge, as any historian who has worked in Russian archives can appreciate, was getting access to sources. Gagarin was and remains not just a Soviet icon — … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

NPR Causes a Gagarin Kerfuffle

A recent controversy surrounding the biography of Yuri Gagarin, and involving NPR, highlights the gaping divide separating academic history writing and the public presentation of history. Last week Robert Krulwich, who writes on science for NPR, posted a blog based … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Soviet Science | 5 Comments

The Russian Icarus: How Gagarin Became Cosmonaut #1

Colleagues at cocktail parties and in the lounges of hotels after conferences have often asked me why Yuri Gagarin was chosen to be the first cosmonaut on April 12, 1961. This blog, excerpted from a draft of my book on … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | Leave a comment