By Slava Gerovitch
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Additional info for Soviet Space Mythologies: Public Images, Private Memories, and the Making of a Cultural Identity
The cosmonauts spoke at length about floating in zero gravity but did not discuss any details of their training or actual performance in flight. This gave rise to much speculation about their experiences in space, from incapacitating sickness to spiritual visions. Speaking publicly about the Soviet space program under such severe secrecy restrictions posed a serious challenge. 35 Secrecy was just one of the factors contributing to myth making by creating gaps to be filled with products of one’s imagination.
Fifty-nine people on the list were sentenced to death and immediately executed. Korolev was lucky: after retracting his confession, he received a ten-year sentence. Another engineer from the same institute, Valentin Glushko, had been arrested three months before Korolev on the same charge and also sentenced to prison time. Glushko was sent to work at a sharashka. Korolev served the first several months at the notorious Kolyma labor camp, barely survived, and eventually ended up in the same sharashka as Glushko.
A symbolic link with Tsiolkovskii, canonized by the Soviet state, played an important role in legitimizing their proposals in the eyes of government officials. In 1952–1953, in autobiographical materials accompanying his applications for membership in the Communist Party and in the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Korolev wrote about his personal meeting with the late visionary as being a starting point for his interest in rocketry. ”29 Yet the official canonization of Tsiolkovskii and the resurrection of his legacy played a crucial role in legitimizing the idea of space exploration in the postwar Soviet Union.
Soviet Space Mythologies: Public Images, Private Memories, and the Making of a Cultural Identity by Slava Gerovitch