THE ROAD TO THE STARS –
Korolev’s early career, and the events that are the background to it, could easily fill several books on their own. The Soviet revolutionaries are building a completely new society in the wreckage of old Imperial Russia. It is a sometimes violent and bloody process. In the midst of this turmoil, young engineers are forging a new century. The storytelling had to be fast paced with sudden jump-cuts from one event to the next. Even so it was fun to take a little time out to stage Korolev and Glushko’s man-talk about Glushko’s sister Ket, in the middle of a rocket engine test.
It is amazing how much pictorial evidence is available on the net these days. Even more amazing to realise that in the late 1950’s when I was a kid, I could have been hunted down and killed by rival intelligence agencies just for knowing even half the things I had to find out for this book.
That thing on the bench is one of Glushko’s actual series of experimental engines. A simple firework rocket is just a tube packed with something that burns really fast. A rocket engine has to be able to burn fuel pumped into it from outside the tube. It has to do this without exploding and without incinerating itself. Rocket science is as much about chemistry and metallurgy as it is about thrust and speed.