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Key Dates

This page provides a reference to the key dates of the Kolyma’s Shadow timeline.


January 1940: Sergei Pavlovich Korolev is recalled to Moscow from the Kolyma Gulag, but dies en-route at Magadan. Point of Departure


May 1945: Germany surrenders, ending the Second World War in Europe. Soviet, American and British experts all begin plundering the German rocket programme.


May 1946: Stalin signs a secret directive ordering the development of Soviet missiles based on German technology. The effort is put under Minister of Armaments Dimitry Ustinov. Yevgeny Vasilyevich Sinilshchikov is named Chief Designer of Scientific-Research Institute No.88 (NII-88) and put in charge of ballistic missile development.


May 1947: Captured German rocket scientists under Helmut Gröttrup are given the task of designing a rocket with a range of 600 km, designated G-1.

October 1947: The first Soviet V-2’s, built in Germany using captured German equipment and personnel, are launched at the Kasputin Yar test range.


November 1948: The all-Soviet V-2 clone, the R-1, is launched at Kasputin Yar.

December 1948: In a design review, Gröttrup’s G-1 is found to be superior to Sinilshchikov’s R-2.


June 1949: A competition for a multi-stage missile able to launch a 3 tonne warhead over 3 000 km sees Gröttrup's G-4 design preferred to Sinilshchikov’s R-3.

September 1949: The R-2 missile begins State Trials.

1949 The US Naval Research Laboratory begins flights of the Viking sounding rocket.


March 1950: The International Council of Scientific Unions announce the International Geophysical Year for the period from 1st July 1957 to 31st December 1958.

April 1950: Mikhail Yangel joins NII-88 as head of the guidance systems section.

December 1950: A decree authorises a project for the “Development requirements for a liquid rocket with a range of 5 000 to 10 000 km and a warhead of 1 to 10 tonnes”. Yangel proposes a design using storable propellants. Vasily Mishin proposes to continue using kerolox. Sinilshchikov agrees to Yangel’s proposal, which becomes the R-6 ICBM.


Early 1951: The R-2 missile is accepted into military service.

January 1951: The USAF starts Project Atlas to develop an ICBM, building on the work of the earlier MX-774 project.

1951: George Pal's movie “When Worlds Collide” is a hit.


May 1952: NII-88 is restructured. Sinilshchikov becomes Chief Designer of the new OKB-1. Yangel becomes OKB-1 Director.


February 1953: Joseph Stalin dies just as the R-6 requirements project is completed.

End of 1953: All of the German rocket scientists taken to the USSR have been repatriated to Germany.

End of 1953: The R-6 requirements are revised to increase the payload from 3 tonnes to 5.5 tonnes.


January 1954: First successful flight of the Redstone missile, developed by the US Army with assistance from Wernher von Braun and other V-2 scientists brought to the US by Project Paperclip.

October 1954: The basic design of the R-6 is completed.

1954: von Braun proposes to augment the basic Redstone with a clustered solid rocket upper stage to create a satellite launcher.

1954: Colliers magazine publishes “Can we get to Mars?”, based on concepts by von Braun.


May 1955: The USAF release General Operational Requirement 12 for a piloted, high-altitude, reconnaissance weapon system available by 1959.

July 1955: US President Dwight Eisenhower announces plans to launch Earth orbiting satellites during the International Geophysical Year. The USSR quickly respond by saying they too will launch a satellite for the IGY.

August 1955: The Stewart Committee recommends a two-phased programme for US satellite launches. Phase I will use a Navy Viking rocket (re-named Vanguard) to launch a simple satellite as quickly as possible. Phase II will develop the Atlas into a launch vehicle.

August 1955: First flight of the U-2 spy plane.

1955: George Pal's realistic space movie “Conquest of Space” flops at the box office.


February 1956: The R-6 design is frozen and parts fabrication begins.

April 1956: Preliminary design for the Soviet Sammit spy satellite is completed.

July 1956: Preliminary design of the ISZ “Object D” satellite completed.

September 1956: A decree authorises the R-6/ISZ rocket/satellite combination for the USSR’s IGY satellite attempt.

October 1956: The USAF Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) ask the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to investigate follow-on concepts to the X-15 programme.


April 1957: A prototype of the Vanguard satellite is tested on a suborbital sounding rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Missile Annex in Florida.

October 1957: The Naval Research Laboratory completes a global tracking network for its satellite launch attempt.

November 1957: A joint USAF/NACA conference proposes a programme to develop a one-man spaceplane with intercontinental range. A group within the conference, led by NACA’s Maxime Faget, disagree with this approach and continue to push for a ballistic capsule design.

December 1957: An attempted test launch of the Atlas ICBM fails.

December 1957: The second suborbital test of Vanguard succeeds.

December 1957: Vasily Mishin is made head of OKB-385 in Miass, put in charge of kerolox rocket stage development and satellites.


January 1958: The USAF/NACA spaceplane proposal is approved.

February 1958: The first full-up Vanguard launch attempt fails after 33 seconds.

April 1958: Another Vanguard launch attempt fails (3rd stage failure).

5th June 1958: First launch attempt of the R-6 fails due to propellant contamination in the 1st stage.

18th June 1958: Vanguard 1 becomes the world’s first artificial satellite.

June 1958: The second R-6 launch attempt fails. Sinilshchikov is fired and Vladimir Chelomei becomes OKB-1 Chief Designer, merging in many aspects of his OKB-52 in the process.

June 1958: A formal agreement is signed between the NACA and USAF to jointly develop the “Dyna-Soar” spaceplane.

August 1958: The Atlas ICBM reaches 2 500 km range in its second successful test flight.

9th October 1958: First successful R-6 launch. The warhead disintegrates in flight, but TASS announces the USSR now has an ICBM.

November 1958: A second successful launch for R-6, but again the warhead breaks up before impact.

18th December 1958: Launch of Vanguard 2, the second artificial satellite and the first experimental weather satellite. The Vanguard Project is retired in favour of a larger planned Navy launcher called Explorer.

1958: George Pal releases his movie “Tom Thumb”.


Early 1959: A proposal to use an Agena-A upper stage atop a Thor IRBM to create a satellite launcher is rejected in favour of direct development of the more powerful Atlas-Agena combination.

21st January 1959: The first Soviet satellite, ISZ-1 is launched. The 1.3 tonne satellite carries 12 experiments and performs multiple overflights of the USA.

January 1959: The USAF declares the Atlas ICBM to be operational and forms the 576th Strategic Missile Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

February 1959: First successful launch of the Titan ICBM.

February 1959: Two R-6 test launches fail.

March 1959: Academician Sergei Vernov presented a paper at a conference in New York City announcing the discovery of Earth’s radiation belts (the “Vernov Belts”) by instruments on ISZ-1.

March 1959: Attempted launch of the ISZ-1 back-up satellite ends in failure of the R-6 launcher.

March 1959: West German Defence Minister Strauss had signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada committing the BDR to purchase at least 400 Avro Arrows over the period 1962-67. Two weeks later the Arrow passes a project review by the Canadian government, who agree to continue development of the aircraft.

15th April 1959: A Juno rocket (a modified Redstone missile) launches the Explorer 1 satellite, overflying the USSR and cementing the “Open Skies” principal for spacecraft. The satellite also identifies the Van Allen Anomaly in the Vernov Belts over the South Atlantic.

June 1959: Chelomei presents his plans for future space efforts to a meeting of high-level government and military officials, including Khrushchev. Ustinov orders the plans to be reviewed by the other Chief Designers at the Rocket Propulsion Coordination Committee (KKRD) before committing to support them.

June 1959: The ARDC formally kick off a joint project with the NACA to develop the one-man Mercury ballistic spacecraft to beat the Soviets to a man in space.

July 1959: The R-6 ICBM enters formal service with the Soviet armed forces.

July 1959: First launch of Atlas-Agena took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base ends in a failed separation of the Agena upper stage.

August 1959: Contracts are awarded to Boeing and Martin corporations for work on the Dyna-Soar project.

September 1959: The KKRD agree a draft plan for future Soviet space efforts. The plan is approved by the Politburo, authorising development of a series of heavy rockets, a manned space capsule, the Raketoplan manned and unmanned space system, plus a series of unmanned satellites and probes. At Khrushchev’s insistence, the plan also orders the orbiting of a dog as a near term goal.

September 1959: Successful launch of the Discoverer 1 satellite by an Atlas-Agena, but contact is lost with the spacecraft after two days in orbit.

November 1959: von Braun leaves the ABMA to take up the role of Chief Engineer for Chrysler’s space division.

November 1959: Successful test flight of the Discoverer 2 prototype spy satellite.

Late 1959: The Naval Research Lab begins the Iris project to develop a weather satellite with a TV imaging capability.


12th January 1960: Flt. Lt. John MacArthur is shot down by Soviet S-75 SAMs whilst flying a U-2 over the Urals on a joint British/US spy mission. MacArthur is killed on impact.

February 1960: Chrysler offer to provide Redstone missiles at a reduced price for a joint NACA/USAF/Army test programme in support of Mercury.

23rd April 1960: Launch of ISZ-4 carrying the dog Vega, the first animal to orbit the Earth, landing after 3 orbits. The landing fails and Vega is killed, but this fact is covered up.

April 1960: The top-secret National Reconnaissance Office is created to manage US spy satellite programmes.

1st May 1960: Khrushchev is photographed with a stand-in Vega the dog during May Day celebrations in a publicity coup for the USSR.

16th May 1960: The Four Power Talks commence in Paris between the US, USSR, UK and France. The talks are overshadowed by the MacArthur shoot-down and nothing substantive is agreed.

June 1960: Ustinov puts pressure on the Council of Ministers to reallocated the Soviet capsule man-in-space project from Chelomei's OKB-1 to Mishin's OKB-385.

June 1960: Dynasoar System Review selects a modified Titan-II with SRBs as the preferred launcher for Dynasoar.

Mid-1960: The Soviet Sammit spy satellite programme begins launching. Sammit will average one launch every two months over the coming years. Mission duration is typically 5-10 days for this first generation model.

Mid-1960: The USAF and US Army agree to collaborate with the Navy on the Iris weather satellite project.

28th July 1960: The Republican National Convention confirms Richard Nixon as their Presidential Candidate.

8th November 1960: Richard Nixon is elected President of the United States.

December 1960: Khrushchev calls the leaders of the Warsaw Pact to Moscow for consultations on the status of Berlin.

1960: George Pal's movie adaptation of H.G. Welle’s “The Time Machine” opens to critical acclaim and box office success.


January 1961: The US Navy update the requirements for their new launcher “Triton” to put 5 tonnes into LEO instead of the originally specified 700 kg, necessitating a major redesign. A prime contractor still has not been selected.

15th January 1961: East German forces deploy a barrier along the East-West border in Berlin. US forces demolish the barrier at Potsdamer Platz, triggering an exodus of East Berliners to the West.

16th January 1961: Soviet forces deploy in East Berlin and quell the exodus of civilians with lethal force. There are a number of small-scale weapons exchanges across the border, whilst East German forces begin construction of a secondary line of fortifications along the Spree. The military forces of both Superpowers are put on worldwide alert, nuclear bombers are launched and missiles are made ready. Vice President Nixon is moved to Site B at Mount Weather.

19th January 1961: Soviet tanks begin a gradual withdrawal from the Sector border. This pull back is matched by US and allied forces, so that by mid afternoon only light troops remain at the border checkpoints.

20th January 1961: As tensions slowly reduce in the Berlin Crisis, Nixon is inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States. Back-channel contacts with Khrushchev help to de-escalate the situation.

February 1961: More than 11 000 people have crossed from East to West Germany since the start of the Berlin Crisis. Over 1 000 civilians have been killed attempting escape.

February 1961: The USAF launch their first attempted Moon probe, but the Atlas-Agena rocket fails 45s after lift-off.

April 1961: First launch of the R-6A “Luna” rocket, incorporating a kerosene-oxygen upper stage. The Blok-V upper stage fails to ignite, stranding a Moon probe in Earth orbit.

May 1961: Pioneer-1 launched to the Moon, but an Agena malfunction strands it in an elliptical Earth orbit. In the same month, the USSR launch two Moon probes, one of which suffers a launch failure and the other shuts down en-route to missing the Moon due to poor thermal control. The Soviet efforts are officially listed not as Moon probes, but as engineering test launches.

May 1961: Iris-1 is launched by the United States, the world's first dedicated weather satellite.

June 1961: A summit is held in Geneva between the USA and USSR to discuss the future status of Berlin.

July 1961: The Defense Research Agency (DRA) is created as an independent R&D arm under the Pentagon with the aim of developing new, breakthrough technologies to augment and secure the defence capabilities of the United States. Wernher von Braun is appointed as Director of the DRA's Space Systems Office and given particular authority on launch vehicle development.

October 1961: The American Pioneer-3 spacecraft made a 1 200 km altitude flyby of the Moon, beaming back the first images of the Farside and discovering the “Mare Pasadena”.

October 1961: Signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty by the USA, USSR, UK and France, outlawing airborne nuclear testing.

November 1961: The Soviet probe Luna-1 passes 800 km above the lunar surface. The probe is a 400 kg “LNS-1” scientific spacecraft. In addition to the imaging system, instruments were also included to measure particular radiation and magnetic fields. After its flyby Luna-1 became the first spacecraft to measure the solar wind from outside of the Earth’s magnetosphere.

November 1961: Space vehicle research is formally added to NACA's remit, and the agency is re-named the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and Astronautics (NACAA).

November 1961: Former KGB Chairman Alexander Shelepin is promoted to the Central Committee secretariat. He was replaced at the KGB by former head of the First Directorate Aleksandr Sakharovsky.

1961: George Pal's “Atlantis” flops at the box office.


Early 1962: Khrushchev conducts a minor purge of the Central Committee, replacing several opponents with allies.

January 1962: Escape tower test of the first production-model Mercury capsule at NACA's Wallops Island facility.

February 1962: Launch of Iris-3 weather satellite.

February 1962: Suborbital launch of Baikal the dog on an R-6 ends in failure and the death of the dog.

February 1962: Launch of the Soviet Luna-2 L1-B type impactor probe to the Moon. The porbe misses the Moon and passes into interplanetary space. The probe’s radiation detectors nevertheless returned useful information on the near-Earth interplanetary environment, continuing to function for several weeks before passing out of range of the Soviet deep-space tracking stations.

March 1962: Successful suborbital flight of dog Vezuchiy in a Zarya capsule.

March 1962: A formal peace treaty is signed between the USSR and the DDR, formalising relations between the two nations and confirming Soviet control of the Free City Zone and the East-West border in Berlin.

April 1962: First test flight of Mishin's M-1 rocket at Kapustin Yar ends in failure of the first stage.

May 1962: The USSR launches their first Meteor weather satellite.

May 1962: Suborbital flight of Bucky the monkey on Mercury-Redstone mission MR-5.

June 1962: The Soviet government is forced to raise food prices due to lack of supply, leading to some rioting.

July 1962: The USAF launch Pioneer-4 on a Moon impactor mission. A guidance error on the Agena upper stage causes it to miss the Moon, but it returns a startling black-and-white image of the crescent Earth seen from lunar distances.

Mid-Late 1962: The Sino-Indian War. Both Superpowers give diplomatic backing to India in the conflict, with the US providing military aid with Soviet acquiescence.

August 1962: Suborbital flight of Ham the chimp on Mercury-Atlas mission MA-4.

August 1962: Orbital flight of dog Vezuchiy in a Zarya capsule launched by an R-6A. First return of a living creature from space.

September 1962: Orbital flight of Mary-Ann the chimp on Mercury-Atlas mission MA-5.

September 1962: Pioneer-5 is launched and sends back a series of stunning close-up images before becoming the first man-made object to hit the Moon on Monday 17th September 1962, impacting in the Mare Humorum close to Gassendi crater.

Autumn 1962: Gene Roddenberry's police drama “Night Stick” begins broadcasts.

October 1962: First Man in Space, suborbital flight of James Wood in capsule “Spirit of Freedom” on mission Mercury-1. Upon his return, Wood is given a ticker-tape parade through New York City.

October 1962: Prime Minister Macmillan reshuffles his cabinet in an attempt to restore popularity to his government.

30th October 1962: Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to orbit the Earth in Zarya-1.

October 1962: Attempted launch of two Mars probes by OKB-385. One fails on launch and the second fails in Earth orbit.

November 1962: The USAF launches two orbital “Astro-Chimp” Mercury-Atlas missions.

November 1962: OKB-385 launches two Venus probes. One fails in Earth orbit, but one proceeds to Venus as Venera-1.

20th November 1962: The Progressive Conservatives win the Canadian General Election, returning John Diefenbaker as Prime Minister.

8th December 1962: The NRL launch Mariner-1 to Mars.

11th December 1962: The NRL launch Mariner-2 to Mars. The probe fails after passing through the Vernov belts, becoming the first victum of a “Radiation Induced Anomaly” (RIA).

12th December 1962: Joe Walker became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Mercury capsule “Columbia”, completing two orbits before returning to a successful splashdown just over 400 km East of the Bahamas.

1962: “After Worlds Collide”, a sequel to George Pal's “When Worlds Collide”, is a hit.

1962: “Perry Rhodan” is created by Karl Herbert Scheer and Walter Ernsting for the Moewig-Verlag publishing company in West Germany as a 30-issue series of weekly “magazine novels”.

1962: Nixon agrees to continue development of the Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile after strong lobbying from Prime Minister Macmillan. Macmillan agrees to commit British troops to support the US mission in South Vietnam.

1962: The European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) is established in 1962 at the initiative of the French and British governments.


Early 1963: The USSR's Seven Year Plan is abandoned two years early.

January 1963: Minerva is confirmed as the launcher of choice for Dynasoar, with plans to upgrade Titan-II with SRBs cancelled a few months later.

January 1963: President de Gaulle vetoes Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community.

January 1963: Contact is lost with Venera-1, still en-route to Venus.

February 1963: Zarya-2 carries cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko on a six-hour mission. Bondarenko suffers the first case of space sickness.

February 1963: A joint USAF-DRA-NACAA conference in Washington DC re-aligns the Dynasoar programme, outlining the development of two versions of the Dynasoar glider, the use of Mission Modules to give greater flexibility, and the development of the Dynasoar Experimental Lab and Dynasoar Orbital Station.

March 1963: First successful orbital mission for the M-1, launching an experimental communications satellite.

March 1963: JPL's Pioneer-6 enters orbit of the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to circle another celestial body.

5th April 1963: Al Perini spends five hours in space on Mercury-3 in his capsule “Liberty”.

April 1963: Contact is lost with Mariner-1 when a battery fault causes the probe to lose all power.

May 1963: First unmanned, suborbital test flight of the Raketoplan “Orel” spaceplane and aeroshell test article.

June 1963: The R-6A rocket planned to carry the Zarya-3 mission explodes on the pad. Cosmonaut Tatyana Kuznetsova escapes the explosion, but is exposed to toxic fumes and suffers respiratory and neurological problems over the following six years before finally succumbing to a complication of pneumonia in December 1969. The mission is covered up by the Soviet authorities and Mishin bars further flights of Zarya on the R-6.

August 1963: Mercury-4 carries Robert “Bob” White on a 3-orbit mission. The mission is ended prematurely due to instrument failure.

12th August 1963: First drop-test of the Dynasoar Atmospheric Test Vehicle “Diane”, piloted by Bill Dana.

September 1963: Castro's Cuba switches from the Moscow camp to align with Mao's China.

November 1963: First unmanned test flight of the Zarya-B spacecraft.

December 1963: Albert Crews gains the spaceflight duration record with his 7-hour Mercury-5 mission.

December 1963: Harold Macmillan resigns as Prime Minister on health grounds. He is succeeded by Rab Butler.

December 1963: OKB-385 launches two more probes to Venus. One fails in Earth orbit, and the second suffers a guidance failure that puts it on an heliocentric orbit missing Venus. This probe is re-named Solntse-1 and claimed to be a solar probe.

Late 1963: A joint NACAA-DRA project to investigate designs for a 3-man space capsule for deep space missions is authorised.

Late 1963: West Germany reduces its order for Avro Arrow fighter jets from 300 aircraft to 150.

1963: Sidney Lumet releases “Fail-Safe”, a techno-thriller depicting the catastrophic results of an accidental US nuclear release at a time of international tensions. The movie is critically acclaimed but only a mediocre commercial success.

1963: A drought sees the USSR forced to import food from the West.

1963: Doctor Who premiers in the UK, starring Geoffrey Bayldon as the mysterious Doctor.

1963: Ford acquire Philco, starting their role in the manufacturer of communications satellites.

1963: Strategic Air Command proposes developing the Skybolt air-launched IRBM into a nuclear-armed anti-satellite weapon.


Early-1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act with bi-partisan support, is signed into law by President Nixon.

January 1964: Suborbital test flight of improved Orel leads to a successful unmanned landing in the Kazakh SSR.

January 1964: second unmanned test flight of Zarya-B.

February 1964: A junior civil servant at the Canadian embassy in Bonn leaks evidence of bribery in the West German purchase of Arrow fighter jets to der Spiegel magazine.

February 1964: Alabama Governor George Wallace announces he will run for President on the Democratic ticket, in order to reverse the party’s policies on segregation and civil rights.

February 1964: Mariner-3 and Mariner-4 are launched towards Venus.

10th March 1964: Aleksei Leonov and Pavel Belyayev become the first cosmonauts to perform a 2-man mission on Zarya-3, setting new endurance records for manned spaceflight.

March 1964: Der Spiegel publishes allegations that West German Defence Minister Franz Josef Strauss accepted illegal payments in return for an order of Arrows. Chancellor Adenauer publicly backs Strauss.

May 1964: The start of manned atmospheric testing of the Orel spaceplane at Khodynka.

April 1964: The National Environmental and Space Sciences Administration (NESSA) is created, combining functions from the Geodetic Survey and Weather Bureau, as well as unmanned space exploration and civilian weather and Earth sciences missions from the Air Force and Navy.

12th April 1964: Pete Knight becomes the first Dynasoar pilot to break the sound barrier on a rocket-assisted air-drop test.

May 1964: President Nixon approves the Mercury-6/7 dual mission.

May 1964: Franz Josef Strauss is formally charged with corruption in relation to the award of both Avro Arrow and Lockheed Starfighter contracts. Strauss is forced to resign as Defence Minister, with Chancellor Adenauer also resigning a week later. Heinrich Krone becomes Chancellor of the BDR.

May 1964: Mariner-3 and Mariner-4 perform a successful flyby of Venus, passing within 70 000 km and 130 000 km of the planet respectively.

May 1964: Aura, the first production-model Dynasoar Mk-I, makes its first drop test.

9th June 1964: The nose landing gear of the Diana ATV collapses on touchdown after a test flight.

August 1964: The Democratic National Convention announces Hubert H. Humphrey as their Presidential Candidate, with Ralph Yarborough as his running-mate. George Wallace announces he will run under the “American Democratic Party” ticket.

August 1964: First unmanned test of the Raketoplan spaceplane, launched on a R-200 rocket on a suborbital flight.

10th September 1964: Launch of Zarya-4 carrying cosmonauts Dimitry Zaikin and Viktor Gorbatko. Gorbatko performs the world's first space walk.

15th September 1964: Launch of Mercury-6 and Mercury-7, piloted by Neil Armstrong and Al Perini respectively. Mercury-7 passes within 2.2 km of Mercury-6 on a “Direct Ascent” intercept.

September 1964: Aura makes her first supersonic flight.

October 1964: UK General Election sees Harold Wilson’s Labour Party become the largest party, though remaining two seats short of a majority. A minority government is formed under Wilson.

3rd November 1964: Richard Nixon wins a second term as US President.

November 1964: Testing of the UR-500 rocket begins, but the first four tests result in just one success.

November 1964: Launch of an experimental Soviet radar satellite, based on a modification of the standard Raketoplan Common Equipment Module (Apparat Obshcheye Oborudovaniye, AOO).

November 1964: Rhene, the second Dynasoar Mk-I glider, makes its first drop test.

Late 1964: NESSA establish the Tempest project to develop a series of weather satellites operating in near-polar, sun-synchronous orbits.

End of 1964: The Nixon Administration plans to have deployed 200 Minuteman ICBMs in hardened silos.

1964: Gene Roddenberry begins shopping his concept for sci-fi show “The Far Frontier” around the major networks and studios. Although he receives little interest initially, he is able to sell a concept for a straight-up Western, “Pike’s Hunt”.


Early 1965: Britain starting testing of the Blue Streak first stage of the Europa launcher in Woomera, Australia.

Early 1965: President Nixon authorises development of the Starbolt ASAT weapon.

14th March 1965: Secretary of the Central Committee Frol Kozlov dies. A cabal of hardliners stage a coup and force Khrushchev to resign. Leonid Brezhnev becomes Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Alexander Shelepin is appointed First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Dimitriy Ustinov becomes Chairman of the Supreme Council of the National Economy and Mitrofan Nedelin heads the Military-Industrial Commission. The change in leadership results in the reorganisation of the Soviet space industry, with Mishin’s OKB-385 absorbing much of OKB-1 to form the “Central Design Bureau of Specialist Equipment” (TsKBSO). UR-500 production and future development is transferred to Yangel’s OKB-586. Chelmoei keeps control of Raketoplan and IS at OKB-1.

March 1965: The Zarya-5 mission reaches an apogee of almost 2 000 km, giving cosmonauts Leonov and Tokarev the distinction of having traveled further into space than any other humans.

May 1965: In a snap election, the Labour Party wins a seven-seat majority in the UK House of Commons, with Harold Wilson confirmed as Prime Minister.

June 1965: Franz Josef Strauss is convicted of bribe-taking and sentenced to 6 months in prison.

July 1965: The Soviet Mars-2 probe makes a successful flyby of Mars, passing over the Northern Hemisphere.

28th July 1965: Mars-3 is launched on a Proton rocket, the first model of Chelomei's Heavy Interplanetary Spacecraft (Tyazhelaya Mezhplanetnaya korabl', TMK).

August 1965: The American Mariner-5 and Mariner-6 spacecraft flyby Mars' Southern Hemisphere.

4th August 1965: The second TMK-Mars launch fails when the Proton second stage is destroyed in-flight.

Summer 1965: The first issue of “Star Captain Rhodan”, a US comic adaptation of “Perry Rhodan”, hits newsstands to a positive reception.

September 1965: Elections in West Germany return an SPD-FDP coalition government under Chancellor Willy Brandt.

10th September 1965: First manned suborbital flight of the Orel spaceplane on a R-200, piloted by Yury Artyukhin.

Autumn 1965: “The Far Frontier”, produced by Desilu, starts broadcasting on CBS, starring Jeffrey Hunter, Joby Baker and Bill Cosby.

November 1965: Proton returns to flight with a successful launch.

November 1965: Minerva-1 makes a successful first test launch from Cape Canaveral.

Late 1965: The British government reduces funding to ELDO.


January 1966: Zarya-6, piloted by Viktor Gorbatko, attempts a rendezvous and docking with the unmanned Kosmos-44. The attempted docking is unsuccessful, and the mission is reported as a rendezvous and inspection flight.

February 1966: Minerva-1 makes a second launch, this time with a live Centaur upper stage.

April 1966: Diana makes an unmanned suborbital flight on a Minerva-10 rocket on mission DS-1.

April 1966: The Zarya-7 mission is aborted twenty seconds after lift-off due to a 1st stage failure of the M-1. Cosmonaut Lev Dyomin is pulled to safety by the escape tower.

May 1966: Mars-3 successfully enters orbit of Mars, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. The lander fails on descent, but the orbiter continues to function for seven more months.

7th May 1966: Neil Armstrong makes the first manned flight of Dynasoar on a sub-orbital hop from Cape Canaveral to Fortaleza, Brazil.

July 1966: The first Mk.II Dynasoar, Athena, begins drop tests. Mk.I gliders continue suborbital flights.

July 1966: An Orel Raketoplan piloted by Vladimir Shatalov launches aboard a Proton rocket on its first manned orbital flight. The mission is a complete success.

10th November 1966: Neil Armstrong pilots the first Dynasoar orbital flight, launching in Aura atop a Minerva-22.

13th November 1966: Armstrong returns to Earth in Aura after 3 days aloft, a new US record.

December 1966: NESSA launch Pathfinder-1 to Mars.

December 1966: The first test launch of the Europa stack from Woomera (using a live 1st stage with dummy 2nd and 3rd stages) fails.

1966: First test launch of the Soviet Agat anti-satellite weapon.


February 1967: Bob White pilots the Mk.I glider Rhene on mission DS-7. It is the first manned flight from Vandeberg and demonstrats a synergistic plane change manoeuvre.

May 1967: Yury Artyukhin pilots the second Orel mission, the first time the same spacecraft has been used for multiple flights.

May 1967: Tempest-1 is launched, the first of NESSA's civilian weather satellites.

May 1967: First successful test launch of Europa from Woomera. Only the first stage is live.

June 1967: Twin launch of Zarya-8, piloted by Alexei Leonov, and the unmanned Kosmos-52. Zarya-8 performs the first space docking with Kosmos-52.

June 1967: Launch of Venera-2 and Venera-3 to Venus. Both are successful, with Venera-3 releasing a sub-probe into the Venusian atmosphere.

Mid-1967: At Expo-67 in Montreal, French President Charles de Gaulle proclaimed “Vive le Quebec libre!”.

August 1967: Pathfinder-1 makes a flyby of Mars. As well as returning more data on the planet, the probe captures images of the moon Deimos.

September 1967: Europa test launch from Kouoru with live 1st and 2nd stages fails at 2nd stage separation.

2nd October 1967: DS-8 launches in the Mk.II glider Athena. It's 3-man crew of Pete Knight, Paul McEnnis and Edward Karski is the first US multi-man launch.

6th October 1967: Paul McEnnis becomes the first American to walk in space during the DS-8 mission.

1967: At Ustinov’s urging, Mikhail Yangel is named a Candidate Member of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

1967: First test launches of the Starbolt air-launched ASAT.


Early 1968: Senator Robert Kennedy agrees to stand down from the race to be the Democratic Presidential candidate in favour of Edmund Muskie.

March 1968: Mitrofan Nedelin replaced by Boris Suvorov as head of the Military-Industrial Commission.

April 1968: First flight of the Dynasoar Experimental Lab (DEL) as part of mission DS-9.

May 1968: Harold Wilson is forced to call a General Election following a series of by-election losses. Rab Butler's Conservative Party wins the election. Margaret Thatcher is named Secretary of State for Science and Technology in the new government.

July 1968: The USAF announces the future Dynasoar Orbital Lab (DOS) would be launched into a low-inclination orbit from Cape Canaveral rather than the originally planned polar orbit from Vandenberg.

July 1968: Dynasoar glider Rhene docks with a target vehicle on mission DS-10.

September 1968: A conference of ELDO contributing nations in Paris ends with the agency restructured into the European Space Launch Agency, to be headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium.

5th November 1968: Edmund Muskie is elected to be the 36th President of the United States. George McGovern is his Vice President.

December 1968: Lunar Surveyor enters orbit of the Moon.

December 1968: Premier of the movie Space Odyssey.

1968: Widespread rioting in Quebec in support of independence. The start of a serious terrorist campaign by the Front de Liberation du Quebec.


March 1969: Mars-4 and Mars-5 are launched within 2 days of one another.

May 1969: Pathfinder-2 and Pathfinder-3 are launched to Venus. Both make successful flybys.

October 1969: NACAA Chairman Gilruth and DRA Space Division chief von Braun propose their “Verne Option” to the White House for a manned mission around the Moon.

November 1969: The Mars-4 probe fails its orbit insertion manoeuvre and flys past the planet after releasing its lander. The Mars-4 lander fails on touch-down. Mars-5 successfully enters orbit and its lander operates on the surface for 8 hours, sending back the first photo from the surface.

1969: The Tempest-2 weather satellite is launched.

1969: The DS-12 DEL mission spends two weeks in orbit.

1969: The DRA publishes their “Report on a Reusable National Space Transportation System”, pulling together the results of several earlier studies. It proposes the development of a fully reusable two-stage launch vehicle and supporting on-orbit tugs.

1969: Doctor Who is cancelled by the BBC after six series.


22nd January 1970: President Muskie announces his aim to have American astronauts carry out “a voyage around the Moon” by 4th July, 1976.

12th May 1970: Pilgrim-1 touches down in the Mare Tranquillitatis. The probe operates on the surface for 10 days and returns 120g of lunar regolith to Earth.

June 1970: Gary Jones becomes the first African-American in space on the DS-16 mission.

September 1970: Secretary of State Kennedy announces an agreement with the USSR on the hosting of mutually compatible Disaster Beacon relays on the satellites of both nations.

September 1970: An ESLA ministerial meeting formally approves development of the Theseus rocket, with the first launch targeted for 1974.

8th October 1970: Starlab space station (formally DOS) launched.

20th October 1970: Dynasoar Athena launched on mission Starlab-2.

22nd October 1970: Athena docks with the Starlab space station.

November 1970: Yangel presents to the Politburo the KKRD's proposal to beat America to lunar space with Proton/Zarya by 1976, with an M-3/Safir landing mission targeted for 1978. The Politburo reject this proposal and order the KKRD to select one or the other of their options for development, not both.

1970: The Defense Department's two operational geostationary Defense Meteorological Satellite spacecraft are transferred to NESSA control.

1970: The Air Force authorises the Minerva Upgrade Project.

1970: The Far Frontier is cancelled after five seasons, after a drop in ratings following the departure of the show’s star, Jeffrey Hunter, at the end of season 4.


January 1971: The Politburo gives approval for a Soviet manned lunar flyby mission, “Lunnyy Oblet Missiya” (LOM), based upon a modified Zarya and a four-stage Proton. Also approved are modifications to Orel to allow two-man space station missions using the spaceplane. The Council of Ministers issue a formal decree shortly afterwards.

February 1971: Columbia passes its System Requirements Review.

March 1971: Launch of Chasovoy-1 space station.

22nd March 1971: Launch of Zarya-10 with Gagarin and Leonov on board.

25th March 1971: Zarya-10 docks with Chasovoy-1.

28th April 1971: Following the successful completion of the Zarya-10 mission, the unmanned Chasovoy-1 station loses all power.

1971: Tempest-3 is launched, bringing the NESSA weather constellation back up to two spacecraft after the failure of Tempest-1 six months earlier.

1971: The Mk.II glider Athena demonstrates on-orbit servicing of USA-110, a prototype NRO spy satellite.

1971: NESSA's Mars Surveyor fails to enter Mars orbit after an engine malfunction. Shortly afterwards, NESSA announces the delay of the Venus Radar Surveyor from 1972 to 1974, and the cancellation of the Mars Pilgrim lander in favour of a second Mars Surveyor.

3rd October 1971: Mikhail Yangel, Chief Designer of OKB-586, dies of a heart attack. He is replaced by Pavlo Kulik.

1971: The Adventures of Perry Rhodan! premiers on US television, a light-hearted spin-off of the Star Captain Rhodan comic books, sparking accusations of “Kulturkampf” from German fans.

1971: NESSA authorises work to start on the ion-powered Pathfinder-4 and solar sail Pathfinder-5 in order to perform a fly-off of the competing propulsion technologies.

1971: Lutz Kayser meets Wernher von Braun at a conference in Vancouver. Von Braun commissions Kayser to produce a technical study of his modular rocket concept.

1971: The Agat ASAT weapon is declared operational.


January 1972: The USSR Council of Ministers issue a decree directing a reconsideration of the LOM architecture and authorising Chelomei to perform a series of unmanned tests of the Safir capsule, using funding reallocated from the “more mature” Zarya-V development effort.

April 1972: Astronaut Edward Karski is killed during ground testing of the Mk.I glider Rhene.

1972: An Agat spacecraft designated Kosmos-162 accidentally collides with USA-130, disabling both spacecraft.

1972: NORAD makes its space tracking data publicly available for the first time.


February 1973: Launch of Pathfinder-4. Despite some issues, the mission successfully demonstrates ion propulsion.

Mid-1973: A Congressional investigation is started into the Rhene incident.

September 1973: Lidya Kotova becomes the first woman in space, piloting an Orel Raketoplan.

October 1973: The Rhene Inquiry reports back, blaming crew tiredness, schedule pressure and overconfidence by the Air Force in their ability to support a high sortie rate. The Report also makes over 100 recommendations to be implemented before Dynasoar flights be resumed, with an additional 56 recommendations to be implemented in future spacecraft design, including for Columbia.

1973: Edgar Cortright appointed NACAA Chairman.

1973: Lutz Kayser's Orbital Transport and Rockets (OTR) consultancy delivers a technical report to the DRA on a low-cost rocket based upon “Common Rocket Propulsion Units”.


January 1974: Launch of Safir-1 on an unmanned circumlunar test flight.

March 1974: The Soviet Mars-6 probe lands at Hellas Planetia and Mars-7 in the Elysium region on Mars. The probes send back the first colour photos from the surface of Mars.

17th April 1974: Soviet First Secretary Shelepin suffers a heart attack and is rushed to hospital.

19th April 1974: Shelepin dies of a second heart attack.

April 1974: Successful unmanned test flight of the Columbia capsule.

1st May 1974: The regional Communist Parties of Croatia and Slovenia declared their secession from Yugoslavia, triggering a civil war.

June 1974: East German leader Walter Ulbricht retires, to be replaced as head of the SED by Horst Sindermann.

Mid-1974: Venus Radar Surveyor arrives in polar Venus orbit.

June 1974: Launch of the Pathfinder-5 solar sail. After initial success. the probe's sail blades soon become tangled.

28th July 1974: Israel launches a pre-emptive strike against Egyptian and Syrian forces which had been massing in preparation for an invasion of Israel, sparking ten days of fighting. Arab forces are beaten back at high cost. An oil embargo is imposed in response.

August 1974: Dynasoar returns to flight with mission DS-23.

October 1974: Second unmanned test flight of Columbia, incorporating the Rhene Inquiry recommendations, including an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere at sea-level pressure.

November 1974: Mid-term elections return a Republican majority to both the House and Senate.

1974: Wernher von Braun steps down from his position at the DRA following political pressure relating to his wartime service in the SS.

1974: A number of study contracts for a successor to Dynasoar are issued, resulting in wildly diverging concepts being put forward.

1974: The USAF issue a call for proposals for a Phase-A study of a new launch vehicle to supplement Minerva.


January 1975: Launch of an unmanned Zarya-V around the Moon on a free-return fly-by ending with a double-skip re-entry.

Early 1975: NESSA select ion propulsion for the Halley Rendezvous Probe.

Early 1975: USAF select Ford Aerospace, Martin Marietta and Rockwell-Convair to make a Phase-A study for their Future Expendable Launcher project.

11th March 1975: Launch of Columbia-3, the first manned flight of the programme.

April 1975: The DS-24/Starlab-3 mission finds the station plagued by minor breakdowns and suffering an outbreak of mould growing on the walls. The mission ends early after just 4 days. Soon afterwards the Air Force declared Starlab officially retired from active service.

7th May 1975: First attempted manned launch of Safir ends in failure as the Proton first stage explodes on lift-off. The 2-man crew escapes unharmed.

June 1975: Launch of Columbia-4 on a 5-day Earth orbit mission, piloted by Albert Crews and civilian geologist Dr. John Kaminski.

Mid-1975: The first Theseus rocket is delivered to its launch site at Kourou, French Guiana.

Summer 1975: The first draft report for the Columbia Applications Program is presented to the NACAA Chairman, proposing to use the Columbia capsule as the basis of a large space-based manned infrastructure.

September 1975: Andrei Kirilenko as permanent Chairman of the Politburo, ending the rotating chairmanship that had existed since the death of Shelepin.

September 1975: First launch of Theseus ends in failure of the third stage.

October 1975: Unmanned launch of Columbia-5, using the Minerva-24c to send it on a circum-lunar flight.

October 1975: Zarya-V is ready to attempt a lunar flyby mission carrying animals, but is blocked for political reasons.

November 1975: Proton returns to flight.

November 1975: The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant suffers the most serious accident of the civilian nuclear programme.

1975: In the FY-76 budget Congress restricts funding for active development of the Columbia Applications Program, and block the acquisition of additional Columbia spacecraft beyond the initial batch of ten already on order from Lockheed.

1975: Starbolt-K is commissioned into service, using a kinetic-kill “shotgun” warhead in place of the earlier nuclear warhead.

1975: NESSA scientist Burton Cour-Palais uses NORAD data to assess the probabilities of debris from ASAT testing causing a loss of one of NESSA’s polar orbiting Tempest weather satellites.


23rd January 1976: Launch of Columbia-6, the first manned mission to the Moon.

29th January 1976: Columbia-6 returns to Earth after a successful mission around the Moon.

8th March 1976: Decision taken to delay Columbia-7 until after July.

20th March 1976: Launch of the manned Safir-2 circumlunar mission.

23rd March 1976: Safir-2 swings past the Moon on a free return trajectory.

27th March 1976: Vasiliy Mishin dies in an accident at the Zarya plant.

March 1976: Second attempted launch of Theseus ends in success.

April 1976: At a 10 day special congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, First Secretary Kirilenko and Premier Teplov put forward a far-reaching package of reforms under the title of “Khozraschyot” (“economic accounting”), requiring all state enterprises to take account of the real economic costs of production in their pricing.

June 1976: The FY-77 budget passes, approving allocations for NACAA to define a lunar landing architecture to be implemented by 1981, plus additional funding to start long-lead item procurement for an extra five Columbia capsules.

June 1976: NESSA's Mars Surveyor 2 probe enters Mars orbit.

27th July 1976: Launch of the Mayflower-1 probe as part of the Outer Planet Pilgrimage mission.

Summer 1976: The Soviet Union begins reducing subsidies on energy exports to Eastern Europe.

August 1976: Third attempted launch of Theseus delivers a French military communications satellite to geostationary orbit.

September 1976: Columbia-7 circles the Moon as America's second manned lunar mission.

September 1976: The US Air Force select Ford Aerospace's “Modular Space Launcher” concept, also known as “Liberty”, as their Future Expendable Launcher.

2nd November 1976: US Presidential Election sees a 285-236 victory for Nelson Rockefeller against Robert Kennedy. The Democrats win back control of the Senate.


20th January 1977: Nelson Rockefeller is inaugurated as America’s 37th President.

February 1977: The Soviet Politburo orders the cessation of active work on manned lunar missions and the retirement of the Raketoplan Orel manned spaceplane.

Spring 1977: Rockefeller's first budget proposal includes requests to fund Columbia Earth-orbit missions and space stations, with a lunar landing as a “horizon goal”. Congress rejects the proposal, funding only the remaining three Columbia lunar missions with studies for future lunar landings.

June 1977: Launch of the Chasovoy-3 space station.

8th July 1977: Launch of the Zarya-13 mission to Chasovoy-3.

10th July 1977: Zarya-13 docks with Chasovoy-3 under manual control.

4th August 1977: Zarya-14 docks with Chasovoy-3, bringing the total number of crew aboard to 4.

7th August 1977: Zarya-13 departs Chasovoy-3, leaving cosmonaut Lev Yelagin aboard the station.

25th August 1977: Launch of the Halley Pilgrim rendezvous probe.

30th August 1976: Launch of the Mayflower-2 probe as part of the Outer Planet Pilgrimage mission.

9th September 1977: Zarya-14 departs Chasovoy-3. Lev Yelagin sets a new duration record of 63 days on orbit.

November 1977: President Rockefeller and First Secretary Kirilenko meet in Reykjavik to discuss easing East-West relations.

1977: The USSR and DDR establish a joint office in the Berlin Free City Zone under Gosneft for the export of Soviet oil to Western Europe.

1977: Burt Cour-Palais postulates that a large enough debris generating event on orbit could go on to spark a chain reaction of satellite destruction, later named a “CP Event”.


January 1978: Glavkosmos is established to coordinate Soviet space missions with other nations. Glavkosmos quickly announces plans for an East German cosmonaut to fly to Chasovoy-3 in October.

31st January 1978: Mayflower-1 makes its closest approach to Jupiter, passing at an altitude of 5000km.

June 1978: Columbia-10 is launched, the final Columbia curcumlunar mission, carrying pilot Doug Boone and NACAA scientist-astronaut Eugene Lippmann.

11th July 1978: A large solar flare, rated X15, is observed. It would prove to be the most powerful flare of Solar Cycle 21.

August 1978: Launch of Thebe with a DEL-ED (Extended Duration) module, which is left on-orbit for later retrieval.

September 1978: First international “Space Summit” between NESSA, ESRO and Glavkosmos in Washington DC results in agreements on a joint series of solar probes, the hosting of foreign instruments on each organisation's probes, and sharing of data and resources, including the use of NESSA's Deep Space Network in support ot the Soviet Yupiter mission.

29th September 1978: Halley Pilgrim makes a gravity assist fly-by of Jupiter en-route to Halley's Comet.

28th October 1978: Launch of the Zarya-16 mission to Chasovoy-3 carrying East German Klaus Hartmann, the first space traveller not to be a citizen of either the USA or USSR.


Early 1979: The Tehran crisis. President Rockefeller authorises use of force, resulting in significant Iranian and American casualties.

3rd March 1979: Mayflower-2 makes its closest approach to Jupiter at a distance of 250 000 km.

June 1979: President Rockefeller suffers a heart attack in the Oval Office. He recovers, but it is later revealed he is having an affair with Sara Gibney, the White House intern who called the medical services.

November 1979: The Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty is signed between the USA and USSR. The signing also includes an agreement to begin talks on a joint Soviet-American manned space mission.

1979: The Agat standing on-orbit force is decomissioned, to be replaced by the ground launched Oniks ASAT weapon.


February 1980: President Rockefeller announces he will not stand for re-election.

July 1980: The Summer Olympics are held in Moscow.

4th November 1980: Democrat Frank Church beats Republican Daniel Evans to be elected President of the United States.

1980: The Protocol on Conventional Forces in Europe is signed between the USA and USSR.

1980: Three USAF ASAT squadrons are operational with Skybolt-K missiles.


March 1981: Andrei Kirilenko steps down from both his role as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and First secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He is replaced in both these roles by former Premier Maxim Teplov, who is in turn replaced as Chairman of the Council of Ministers by Boris Gostev.

12th December 1981: Launch of Thebe on DS-34. Two days later the glider docks with Chasovoy-3 for the first Soviet-American joint mission.

1981: An attempted coup in Saudi Arabia is foiled, but oil prices briefly spike in response.


1982: Oil prices begin to fall from their peak, the start of a sustained drop.

1982: Ford's Liberty rocket debuts. The US and Japan reach an agreement for Liberty to be built under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

August 1982: Chasovoy-3 is decommissioned.

September 1982: The Dynasoar spaceplanes are retired following the conclusion of mission DS-36.


1985: Richard Branson investigates the possibility of developing an ultra-cheap rocket based on Lutz Kayser's designs. The first proposed use is a suborbital publicity mission, carrying Branson himself.

timelines/kolyma_timeline.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)