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Into the Cosmos

Space Exploration and Soviet Culture

edited by James T. Andrews and Asif A. Sidiqi

Publication Year: 2011

The launch of the Sputnik satellite in October 1957 changed the course of human history. In the span of a few years, Soviets sent the first animal into space, the first man, and the first woman. These events were a direct challenge to the United States and the capitalist model that claimed ownership of scientific aspiration and achievement. The success of the space program captured the hopes and dreams of nearly every Soviet citizen and became a critical cultural vehicle in the country’s emergence from Stalinism and the devastation of World War II. It also proved to be an invaluable tool in a worldwide propaganda campaign for socialism, a political system that could now seemingly accomplish anything it set its mind to. Into the Cosmos shows us the fascinating interplay of Soviet politics, science, and culture during the Khrushchev era, and how the space program became a binding force between these elements.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Front Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xii

The editors would like to first and foremost thank Peter Kracht, editorial director of the University of Pittsburgh Press. Peter read the entire manuscript and offered insightful...

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Introduction: Space Exploration in the Soviet Context

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pp. 1-12

During the Cold War the space program represented an important marker of Soviet claims to global superpower status. The achievements...

Part I. The Space Project

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1. The Cultural Spaces of the Soviet Cosmos

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pp. 15-27

In the late 1990s, when I arrived as a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, I found the small Russian-language community of mostly graduate...

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2. Getting Ready for Krushchev’s Sputnik

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pp. 28-44

By the late nineteenth century a myriad of popular science journals started to discuss the possibility of exploring the cosmos. This developing space culture...

Part II. Myth and Reality in the Soviet Space Program

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3. Cosmic Contradictions

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pp. 47-76

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sputnik and its successors have been the subject of a vast literature that has generally split into two distinct categories...

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4. The Human inside a Propaganda Machine

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pp. 77-106

On April 11, 1961, as Nikita Khrushchev was resting in his vacation residence at the Black Sea resort of Pitsunda, he received a telephone call. The head of the Military...

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5. The Sincere Deceiver

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pp. 107-132

The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin once remarked to a curious Canadian journalist: “A lie is never a fair means to achieve a goal. I do not believe that conditions...

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6. Cold War Celebrity and theCourageous Canine Scout

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pp. 133-156

In the gripping Cold War contest that was the space race, the feats of astronauts and cosmonauts marked some of the most iconic moments of the twentieth century...

Part III. The Soviet Space Program and the Cultural Front

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7. Cosmic Enlightenment

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pp. 159-194

If, as Oscar Wilde said, a man is half of what he is and half of what he wants to be, wrote the Russian writer Viktor Pelevin, “then the Soviet children of the Sixties...

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8. She Orbits over the Sex Barrier

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pp. 195-212

On June 16, 1963, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, a twenty-sixyear- old Soviet “everywoman” blasted off aboard Vostok 6 to become the first woman in space...

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9. From the Kitchen into Orbit

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pp. 213-239

The Cold War over consumer goods between the United States and the Soviet Union literally began in the kitchen. It was in the American kitchen that U.S...

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10. Cold War Theaters

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pp. 240-262

On August 6, 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut German Titov became only the second person to orbit Earth. With this accomplishment Titov became a global figure...


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pp. 263-316


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pp. 317-320


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pp. 321-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780822977469
E-ISBN-10: 082297746X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961611
Print-ISBN-10: 082296161X

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 13 b&w Illustrations
Publication Year: 2011