3-part series set on PBS on Soviet space program


The PBS science program Nova has a February miniseries of its own this week, a three-part, three-hour history of the Soviet space program called "Russian Right Stuff."

Actually, as this fascinating documentary -- on Maryland Public Television, Channels 22 and 67, tonight, tomorrow and Thursday nights at 8 o'clock -- tells the story, the Russian space stuff was more right, then wrong, then right again.

Tonight's hour is about the magnificent rise of Soviet space exploration -- the flights of the first Sputnik satellites, the first living creatures in space, the orbit of Yuri Gagarin, the first woman in space -- led by a man kept anonymous by a ideology that wanted his work to be seen as the product of a system, not a genius.

Officially he was called "chief designer." His name was Sergei Korolev and, unlike the scientists in charge of the American space program who were imported from Nazi Germany, he was a home grown product.

His story, told by wives and colleagues, friends and cosmonauts, is of a man who made his boyhood dream into adult reality, and made a once-backward nation proud of its technological achievements.

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