The Soviet Manned Space Program (Review)

I like to browse the used book shelves at the local Goodwill Store.  Most days, I come across mostly old cookbooks, religious titles, novels that never made any top ten lists, and coffee table books.  Once in awhile, I do find something worth reading.  The other day I stumbled across a book that intersects with my interest in Russia.

It’s a copy of the old, out of print The Soviet Manned Space Program: An illustrated history of the men, the missions, and the spacecraft by Phillip Clark. To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement.

This book was published when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was still a thriving nation and their space program was fully intact and still growing.  The book was written from the viewpoint of someone reporting on a positive, on-going institution, not someone looking back wistfully at what could have been.  This old book is exciting because it is a viable slice of history as it was being made.

sovietspace-03Best of all, the book is not a coffee table book.  Although the pages are filled with wonderful photographs, the main thrust is the content in the text.  There are 14 chapters of factual reporting. It begins with Sergei Korolev’s dream of launching a Soviet Space program. The development of Space exploration dedicated Vostok rockets, the Sputniks, the Soyuz series, Salyut flights, the Mir space station, and an optimistic forecast of the future of Soviet Manned Spaceflight.

The author, Phillip Clark, is a highly esteemed analyst of the Russian space program whose many studies are highly regarded in the field of space exploration. Clark is also a consultant for the European aerospace industry.  Clark’s writing style reveals his intimate knowledge due to many years of research into the subject.

The copy is not thick with jargon and ponderous language. It must also be noted that the book is written for readers who seriously study history and want facts, figures, datelines, and accurate charts. In other words scholars and general readers can gain much from the book.


Although Clark’s book is seriously outdated, The Soviet Manned Space Program must be considered an important volume for the library of any serious enthusiast of Outer Space exploration and especially for specialists of the Russian Space program.  In particular, the stories of the Vostok, Voskhod, Soyuz, and early Mir platforms are sovietspace-02probably the best ones yet available in the English language. It is comparable to a Russian language history I borrowed from a friend. There is only a little bit said about the cultural and propaganda aims of the Soviet Space efforts.  There is much to be found about the technical aspects of rocket design, payloads, and the cosmonauts.

As a person who has long been fascinated by Space programs in general, and also having a long time interest in Russian history, I was captivated by Clark’s book. If you have similar interests, I highly recommend searching the Web for a copy of this out of print book to buy.

{ The Soviet Manned Space Program: An illustrated history of the men, the missions, and the spacecraft by Phillip Clark; 192 pages, published in 1988 by Salamander Books; ISBN: 0-517-56954-X }

sovietspace-iconThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the father of the Soviet Space program, Sergei Korolev. “Soon, all of us will go to the Moon on trade union holidays.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, History, Science, Vintage Collectables and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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