Russia’s relationship with space is uniquely fascinating. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Russians absorbed a heady mix of cosmist philosophy, science fiction and popular science, all exploring mankind's future in space.
This prompted a surge of imaginative thinking and enthusiastic activity that ultimately led to the launch of Sputnik – the world’s first artificial satellite – and a programme of increasingly ambitious Soviet space missions.
Over the coming months we will be publishing a series about the early Russian fascination with space, its cultural impact, and the many cosmic firsts it led to:
First artificial satellite
Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth Satellite, launched on 4 October 1957. Find out about the cultural and political backdrop of this momentous event, which heralded the birth of the Space Age and the Space Race.
Read more about Sputnik
First man in space
Yuri Gagarin needs no introduction. As the first human to enter space, his place in the annals of history is well established. Find out more about the impact his achievements had on the Russian people, then and now.
Read more about Gagarin
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova made history as the first woman in space. Find out why the 22 year old was chosen, who the other contenders were, and why almost 20 years passed before another woman entered space.
Read more about Tereshkova
First man to walk in space
When Alexei Leonov stepped into space on 18 March 1965, it was broadcast to millions. Yet it's only in recent years that the many deadly perils of the mission, from fireballs to wolves, have come to light.
Read more about the first spacewalk
First visionaries of space
Russia's passion for space exploration began long before the Space Race of the 1960s. Discover its origins in the late 19th century, and learn how a group of citizens in the 1920s planned to live on other planets.
Read more about Cosmopolity
Dogs in space
In the 1950s, dogs were carried on experimental flights in preparation for the first manned space mission. Find out about the crucial role man's best friend played in enabling humans to travel from Earth.
Read more about dogs in space
Soviet space posters
Originally conceived as propaganda tools during the workers' revolution of 1917, Soviet posters became an integral feature of the USSR's race to space and had a huge influence on art all over the world.
Read more about Soviet space posters