Military Review

"I proudly call myself Korolyovets"

Twice Hero of the Soviet Union Georgy Grechko recalls Sergei Korolev, the father of world manned cosmonautics. Especially for the "historian."

"I proudly call myself Korolyovets"

The first cosmonaut of the USSR

Our communication began uncommonly. I am an ordinary engineer, what are the hundreds of Korolev. Just started working in KB. And suddenly - in a month or two - the Chief Designer calls me. I heard about his cool temper, and at first I felt uneasy, and then I thought: I work here without a year for a week, I didn’t do anything bad or good ... The fear disappeared, but the excitement still remained. I am at the appointed time. He leaves the table, sits down next to me and starts talking to me, as if he has no more important matters, about what subjects I loved at the institute, what I read in my specialty, where I lived, where I grew up ... I looked at my watch, and just talked with a person, trying to figure out who came to work for him. He wanted to understand what people live with, what they think, what they want, what they come with. Then he went to the theater, to music, to literature.

I talked in some detail about my passions. Naivety has not yet been knocked out of me, but then I was particularly naive, and for some reason it seemed to me that it was normal, that Korolev was talking to me like that. And only then, after his death, I realized what a stunning person he was. Because when I was accepted into the cosmonaut detachment, no one asked what books I read, what music I listen to, what theaters I go to, and what films I like, but more and more interested in my analyzes ... Why did he spend time on detailed conversations with me with one of hundreds of young engineers? Korolev needed to know if in the future he could rely on this man. In my opinion, this is why, with him, they were ahead of the Americans. It is now that we have turned over the entire educational system for them, and after the launch of our satellite, they rebuilt theirs for us.

Why do I love and respect him? Korolev always bet on people and therefore won. Before the war, Stalin put forward the correct slogan: “Cadres decide everything” - this Sergey Pavlovich learned very well. No one was as consistent with this principle as Korolev, who deeply understood the importance of people, professionals. Not cogs, namely creative professionals. This is the power of Korolev - he could concentrate the efforts of all who worked for him on the task. And in this I see his genius and uniqueness. People like him are born once every fifty years ... Now fifty years have passed and there is no equal to him yet. So, once in a hundred years.


He worked with “uncomfortable” people, that is, those who always had their own opinion, their own point of view, were not very disciplined, discussed orders, but were talented. Their opinions collided with others, including with the opinion of Korolev, and then a spark was born. I attended several meetings held by Korolev. He invited top specialists, whom he knew well, because he hired everyone and studied them carefully, and young people like me. For example, was the question of fuel for the missiles of the future: kerosene or hydrogen? He interviewed everyone, including me. I could not offer anything clever, different from what has already been said. But he got up and expressed his opinion. Only much later, I realized that Korolev had taught everyone to say what he was thinking. After all, then sooner or later a person will surely express something that will differ from the opinions of others. A couple of years later this happened to me when I declared that the third satellite would not take off. It was about refueling the rocket. According to my calculations, it turned out that it was done incorrectly. Korolev listened to me, and then called my bosses and said that their employee at the cosmodrome expressed such an opinion. They answered him: they say, they do not understand or “show off”. Then it turned out that I was right, and Korolev sent my boss to the space center in my submission ... When Korolev made his decision, he always explained why he was doing this. We understood him, and his decision became ours. And other chiefs acted differently: they informed us of the decision, and only then offered to discuss it. It was a deeply erroneous approach. Sergei Pavlovich relied on people, and this was his strength.

Cosmonauts Alexey Gubarev and Georgy Grechko

And it happened like this: on “brainstorming” everyone was inclined to one option. The main one gets up and says: "Comrades, everything is right with you, and you have chosen the option correctly and technically justified, but you cannot do this." And suddenly it reveals to us a completely different side of this question, another aspect. And it shows that it is necessary to do the opposite. He was the first Chief Designer, he could order almost everyone in the country when it came to rocket technology, but he did not order his engineers - he convinced them. If he said that it was not necessary to solve the problem, he always explained why, and only after explanations we left. Although the decision was made not what we proposed, but we are leaving the Chief Designer to carry out the decision as our own, because he did not order us, but told, convinced, proved.

Throughout all the years that I had to work with him, always this style is a request, a conviction. And therefore, people worked not for fear, but for conscience.

Once I suggested upgrading the rocket. And the deadlines were already running out. Korolev agreed with the proposals, but said: "The best is the enemy of the good." After all, you can endlessly improve the project, but never see it implemented ...

I was lucky to work with him for twelve years. Why did we have everything we could manage under Korolev? The first satellite, the first cosmonaut, the first spacewalk ... Because Korolev relied on the person, on the people with whom he worked and knew them thoroughly.

Here is an example of the genius of Korolev! After the launch of the first satellite, Khrushchev called him and said: “We didn’t believe that you would overtake the Americans. A month later, a big holiday, start something new ... ”He came to us and said that there is not enough time - there will be no drawings, there will be only sketches, and our conscience will be the technical control, and people worked for conscience and did it. And we launched another device - with Like, which has become a new word of technology.

Sergey Korolev and Yuri Gagarin

I am sure that even now, with all the achievements of technology, no one will launch a new satellite in a month. And we did it. And they did it because Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was at the head.

Even in the years of devastation after the Civil War, when our state was just getting on its feet, Korolev, Zander, Glushko dreamed not of near-Earth flights or even of flights to the Moon. And about the flight to Mars. They knew how to dream. Korolev said: "I love science fiction in the drawings."

I will say more: if Korolev was alive, the apple trees on Mars, as in the song, would have been planted not by the Americans, but by our cosmonauts, because the Chief Designer worked hard to fly to Mars already in 1960's. And we, as always, postpone the flight there for a bright future, which for some reason does not occur here. And Korolev already created the Institute for Biomedical Problems, where they thought about what needs to be done from the point of view of medicine so that a person flew to Mars and returned alive and healthy. A ground-based complex was created to conduct experiments related to the long-term human presence in the interplanetary spacecraft. In 2010 – 2011, the Mars-500 experiment was carried out precisely in the Royal Complex ... with a half a century late.

Humanity must develop, and if it does not want, it will develop anyway! And those who want to grow will go ahead.
Once Korolev gathered us in the office. We prepared for a “brainstorming” for the next task, but the reason for the meeting turned out to be extraordinary. The chief arranged a competition for the best design name in which the first cosmonaut was to fly around the Earth - our product. Showered with suggestions:

- Starship ...

- Rocket launcher ...

- Spaceship ...

It's not that!

“So, so,” Korolev took advantage of his eldest right. - Let's call the cabin "space ship". We laughed. Does it look like a ship? The ship is what the hell! Then the prow or the boat. We probably did not fully realize the magnitude of the work we were doing. You know, as they say: "Let us go and see - are we sitting well?" Korolev could leave, but we could not, did not understand. So it was in all the languages ​​of the world that a very bright and precise definition of a new type of transport was a spacecraft.

Gagarin could fly earlier if the test program fit into the schedule. But launches, unfortunately, were going badly. One ship went into space, the other died during the descent, the third crashed. If there were no thorns, then we would have come to the stars faster ... We should not forget that we competed with the Americans, and therefore both we and they were in a hurry. Yes, and with the launch of Yuri Gagarin, not all agreed. Some thought that it was still necessary to check the ship in real flight. But Korolev clearly understood when it was necessary to take risks and when it was necessary to hedge. He went to a certain technical risk. Even today, there is a risk at the start of the ship, and it is unrealistic to demand that it is not there at all.

The queen was all very afraid. It is said that he was cruel. But years passed, and we realized that even though he was making terrible spills, he turned purple, shouted, tore the blueprints, but he did not expel anyone and did not deprive him of his salary or housing. Moreover, Korolev was never unavailable to employees, regardless of their status. He did not shut himself off by a chain of secretaries (in which, it should be noted, other major leaders often get confused). Every morning, at about eight o'clock, on the steps of the KB and in the hall, people approached him with requests and questions, and he carefully listened to everyone from the cleaning lady to the distinguished researcher. For everyone I found the right words, delved into the problems. It was he who penetrated, and did not forget in a minute. He gave his morning minutes (in addition to the office reception hours on personal matters) to employees. So it was.

Memories and sandwiches.
Georgy Grechko and Arseny Zamostyanov

When the triple ship was created in the design bureau, Korolev suggested sending not only pilots into space, but engineers and scientists - the best of the best. The rush began. Military leadership opposed. But Korolev defended the idea - and in our design bureau there were, of course, plenty of people willing. After the medical examination there are only thirteen people left. We were invited to talk Sergey Pavlovich. He briefly talked about future flights and suddenly asked:

- Why do you want to fly into space?

We answered, it seemed, well:

- We want to apply our knowledge not only to create a ship on Earth, but also to carry out a flight program on it.

Korolev listened to us and frowned. Finally, he could not stand it and “went wild”, promising to disperse our team altogether. We were at a loss.
Now, many years later, I understand why our general answers did not suit him. As a boy, Sergey Pavlovich believed that the time would come when medical requirements would not be so tough and he could fly into space himself. Therefore, having gathered the applicants in the office and a little bit jealous of the fate that fell to us, he wanted to hear some warmer and more humane words, consonant with his thoughts. When we in our reasoning did not rise above stereotypes, he became angry.

I was told this case. In his youth, Sergei Pavlovich loved to ride a motorcycle. I perfectly understand him, he loved this business himself. One day, when he was in a hurry somewhere, the bike broke down. With difficulty I got to the city, frozen, hungry. Korolev went to the bakery by the road, bought a bun and immediately ate on the sidewalk.


Many years later, the Chief Designer was returning from the meeting, and his path passed by the old bakery. Korolev asked to stop the car. I went to the bakery ... Pedestrians looked at the man sitting on the sidewalk with a bun in his hands next to the "ZIM" with surprise. I don’t know if this was the case, but those who knew Sergei Pavlovich would agree with me that this is similar to Korolev.

Many of you have seen in the movies or on television how the doors of the case are moving apart and a huge rocket cigar slowly rolls out. In the sunlight, the copper-reddish nozzles of the engines flare up with some sort of unearthly fire, and the whole picture of the rocket's evacuation is presented as a scene from a fantastic film. More than once on the eve of the start we tried to see this spectacle. But the regime at the spaceport was strict. And during this operation for the barrier, which blocked the path to the launch complex, was not allowed.

One day, Korolev's car stopped at the barrier. Sergei Pavlovich looked at us, thought for a moment, and then mischievously ordered:

- Come to my car ...

On the dais, Korolev stopped the car.

- Here is the most convenient place ...

And I thought then: it means that he comes to admire this spectacle. What kind of a romantic you need to remain in order to rush here each time to see the exciting picture, the work of your hands ...
The organizing genius of Korolev is that he created from the talented mathematicians, physicists, inventors and engineers a real team, which he was able to inspire to solve supercomplicated problems in space first. Without Korolev, all these experts would have been like in the fable of Krylov a swan, cancer and pike. He is by right the first person we remember on Cosmonautics Day.

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  1. Same lech
    Same lech April 16 2017 06: 00
    Why did he spend time on extensive conversations with me - with one of hundreds of young engineers? Korolev needed to know if he could rely on this person in the future.

    Personnel decide ...
    KOROLEV had wonderful engineers, and KOROLEV was striving to solve large-scale problems ... as we now lack such people at the helm of the state ... now we can only dream of such people.
    1. svp67
      svp67 April 16 2017 10: 48
      Quote: The same LYOKHA
      Personnel decide ...
      You can’t even argue ...
      Quote: The same LYOKHA
      QUEEN had wonderful engineers

      And not only him, engineers of the same class were at Glushko, Yangel, Pilyugin, etc. etc. It was an EXCELLENT engineering school of the USSR. There was from whom to choose and as much as needed ...
      Quote: The same LYOKHA
      KOROLEV sought his solution to large-scale tasks ...

      And here I want to add about one word to the clarification - STATE. There are many people who know how to achieve their goal in solving large-scale tasks, but among them there were one-and-a-half statesmen.
      1. Wild_grey_wolf
        Wild_grey_wolf April 16 2017 14: 05
        Bright memory to the discoverers, bright memory to the astronauts. Time first forever.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik April 16 2017 07: 47
    I will say more: if Korolev were alive, then the apple trees on Mars, as in a song, would not be planted by Americans
    ... This is true ... and it did not work out somehow with flights to Mars ....
  3. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 April 16 2017 09: 37
    And what else can be added to what Grechko said?
  4. cedar
    cedar April 16 2017 10: 46
    A wonderful story by Grechko about Korolyov. I can add an episode of the release of Korolev from the Kolyma zone.
    They sent him to Magadan in the back of a lorry in severe frost and he probably would have frozen on the way to freedom .., BUT .., some prisoner from thieves with the words: "Hold on, Dad!" managed to throw his sheepskin short fur coat into his body ...
    Maybe this moment was fundamental in Korolev’s responsiveness to the needs of ordinary ... people?

    We can see the royal smile in his photographs, BUT .., he never laughed. Could not. An investigator at one of the interrogations, seeking the necessary confession, broke his jaw with the blow of a decanter. She fused with a defect.
    Maybe this moment was fundamental in Korolev’s responsiveness to the needs of ordinary ... people?

    “In the 50s, poverty was terrible at the Pühtitsky Monastery,” said nun Siluan. I kept the Mother of God, while I was in charge of the hotel.
    Once a representative man in a leather jacket came to us. I gave him a little room, talked to him kindly, brought him food - all the same potatoes with mushroom gravy. He lived two days, and I look - more and more amazed. Finally we got into a conversation. He said that he did not expect to see such poverty, even poverty. "I always wanted to help the temples. I really want to help your monastery, my heart breaks when I saw how you live. I have very little money with me now, and I escaped here by some miracle - I need to go to work again, and I don’t know if I can come to you soon. "
    He left me his address and telephone number and said that if I was in Moscow, I would definitely call on him. I thanked him and gave the address of one poor priest who then lived with his wife for 250 rubles a month (this is old money), asking me to help him.
    A month later, they let me go to Moscow with the blessing of the abbess. I arrived, found the address that he left me. I see a huge fence, the gatekeeper at the fence. He asks me: "Who are you going to?" I called a surname. He missed and said: "They are waiting for you." I go, and am more and more surprised. At the back of the yard is a mansion. I'm calling. The owner opened, the same person who came to us. How happy! He led me upstairs to the second floor. I go into his office and see: on the table is an open volume of "Good Loving", in the corner is a cabinet with open sashes, behind which there are images. He invited the woman to cook everything. Before leaving, he gave me an envelope and said: "Here are five." I thought it was 500 rubles, but it turned out that 5 thousand rubles. What a help it was for us!
    A lot of time has passed. And here again my friend comes (and it was academician Korolev). We sit in my cell and drink tea. He thanks me: “You know, thanks to you I found a true friend and shepherd: that poor priest that you spoke about. I immediately sent him a thousand rubles to him upon arrival in Moscow and invited him to come to me. He arrived, he thanked me so much, he said that he was in despair, he was so hungry with his wife - he even wanted to quit the parish. Then always, when he came to Moscow, he stayed with us and lived ... "
    Maybe this moment was fundamental in Korolev’s responsiveness to the needs of ordinary ... people?
    Or maybe passing his path through thorns to the stars, Sergey Pavlovich saw better than others in ordinary ... people, earthlings? Residents of a small planet lost in the endless space of space.
    One thing is undeniable, it is the spiritual wealth of this person that made it possible to grow from the surrounding simple ... people a whole galaxy of outstanding designers, scientists and astronauts of the Soviet cosmonautics, one of which was Georgy Mikhailovich Grechko. Cosmonaut of the Queen quenching.
  5. RoTTor
    RoTTor April 19 2017 23: 47
    When the joint venture was gone, it seems that the whole team remained, the place of the joint venture was taken by its long-term and reliable deputy Vasily Mishin, but everything began to slip ... But it was not a joint venture, and only after -....
    Taki "Cadres decide everything!"
  6. k174oun7
    k174oun7 11 June 2017 18: 26
    When I studied at a military school, cosmonaut Georgy Grechko performed at a school club. He spoke interestingly about astronautics. They learned a lot about what they did not write at that time. Many years passed, but a meeting with such a person left good memories. G. Grechko himself was a prominent space engineer, a professional astronaut and a wonderful person. Bright memory to him.