Today on Far Future Horizons we are proud to present the final episode of the acclaimed BBC docudrama “Space Race” titled “Race for the Moon”.
This series chronicles the major events and characters in the American/Soviet space race up to the first landing of a man on the moon. It focuses on Sergei Korolev, the Soviet chief rocket designer, and Wernher von Braun, his American counterpart. The series was a joint effort between British, German, American and Russian production teams.
In the final instalment of this docudrama both sides now plan to put a man on the Moon - the Americans pull ahead in the space race with Project Gemini, but then suffer a disaster with the Apollo 1 fire. Meanwhile, despite a few notable successes such as the first space walk by Alexei Leonov, the Soviet space programme struggles to keep up amid internal strife. Glushko and Korolev permanently fall out in an argument about fuel; Korolev turns to Nikolai Kuznetsov to develop engines instead. Kuznetsov delivers the NK-33, very efficient but much less powerful than the Americans' F-1.
The Soviet program suffers further blows when Korolev dies during surgery, Gagarin dies in a jet crash, Soyuz 1 crashes and kills Vladimir Komarov, and the prototype booster for the moon shot, the N-1 rocket, fails to successfully launch. In America, von Braun has continuing difficulties with the Saturn V, especially combustion instability in the large F-1 engine, but these are ultimately overcome almost by brute force at great expense, and the rocket successfully launches the first manned lunar mission, Apollo 8, and the first manned lunar landing, Apollo 11.
The final episode finishes with brief textual summaries of the remaining careers of the various people involved.
Space Race Episode Four: Race For The Moon (1964–1969)