Although the USA won the race to the moon, if you’d been a betting person from the mid-1950’s to 1960’s, the chances are that you would have thought the Soviet Union had a very good chance of getting there first. So why didn’t Russia put a man on the moon?
At the time the Soviets were leading the space race, they had already started with the launch of Sputnik, then launched several probes to the moon, including one in 1959 that orbited and taken photos of the far side and By 1961 they were the first to put a man into space.
So when Kennedy made his now famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech in 1962 to rally public support, Khrushchev’s response was silence, neither confirming nor denying that they had a plan for a manned moon mission.
But at the time Khrushchev wasn’t really interested in competing with the US over the moon, he was more interested ICBM’s the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles for the strategic rocket forces.
But there were others that had harbored plans for a manned mission for a long time, these included the man whose name was a state secret and the most powerful man outside the Kremlin when it came to space.
He was Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, outside the inner circle of the top space scientists he was known only as the “Chief Designer” or by his first 2 initials SP, because the Soviet leadership feared that the western powers would send agents to assassinate him……..