Moscow: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1974. Presumed First Edition, First printing. Envelope. Format is approximately 6.25 inches by 4.5 inches. This is an airmail envelope only, opened at the top and part of the top of the envelope is missing. This is identified through Internet research as a First Day Cover. There are three postmarks over postage on the front. The addressee was Mr. Oshanitsky of Sunnyside, New York. This appears to commemorate MAPC-4, MAPC-5, MAPC-6 and MAPC-7--Russian Mars probes. The Space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, commonly known as the Soviet space program, was the national space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), active from the 1930s until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviet Union's space program was mainly based on the cosmonautic exploration of space and the development of the expendable launch vehicles, which had been split between many design bureaus competing against each other. Over its 60-years of history, the Soviet program was responsible for a number of pioneering feats and accomplishments in human spaceflight, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite (Sputnik 1), first animal in Earth orbit (the dog Laika on Sputnik 2), first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1), first woman in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on Vostok 6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on Voskhod 2), first Moon impact (Luna 2), first image of the far side of the Moon (Luna 3) and uncrewed lunar soft landing (Luna 9), first space rover (Lunokhod 1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna 16), and first space station (Salyut 1). Further notable records included the first interplanetary probes: Venera 1 and Mars 1 to fly by Venus and Mars, respectively, Venera 3 and Mars 2 to impact the respective planet surface, and Venera 7 and Mars 3 to make soft landings on these planets.
The rocket and space program of the USSR, which initially employed captured scientists from the German rocket program, was performed mainly by Soviet engineers and scientists after 1955, and was based on some unique Soviet and Imperial Russian theoretical developments, many derived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, sometimes known as the father of theoretical astronautics. Sergei Korolev was the head of the principal design group; his official title was Chief Designer (a standard title for similar positions in the USSR). Unlike its American competitor in the Space Race, which had NASA as a single coordinating agency, the USSR's program was split among several competing design bureaus led by Sergei Korolev, Kerim Kerimov, Mikhail Yangel, Valentin Glushko, Vladimir Chelomey, Viktor Makeyev, Mikhail Reshetnev, etc. Because of the program's classified status, and for propaganda value, announcements of the outcomes of missions were delayed until success was certain, and failures were sometimes kept secret. Ultimately, as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost in the 1980s, many facts about the space program were declassified. Notable setbacks included the deaths of Korolev, Vladimir Komarov (in the Soyuz 1 crash), Yuri Gagarin (on a routine fighter jet mission) and the Soyuz 11 crew between 1966 and 1971, and development failure of the huge N-1 rocket (1968-1973) intended to power a crewed lunar landing, which exploded shortly after lift-off on four uncrewed tests. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Space Program, Spacecraft, Orbit, Mars probes, Space Exploration