Rocket Propaganda


The Soviets briefly were ahead of the US in the “space race” and took maximum propaganda mileage from it.

I want a dose of whatever this guy is on:

Even the welder with the stick-welder gets in on building spacecraft!

Sputnik was a tremendous accomplishment. The Soviets went from a huge agricultural economy to a nuclear/air/space race, in no time at all. And they didn’t have the benefit of a bunch of nazi scientists, they figured a lot of it out themselves. Sure, some was stolen, but it’s American propaganda that they did not innovate (Kurchatov’s “layer cake” design for the first fusion-pumped atomic weapons was a huge innovation)

“Son, someday this will all be yours!”

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The world needs Soviet-style propaganda posters about Russian hacker skills. “Our hackers are the best!” “Nothing can stop us!” My sad art skills are not good enough to produce such things.

There is a great collection of Star Wars propaganda posters, some of which are excellent, here [pinterest] There are also good collections of Elite Dangerous propaganda posters. I love this stuff!

Comments

  1. says

    Cool selection.

    In case anybody is interested, I’ll give the translations.

    #1 “Be proud, the Soviet man!” Note: the original Russian text uses a word, which means “human.” This isn’t meant to be about Soviet males only. I really don’t like how in English language you have to use the word “man” in situations where “human” would be more appropriate. None of the other languages I speak has this particular problem. (Then again, other languages have various other gender equality related issues.) Text on the rocket: “USSR.”

    #2 “Glory to the heroes of the fatherland!”

    #3 Top: “I am happy.” Bottom: “It is my work that contributes to the work of my republic.”

    #4 Text next to the stars: “Vostok 1,” “Vostok 2,” “Vostok 3,” and “Vostok 4.” Text around the globe: “To the Soviet people, pioneers of the universe.” Large red letters at the bottom: “Glory!” Text on the man’s head: “USSR.”

    #5 “Glory to the workers of Soviet science and mechanics!” Text on the rocket: “USSR.”

  2. StevoR says

    @ ^ Ieva Skrebele : Thanks for that.

    FWIW. The race to the Moon was actually much closer than a lot of people now think too. The Zond program actually beat the US to the Moon with passengers – but they included ” .. two tortoises, mealworms, wine flies, plants, and other lifeforms..”

    See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zond_5

    (Yeah, I know just wiki but still. Other sources do confirm.)

    Apparently Alexi Leonov came very close to being the first man on the Moon but for some bureacratic cowardice – read somewhere that the cosmonauts were very keen to go but the Soviet authorities decided against it. Of course, its also possible that he and others could well have died in the attempt too & its just alternative history scenario now but still. Interesting and thought-provoking.

  3. says

    I believe you’ll find it wasn’t ‘briefly’. The USSR beat the USA to (almost?) every spacefaring first EXCEPT the moon mission. First living creature in orbit, first human in orbit … only people ever to die off-planet (but I bet they didn’t want that one)…. on and on. The USSR ate the USA’s space lunch right up until 1969, and the USA only won that one by a hair.

  4. avalus says

    It always makes me sad, that the driving force behind all that cool stuff (Satellites, planetary/munar exploration, space telescopes etc) all came out of the “need” to be able to wipe out alll of humanity with nuclear fire even better/faster/simpler. And Spy satelites, to better coordinate such strikes … .
    Humans (in a very general, overly broad and roundabout way) are sometimes the worst.

    And beside the technology, the soviets definetly had the better motivation posters.
    (Also, having watched the launch of the new ISS crew, these vostok rockets are a thing of beauty … well of to Kerbal Space Program!)

  5. springa73 says

    In a lot of ways, I think that the Soviets managed their space program better than the USA did. They put more emphasis on rocket research in the 1950s, which gave them the lead in most aspects of space exploration until 1969, forcing the US to play catch up. After the disappointment of losing the moon race, though, they focused on starting to build orbital stations and experiment with longer stays in space, while the US went with the space shuttle, which proved to be expensive and dangerous and a dead end in the long run.

    I remember reading that one thing that held back the Soviets at times was lots of quality-control issues with building some of their equipment, which helped lead to failure of their planned moon rocket, the N-1, and also led to a higher failure rate for their uncrewed space probes than the US had.

  6. efogoto says

    @1 Ieva Skrebele: ” I really don’t like how in English language you have to use the word “man” in situations where “human” would be more appropriate.”

    Perhaps, in this case: “Be Proud, Soviet Person!”

    Thank you for all of the translations.

  7. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 efogoto
    Actually in English “Be Proud, Soviets” probably works. Or “Be Proud, Soviet Citizens”?

    After tossing Человек into Google Translate I see what @1 Ieva Skrebele means. “Man” seems to be one of many translations depending on context.

    @1 Ieva Skrebele: ” I really don’t like how in English language you have to use the word “man” in situations where “human” would be more appropriate.”

    Blame the committee that translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into the English King Jame’s Version? Maybe not completely true but very likely. The KJV has had a tremendous influence on English ever since.

    To be honest, fifty years ago most English-speakers would not have recognized any difference in usage/meaning between “mankind” and “humanity”.

  8. cartomancer says

    The thing is, originally “man” was gender-neutral in English. In the language of the Anglo-Saxons you used “man” to mean “human”, while a male human was waepman and a female human was wifman (= woman). It’s centuries of the default assumption that human = male that left us where we are today, and waepman fell out of usage some time in the 14th-15th centuries.

  9. says

    @#7 and @#8
    In Russian language “человек” means “human.” For words like “man,” “citizen,” etc. there are other Russian words. “Soviet Person” and “Soviets” are, in my opinion, fine as translations. I wouldn’t be so fond of “Soviet Citizens” though. That wouldn’t be entirely accurate, because “human” and “citizen” are not one and the same.

    To be honest, fifty years ago most English-speakers would not have recognized any difference in usage/meaning between “mankind” and “humanity”.

    Sexism hidden within language usage really bothers me. In Russian, German, Latvian, in fact, in pretty much every language except for English, people don’t use the word “man” unless it is essential to indicate that the person really is male. If a person’s gender is not considered essential information that must be indicated, then we just say “human.” Why can’t English speakers just say “businesshuman” instead of “businessman” and “businesswoman”?

    Granted, it’s not like other languages are better in this regard. For example, in German “nurse” translates as “Krankenschwester.” The German word means, literally, “the sister of the sick.” And people wonder why there are so few male nurses! Incidentally, Latvian word for “nurse” is “medmāsa,” and Russian is “медсестра,” they both mean “sister of the medicine.” Same problem.

    What bother me most are the pronouns. Why the fuck are there no gender neutral pronouns? (Yes, I know that various words have been proposed. Personally, I just use “they” when referring to some person whose gender isn’t known or essential to indicate.) Mr/Ms bothers me too. This particular problem is even more painful in German than in English. The German word used for “Ms” is “Frau.” The word “Frau” means, literally, “a woman.” And, unlike the English “Ms,” the German word “Frau” (or its masculine equivalent “Herr”) is used everywhere all the time. Whenever I got a letter in the mail, it was addressed to “Frau Skrebele.” When I spoke with my university Professors, they called me “Frau Skrebele.” You cannot even imagine how much this pissed me off. I’m not a woman damn it, stop insulting me! Unfortunately, Germans couldn’t really stop insulting me each time they addressed me, because in German language there simply are no other alternatives.

  10. robert79 says

    “Sputnik was a tremendous accomplishment. The Soviets went from a huge agricultural economy to a nuclear/air/space race, in no time at all. And they didn’t have the benefit of a bunch of nazi scientists, they figured a lot of it out themselves.”

    I’m pretty sure that the Soviets took their fair share of Nazi rocket scientists as well, we just haven’t heard about them as much as we hear about von Braun.

    Furthermore, while a lot of Russia was a huge agricultular economy, remember, so is Kansas. Parts of Russia had, and still have, a vibrant scientific community. For example Euler, one of the top mathematicians in modern history (next to Newton and Gauss) lived most of his life in St. Petersburg. I suspect (but I am no Russia-expert…) that the communist system in fact gave Russian science a boost, since it had a greater pool of talent to draw from (everyone had access to the university system, if they were capable… while in the US only the rich have access, even if they are incapable…)

  11. robert79 says

    @12 I’ve heard a lot of theoretical physicists joke that “everything they’ll ever think of, has been already published by some obscure Russian in the annals of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.” Some went as far as to learn Russian, just so they could read those articles.

  12. invivoMark says

    In some ways, the Soviets are STILL ahead of the US in the space race. NASA is still launching missions with old Soviet NK-33 engines on Antares rockets and RD-180 engines on the Atlas V. The Soviets made some of the best rocket engines ever built.

    One of the major reasons Soviet rocketry was ahead of US rocketry for so long is their superior metallurgy. Apparently, metallurgy is a very artisanal process, and Russian metallurgists were able to create more heat-resistant alloys than the Americans knew how. So NASA engineers spent a long time trying to figure out complex fuel plumbing systems to keep the parts from melting, while the Soviets didn’t have the same problems. (Which is not to say the Soviet rockets didn’t have complex plumbing themselves, of course. Rocket science ain’t easy.)

    I’ve read that when NASA rocket scientists were finally able to take a peek at the designs for Soviet engines after the fall of the Union, they had a hard time believing they were looking at the right blueprints.

  13. eternalstudent says

    invivoMark: Antares currently uses RD-181, which us a relatively new design. The last Antares to use AJ-26 (the modified NK-33) was Orb-3, which had an unplanned Return to Launch Site.

    BTW, Antares is not a NASA design. The first stage is mostly Ukranian, upper stage and avionics are Orbital.

  14. komarov says

    Thanks, Ieva Skrebele, for the translations from me as well. I envy you for the many languages you seem to speak. I am permanently stuck at roughly 2.1 languages, the point one sadly being Russian. Oh well, one of these decades.

    Re: Avalus (#4):

    It always makes me sad, that the driving force behind all that cool stuff (Satellites, planetary/munar exploration, space telescopes etc) all came out of the “need” to be able to wipe out alll of humanity with nuclear fire even better/faster/simpler. And Spy satelites, to better coordinate such strikes … .
    Humans (in a very general, overly broad and roundabout way) are sometimes the worst.

    Let’s not forget the dreadful beginning of this scientific saga with von Braun’s rockets. With the comparatively “low” aim of deterring the allied forces by attacking their civilian population it was already terrible enough in its own right. The efficient nuclear mass destruction is just the logical continuation of that trend.

    It also raises the issue of the ethics of using knowledge that was gained by unethical means. We benefit greatly from the peaceful uses of a technology that was first built to bomb cities and then developed to destroy them wholesale, although the latter hasn’t happened yet. Von Braun’s early rockets apparently killed more slaves forced to build them than they did kill “targets” (again, mostly civilians). There is a lot of human misery attached to things that now form the basis of modern society. We can’t throw it all out, out of necessity, but also because it seems ludicrous to do so after all that was done. But at the same time it’s a tacit endorsement of some awful people like von Braun (and many others) and their methods.

    Re. Robert79 (#11):

    I suspect (but I am no Russia-expert…) that the communist system in fact gave Russian science a boost, since it had a greater pool of talent to draw from (everyone had access to the university system, if they were capable… while in the US only the rich have access, even if they are incapable…)

    Yes and no. With the ideological goal of making everybody equal, the Soviets did pick up talented people (poor farmers and such) who were given opportunities for education and work they might otherwise not have had, allowing them to make scientific contributions. But there were also some severe downsides, to put it mildly, to the soviet technocratic approach.

    First off, many established experts were removed during the revolution and the following years as members of the hated burgeoisie. For example, if anyone was put in charge of, say a factory, it was usually floor workers or party members who had no clue. The results were predictable. Essentially soviet science and industry started out by crippling themselves and then trying to start from scratch. Everything old, good or bad, had to go.

    Soviet science was also mired in politics to a frankly unbelievable degree. Some sciences were held back because they didn’t fit the party line or didn’t agree with (supposed) Marxist philosophy. Therefore they had to be wrong and anyone pursuing them faced censure, dismissal or worse. Scientific exchange with the West was difficult from the very start because of its “burgeois taint.”
    The ideological component was also why the Soviet Union ended up with scientific leaders like Trofim Lysenko. He was the ideal “Soviet scientist” (as I recall): poor background from the countryside, essentially self-made, he called attention to himself through successful experimentation. Exactly the sort of person the communist party was looking for. They were eager, especially in the early years, to recruit such people to as proof of how simple farmers and uneducated workers were equal to the supposed elite. (I don’t think they were wrong, but rather too zealous) Unfortunateley Lyenko didn’t turn out to be good scientist after all but that didn’t matter. His ideas fitted perfectly with the expectations, Stalin loved him and so he rose to the top. Blame for his “results” fell elsewhere – on his critics, for instance.

    Overall it was a bit of a mixed bag. In some areas the Soviet Union surged ahead because they were (more) open to people and (some) ideas. In others it fell behind for technical and economical or political and ideological reasons. Thanks to the latter some productive* scientists were ousted later in their careers because their work no longer sat well with the party. And this is the same nation that invented Gulags for scientists, essentially STEM-slave labour. It was even argued to benefit their inmates, who’d be freed from their mundane responsibilities so they could finally focus on their scientific work.

    [Source: All based on my reading of Stalin and the Scientists by Simon Ings]

    *I’m deliberately avoiding the usual “great” scientist here, though “productive” may not be the best choice either.

  15. says

    komarov @#16

    I envy you for the many languages you seem to speak.

    My experience is that the more languages you learn, the easier it gets to learn another one. Learning my second language felt ridiculously hard. Learning my sixth language felt super easy.

    I perceive studying languages as boring. Sitting with a language textbook in front of me is the last thing I want to do. This is why I prefer to instead arrange for situations where I can learn languages the fun way. For example, I can befriend people who speak whichever language I’m trying to learn. Thus I can simultaneously hang out with friends and learn a foreign language. Or, if I want to read some book, I will get it in whichever language I’m learning at the time. Learning languages doesn’t have to be hard or boring. I only need to arrange my daily life in such a way that I can combine my everyday activities with language learning.

  16. avalus says

    @ Komarov #16: You are right of course! (As a german, I feel really bad for forgetting that bit when I wrote that post. When I was a kid reading books about the history of rockets and space and science, I always wondered how the americans got rid of his Nazitum so quickly. Now I know better. He and his team fitted in ganz perfekt!)

    Languages: That lovely point, when you can read und understand cooking recipies (or understand them, when someone tells you). Then all the work was worth it.

  17. says

    avalus @#18

    Languages: That lovely point, when you can read und understand cooking recipies (or understand them, when someone tells you). Then all the work was worth it.

    Yes, it’s the same for me, except that in my case it is that beautiful moment when I can read and understand poetry in some new language. (I don’t really like cooking.)

  18. komarov says

    Re: Ieva Skrebele (#17):

    That’s exactly my preferred approach to learning languages: Pick it up doing something fun. Unfortunately that does require a certain minimum vocabulary and grammar, a threshold I can’t seem to reach. Not yet, anyway. Dictionaries and textbooks tend to dampen my spirits after a while.

    Also, six languages? I shall have to lie down to recover from my envy-induced stroke.

    Re: Avalus (#18):

    From what I know the Soviets were just as eager to put their captured Nazi eperts to good use. While the war was still going on both sides were already eagerly collecting the all those Wunderwaffen to use against each other. But getting the people who made those weapons was far more important to them than the artifacts.
    Where the space race is concerned the only difference seems to be that it was a teensy bit more risky and uncomfortable having to work for the Soviets – even their star rocket desgner Korolev spent some time in a gulag until the USSR realised they needed him.
    I’m quite fond of the whole “space-thing” myself, which is why this is what always reminds me of the underlying ethics issue in our incrementally-built society. But it’s not a problem unique to rocketry. It’s practically everywhere and in everything. Von Braun and company just manged to create an exceptionally loathsome example in our recent history.

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