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Soviet & Russia Military Space Quotes


By Charles S. Sheldon II [1917-1981], was Chief of the Science Policy Research Division of the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service


* Dr. Sheldon, is Chief, Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress.


This section reviews Soviet statements on military uses of space to a degree sufficient to supplement other analytical techniques in understanding the development of their military space program.

Not surprisingly, a primary journal for articles of analysis of the military aspects of the U.S. space program has been Red Star (Krasnaya Zvezda). Retired Major General Teplinskiy wrote a long diatribe on U.S. activities, in which he claimed that the Apollo program aimed at prestige was a disappointment to Pentagon leaders, and then he developed the theme that most of the associated work of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo really served military ends. He further attributed to the United States a long list of military missions ranging beyond military support work to space interceptors and orbital bombs. (1)

This was followed by a more detailed analysis of U.S. military space activities about two weeks later in the same paper. It traced work in geodesy, photographic observation, infrared detection of missile launchings, weather reporting, military communications, navigation—all reflecting a detailed familiarity with the spate of stories carried over the years in the American trade press. But the author went on to ascribe to U.S. planners schemes for stationing nuclear bombs in orbit, and armed interceptors for battle against other spacecraft. Dyna-Soar was discussed, with the Gemini-derived Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) identified as an even more formidable successor. The article concluded that no matter how ambitious U.S. military plans were, they would always be exceeded in space by the combat might of the Soviet armed forces. (2)

Attacks on U.S. policy were extended in October 1965, contrasting the purported scientific idealism of the Soviet Union with the claimed determination of the United States to pursue aggression by unleashing a new world war which would include war in outer space. Samos , Transit, and Secor (experiments related to observation, navigation, and geodesy respectively) were singled out for special criticism, together with experiments conducted by the Gemini 5 of infrared observation of a missile launching, and especially the threat of MOL. (3)

In 1966, this same theme was carried by Moscow Radio:

It is quite clear that these mad plans and insane aims of the nuclear maniacs with regard to space and the celestial bodies must alarm world opinion. All of mankind is interested in barring the road toward transforming space into an arena of military rivalries. The U.S.S.R. which was the first to open the way into space, has always been careful to conduct research and the conquest of space for peaceful purposes, for the good of mankind. The scientific, technical, and biological facts obtained as a result of the launching of spaceships and Earth satellites are mostly published in the Soviet press and have become aids to world science. (4)

Although these several quotations are only illustrative, they indicate much of the general tone of Soviet pronouncements over the years. But times are changing, and some quite interesting statements have been made by Soviet authorities in other settings. Pravda quoted Party Chairman Brezhnev himself in 1966 at a reception for Soviet military academy graduates at the Kremlin on July 1, 1966 :

A host of all kinds of fabulous stories is now in vogue in the United States—that it has the most "all-seeing" spy satellites, the "greatest possible number of rockets," the most "invulnerable submarines" and so forth and so on. But to put it mildly this does not agree with the facts, since the authors of such stories rely on those simpletons who have never considered what rockets, sputniks, submarines, and other technical equipment the Soviet Union has. (5)

Equally interesting was the interview carried in Yugoslavia with Konstantinov of the Soviet Academy of Sciences:

Space research is not so expensive as it is useful. Not only because it promotes science and develops technology, but it also has great economic importance . . .it makes possible increasingly precise weather forecasts, it facilitates air and sea navigation, it makes topographic registration and geological research simpler . . . and its importance for defense is enormous. It is known how much trouble the United States had when it sent spy planes to take pictures of U.S.S.R. territory from a great height. Such spy planes have becomes useless . . . The results of space research make mankind happier because it feels surer that it will live in peace. (6)

Colonel Yuriy Gagarin was somewhat defensive about Soviet space activities:

With wonderful refinement they try to misinterpret, slander, and belittle, and when this does not succeed, simply maintain silence concerning our achievements. Frequently my professional colleagues and I have had to listen to questions such as: "Aren't the Russians trying to 'militarize' space? Don't we intend to build

rocket bases on the Moon? ... A lot of such rubbish has been thought up. It is hardly worth replying to these "you knows" and "whys". However, I will make a clean breast of one of them. Yes, the majority of those who tested the Vostok's and Voskhod's were by profession military pilots . . ." (7)

The Czech press reflected some of the realities of military support flights in 'a 1969 article:

It is no secret that many cosmic bodies which are orbited and still orbit our planet have also strategic military importance apart from scientific mission. Literally every square kilometer of our planet is being watched by the cameras of these messengers of human reason. It is necessary that imbalance should not appear and last for a long time in this competition, that politicians should be able to take prudent decisions in time and thus forestall a catastrophe from time to time threatening the destiny of mankind, once in a rather concealed way and more strongly at another time. (8)

It may be interesting to note the text of an article appearing in Moscow on the intelligence services which seems to give tacit approval for the use of reconnaissance satellites:

Let us repeat, the division of labor within the intelligence service in no way signifies a desire on the part of its leaders to have clean hands; on the contrary they use secret agents to fulfill the most serious and profound tasks which cannot be solved by satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, or information centers using fast electronic equipment. (9)

The distinction was 'being drawn between human spies (necessary, but dirty) and modem technology (necessary and correct, if not applauded).

The point of these selected quotations is that the Soviet Union has worked at the game of making the United States look as bad as possible in doing what it believes is necessary in defensive military space technology, while keeping its own freedom of action in this regard as complete as possible. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, the Russian charges were close to hysterical against the United States military involvement in space. In the middle 1960's, they continued to point with disapproval, and to charge that the United States would move beyond support work to space weapons. In the most recent past, they may still make token charges, but the general tone is more muted, and there is more indirect acknowledgment that space defense work is useful to both nations. This has even advanced to the point where SALT talks on limits to weapons refer to use of "national technical means" (unspecified, but not excluding space) as a method for each nation to verify the conformance of the other to whatever limits are agreed to in construction and deployment of weapons and defenses.

In one respect, the Soviet Union , which leveled so many unfounded charges against the United States for planning to put weapons, into space, has itself exceeded U.S. intentions and actions. This has been in its creation of the fractional orbit bombardment system (FOBS) and an inspector/destructor system. Both of these will be discussed later in this section.



1. Teplinskiy, B. The Pentagon, the Mad Men. and the Moon. Red Star, January 10, 1965

2. Glazov , Col. V. Cosmic Weapons, Red Star. January 26/27, 1965.

3. Golyshev, Col. M. Military Review—The Pentagon is Pushing toward the Cosmos, Izves

-tiya. Moscow . September 28, 1965 .

4. Moscow Radio, August 21, 1966 , 1730 GMT.

5. Pravda, Moscow , July 2, 1966 .

6. Butorac, T. Interview with B. P. Konstantinov, vice president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Vjesnik Zagreb, January 21, 1968, p. 8.

7. Red Star, February 22. 1968, p. 4.

8. CTK. Prague , July 22, 1969 0819 GMT, quoting Rude Pravo, the Communist Party dally.

9. Nedelya, Moscow , No. 46, November 9-15, 1970 , pp. 14-15.

* Dr. Sheldon, is Chief, Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress.

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