Space Race is a BBC docudrama series first shown in Britain on BBC2 in 2005, chronicling 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.
This is the shocking but true story behind one of the most exciting and exhilarating times in history. It begins in the bloody throes of the Second World War and spans through to the moon landings, revealing the ruthless, brilliant scientists who played their crucial part in the space race and the desperate levels of human endurance required to lead the field. The race to create the most powerful rocket; to land astronauts on the moon; the pioneering experiments and catastrophic risks which cost untold riches and ended scores of lives can be traced back to the rivalry between two recklessly daring scientific leaders: the charismatic ex-Nazi Wernher von Braun in the American team, and the enigmatic Soviet project leader, known mysteriously as 'The Chief Designer'. A gripping story of betrayal and soaring ambition is chronicled as this dramatic 20-year story unfolds.
Race For Rockets (1944–1949) – We see the results of Wernher von Braun’s work on the V-2 for the Nazis at Mittelwerk and Peenemünde, and his final activities within Germany during the last years of the Second World War, as both American and Soviet forces race to capture German rocket technology.
Race For Satellites (1953–1958) – As the Cold War intensifies, Korolev is asked to build a rocket capable of carrying a five-ton warhead to America – he designs and constructs the R-7 Semyorka, the first ICBM, and is later allowed to use it to launch the first satellite, Sputnik 1, quickly following up with the rushed Sputnik 2.
Race For Survival (1959–1961) – Both the Americans and Soviets are planning manned space flight, and we see both sides preparing to do so with the development of the Vostok programme (USSR) and Project Mercury (USA).
Race For The Moon (1964–1969) – 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.