The Soviet leadership's attitude toward the pioneering cosmonauts and engineers as well as the facilities and the equipment was that everything was expendable in the all out effort to stay ahead of the Americans. As an example, revealed state archives indicate that in October 1960, a huge new booster rocket malfunctioned on the launch pad. Instead of taking safety precautions, the Kremlin ordered the launch director and engineers to fix the problem immediately and get the rocket launched that day.
The launch director and over 165 men were inspecting the rocket when it suddenly blew up in a huge ball of fire instantly killing everyone nearby. Rumors persist that this was actually an early manned launch attempt with a cosmonaut on board. Amazingly, this historic tragedy was never officially confirmed by the Soviet government.
The early American effort in space, however, proved disastrous at nearly every turn. As the entire world watched in wonder, the US news media aptly supplied wide coverage to several ruinous missions in sharp contrast to the highly guarded top secret Russian space program of which little or nothing was known.
At the height of the Cold War, the American space agency, NASA, held a distant and dismal second place to the formidable Russian space program and America seemed destined to remain permanently overshadowed in space by the seemingly superior Russian program. At the height of the Cold War on March 18, 1955, the Soviets launched cosmonauts Pavel Belyayev and Alexei Leonov on a mission that would see the first man exit a spacecraft adding to their already massive list of space records.
After a flawless 10 minute spacewalk, Leonov ran into severe trouble when he tried to reenter the capsule. The effects of weightlessness in outer space had not been properly taken into account in the design of his spacesuit which ballooned out and made his return back to the spacecraft almost impossible.