Space Race

Space RaceSpace 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.

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.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 3 hours, 45 minutes)

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Ratings: 8.66/10 from 50 users.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • xan

    V2, with v as in Rache...or maybe as in Sieg?
    It was v for Version.

  • Hesus

    Good series on the topic. A must see!

  • Thomas M

    @xan V as in Vergeltungswaffe or vengeance. They also had the V1 but that was a project of the Luftwaffe.

  • vic

    Awesome Doc! I've watched and enjoyed other shows on this subject, but this one taught me a few things that I didn't know. Definitely worth your time to watch this one!

  • Waldo

    @ Xan

    Nope the V stood for Vergeltungswaffe or vengence weapon, wasn't Hitler a laid back cool guy? The V2 came along toward the end of the war, thank goodness, and was originally called the A-4, Hitler renamed them the V-2. The number of V-2 rockets fired was at least over 3,000 killing 2,754 civilians and injuring 6,523 in London alone. The success of the V-2 rockets was phenomenal. This was largely due to the fact that the rockets traveled supersonically, and it reached its target in silence. Civilians were caught off guard as they were expecting to be bombed by enemy bombers. Because of the rocket's trajectory, it was also immune to anti aircraft missiles and fighters making it the perfect bomb. Still, by todays standards it was an utter failure, as each rocket fired averaged killing only one person and injuring two. Present day missiles can kill hundreds on impact, and injure hundreds more.

  • Waldo

    oops, I see someon had already answered your question- my bad.

  • vic

    did anyone see the rest of the documentary?

  • Mad

    That was pretty good, I hope Von Braun's dream about a lunar base comes true. Mans travel into space was the true victory of the 20th century, I just wish more of my fellow human beings shared the same aspirations these men did so we could get to Mars already. Possibly even find an inhabitable planet to colonize and create a whole new frontier, I believe if we could stop blowing each other up and work together the 21st century will be just like science fiction.

  • hanselda

    The sound sucks. Just left channel is really painful for the ears.

  • Mad

    @ Yavanna I get the point, I am against Yankee imperialism and yes YANKEE GO HOME! Couldn't agree with you more the last thing we want is more stupid Americans in the universe cause its already polluted enough with Yankee garbage. That's what I mean by "stop blowing each other up" in other words END IMPERIALISM, it is the only way towards world peace is to get rid of the "divide and conquer" and replace it with "unite and prosper"

  • Taharqa (Conqueror of Egypt)

    This is a great documentary...
    matter of fact this is the 5th time I see this doc.
    Interesting to see how German engineers were split up and used by the United States and the Soviet Union government.

    Gotta give credit to German Engineering!!

  • Taharqa (Conqueror of Egypt)

    @ Vlatko....
    you have totally forgotten about me Huh?!?!?

  • http://GLWillaimschannel glwilliams

    you should watch, dont fish and drive! on youtube!

  • http://GLWillaimschannel glwilliams

    you should watch, freedom town! on youtube glwilliams channel!

  • Ramus

    Noooooooo this doc is in mono eurgh!

  • 420 Vision

    OK,.. so if I denounced you, claiming that you were a sick and naughty NAZI war criminal, but then hired you, wired you, wined, danced and then fired you, would I still be able to maintain that PR image of the good-life non-hypocritical AMERICAN promulogator of peace ?

    If the media drove my rep ,.. YES,... if the truth drove my rep,.. gawd NO.

  • Bill

    No sound

  • Matus Goljer

    Excellent series. Can't recommend enough! One flaw, the sound is mono ;(

  • John Cury

    Excellent, very well made. You can watch it in one breath. I truly enjoyed it, and always wondered how come USSR was so far ahead but was not the first to put a man on the moon. It is very strange how USA lacked interest in the space program at first, and how USSR did after, with all the success they had in the field.

  • vejer

    whatever,,,dweeb

  • http://www.facebook.com/jan.fridrichovsky Jan Fridrichovsky

    I think that there is a mistake, there should be the Czech Republic instead of Hungaria in 8:18 minutes.

  • Space_Cadet_1952

    A legacy production by the BBC. Almost makes the £145.50 British television Licence ripoff a worthwhile tax on 99% of British households. $228 dollars, folks (yes, youve never had it so good). You can now pay more for a licence, than a 32" TV on eBay. Now that's what I call 'progress', as George Orwell might have put it. Like paying $20,000 for a new car and $40,000 a year road tax to drive it.

    Big Brother is watching you watching Big Brother.

  • Space_Cadet_1952

    One 'slight exaggeration' in size/weight comparisons, during the talking up of the Saturn 5 during the last segment (my favourite rocket of all time). They took the weight of a Light Cruiser and compared it to “a Battle Cruiser being launched into space”.

    Erm... A Saturn 5 stood 363 feet, was 33 ft wide, weighed 3,158 tons fully loaded on the launch pad, and with its 3 stage rocket engines, had a total of 3971 tons of thrust to achieve TLI.

    A typical, 1st generation WW1 British 'battle cruiser’ was 590 ft long, 80 ft wide, and weighed 22,490 tons fully loaded.

    Firing her 8 x 12" main armament generated 400,000 ft tons of muzzle energy, throwing 3 tons of metal 10 miles, and a blast which could be heard up to 100 miles away, as it bounced off the stratosphere. A notoriously fragile and controversial British designed ship, (by Adm. Jackie Fisher), in a real one on one slugging match with its German equivalent - which was really a fast dreadnought with twice the British armour plate. (We lost 3 battle cruisers and 2 armoured cruisers during the battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916).

    There’s spin for you, or in this case, rifling.

  • john kay

    excellent video

  • L0LAW0NKA

    We have never been to the Moon. Tsk.

  • darknight32

    First off let me just say i loved this docudrama.I thought it was really well done and i am a space and physics lover and try to research theories and ideas the best an amateur physicist type can.That being said,i get the controversy here about von Braun and his crew and there's really no simple answer,but i guess the question is,do the ends justify the means? I find the answer lies somewhere in the middle,but still hard to arrive there.

    It reminds me of something that happened here in the sense of a hard question. There was once a question on a radio program here in the U.S.And it was what was your opinion on the arrest of a 90 some year old man (a few years ago) that they found out was an SS guard at one time.He was sent back to Germany to stand trial.

    Now i knew older people his age,maybe a bit younger,that hated the Nazi's like we all do,or we all should if you don't.But were sympathizing with his age.They said hes 90,been here probably 40 yrs,went to work,raised a family.Why bother him now? Why not pick him up sooner,someone had to know? Well my answer to them was always the same.I said i get where you're coming from and i don't know why they didn't, any number of reasons but when he was 25,he had no sympathy for the old,children and such so i have no sympathy for him now.Im glad they got him. Age doesn't erase responsibility.

    This would be similar to V.B. does getting to the moon erase his complicity in the deaths of forced labors at his german rocket facility? I say no and he should have been tried like the others.Everyone says well we would have never made it to the moon.But actually u wouldnt know that we never made it in 69,time line changes you know? or maybe we would have made it anyway but all i can say is even though i dont agree with operation paper clip that brought them all here morally but im grateful for what they did for the space program and science as a whole.

  • Hardcard

    So convicts should never be released from prison, is that what you are saying? People should always be held responsible for things that happened when they were...kids?
    There's a good chance you would've been a nazi (worker, servant, solider, etc.) if you had lived in Germany during that time, keep this in mind. Yes, some Germans left the country when Hitler came to power, but most of them didn't. This doesn't mean they were nazis, it just means they were German, they weren't ready to leave behind everything they had, live without money and become marginalized exiles in some other country, the language of which they didn't even speak.
    Yes, nazism was brutal, a milestone in human cruelty and fanatism, but people just follow the established order most of the time, what did you expect the remaining Germans to do?
    Get killed for protesting, like all the rest of opposition?
    The nazi party planned this carefully, same as Lenin (and then Stalin) did in Russia, same as Franco did in Spain or Mussolini in Italy, they sent this message to the people time and again "stand in our way and you and your family are done". Plus, in Germany's case, nazis really got Germany out of the biggest economic crisis the country had ever experienced. They accomplished this by starting a war, same thing happened in the US, the Great Depression ended with WWII.
    That said, Von Braun wasn't some poor German guy, his family was rich. The nazis were willing to support his work in rocketry, so he seized the opportunity and benefited from being a nazi officer. The world was not yet aware of how negative for mankind the level of brutality the nazis were applying really was, so it wasn't that bad to be a nazi during that time. It was like being some slave owner in the US before the Civil War (or being very racist after that), it wasn't a big deal back then.
    Von Braun was pretty opportunist, it seemed like the kind of person that always says what people in charge want to hear...
    Politicians in the US wanted to hear that they were developing rockets and winning the Space Race, Von Braun made that possible, that's why his past was ignored.
    George W. Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity, but the US will never allow this. In fact, ASPA grants the "right" to "free" any American soldier being tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague by force, if necessary. Also, the US government protects American citizens from the ICC by forcing other countries to sign bilateral immunity agreements (BIAs) and then make them
    observe article 98 of the Rome Statute. The US has also veto privilege pretty much everywhere.
    This means that any US soldier/citizen that commits crimes against humanity can't be tried by the ICC or any court without the approval of the US government.
    So yes, the US was eager to sentence nazis at Nuremberg and several other people in other courts, but nobody can judge Americans but themselves (that's if they decide to, of course).
    So age doesn't erase responsibility, but being American does. Nazism was awful and so is the use of blackmail, extortion, and veto to protect your interests regardless of injustice. I'm just saying this to show the other side of the coin.

    PD: Remember who gave Bin Laden and Saddam (among many others throughout history) weapons, training and support, then you can talk about responsibility, if you want.
    "But they were terrorists and tyrants!!!", well, stop training and giving support to people who rule by force or want to perform coups d'etat and ethnic cleansings and you won't have this kind of problems...

  • bpollen8

    The man wasn't just a Nazi. He was an SS Guard accused of war crimes. He wasn't a "kid," as you said, when he committed those crimes. And he had never gone to prison for the alleged crimes. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes or murder. So yes, if a govt decides to arrest for trial someone age 90 for murder or war crimes alleged to have occurred decades before, that is the right thing to do. If that's how long it takes to track down someone who's hiding from his past, this sends the message that you can never rest easy. If you're caught, you will still be held to justice.

    It's about justice.

    No, America isn't perfect and has done wrong things throughout history, as has every country. But there's a different between a country and a PERSON. And certainly, America has allowed a lot of bad things to happen in its country, but nothing like the Holocaust, a truly evil thing carried out by an entire country. The systematic torture and murder of millions of innocent men, women, and children. As well as the theft of all their property.