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.
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)