Russian Space Exploration

Scope and Content

Drawings, documents, photographs, ephemeral objects and memorabilia relating to early Russian space exploration. Objects include domestic items such as cigarette cases, ashtrays, cigarette ornamental dispensers, desk thermometers, ornamental lamps and tea glass holders. Included in the collection are photo albums and a press cutting album made by a school child as well as stamp collections. The collection boasts rare drawings by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in which he envisaged the exit from a spacecraft into the vacuum of space as well as a drawing of a Reactive engine (Rocket engine); one of the first designs of its kind from c.1930.

Administrative / Biographical History

Russian space exploration is comprised of firsts. In 1903 Konstantine Tsiolkovky wrote the first significant work that showed physical space exploration was theoretically possible: The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices. The Russian Soviet Union from the 1930’s until its dissolution in 1991 put these theories into practice.

For over 60 years the USSR was responsible for a number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), the first satellite (Sputnik-1), the first animal in Earth orbit (Laika the dog aboard Sputnik-2), the first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok-1), first woman and civilian in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova aboard Vostok-6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexey Leonov aboard Voskhod-2), first Moon impact (Luna-2), first image of the far side of the moon (Luna-3) and unmanned lunar soft landing (Luna-9), first space rover (Lunokhod-1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna-16), and first space station (Salyut-1).

Access Information

Open and available for access.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Archive in 2014 and 2016 by Andrew Thomas, Lecturer in Politics at DMU

Archivist's Note

Catalogued in February-March 2016 by Steven Peachey, Archives Assistant

Conditions Governing Use

Photographs or scans may be made for private research purposes only.


An online exhibition featuring items from the collection can be viewed here:

Geographical Names