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“Faculty number one”. How the country’s missile shield was created


Anton Tsuman, reporter: “faculty number one – one of the most top secret schools of the Military Mechanical University used to be located behind this door. Only a few had known that missile construction was studied beyond these walls. And now we have a chance to see where those who propelled our country to the heights of rocket technologies had learnt their trade”


Special room number 21. Textbooks – or, as specialists call those, “material part” – are being stored here. This room was set up in 1946, together with the faculty. So, just a year since the victory over the Nazi Germany it became clear – missiles are the future. Students of this faculty were given textbooks with “top secret” labels on them.

Anton Tsuman, reporter: “The R5M rocket. Up until the later 1960s it served as the main missile shield for our country. The first missile in the USSR able to carry nuclear warhead. After those were decommissioned, they were re-modelled for scientific needs. Were used to launch meteorological equipment into stratosphere. And this is the only one remaining in full technical complexity”.

This rocket was handed over to the faculty upon personal assistance from Sergey Korolev, when it was already used in the military. But later models were so much top secret that some of their qualities still remain unknown. The faculty is based upon continuity. This picture shows students of the late 1940s studying the German “Fau” rocket. The person on the right is Valdimir Kleiman, who grew to become the role model for future students.

According to the faculty’s researcher, Mikhail Okhochinskiy, the secret of connection between the generations of scientists is very simple – watch and learn. Why this rocket is made this way and not the other. And if you catch the drift, the future generations of missile builders will learn from you.

And the most acclaimed graduates get to leave an autograph on the body of the S-75 “Volkhov” rocket – one of the first prototypes at the faculty. A similar one gunned down the spy plane of US pilot Powers in 1960. And probably many of those who left their signature here still remember taking an exam on its specifications.

This continuity of generations almost broke up in the 1990s. The rocket industry – just as the whole country – was going through a tough time. There were plans to sell the faculty’s premises to a bank, while its unique items were meant to be sold as scrap metal. But, according to the employees of the faculty, our rocket industry proved to be stronger than the tests of time.