GIRD-09, the first Soviet liquid-fuelled rocket, 1933.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:6). In 1933 GIRD, a group of Soviet scientists and engineers devoted to the field of rocketry, launched the GIRD-09 rocket, designed by Sergei Korolev and M K Tikhonravov. Fuelled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and benzene paste, it reached a height of 400 metres (1300 feet). GIRD was effectively a rocket club run by enthusiasts, but over time the implications of its work attracted interest from the Soviet military. Field Marshal Tukachevsky, commander of the Red Army in 1933 believed that the new technology of rocketry could benefit the army, and recruited leading members of GIRD including Korolev. Korolev would go on to become the father of the Soviet space programme, designing the Vostok rocket which took Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961.