Moon Landing Pulled Plug on Russian Space Pride

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2009 5:18 PM CDT
Soldiers line up around a monument to Sputnik at the Russia's cosmonaut training center, Star City, outside of Moscow on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007.   (AP Photo/ Mikhail Metzel)
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(Newser) – Russia is still smarting over America’s moon landing 40 years ago—so much so that a recent state TV report gave credence to dubious NASA-faked-it conspiracy theories, the AP reports. Before the moon landing, Moscow dominated the space race, laying claim to the first craft in space, the first man and woman in space, and the first human to leave a craft in space. Russians even reached the moon first, when the unmanned Luna 2 crash-landed in 1959.

“Our own achievements were very many," says Russian astronaut Sergei Krikalev. But the spectacle of Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk blasted America ahead. The ugly fates of two Russian space stations—the crew of the Salyut 1 died when their capsule popped a valve in 1971—further marred Russia's space rep. Now, they're talking about a manned Mars mission. “It's like sports—at one stage one person wins, at another it's somebody else," says Krikalev.