Home - Search - Browse - Alphabetic Index: 0- 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9
A- B- C- D- E- F- G- H- I- J- K- L- M- N- O- P- Q- R- S- T- U- V- W- X- Y- Z
Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich
Credit: © Mark Wade
Pioneering Russian guidance and control engineer, key member of Korolev's design team 1946-1992. Deputy Chief Designer 1956-1992, created Soyuz and N1 LV control systems. His frank biography is a key source for Soviet space history.

Born: 1912-03-01. Died: 2011-12-14.

Boris Chertok was a talented and pioneering guidance and control engineer, and a key member of Korolev's team from 1946 on. He was a Deputy Chief Designer 1956-1992 at Korolev's design bureau and its successors. He was an intimate witness to the key events of the space race on the Soviet side, and his memoirs are a major historical source for Soviet space history.

Chertok was born in Lodz, the son of an accountant. The family moved to Moscow before Boris reached the age of two. Chertok began his working career at age 17 as an electrician. However he was fascinated by electronics, and despite his lack of higher education he began work at an avionics factory in 1930. His talent was recognized, and he began a university education in parallel with his work. By 1935 he was head of a design office, and played a key role in developing and supporting the electronics for Soviet polar expeditions. He received his formal degree in 1940 and began work on guidance and control systems at V F Bolkhovitinov's bureau. Chertok's first work in rocketry came with his involvement in design of the ignition and control system for the BI-1 rocketplane's engine.

In April 1945 was assigned to the special group that was tasked with obtaining German rocket technology for the Soviet Union. He worked in Germany until January 1947, famously missing a chance to obtain Wernher Von Braun's services for the Soviet Union. Here he came in contact with Sergei Korolev. He was assigned to Korolev's NII-88 institute in August 1946, beginning his lifelong career as Korolev's chief deputy for rocket and spacecraft control and guidance systems.

In this position Chertok became a key participant in the Soviet Union's space program. Following work on the celestial navigation system for long range cruise missiles, he worked on the control systems for the world's first ICBM, the R-7, and then the first manned spacecraft, the Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz. He was responsible for the KORD engine control system for the ill-fated N1 super booster for the disastrous Soviet manned lunar program. After that project was cancelled in 1974, Chertok remained at the reorganized Energia enterprise as Deputy Chief Designer for control systems until his retirement in 1992.

Chertok received the highest honors from the Soviet and Russian states, and also served as a university lecturer in his specialties. He was the author of over 200 scholarly papers. His four volumes of memoirs, 'Rockets and Men', were written in the 1990's and span the period from 1946 to 1991.

Most fascinating are Chertok's accounts of key meetings where decisions were made on the course of the Soviet program. These are extremely lively and seem to be taken from contemporary notes or even verbatim transcripts. These were rough-and-tumble sessions, where the Chief Designers were pressed to defend their projects.

Country: Russia. Bibliography: 367, 5260.
Photo Gallery

Credit: © Mark Wade


1912 March 1 - .
1964 September 16 - .
1964 September 18 - .
1965 March 12 - .
1966 March 18 - .
1966 March 23 - .
1968 February 1 - .
1969 January 29 - .
1969 July 21 - .
1970 July 26 - .
1971 April 24 - .
1971 May 10 - .
1971 September 29 - .
1972 June 16 - .
1972 June 16 - .
2011 December 14 - .

Back to top of page
Home - Search - Browse - Alphabetic Index: 0- 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9
A- B- C- D- E- F- G- H- I- J- K- L- M- N- O- P- Q- R- S- T- U- V- W- X- Y- Z
© 1997-2019 Mark Wade - Contact
© / Conditions for Use