Sergei Pavlovich Korolev or Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov was a lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He is regarded by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was involved in the development of the R-7 Rocket, Sputnik 1, launching Laika, Belka and Strelka and the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, into space.
Although Korolev trained as an aircraft designer, his greatest strengths proved to be in design integration, organization and strategic planning. Arrested on a false official charge as a "member of an anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary organization", he was imprisoned in 1938 for almost six years, including some months in a Kolyma labour camp. Following his release he became a recognized rocket designer and a key figure in the development of the Soviet Intercontinental ballistic missile program. He later directed the Soviet space program and was made a Member of Soviet Academy of Sciences, overseeing the early successes of the Sputnik and Vostok projects including the first human Earth orbit mission by Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961.