OCTOBER 31, 1968

The day the United States lost the Space Race

For over a decade the Soviet and American space programs struggled to gain supremacy over the heavens. With the Soviets adding triumph after triumph—the first satellite in orbit, the first man in space—the U.S. made one final push: a contest to see who could put the first human being on the surface of the Moon.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard . . .

The Americans with their Saturn V rocket and the Soviets with their Soyuz capsule made great leaps in science and engineering during the last few years of the 1960s. Though in the end, the Soviet Space Program declared a victory in the Space Race and perhaps the Cold War itself.

THE PODCAST

Behind the Iron Curtain
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Part 1 – “The Space Race” – November 1, 1968

Breaking news! The United States has lost the Space Race to the Soviet Union. On October 31, 1968, Americans received transmissions from Cosmonauts on the Lunar surface. Jack Schechter, host of WNYX's news program The Friday Review brings on Natalia Gromyko, Soviet diplomat, to discuss what this means for geopolitics and the future of the Cold War.

Part 2 – “Cosmonauts at the White House” – March 7, 1969

The Cosmonauts who landed on the Moon finish their world tour with a White House dinner. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, a Soviet rocket scientist named Nikolai has been sending postcards to Jacob, an American working at NASA. He brings the postcards to Jack at The Friday Review to find out why Nikolai has disappeared.

Part 3 – “The Land of Righteousness” – March 14, 1969

Jack seeks Natalia's help in locating Nikolai, but she has a word of warning to share with the idealistic journalist. Meanwhile, in the midst of the dismantling of NASA's Apollo Program, the Nixon administration doubles down on defense.

Part 4 – “To Moscow” – March 21, 1969

Broadcast from the snowy streets of Moscow, Jack teams up with Soviet reporter Igor to try and locate Nikolai. What they find instead is even more troubling: a ransacked home, Moscow police hot on their tail, and a deepening of Cold War paranoia.

Part 5 – “Diogenes Will Know” – April 4, 1969

"Diogenes will know." "Not enough." The cryptic notes Nikolai left in the margin of a top secret document take Jack from Moscow to the Cosmodrome itself, halfway across the continent, to investigate the Soviet Space Program from within.

Part 6 – “Tribunal” – July 18, 1969

Four months after the world learned the truth of the Soviet Moon landing, Jack returned to The Friday Review following his leave of absence to file one last report amid growing global conflict.

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Jack Schechter is a man of principles, a man of truth. As the host of The Friday Review, a public radio news program, he demands the truth when investigating the conspiracy surrounding the Soviet victories.

These radio broadcasts from the height of the Cold War will take you from the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the spires of the Kremlin. Join Jack as he gets swept up in the intrigue of two rocket scientists, a diplomat, and the lies that hold everything together.

If you like what you've heard, please consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice! It will help others discover the story of the Soyuz Files.

THE POSTCARDS

Pieces of a puzzle

Jacob and Nikolai have been pen pals for years. Despite working in competing space programs and living half a world away from each other, they find kinship in correspondence.

But when pressure comes down from high ranking Soviet officials, mistakes and miscalculations become commonplace, and people begin disappearing mysteriously. Nikolai suspects something sinister. It is your job to uncover the truth . . . a truth hidden in the very messages you possess.

There is a password hidden in Nikolai's messages. If you think you've discovered it, enter it above.

Have you received a postcard? Upload a picture of it to either Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #SOYUZFILES.

EXTRAS

The Gromyko-Graves Debates

In the weeks following the Soviet Moon landing, ABC hosted a series of live televised debates between Natalia Gromyko, special attachée to the Soviet Embassy, and Abner Graves, political pundit and editor of The World Superpower Newsmagazine. Their spirited debates covered topics ranging from the differences in quality of life between the USSR and USA to whether a Moscow baseball team could compete in the World Series.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 5:53 | Size: 9.68M | Broadcast on November 10, 1968

Announcement of Komarov's Death

Natalia Gromyko made a formal announcement of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov's death during the Soyuz 1 mission in April 1967. His was the first in-flight fatality of the Space Race.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 0:49 | Size: 1.36M | Broadcast on April 28, 1967