Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel. October 25 (November 7), 1911 – October 25, 1971. Soviet constructor of rocket and space complexes. Doctor of engineering, academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Twice Hero of Socialist Labor.
Life and Work:
1. The job title Chief Constructor is traditionally written with capital letters in aviation and rocket industries. Not only to highlight the rareness and uniqueness of such people, but out of respect for their talent, scientific, engineering and organizing capacity. Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel was one of the Chief ones. His name is familiar to most Muscovites thanks to the metro station named after the street carrying his name.
2. Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel was born in 1911 in Irkutsk Oblast, on the 25th of October, under the Julian calendar. So, on the 7th of November, Yangel celebrated not only the anniversary of the revolution, but also his own birthday.
3. He was born in the village of Zyryanova, which is now buried under the waters of the Ust-Ilimsk reservoir. His parents had twelve children.
4. The Yangel family descends from Chernigov province. His paternal grandfather was sent to prison and life-long exile to Siberia for participation in a riot.
5. The curious scientist researched the origin of his surname. He linked it to the word yanga, which meant a ladle used by Zaporozhian Cossacks to cook food. It was also the name of a person who scooped and distributed food. Another version says that the surname stems from the Ukrainian word yangol, which means angel.
6. After the 6th grade, Mikhail Yangel went to live with his brother in Moscow. After graduating from a factory training school, he started working as a foreman's assistant at a textile factory. And signed up for workers' faculty.
7. During booming popularity of Soviet aviation, future Chief Constructor entered MAI – Moscow Aviation Institute.
8. First, summa cum laude in aircraft engineering led him to Polikarpov's Construction Bureau. The Polikarpov that created legendary aircrafts: I-16 and Po-2, nicknamed “coffee grinder” by the Germans, who immediately awarded anyone who was lucky enough to bring it down with the Iron Cross.
9. Mikhail Yangel, a boy from Siberia, came to Polikarpov when he was only a student. And stayed for many years. When the war began, Yangel, who was not even thirty, was made acting director of a plant, who had to organize its evacuation.
10. Before the war ended, Yangel had a chance to work with aircraft constructors Mikoyan and Myasischev. In the first year after the war, he was transferred to the ministry, and then thrown into a new field.
11. Starting from 1951, Mikhail Yangel was Deputy Chief Constructor of Special Construction Bureau #1 at Research Institute #88, where Chief Constructor was Sergei Korolev. In 1952, Yangel became Chief Constructor of the institute.
12. When the issue of developing rockets on new fuel, significantly increasing their operational capability, became pressing, Yangel got his own Construction Bureau. Special Construction Bureau #586, better known as Construction Bureau Yuzhnoe, was located in Dnepropetrovsk. Yangel worked there till his death.
13. Yangel's developments were the main products for strategic rocket forces. Yangel also worked for the civilian space industry. One could see results of his labor on the Red Square, on Baikonur and on the orbit.
14. Yangel survived by a miracle in the so-called Nedelin catastrophe with multiple human losses, which happened on the 24th of October, 1960, at the preparation of a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic rocket R-16. His life was saved by an addiction – he went out for a smoke.
15. The country did not spare awards for the creator of the nuclear-missile shield. Just as in Pushkin's poem, he was both “an academic and a hero.” He received his first Hero of Socialist Labor title by a secret order for creating the R-12 ballistic rocket. Two years later, another secret order marked Yangel's role in organizing a man's first flight to space. He also became an academic: Yangel, Dr.Eng., was made an academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Science in 1961, and, in five years, he was made an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union.
16. Yangel even surpassed the country's most famous Chief – his former boss and eternal rival Sergei Korolev – in awards and titles.
17. Mikhail Yangel was not forgotten. His memory was made eternal – monuments to the rocket constructor can be found in Zheleznogorsk-Ilimsky, Dnepropetrovsk and on Plesetsk Cosmodrome. And there are two monuments in Baikonur – one in the city and one on the cosmodrome.