The US was completely surprised by Sputnik (I) and also by Yuri Gagarin's space flight. Was the USSR equally surprised by the success of Apollo 11? If not, were they expecting/wishing any failure of the same?


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One main difference between the Soviet and US space programs during the space race was the Soviet program was very secretive, with publicity after the fact of a successful mission, while the US program was very open, with a lot of publicity in the media at the time throughout the program.

The Soviets saw all the US publicity and were well aware of what the US was going to do and they made their own assessments of how capable the US was. They knew well in advance of the Apollo 11 mission that the US program was powering from strength to strength, despite setbacks along the way.

They also knew that prior to launch, Apollo 11 was likely succeed and if something unforeseen occurred during the mission then either Apollo 12 or a later mission would succeed. They also knew they were well behind the US in regards to landing someone on the Moon. The US had tested the Saturn V rocket and it worked very well. The Soviets were still trying to get the N1 rocket to launch, but after three failed attempts they abandoned the rocket, particularly given they had lost the race to the Moon.


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