docubyte Kosmos RD 107 Engines, 1957
RD 107 Engines, 1957
docubyte Kosmos Extravehicular DMA-18 Orlan Suit
Extravehicular DMA-18 Orlan Suit

KOSMOS (космос)

Icons and Artefacts of the Soviet Space Age

It started with a beep.

When the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, was launched by the Soviet Union over 60 years ago, it’s hard to imagine its designers and engineers, in their pursuit of technological achievement, were ever considerate of the beauty of what they were creating.

This pioneering, beeping metal sphere would change the course of history, initiating the Space Race and prompting the creation of a host of extraordinary technological objects, such as the almost mouse-like Sputnik 3 satellite and the ‘saucepan-on-wheels’, Lunokhod lunar rover.


This series documents many of those objects, in celebration both of the achievements of the Soviet space program and these early, and, in retrospect, charming but brutal designs. 

It is particularly notable how the designs of the Soviet program progressed: from the ‘bolt-on’ aesthetic of early Space Race technology to the increasingly homogenous look of later years, many designs began to mirror, and copy those of their US counterparts.

Featured in Esquire Magazine, May 2021

docubyte Kosmos Orlan suit
Orlan suit

“Soviet man – be proud, you opened the road to stars from Earth!”

Text from a propaganda poster

docubyte Kosmos Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
docubyte Kosmos Topographical Moon
Topographical Moon
docubyte Kosmos Soyuz Capsule
Soyuz Capsule

“The Earth is a cradle of the mind, but we cannot live forever in a cradle.”

– Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, Father of Russian Astronautics, 1896

docubyte Kosmos Vostok Ejector Seat VZA
Vostok Ejector Seat VZA
docubyte Kosmos Vostok 1
Vostok 1
docubyte Kosmos Vostok Navigation Console, 1960
Vostok Navigation Console, 1960
docubyte Kosmos Chibis Suit
Chibis Suit

“I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.”

— Alexey Leonov

docubyte Kosmos Resurs 500 Spherical descent capsule
Resurs 500 Spherical descent capsule
docubyte Kosmos Space Toilet
Space Toilet
docubyte Kosmos Vostok Engines
Vostok Engines
docubyte Kosmos Orlan suit
Orlan suit

The path of a cosmonaut is not an easy, triumphant march to glory..”

Yuri Gagarin

docubyte Kosmos Luna 9, Probe
Luna 9, Probe
docubyte Kosmos Prognoz Satellite
Prognoz Satellite
docubyte Kosmos Luna 24
Luna 24

“We were hungry to test the new technology of ‘space machines.’ And we all wanted to be first.”

Cosmonaut Gherman Titov

docubyte Kosmos LK Lunar Lander
LK Lunar Lander
docubyte Kosmos Kazbek Seat
Kazbek Seat
docubyte Kosmos Oreol 1 Satellite
Oreol 1 Satellite
docubyte Kosmos Soyuz Command Panel
Soyuz Command Panel
docubyte Kosmos Buran Orbiter, 1980
Buran Orbiter, 1980
docubyte Kosmos Buran Orbiter, 1980
Buran Orbiter, 1980
docubyte Kosmos Buran Orbiter, 1980
Buran Orbiter, 1980
docubyte Kosmos Yuri Gagarin Helmet SK1
Yuri Gagarin Helmet SK1

“I could have gone on flying through space forever.”

Yuri Gagarin

docubyte Kosmos Lunokhod, 'Moonwalker' 1969
Lunokhod, 'Moonwalker' 1969
docubyte Kosmos Buran BOR 5 Mockup
Buran BOR 5 Mockup
docubyte Kosmos Krechet Moon Suit
Krechet Moon Suit

“I feel fine. How about you?”

Yuri Gagarin during the first manned space mission on 12 April 1961