L’histoire du Spoutnik

Moscou - Le 4 octobre 1957, mon père, Nikita Krouchtchev, attendait un appel téléphonique important. L’ingénieur en chef Sergueï Korolev devait l’appeler depuis le site de lancement de Tyura-tam au Kazakhstan (plus tard rebaptisé cosmodrome de Baïkonour), pour rendre compte du lancement du premier satellite artificiel.

Plus tôt dans la journée, mon père était à Kyiv, en Ukraine, pour des manœuvres militaires. Il assista à une démonstration de chars traversant le fleuve Dniepr, puis discuta avec des généraux soviétiques de l’avenir du ministre de la Défense Georgi Zhukov. (Zhukov était soupçonné de comploter pour s’emparer du pouvoir et, avant de forcer à la démission un maréchal décoré de la Seconde guerre mondiale, mon père et ses collègues ont obtenu le soutien d’autres gradés de haut rang, qui acceptèrent de se rallier au point de vue de Krouchtchev).

Le même soir, mon père dînait avec des dirigeants ukrainiens. J’étais assis à un bout de la table, ne prêtant guère d’attention à la discussion. Tout le monde était fatigué, mais mon père ne semblait pas pressé d’aller se coucher. Vers minuit, la porte s’est ouverte et un secrétaire a demandé à mon père de prendre une communication téléphonique. Lorsque Krouchtchev revint s’asseoir, il souriait : le lancement du Spoutnik avait réussi.

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