PJ O’Rourke has a great story about how he became the writer he is. Paraphrasing, he was touring the USSR in the Brezhnev years. And despite the obvious dysfunction of the Soviet system, the Leftists on his tour group kept insisting that everything was wonderful. While they were in a water lock, some Leftist started going on about what great engineers the Soviets were, culminating in the exclamation, “Where do they get all the water from?”
The idea that the Soviet Union was our technological equal was a myth so pervasive even conservatives believed it. Today, cracked has the goods on the shit show that was the Soviet space program. Honesty, it’s a miracle they didn’t blow a city up.
For the record, Robert Heinlein also thought the Soviets left a man in space to die. While in the USSR, several people told him that a recent capsule launch had included a cosmonaut. That story was later changed. I keep wondering if the truth is somewhere in the Kremlin.