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March 18, 2011 12:25 PM   Subscribe

In 1967, Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov went up in a capsule he knew would never get back (NSFW gruesome image) to earth in one piece. He could have bowed out of the mission, but that would meant his good friend, Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) would have drawn the mission instead. So Vladamir launched knowing it was a suicide mission. The CIA was listening in , and recorded what may have been Vladimir Komarov's last words, amid cries of rage. Adding to the tragedy, Yuri died in a plane crash the next year.
posted by COD (103 comments total) 125 users marked this as a favorite

 
Goddamn that was hard to read.
posted by casarkos at 12:33 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's horrifying. That poor man.
posted by zarq at 12:33 PM on March 18, 2011


Charles A. Bassett II Pavel I. Belyayev Roger B. Chaffee Georgi Dobrovolsky Theodore C. Freeman Yuri A. Gagarin Edward G. Givens Jr. Virgil I. Grissom Vladimir Komarov Viktor Patsayev Elliot M. See Jr. Vladislav Volkov Edward H. White II Clifton C. Williams Jr.

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posted by zamboni at 12:35 PM on March 18, 2011 [30 favorites]


.
posted by localroger at 12:36 PM on March 18, 2011


Gagarin's own death the next year was nearly as tragic and spurred rumors of conspiracy for years.
posted by briank at 12:37 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a picture of Komarov's remains in the article, but later on it says that "only a chipped heel bone survived the crash.

Anyway, remind me not to live in a dictatorship.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, very interesting. Reminds me of Omon Ra. In fact, I wonder if this is exactly what Pelevin had in mind when he wrote it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:40 PM on March 18, 2011


The year after Korolev's death. They really were in shoddy shape without him.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2011


Damian and Pythias....
posted by orange swan at 12:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The most bizarre thing about this is you can buy that audio clip as an MP3 from Amazon.

Is there any way to verify it?
posted by curious nu at 12:48 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Incredible story. I knew about Soyuz 1 and Komarov, but I've never know the other side of it with Gagarin. Imagine the enormous balls of steel and the righteous rage necessary to throw a drink in Brezhnev's face, if he really did that. I really want to think he did.
posted by Mcable at 12:57 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone please link to a text-only version of that article, if there is one? TIA.
posted by prenominal at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2011


I can't read that right now. I just can't. Sorry, Krulwich. Sorry, COD.

(Rachel Maddow played a tsunami clip at the end of her show the other night. At one point, I wanted to punch the tv, because I thought they were showing me the faces of people about to die. They did not, and we saw their rescue, but it was touch and go. Maybe I can read about this astronaut later, but not this week.)
posted by maudlin at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


No greater love hath no man than this...
posted by tommasz at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the Russians were taking a lot of risks in the 60s with their space program. They were the first to three men in space, but only by taking out equipment, cramming them in there to the point where they couldn't wear the bulky space suits.

Part of it, I think was just pure ignorance (America made a lot of mistakes) because flying in space is so different from flying planes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on March 18, 2011


The article has a link where you can buy the sounds of his death for 89 cents. You can even send it as a gift!
posted by mkb at 1:08 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


He is Hero.
posted by clavdivs at 1:09 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


An analysis of the Soyuz-1 flight, which casts doubt on the Winslow Peck/Perry Fellwock intercept story.
posted by zamboni at 1:10 PM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now, can we get an article like this about someone related to the Challenger explosion throwing a drink in Reagan's face? I hope so.
posted by mkb at 1:10 PM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


The accident also spurned Russia to make the space craft, Soyuz, safer and it remains in use to this day, with numerous upgrades of course. After the shuttle retires, it'll be the only way to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Now, can we get an article like this about someone related to the Challenger explosion throwing a drink in Reagan's face?

It wasn't Reagan's decision to launch the Challenger in conditions it wasn't designed for, with a known problem. NASA managers and Morton Thiokol earn that blame.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 PM on March 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Damn. Thanks for posting this.
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2011


I hadn't seen this before:
A background summary of important events leading to the Challenger disaster will be presented starting with January, 1985, plus the specifics of the telecon meeting held the night prior to the launch at which the attempt was made to stop the launch by the Morton Thiokol engineers. A detailed account will show why the off-line telecon caucus by Morton Thiokol Management constituted the unethical decision-making forum which ultimately produced the management decision to launch Challenger without any restrictions.

The paper will continue with the post-disaster chronology of my working relationship with Morton Thiokol Management and conclude with a discussion on accountability, professional responsibility and ethical conduct which should be practiced in the work place, plus statements from the academic community about the plight of whistleblowers and my closing remarks.
posted by zamboni at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yuri's Night would have been Burning Man.
posted by benzenedream at 1:25 PM on March 18, 2011


[added image warning, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 1:32 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by drezdn at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2011


Aeschylus would have had this up on stage.
posted by shothotbot at 1:36 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would make a very moving film
posted by communicator at 1:37 PM on March 18, 2011


Is the X-37 capable of docking with the space station?

yuri tried to get this "on the stage" to save lives and what happened.
posted by clavdivs at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2011


89 cents to listen to his last words. How crass.
posted by Neiltupper at 1:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


Is the X-37 capable of docking with the space station?
No.
Nor is it capable of carrying passengers.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2011


zamboni, no matter how many times I've looked at it, that little placard still breaks my heart.

.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2011


now, can we get an article like this about someone related to the Challenger explosion throwing a drink in Reagan's face? I hope so.
posted by mkb at 1:10 PM on March 18 [+] [!]


My husband has always blamed Walter Mondale, fwiw.

(Ralph was a research subject for NASA and flew in the "vomit comet" along with some astronauts, to include at least one who was on Challenger. You will never find a stauncher supporter of the space program than my husband and if Ronald Reagan had had anything to do with Challenger's tragedy believe me he would have put the blame where it belonged.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:55 PM on March 18, 2011


The Soviets always were willing to sacrifice lives for some good PR for their space program...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 1:57 PM on March 18, 2011


My husband has always blamed Walter Mondale, fwiw

Why does he blame Mondale?
posted by drezdn at 2:03 PM on March 18, 2011


drezdn, I believe iirc it had to do with Mondale spearheading some budget cuts for NASA, but I'm not sure.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2011


My Komarov memorial lapel pin. Chipped from years of reverent wear.
posted by squalor at 2:07 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


drezdn, I believe iirc it had to do with Mondale spearheading some budget cuts for NASA, but I'm not sure.

Yeah, he tried to kill NASA's original concept for the shuttle in committee, which failed, but caused NASA to revamp their plans and designs in order to secure funding, which resulted in a heavier, more complex and expensive shuttle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Winslow Peck also told Jim Oberg that the tracking sites that had been monitored were sites in the "Crimea, Transcaucasus, and near TyuraTam" (Yevpatoria, Tbilisi, Dzhusaly).Peck said that signals were picked up by antennas called "KRUGG". This is quite strange, because "KRUG" is the code name for a Soviet direction finding circular antenna array ("Krug" means "Circle" in Russian). See picture on the right from page 263 of the 1976-77 issue of the International Countermeasures Handbook. The corresponding U.S. system is called the Circularly Disposed Antenna Array (CDAA) covering a 10:1 bandwidth on shortwaves and manufactured by GTE Sylvania in Mountain View California. Perhaps the NSA jargon was to call its own system by the Russian name of a corresponding system.

Interesting. I grew up near one of those at RAF Chicksands (dispite the name an American base) - everybody called it the Elephants Cage, per the Wikipedia article. Big spooky looking thing it was, visible for miles around and not on any maps.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2011


It goes from profoundly sad to tragic because he knew he was likely to die, and saved his friend and Russian hero from the death he expected. And he likely knew quite soon after launch that his death was certain. This is what makes explorers into heroes. And there were and are still people lining up to join the space program, if there still is one.

I didn't know about that plaque on the moon. Thanks, zamboni.
posted by theora55 at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


@theora55... I'm still lined up to join the space program. If they'd take me, i'd go. Even on a one-way trip.
posted by Snowflake at 2:15 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good Christ!

Yuri & Vladamir would be a good play, or something.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:23 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


*Vladimir
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2011


It wasn't Reagan's decision to launch the Challenger in conditions it wasn't designed for, with a known problem.

It wasn't Reagan's decision, but the Reagan administration had cut pretty much every other booster, and was leaning hard on NASA to get the STS launch rate up. The shuttle had flown five times in 1984 (the year that Discovery was commissioned) and nine in 1985 (when Atlantis joined the fleet.)

The goal was to turn a *single* shuttle in one month, because they wanted on the order of 30-36 launches a year. The assumptions of spacecraft in long duration refit, as Columbia was in 1985, one in short duration refit or extended cargo loadout, and two in general "load payload, roll to a pad, launch, land, refit, get back into the VLB and do it again" duty. Basically, except for the long refit orbiter, two of the craft were expected to launch 10-12 times in a year, and the third 6-8 times.

This is why they had two pads, and seriously looked at actually activating LC39C -- (C and D were planned, but never built, during the Apollo era.) If they actually reached the program target rate of 30+ launches a year, a third pad would have probably been a necessity, as would have a third crawler-transporter. You can't stack a Shuttle without a crawler-transporter to stack it on, after all.

Since STS was supposed to do this, there was no reason for any other boosters in the 20kg to LEO class, and they were cancelled. So, there was tremendous pressure on NASA to get the launch rate above the nine per year that they managed in 1985 -- even discounting Atlantis first flight in October and Columbia in refit, removing the extra test equipment and adding the middeck seats.

I think the fastest individual shuttle turn was Atlantis, which launched on October 3rd, 1985 on STS-51J, landed on the 8th, and then launched again November 26th on STS-61B, so a turn of 51 days or 56 days, depending on if you are counting launch to launch or end of one flight to the start of the next. This was also in the days before the runway at KSC, so part of that time was transport from Edwards AFB and cleaning up after landing on the dry lakebed.
posted by eriko at 2:27 PM on March 18, 2011 [27 favorites]


I am always fascinated by the human tendency to take their best and grind them up for so little gain. Not even a sacrifice.

The mediocre must dine on the finest flesh.
posted by adipocere at 2:33 PM on March 18, 2011 [21 favorites]


Besides the main story, I found that speech prepared in case of the failure of the moon mission quite eerie. Intellectually I understand the use of it, like magazines pre-writing obituaries, but it just gives me chills. Seems like bad juju.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2011


The depressing thing for me is not that he died in a faulty spaceship, trying to push forward humanity's reach for the stars, but that he died because of the need for politicians to fulfil propaganda needs - thus going up in a demonstrably unsafe vessel.

I think many pilots and explorers would go if there was no choice but to test something that might be safe, to FIND something, but to go because the higher-ups aren't convincable of 100% peril based on data? Ugh.

You see this everywhere in organizations, where higher ups don't listen to (or have been filtered from) fthe facts on the ground (wars, hospitals, economic decisions, political decisions etc) but this one feels so tragic.

Aeschylus indeed.

.
posted by lalochezia at 2:38 PM on March 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


.
posted by oneironaut at 2:54 PM on March 18, 2011


., Single Combat Warrior.
posted by oneironaut at 2:55 PM on March 18, 2011


Not to be too gruesome, but can anyone identify what's being shown in the gruesome image in the linked story? The text says only a chipped heel bone survived, but what's shown looks much larger.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:57 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Besides the main story, I found that speech prepared in case of the failure of the moon mission quite eerie. Intellectually I understand the use of it, like magazines pre-writing obituaries, but it just gives me chills. Seems like bad juju.

"You want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing?"

I am always fascinated by the human tendency to take their best and grind them up for so little gain. Not even a sacrifice.


"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
posted by Errant at 3:09 PM on March 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


Not to be too gruesome, but can anyone identify what's being shown in the gruesome image in the linked story?

That doesn't look like a human body, it looks like a chunk of charred spacecraft debris. Perhaps this was as close as they could come to finding the body, and there's a chunk of heel bone in there somewhere. But I can only speculate.

It reminds me of a story I heard, some famous writer disappeared and presumably died, his body was never found. So they sent someone to sweep the floors at his home, and put the sweepings in the casket that was buried under his headstone. I guess the theory was the sweepings might contain a hair or a flake of skin from the guy, that was all they'd ever have of his body.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:10 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Soviets always were willing to sacrifice lives for some good PR for their space program...

Just as well no-one else ever has, eh?
posted by rodgerd at 3:14 PM on March 18, 2011


Eriko -

While I agree with most of what you said, I feel that laying the blame on the feet of the Reagan administration is a bit disingenuous. The reality is that NASA itself pitched Congress on the ability of the Shuttle to fly "routinely" from the STS program's inception.

So it wasn't just Reagan but the entire government who was working on the assumption that the STS program would open up routine access to space and the decision to nix all other booster development programs took place before Reagan was even inaugurated. In fact, IIRC that decision came circa 1974-1975 as budget cuts combined with cost overruns pushed the shuttle program well beyond its initial design parameters and it became necessary for political ploys to keep the money train a'rollin.
posted by tgrundke at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2011


I guess the theory was the sweepings might contain a hair or a flake of skin from the guy

A substantial portion of the dust in your house is composed of the dead skin cells of its inhabitants.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2011


orange swan: Thanks so much for the Damon and Pythias reference. Indeed. 'Cept that, well, there's no Pythias returning in the nick of time. Still...
posted by Bartonius at 3:32 PM on March 18, 2011


It's just the things that she does to me.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 3:32 PM on March 18, 2011


I'd never heard of this. Thanks for posting.

.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:35 PM on March 18, 2011


"89 cents to listen to his last words. How crass."

Would you prefer it if it cost more?
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 3:51 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I studied the Soviet Union quite a lot in college. You can read these stories for a lifetime and not run out of them and every single one is just as horrible. And they aren't even the close to the worst bunch of experiences of the 20th century.


The Apollo 11 crew also left memorial items for Gagarin, Komarov, and the Apollo 1 astronauts on the Moon:
111:36:55 Armstrong: Okay, I'll get it. When I get up there (to the porch). (Pause)

[Just below the shoulder on each sleeve, Buzz has a small pocket ( 150k ). One of them contains a small packet of memorial items that he and Neil want to place on the surface. Buzz relates in his 1989 book, Men from Earth, that the items included (1) an Apollo 1 patch commemorating Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, the astronauts who had died in the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire; (2) a Soviet medal commemorating Vladimir Komarov, who was killed at the end of the Soyuz 1 flight when the parachutes on his spacecraft failed; (3) a Soviet medal honoring Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, who had been killed in an aircraft accident seven years after his historic 1961 flight; and, finally, (4) a small, gold olive branch identical to the ones that they were carrying for the three Apollo 11 wives.]

[NASA News Release No. 69-83F, dated 13 July 1969 mentions the Apollo 1 patch, the gold olive branch, and a silicion message disk but not the Soviet items. Ulrich Lotzmann has provided a summary. Goodnight CapCom Owen Garriott asks abut the message disk at 114:52:28.]

[In his 1973 book Return to Earth - repeated in Men from Earth - Buzz states that, when he was halfway up the ladder - that is, at about 111:26 - Neil reminded him to take care of this task. Clearly, the reminder came a little later than Buzz remembered but, as Journal Contributor Jim Failes notes, "it was a busy EVA".]

[Aldrin - "We had forgotten about this up to this point. And I don't think we really wanted to totally openly talk about what it was. So it was sort of guarded. And I knew what he was talking about..."]

[Armstrong - "About it being on your sleeve."]
posted by SMPA at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


While I agree with most of what you said, I feel that laying the blame on the feet of the Reagan administration is a bit disingenuous.

From the Rogers commission report, Chapter VIII:
On the same day that the initial orbital tests concluded-July 4, 1982-President Reagan announced a national policy to set the direction of the U. S. space program during the following decade. As part of that policy, the President stated that:

"The United States Space Transportation System (STS) is the primary space launch system for both national security and civil government missions."
Because of that, despite the problems they were have, NASA publishes -- in 1985, mind you -- a plan to reach 24 launches a year for STS by 1990.

Note -- the pressure came from the Reagan Administration, but it's NASA's job to resist that when a Criticality-1 component is at risk, because Criticality-1 means there's no backup *and* failure will result in loss of mission, crew, and or orbiter.

But denying the pressure was there from the Reagan Administration is simply incorrect -- the Rogers commission report makes that very clear.
posted by eriko at 4:02 PM on March 18, 2011


The Apollo 11 crew also left memorial items for Gagarin, Komarov, and the Apollo 1 astronauts on the Moon:

That did it. The tears fall freely. God bless these people, our 'Nauts.

Human and all, our space travelers have served us well as paragons of what we can be and how we can be it.

Now I must go. For these heroes, the crying has not stopped, and I feel it has only just begun.
posted by humannaire at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


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posted by limeonaire at 4:15 PM on March 18, 2011


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posted by sebastienbailard at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2011


.

Heroes, the lot of 'em. GF has nixed naming our notional son Yuri, probably for the best in an English-speaking country.
posted by jtron at 4:33 PM on March 18, 2011


Artw: "Wikipedia article. Big spooky looking thing it was, visible for miles around and not on any maps"

I used to live where the pin is on this map. Can you spot the Elephant cage? (We called it an AN/FLR-9)
posted by pjern at 4:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by Not The Stig at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2011


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posted by arcticseal at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2011


Wow. Great post. Best of the Web.
posted by effugas at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2011


There's a picture of Komarov's remains in the article, but later on it says that "only a chipped heel bone survived the crash.

The "remains" are the re-entry vehicle. Re-entry is a bitch.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:29 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A slightly similar thing happened with Apollo 1. Crew members complained about safety issues with the command module and NASA techs did a half-assed job of getting rid of the velcro and other flammables that contributed to the disaster.

Still, as much as we might see analogies to Challenger and Apollo 1, neither of them compare to a party system that sacked everyone who touched a wistleblowing memo to cover up the potential for disaster. Gagarin's arguably braver for daring to express his anger than for offering to fly.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:47 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by jpolchlopek at 5:59 PM on March 18, 2011


Somewhere in the cosmos Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov are knocking back vodkas and telling stories.

It's nice to imagine, anyway.
posted by bwg at 6:11 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering this draws attention to a tragedy so obviously born of the cold war, it's a shame the most telling phrase as to the eventual victor is: "On the Internet (89 cents at Amazon.com) I found what may have been Komarov's last words."
posted by biffa at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I blame Nixon.
posted by mikelieman at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2011


Fascinating post, great thread. Can anyone recommend a good history of the Soviet space program?
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:01 PM on March 18, 2011


I blame Nixon

That's not too far off, he was cutting NASA's budget a lot. Had issues to deal with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post, great thread. Can anyone recommend a good history of the Soviet space program?

Asif Siddiqi is doing excellent work on it--The Red Rockets' Glare, which just came out, is a fantastic treatment of the early period (from the 19th century to Sputnik), and Challenge to Apollo, from what I hear, is really good too.
posted by nasreddin at 7:22 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heartbreaking.

The Chief Designer by Andy Duncan is a beautiful piece of historical fiction about the soviet space program set in that era. I've always wondered what percentage of the story was history and how much fiction. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:45 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The real question is why didn't both refuse to fly the ship until the problems were fixed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 PM on March 18, 2011


Going to space was a risky business, but Gagarin died in a mysterious crash and Korolev (heart, kidney, gall, hearing problems) died on an operating table. "Glushko later reported that he actually died due to a poorly performed operation for hemorrhoids." Such a small group and so many coincidental unrelated deaths.

Makes me seriously wonder about all the N1 rocket failures. Anyway, for anyone interested in the whole topic, Jim Oberg's 1981 book Red Star In Orbit is really good (followed by another on the Soviets in 1988).
posted by Twang at 8:53 PM on March 18, 2011


He is Hero.

I think martyr is the word you are looking for. One of a great many.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:53 PM on March 18, 2011


Can anyone recommend a good history of the Soviet space program?

Red Star in Orbit by James Oberg. Probably a bit dated now (published 30 years ago), but fascinating, well-written and researched.
posted by squalor at 8:55 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


My husband has always blamed Walter Mondale, fwiw
posted St. Alia of the Bunnies

Why does he blame Mondale?
posted by drezdn

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and guess that he might be a Republican.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:37 PM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I.. I just fail to understand what the propaganda value was - Gemini had completed a 2-ship rendezvous in '65, so it wasn't a space first like so many other Soviet achievements. Such a waste.
posted by Kyol at 9:50 PM on March 18, 2011


I first read about Komarov's death many years ago in James Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, and the following passage from that book has haunted me ever since:

"Another high-priority target for the signal chasers at Karamursel [Turkey] is the Soviet space program. On April 23, 1967, a number of analysts were routinely copying the return of Soyuz I, bringing Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov back from twenty-six hours in space, when problems suddenly developed on re-entry. Recalled one of the intercept operators:

'They couldn't get the chute that slowed his craft down in re-entry to work. They knew what the problem was for about two hours...and were fighting to correct it. It was all in Russian, of course, but we taped it and listened to it a couple of times afterward. Kosygin called him personally. They had a video-phone conversation. Kosygin was crying. He told him he was a hero and that he had made the greatest achievement in Russian history, that they were proud, and that he'd be remembered. The guy's wife got on too. They talked for a while. He told her how to handle their affairs and what to do with the kids. It was pretty awful. Toward the last few minutes he began falling apart, saying, "I don't want to die, you've got to do something." Then there was just a scream as he died. I guess he was incinerated.'"

posted by twoleftfeet at 9:58 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to live where the pin is on this map. Can you spot the Elephant cage? (We called it an AN/FLR-9)

My one's decommisioned now, but shows up pretty good on Satellite.
posted by Artw at 11:05 PM on March 18, 2011


He's not on the list of Lost Cosmonauts, but this confirms they're probable.
posted by clarknova at 11:33 PM on March 18, 2011


Lost Cosmonauts previously on The Blue.
posted by clarknova at 11:36 PM on March 18, 2011


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posted by clarknova at 11:37 PM on March 18, 2011


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posted by echolalia67 at 12:20 AM on March 19, 2011


I'm gonna go out on a limb and blame Ronald Reagan for every airline disaster that occurred after he busted the air traffic controllers' union in 1981. How about that?
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:38 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by sammyo at 6:01 AM on March 19, 2011


FTA:

"Fellwock described how Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin called on a video phone to tell him he was a hero. Komarov's wife was also on the call to talk about what to say to their children. Kosygin was crying."

What exactly is a "video phone" in 1967?
posted by futz at 6:50 AM on March 19, 2011


I.. I just fail to understand what the propaganda value was - Gemini had completed a 2-ship rendezvous in '65, so it wasn't a space first like so many other Soviet achievements. Such a waste.

The Apollo 1 fire occurred in early '67, while Komarov's flight, Soyuz 1, was launched in April of '67, meaning the Russians were still flying while the American space program was grounded sought to figure out and fix with that first mission. Add in the fact that Soyuz was intended for lunar travel and Soyuz 1 dock was to dock with Soyuz 2 and then transfer crew from one ship to another, something NASA had not done. No American ships had ever docked with each other (and wouldn't until Apollo 9 in March of of'69), just done rendezvous (but did it damn well. At some points, Gemini 6A and 7 were flying only a foot apart). Gemini 8 had docked with an unmanned Agena, but then things went wrong that almost got the crew killed and forced an early abort of the mission. Gemini was also having major problems with space walks and wouldn't get it right until Gemini 12, in December of '67 and then it was fairly simple, one man walk . So if the Soviets pulled off a docking of two manned spacecraft and a complex space walk in April of 67... PROPAGANDA ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED, PROCEED TO NEXT LEVEL. Look at the poor Americans, floundering after letting one of their ships catch fire on the ground! The ground of all things, comrade, during a test! Tsk, tsk.

And lastly, Walter Mondale had fuck all to do with the Challenger disaster or the space program, except that he was a sharp critic of it as a waste of money, which it was and is -- he was the vice president of the previous administration, a basically powerless position.

Blaming Mondale as opposed to the managers who ok'd the decision to fly* does seem odd, but make no mistake his desire to kill the shuttle program definitely influenced its direction and design. It's not hard to see a fan of the space program blaming someone who wanted to kill it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shocking!
posted by pattyc at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2011


What exactly is a "video phone" in 1967?

Soyuz-1 was a Soyuz 7K-OK. The Soyuz 7K series apparently used the Sirius Information Display System:
For the first time in the worldwide practice multifunctional displays based on CRT and electroluminescent tubes were used in this system. The main console was a electromechanical display. For the first time a video monitor displayed television and measurement information in individual and combined modes. The information displayed on the CRT was transmitted to the Earth over a television channel.
Here's some info on the 7K-OK radio systems - I don't see a video channel listed, but that doesn't rule it out. Pictures that purport to be Soyuz-1 show the TV antenna (the circle with a cross on it).

By at least Soyuz 4, there was certainly TV.
The Soyuz television system operates on 463 MHz. Nowadays it is called the "Klest" system. The TV standard on Soyuz is SECAM (625 lines transmitted at 25 frames per second). A black-and-white video signal with 6 MHz bandwidth is transmitted by frequency modulating the carrier creating an RF bandwidth of 20 MHz. using Carson's rule we can the deduce that the deviation is 4 MHz. The transmitter power is 10 Watts.
posted by zamboni at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thanks zamboni for such a detailed answer! It looks like I mostly imagined. I pictured a very small tv type screen but the "phone" part threw me. Do you know if the US used this as well?
posted by futz at 8:44 AM on March 19, 2011


Blaming Mondale as opposed to the managers who ok'd the decision to fly*

Forget to include the asterisk note:

Here's what Deke Slayton, who oversaw the astronauts during Gemini and Apollo said about the Challenger accident in his autobiography Deke!, which is highly recommended:
Once I heard the weather conditions down at the Cape for the launch, I figured out where the problem was. The solid rocket motors simply weren't designed to be launched with ice hanging off them. We had developed those operational rules over the years: all you had to do was follow them and you'd be all right.

Not that anybody was talking about the shuttle as a perfect vehicle, or one that was a hundred percent safe. I never thought it was. I sure as hell wouldn't have said it was safe enough to fly congressmen and schoolteachers. It would do what it was designed to do with an acceptable amount of risk. They've had almost fifty flights and lost one; I guarantee you if we'd flown fifty Apollo missions, we'd have killed somebody. (We killed one crew on the ground as it was, and came down close to losing another.)

Going into space isn't as safe as getting on an airliner. And it's never safe if you're ignoring flight rules
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on March 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


[comments removed - metatalk is your option.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:06 AM on March 19, 2011


This week's From Our Own Correspondent had a report on Russia's space industry.

Choice quotes:
Voskhod-1 ... was so cramped that the cosmonauts could not wear spacesuits. The story goes that one of the engineers warned the chief designer, Sergei Korolev, that the slightest leak of air would kill those on board. Korolev's solution was to appoint the engineer as one of the cosmonauts, figuring that this would help motivate him to make the capsule as safe as possible.

The International Space Station is based on Russian expertise, supplied by Russian rockets, and soon to be commanded by a Russian. ... In comparison, with the Shuttle about to be retired and funding cut, the American space programme seems lacking in ambition. Fifty years after Yuri Gagarin first orbited the Earth could the real winner of the space race be Russia?

posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:29 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder what you would say to the children. What a horrible conversation to need to have at the last minute.
posted by acoutu at 8:34 PM on March 20, 2011


New Account of a Russian Cosmonaut's Death Rife with Errors
posted by brundlefly at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


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