The man who fell from space: the story of Vladimir Komarov's failed stunt

In 1967, the USSR celebrated its 50th anniversary. Of course, this event was accompanied by celebrations on Earth. However, this was obviously not enough for the country's leadership. Since the 1960s were the peak of the space race, a manned space flight with a stunt was planned to celebrate the anniversary. It was to be performed by the Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov. Many cosmonauts, including Yuri Gagarin, said that the idea was reckless. However, the mission started anyway, as a result of which Vladimir Komarov died, and became known throughout the world as “the man who fell from space.”

The man who fell from space: the story of Vladimir Komarov's failed stunt. Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov. Photo.

Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov

Vladimir Komarov's space stunt

It was no coincidence that Vladimir Komarov was chosen as an astronaut to perform a dangerous stunt. By 1967, he had many awards, and his name was known throughout the world, as he became the first ever commander of a spacecraft, as well as the first Soviet cosmonaut to go into space twice.

According to the plan, two spacecraft were to go into orbit — “Soyuz-1” with Vladimir Komarov and “Soyuz-2” with a crew of three people. At the same time, Komarov and the crew of Soyuz-2» had to switch places and then go to Earth.

Space trick by Vladimir Komarov. Soyuz spacecraft. Photo.

Soyuz spacecraft

There is some evidence (albeit disputed) that experts warned months before the launch that the stunt could end tragically. For example, in the book “Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin,” it is said that Yuri Gagarin, along with other technical specialists, inspected the ship and discovered more than 200 different problems that made the planned mission extremely dangerous.

The list of faults was listed on a ten-page memo. However, due to fears of falling out of favor with the country's leader Leonid Brezhnev, she was not handed over.

Veniamin Russaev, a KGB agent assigned to Yuri Gagarin, recalled in his interview that friends tried to dissuade Vladimir Komarov, since the consequences of refusal would in any case be less severe than guaranteed death. However, Komarov himself knew that in this case his friend Yuri Gagarin would have to perform the trick.

Vladimir Komarov's space trick. Yuri Gagarin dissuaded Vladimir Komarov from flying on Soyuz-1. Photo.According to Veniamin Russaev, this was the reason why Komarov, understanding the danger, nevertheless decided to perform the trick. However, in order to take revenge on the people who sent him to his death, he asked to be buried in an open coffin if something went wrong.

Death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov

On the day the mission started, Yuri Gagarin began to act outside of protocol. He went down to the launch pad to talk with Vladimir Komarov. It is believed that Gagarin tried to delay the launch so much that it had to be cancelled. However, his idea did not work — The launch took place and Komarov aboard Soyuz-1 rose into space.

At first everything went well, but after flying one orbit, the astronaut began to report to Earth that problems had arisen. One of the ship's solar panels failed to open, leaving it low on power. In addition, Komarov was unable to stabilize the ship. The second ship Soyuz-2 was supposed to be sent to help, but due to bad weather the launch was canceled. Then Komarov made an attempt to independently orient the ship, enter the dense layers of the atmosphere and land on the nineteenth orbit in the Orsk region.

The death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Collapsed capsule with Vladimir Komarov. Photo.

Collapsed capsule with Vladimir Komarov

Reportedly, Komarov remained restrained in his emotions until the last moment and tried to complete the flight successfully and return to Earth alive. However, after entering the dense layers of the atmosphere at the landing site, the parachute system failed. The main parachute did not open properly. Then Komarov tried to use the reserve parachute, but it got caught in the main parachute. As a result, the capsule with Vladimir Komarov fell down at the speed of a meteorite. After hitting the ground, it caught fire, and the astronaut himself died instantly.

The man who fell from space: the story of Vladimir Komarov's failed stunt. The death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Photo.

Komarov's last words were intercepted by American radio stations in Turkey. He reportedly said, “That devilish ship!” The official Soviet transcripts contain Komarov’s last words: “I feel great, everything is fine,” after which he added: “Thank you for conveying all this.” Then the connection was lost, Vladimir Komarov died at the moment when ground control tried to restore contact.

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Thus, the political part of the mission was completed — a manned flight in honor of the anniversary of the USSR took place. But the space part of the mission failed — Vladimir Komarov was unable to perform the trick and return home.