He hit a curbstone with his forehead. It was not a good landing. On his return from space he landed successfully. Here, unsuccessfully. Then they took him inside, where the doctors applied local anesthetic to his brow. Some of the bone in his forehead was chipped. When the surgeons arrived, they cleared out the fragments, effected temporary repairs and stitched the wound. He made no sound whatsoever, but his nails left livid marks, so tight was his grip.
He looked up at the nurse Anna for a moment, and she remembers him asking her just one question. By the spring of , development of the Soyuz spacecraft, which was intended to eventually put a Soviet man on the moon, was moving toward that crucial first flight. On April 22, the Soviet propaganda departments felt confident enough to let slip some rumors to the international press agency UPI.
It seems likely that the Brezhnev administration wanted the docking to take place on or around May Day. The year had a special significance in the Communist calendar; it was the 50th anniversary of the revolution. But as the deadline for the mission drew near, technicians knew of separate faults in the spacecraft that still required attention.
Yuri Gagarin was closely involved in this assessment. By March 9, , he and his closest cosmonaut colleagues had produced a formal page document, with the help of the engineers, in which all the problems were outlined in detail. The trouble was, no one knew what to do with it. Within Soviet society, bad news always reflected badly on the messenger. As many as 50 senior engineers knew about the report, but none of them felt sufficiently confident to go into the Kremlin and do what had to be done: request that Leonid Brezhnev play down the symbolism of the pending launch, so as to allow a decent delay for technical improvements.
The cosmonauts and bureaucrats eventually adopted an age-old technique. Komarov said he knew what he was talking about, and he burst into such bitter tears. Russayev could not be of much help on his own.
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Back at his desk in the Lubyanka the next morning, after a sleepless night, he decided to ask advice from one of his K. Not even for one second. He gave me a letter, prepared by a team mobilized by Yuri Gagarin. Most of the cosmonauts took part in the research. Makharov told me to take the letter upstairs and see Ivan Fadyekin, head of Department Three. As soon as he saw it, Fadyekin dodged the responsibility straight away. He redirected Russayev to a much more dangerous man in the Lubyanka: Georgi Tsinev. Tsinev was a close personal friend of Leonid Brezhnev; in fact, he was related by marriage, and they had fought alongside each other in the war.
If anyone could deliver an important message straight into the hands of the First Secretary, Tsinev could. Unfortunately for Russayev, things were not quite that simple.
Tsinev was rising fast within the K. He was not going to allow any irritations to disturb that cozy relationship. Tsinev kept hold of the document, and it was never seen again.
Within weeks, Fadyekin was transferred to a junior consular office in Iran, merely for the crime of glancing through it. Makharov was fired immediately, without a pension, and Tsinev took over as chief of an entire counterintelligence department. Russayev was stripped of any responsibility for space affairs and transferred to an insignificant staff training department outside Moscow, well away from the Lubyanka.
Early on the morning of April 23, , the Soyuz was propped up against the gantry at the Soviet launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, according to the original schedule.
The journalist Golovanov noticed Gagarin behaving very strangely. It was already clear that Komarov was perfectly fit to fly, and there were only three or four hours remaining until liftoff time, but he suddenly burst out and started demanding this and that. It was a sudden caprice. Russayev and others insist that Gagarin was trying to elbow his way onto the flight in order to save Komarov from almost certain death.
Rumors about the dialogue between Komarov and ground control have circulated for many years, based on reports from the National Security Agency staff monitoring the radio signals from an Air Force facility near Istanbul.
They had a videophone conversation, and Kosygin was crying. He told him he was a hero. He told her how to handle their affairs and what to do with the kids. As he began his descent into the atmosphere, Komarov knew he was in terrible trouble. The radio outposts in Turkey picked up his cries of rage as he plunged to his death, cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.
The parachutes did not deploy properly. A small drogue canopy came out but failed to pull the bigger canopy from its storage bay. A backup parachute was released, only to become entangled with the first drogue. Komarov slammed onto the steppe near Orenburg with all the force of an unrestrained 2. The capsule was utterly flattened, and the buffer retro rockets in its base blew up on impact, burning what little wreckage was left.
Recovery troops picked up handfuls of soil to try and dampen the flames. Russayev says a heel bone was found among the ashes. The Gagarin of was very different from the carefree young man of Shortly before Gagarin left, the intensity of his anger became obvious. Maybe a good punch in the face. I warn you, be very careful. One story has it that Gagarin caught up with Brezhnev eventually and threw a drink in his face. Go Back To Home. Correction: March 27, A book excerpt on March 13 about the life of Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut, misspelled the name of a luxury resort where he and other cosmonauts stayed in It is Tesseli, not Kissely.
All NYTimes. A statue of him is to be erected on the Mall in London in July to commemorate the visit. The book is written by author and literary critic Lev Danilkin. It claims Gagarin told colleagues on his return to the Soviet Union that during breakfast at Buckingham Palace he was so in awe of his year-old royal host that he brushed her with his hand to ensure she was not a fiction. The book, published as part of the famous Soviet and Russian series of biographies called The Life of Remarkable People, also details Gagarin's struggle to grasp the rules of etiquette in the royal household.
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When he expressed doubt over how to use the cutlery in front of him, the Queen apparently replied: "My dear Mr Gagarin, I was born and brought up in this palace, but believe me, I still don't know in which order I should use all these forks and knives.