“Metal burned, like a tree”: Leonov about the death of cosmonaut Komarov

“Metal burned, like a tree”: Leonov about the death of cosmonaut Komarov

Twice hero of the Soviet Union cosmonaut Alexei Leonov shared with TASS memories of the first manned space flight ended in tragedy.

50 years ago occurred the first tragedy in the history of space exploration: April 24, 1967 during the flight were killed Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, pilot the experimental spacecraft “Soyuz-1”.

For him, this start was the second space flight. First he made three years before this, together with Konstantin Feoktistov and Boris Yegorov. The daily flight was in the ship “Voskhod-1”. Then for the first time in the history of the crew flew without spacesuits.

In 1965, the Mosquitoes began to prepare for the flight on the new bench the Soviet ship of the series “the Union”, the crew of which was approved in 1966.

How was the life of cosmonaut Komarov, and why his second flight ended in disaster, in an interview with TASS said the twice Hero of the Soviet Union, the first man to enter the open space, the famous cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.

“I learned…”

Leonov and Komarov met in June 1960, when it was equipped with the full composition of the first group of astronauts. Komarov has graduated from air force engineering Academy named after Zhukovsky, worked on testing new models of aircraft. It was suggested he go to the then-secret probation work.

By this time, passed the first difficult stage of preparation of cosmonauts, associated with parachute training. Then the ships were with the ejection system. At the height of 4 thousand meters was the bailout, and the man landed separately from the spacecraft on the parachute. Uncomfortable, but then hesitated.Alexei Leonov

Astronaut recalls: since then, no one knew where the ship could land, it could be in the forest, and in mountains, and in the wilderness and even at sea. Program of parachute training gave skills cosmonaut to land in all conditions.

Trainers on the ship “Vostok” was not, except for developers of the simulator. Himself had to learn and teach others. Was created group of trainers which included Vladimir Komarov, Pavel Belyaev and Valentin Varlamov and Alexey Leonov.

I after flight school and his age was 10 years. Very methodically behind him. I had learned… how to build, how to build a parse… I had my own views. And we even with him somehow grappled on the orientation: how to do the pitch, roll, or knowing the reference point, one to move to another sector.Alexei Leonov

Pilots generally don’t like to jump and hardly anyone wants to do it, says Leonov. The astronauts in the course of the month studied with three types of parachutes and a delay of up to two minutes in a free fall. Mosquitoes were jumping well. Then he, as a trained engineer at the military Academy, showed themselves on the knowledge of the material of the spacecraft “Soyuz”.

And when the question was, who should go first on the “Union”, then I was told by Yuri Gagarin, Sergei Korolyov, “the cosmonaut of the 1st class, he will be able to test the ship.” Here the words Gagarin, Komarov gained such a recommendation from the professional.Alexei Leonov

According to Leonov, Komarov was all very restrained person, but loved to play team games — football and basketball. Well known and loved theatres. “Personality traits are calm, thoughtful, sensible, logical. He belonged to the category of the Moscow indigenous intellectuals, the bourgeois culture of Moscow”, — he said. His parents were engineers, which made itself felt.

The failure of “the Unions”

The first “Union” was supposed to fly back in 1962, but the work dragged on for four years, and in his first flight of multi-vehicle unmanned went only at the end of 1966. In anticipation of the start Komarova, there have been three unmanned launch. They all ended unsuccessfully.

The first Soyuz blew up during the descent from orbit during the launch of the second vehicle triggered emergency rescue system, and he landed 300 meters from the launch pad. Third successfully flew into space, but when landing, sank in the Aral sea.

Why? It is not clear. The depth was small, we got him. What happened? On the front shield did a control sample density of this shield. Then I drilled the hole and the tube closed. Patched with resin. But! No one knew and did not know the right temperature when entering the dense layers of the atmosphere. And the plasma is passed through the thread, the cork popped, and plasma burned through the bottom of the ship.Alexei Leonov

According to the astronaut, then there was all the staff, well, the parachutes worked and the ship safely landed. It was clear in the manned version will be no problems.

We have almost all stages had the accident. They are manifested in the process of testing. Still little time, the technique is completely new. No one is persecuted, we just didn’t know how to conduct themselves technique. Well, who could think of and associate the tube with the container? These are completely different things. And it manifests itself only in the process of testing. No one is in a hurry.Alexei Leonov

Astronauts to fly on Soyuz was well prepared, the ship passed all the necessary tests, but confidence in the success of the mission is not added. However, the reasons to cancel the flight, when he was addressed and corrected all previously discovered flaws, too, was not.

The flight plan called for the following: Mosquitoes start of the “Soyuz-1”, after successfully reaching orbit followed by start of “Soyuz-2” with three crew members — Valery Bykovsky, Jevgenijs Gromovym and Alexei Yeliseyev. The last two after docking of the Soyuz spacecraft in earth orbit was to go into space and go aboard the second “Union” in the ship Komarov, with which to return to Earth.

A backup Komarov was appointed the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, bursting into space.

As he recalled later, General Nikolai Kamanin (organizer and head of training of the first Soviet cosmonauts. — Approx. TASS), be alive by the time Sergei Korolev, the main test of the “Union” would certainly have been assigned to the Gagarin.

“He didn’t understand what was happening…”

The start was scheduled for April 23 at 5:30. Komarov and Gagarin arrived at Baikonur. Reported to the state Commission about readiness for launch, and Gagarin together with him up to the ship. The first cosmonaut was the last person to see Komarov alive.

After 540 seconds after launch, the spacecraft went into orbit. On the second circuit, and Komarov was a connection and he was able to report to the Ground about the emergency situations: “well, the cabin parameters are normal, but not open left solar battery, the charging current only 13-14 amps, not running HF communications”.

The Commission was created. Why did not deploy solar panels? The reason is not found. This law: until we know, no manned flights should not be. I was in this Commission, which was headed by Boris Chertok (associate of Sergei Korolev. — Approx. TASS). But the decision was clear: to stop the flight on the second day and the flight of Bykovsky set aside until analysis.Alexei Leonov

For planting Komarov had to manually navigate the ship into the shadow phase of flight when the Earth is not illuminated by the Sun, i.e., the astronaut could not see what area it is in. The lander with an astronaut on Board landed at 65 km from Orsk.

What happened? When the parachute opened the hatch and went out the exhaust parachute, the pressure in the container was smaller and the pressure in the vehicle 760. So this pressure deformed the container squeezed, and it turned out that even when the force of 7 tons, the parachute could not pull it off.

We are on the ground then it was modeled. Lack of rigidity of the parachute container. And that’s when I went to the reserve parachute, he was confused. And so at a speed of 25 meters per second (80 miles per hour), the ship hit the ground. Deformed and caught fire. With the strike even broken seatbelts. And when it was examined, Volodya was lying on her side, the straps snapped.Alexei Leonov

The official version said: “When you open the main parachute canopy at a height of semikilometrovaya, according to preliminary data, as a result of twisting a sling of the parachute, the spacecraft decreased, what was the cause of death of V. M. Komarov”.

It really was so. Nobody here came up.

Near Orenburg, and there, in the desert (I immediately was there), water is not present, the sand began to fall asleep, and it turned out a kind of blast furnace process. Due to the fact that there own oxygen, the metal burned like a tree. When the Commission came to the place saw a depressing picture: ship of the donkey and looked like a sandy hill with a height of about one meter. The metal was melted like a puddle of water.Alexei Leonov

Subsequently, some media wrote about the alleged terrible cries of Komarov, who had heard on the radio on the Ground, and that before his death, he was heavily cursing at the designers who created the ship. This is not so. Leonov called the speculation of journalists folly.

There time very little. Hear went the exhaust, and waiting to go brake — all in a few seconds. And then wait, when you learn the main dome. He didn’t understand what was happening. It was all very fleeting. The impact with the ground, and all.Alexei Leonov

Lessons Komarova

The West does not believe in the death of the first Soviet cosmonaut in 10 years “space age” because in the United States by the time the victims of the space program have become the three astronauts.

At this the astronauts his friend’s death did not discourage the desire to go sailing on the ships of the new series, and they continued to prepare for the flight. Only one Gagarin, according to the memoirs of General Kamanin, knew that now his second space mission clearly will be soon.

About ten men, of course, worried, young it was. But the idea that enough is enough and will not be, neither one had any. On the contrary: let’s do that, we have not repeated. And let’s further explore the technique to avoid accidental coincidences.Alex Lenouvel8.9 the first Time

An investigation into the death of Komarov was attracted by the best experts, including the members of the cosmonaut corps. The investigation was conducted by the discharges of high-explosive bombs with the same parachute system as “Unions”, additional discharges of the ships themselves. In most cases, the parachute system failed the parachute either did not deploy or deploy late.

Following the launch of the unmanned Soyuz, or rather two, who carried out an automated docking in orbit took place in late October 1967. The new manned flight had to wait until the end of 1968.

Currently, the Soyuz spacecraft, great-great grandson of the first, is considered the most reliable spaceship in the world. Just another tragedy in 1971 when the descent in the “Soyuz-11” decompression killed Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev, spoils his reputation.

By far the best ship neither we nor the Americans, not anyone. The Chinese have undertaken one to one our ship. The ship “Apollo” on which I flew, he intended to fly to the moon and landing on it. And our — for transportation of the crew on the removal and slopes and transporting cargo.

From the standpoint of operation and life of the person it is more convenient than “Apollo”. It has two cabins: the descent vehicle and the orbital compartment. Not by chance meeting with the American crew we had in the orbital compartment, where we sat, the four of us.Alexei Leonov

To date have been in space 137 of the ships “Union” of different modifications, including on 20 April 2017 successful launch to the International space station upgraded to digital “Soyuz MS-04” with the regular expedition — Russian cosmonaut Fyodor by urchihin and American astronaut Jack Fischer.

Now the main vehicle of delivery of crew to orbit — our. Will not ship, so no one will not fly.Alexei Leonov

Considering that astronauts and employees of the rocket and space industry are a superstitious people, after a crash 1-th and 11-th “Union” in the title of any manned spacecraft of the new series have begun to do without the number 1. The first of the ships now operated a series of “Soyuz MS” also went into space without a number.

Roman Azanov