The horrifying death of the Soviet cosmonaut Komarov: After falling from space, only crumbs remained of him

The horrifying death of the Soviet cosmonaut Komarov: After falling from space, only crumbs remained of him
The horrifying death of the Soviet cosmonaut Komarov: After falling from space, only crumbs remained of him
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In the sixties of the 20th century, there was a great competition between two powers – the USSR and the USA, which unfortunately some people paid with their lives. The Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, who was one of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s good friends and also an experienced space technician, was the first to pay for his determination.

Photo: Wikimedia commons by RIA Novosti archive, image #888102 / Alexander Mokletsov, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Vladimir Komarov became the first human victim of spaceflight.

Colonel Komarov he was a seasoned space veteran, and when he took off on April 23, 1967, on a new rocket named Soyuz 1, it was not his first space flight, but unfortunately it was his last. He was a member of a multi-crew during a previous space expedition. Even then, during the flight three years earlier, the astronaut crew faced various complications and shortcomings due to Soviet regulations. How else to explain that cosmonauts were sent into space in a hurry without spacesuits?

In the future, the Soviets counted on the Soyuz spacecraft as a means of transportation that would transport their people to the moon. The test flight in which Colonel Komarov took part was supposed to be a kind of first swallow reflecting the success of the space program of the Brezhnev regime. At the time, he was only in his third year as the highest representative of the Soviet Union. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev wanted to show himself all the more, which led him to a hasty act. He sent one of the space veterans to certain death. What actually happened?

Hundreds of design flaws

When Soyuz 1 was launched, with Colonel Komarov on board alone, it was clear to many people beforehand that it was a big risk, to say the least. However, he was not allowed to talk much about him in public. According to some unverified claims, the space plane had hundreds of design flaws when it took off into space. But the Soviets vehemently denied this and also ignored numerous warnings before the launch. Even the chief designer, engineer Vasily Mishin, was against it, as he feared that the rocket was not yet sufficiently prepared and built…

Did he know his end was near?

Immediately after the launch of Soyuz 1, everything began to gradually get out of control. According to some, due to the imperfections of the spaceship, the cosmonaut, as a skilled technician, must have already guessed when he got on board that he would probably not make it back alive.

One of the key problems happened right after the spacecraft separated from the rocket. Instead of two solar panels serving as a power source, only one of them released properly, the other remained stuck, meaning it only had half the power it needed.

However, this was far from the only serious problem. According to the available information, soon after take-off, all the electronics began to go out of control, and the cosmonaut’s contact with the ground was also disrupted. Although some of the mistakes were successfully eliminated by the capable colonel, others and others followed, which finally led to a decisive decision by the space control center. Instead of fulfilling the planned number of orbits around planet Earth, the cosmonaut was supposed to start preparing for an early return.

A hard fall from space…

Unfortunately, despite his persistent optimism and the successful handling of some hiccups, the promising space veteran failed to land. When he was trying to get back to Earth and into the Earth’s atmosphere, he was dealing with other serious problems.

Unfortunately, the brake motor, which he managed to break apart after a fierce effort, turned off earlier than it should have. In addition, another solution failed in the form of the main parachute, which failed to open. And the replacement one didn’t work either.

At the same time, the space cabin constantly rotated around its axis, causing the parachute cables to become entangled. The unfortunate astronaut could practically do nothing but expect a cruel end. The cabin plummeted down a steep runway in free fall back to Earth.

The fall of the ship at a speed of 35 meters per second ended with a hard impact in the Russian Orenburg region and a subsequent fire. Firefighters who rushed to the scene lacked more professional equipment, so they extinguished the module with almost everything that was at hand, for example, with the help of clay, in addition to manual fire extinguishers. When they finally managed to get into the cabin, instead of Komarov, they found only charred remains burned on coal.

The other cosmonauts were lucky in their misfortune

At the time, Vladimir Komarov was the first human victim of spaceflight and also an illustrative example of the problematic rivalry between the great powers. Three other cosmonauts who were supposed to follow the astronaut in a spaceship named Soyuz 2 just a day later and whose mission was eventually called off due to Komarov’s unsuccessful flight into space were also in danger of death.

Before that, it was planned that both space vehicles would circle the planet Earth several times, and that their crew would cross over to each other in free space. However, this did not happen due to significant technical problems and the subsequent terrible accident of the cosmonaut, the launch of the second space rocket was canceled together with the landing order of Soyuz 1, which probably saved the lives of three other astronauts.

The article is in Czech

Tags: horrifying death Soviet cosmonaut Komarov falling space crumbs remained

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