A few weeks prior to the historic launch of Soyuz 1 Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov expressed his deepest feelings with one of his friends, a demoted KGB officer Venyamin Russayev. With tearful eyes Komarov told Venyamin that the mission he is preparing for is doomed and that he was not going to make it through. Despite the obvious danger Komarov was willing to embark on the journey, not for his nation’s glory or advancement of science, but for his best friend Yuri Gagarin.
The launch of Soyuz 1 on April 23 1967 was hailed in Russia as a victory over US and its Allies as it coincided with 50 years celebration of Russian communist revolution. All eyes were on the launch and on Russian supreme ruler Leonid Brezhnev, who had clearly told all technicians and scientists in personalized notes that they had to pull this one through; it was the matter of Russia’s honor and integrity.
In a book titled ‘Starman The Truth behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin’ by Piers Bizony and Jamie Doran, there is a detailed account of the Soyuz 1’s launch and ultimate demise that took Komarov with it. The book refers to a National Security Analyst Perry Fellwock who testifies that US listening post in Turkey heard the cries and anger of Komarov on the day of the disaster while he plunged to his death. Komarov kept on cursing his superiors and technicians for forcing him to be on a doomed mission that was going to kill him.
Months before the launch of the historic mission, scientists and technicians discovered more than two dozen major flaws in the spacecraft, flaws that could render the whole mission impossible. No one had the courage to tell the supreme leader about their failure to meet the deadline, purely because no one really wanted to end up in Siberian prison camps or simply shot in the head for failing the whole nation. Yuri Gagarin and Komarov were the logical first choice by the top leadership to beat United States again, after Yuri Gagarin roamed the outer space for the first time years before.
Writers of the book ‘Starman’ reveal the bond between the two very close friends, Yuri and Komarov. It was this friendship that forced Komarov, father of two, to make the fatal journey. If he had refused to go the next in line was Yuri – Yura as Komarov called him – and Komarov could not stand the death of his dearest friend. (Mail Online)
The flight was not smooth from the very beginning after its launch from Kazakhstan on April 23 1967. Later on the situation became worse with almost all the major systems failing to respond, the subsequent flights were cancelled and odds piled up against Komarov. On his descent back to earth, Komarov had no apparent control over his flight and he plunged to his death near Orenburg, Russian. He was heard by the American listening posts cursing his bosses to send him to this certainly doomed mission. Yuri Gagarin could not recover from the loss of his dearest friend, and died in a plane crash just a year after the death of Komarov.