Vladimir Komarov was a Soviet test pilot and cosmonaut. He had just undergone his first solo flight into space in the Soyuz I and was getting ready to come back down to earth. Everything was going fine until the unexpected happened…
20. Space Race
The U.S.A. and the Soviet Union were in the middle of a space race. The Cold War was at its peak and the two super powers were competing against one another for dominance over space. It was a race that the whole world was tuning in for…
19. The Soviets
The Soviets were taking charge in the space race through their mission with Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth in 1961 in the Vostok I spacecraft. Gagarin and Komarov were close friends and if Komarov had been unable to go, Gagarin would have been the one commandeering the Soyuz I.
18. Soyuz I
The Soviets then had another big plan to one up the United States. They had an elaborate mission plan that had never been attempted before. It was dangerous and risky but the Soviets wanted to do it to mark the 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution.
17. Complicated Mission
Unfortunately, the mission did not go as everyone had hoped. So what do we know about the astronaut that attempted this daring mission? You’ll be blown away by the life story that brought him into space.
16. Humble Beginnings
Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov was born in Moscow in 1927. He came from very humble beginnings and his family were common people. Komarov went to elementary school where he excelled in mathematics. However, his schooling was abruptly ended by WWII and he had to leave at 14 to go work on a farm.
15. Air Force School
Just one year later, Komarov earned a spot at the 1st Moscow Special Air Force School. He graduated from the school and then went on to attend the Chkalov Higher Air Force School. It was then when he became qualified to become a pilot and became a lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force.
14. Wedding Bells
Komarov’s career continued to push forward. He continued to excel and was promoted to chief pilot. In the middle of all of this he managed to find the love of his wife and got married. He then had two beautiful children and things were really looking up for him.
13. Test Pilot
Due to his intelligence and dedication to the field, Komarov became a test pilot at the Soviet Union’s Central Scientific Research Institute. It was then he received an unimaginable honor. He was being considered for a spot as an astronaut on the Soviet Space Program – there were 3,000 other pilots and only 20 that would make it.
12. Not In His Favor
The odds were not really in Komarov’s favor. The age limit was 27 and he was already 32. Another problem was that he wasn’t the right weight and height for the position. It looked as if he wouldn’t get the spot.
Despite not meeting the qualifications, Komarov was chosen for astronaut training. However, once again things did not go as planned as he underwent an operation that prevented him from training for six months. Still, he did not let them waiver him from his goals.
10. First Mission
Eventually, he convinced his superiors to let him back into the program. Then, on October 4, 1964, Komarov went on his first mission. He was placed as the commander of Voskhod I and flew with two crew members, Boris Yegorov and Konstantin Feoktistov. The flight was the first successful one to include more than one astronaut.
Voskhod I was in orbit was around 24 hours before it landed back on earth, safely. Everyone was excited about how the trip turned out. Komarov’s ability to commandeer was instantly acknowledged and he was awarded the Order of Lenin and promoted to Colonel.
8. Soyuz Mission
After the success of the Voskhod mission, Komarov was recruited onto the Soyuz Project. Komarov would be in charge of the solo flight. If he would be unable to take on the role, Gagarin would be next in line. The plan was overly ambitious…
7. Big Plans
The plan for the Soyuz mission was simple and yet overly ambitious. Komarov would head off in the Soyuz I and then Soyuz II would be launched soon after. However, Komarov had doubts about the mission from the start.
Komarov and Gagarin both began to notice serious design issues in the Soyuz I. They were grew quite concerned about the defects and so Gagarin wrote a letter to Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev about his concerns. Still, Komarov knew that he could not pull out of the mission without risking the life of his friend, Gagarin…
5. Funeral Arrangements
Komarov truly believed that the craft would not make it and so he began to make funeral arrangements. He stated that if he should die on the mission that he would want an open coffin. He wanted this to show that he had been placed in an unsafe environment despite his protestations.
4. The Launch
The launch still went on as planned on April 23, 1967. From the initial launch, the craft began to show issues. The two solar panels were not opening properly and the manual controls weren’t working. It was a scary situation.
3. Going Wrong
The entire mission was going wrong and so ground control started to get Soyuz II ready for launch. They hoped that they could get it out in time so that Komarov could switch crafts. Unfortunately, thunderstorms prevented the craft from being launch.
2. On His Own
Komarov was in space all on his own. He orbited the earth around 18 times before he finally decided to descend back down. He successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere but the controls were not working and so the braking parachute did not deploy.
1. Crashing Down
Komarov hurtled down to the earth at a significant speed. His craft crashed into the ground and his worries were true at that point. The man risked his life for a mission that he deemed was doomed from the start.