Memories

For more than 36 years the ashes of cosmonauts Georgiy Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev have rested in niches in the Kremlin’s wall. In addition to their families, they were mourned by hundreds of engineers, technicians, officers, cosmonauts and politicians. Despite the tragedy, there was a determination that the DOS programme must continue. The programme would never have come about if it were not for the support of Dmitriy Ustinov and Sergey Afanasyev, the so-called ‘Space Minister’. They supported the proposal initiated by Boris Raushenbakh, Boris Chertok and Konstantin Feoktistov at the TsKBEM to modify the Almaz military reconnaissance station which was being developed by a rival bureau led by Vladimir Chelomey, to serve as a long-term station for scientific research. Although Vasiliy Mishin, in charge at the TsKBEM, was antagonistic, these men succeeded not only in getting the programme started but also in making it the dominant element of the Soviet space programme.

On the operational side, General Nikolay Kamanin managed the training of the cosmonauts. The cosmonauts whose lives were most affected by the early years of the DOS work were Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksey Yeliseyev, Nikolay Rukavishnikov, Aleksey Leonov, Valeriy Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin. For months, together with Dobrovolskiy, Volkov and Patsayev, these men trained to operate the world’s first space station, Salyut.

Let us conclude by reviewing the lives of the key people of the programme after its disastrous early years.

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