Zarya - Soviet, Russian and International Spaceflight
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Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5


Tyneside, UK
2018 Apr 21
Saturday, Day 111

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Spaceship Engineer

Alexei Yeliseyev was born in the town of Zhizdra in the Kaluga District. His mother, a Doctor of Science in chemistry, heads a laboratory at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He graduated from the Bauman Polytechnical Institute and joined the cosmonaut team in 1966.

='Yeliseyev'Only a conscientious worker dedicated to his profession can be of use to the people, to society. Alexei came to learn this truth when he was quite young. He began helping about the house when he was only seven. At eleven he had to look after his young brother as his mother and stepfather, director of a business, were always busy. He was soon handling the family's finances and tackling household problems. After the family moved to Moscow, Alexei became busier than ever. One wonders how the boy managed to prepare his lessons, help with the housework, play games with his friends in the yard and still find time to help the numerous pensioners living in the neighbourhood.

In his eighth grade Alexei already knew what he wanted. He would devote himself to the exact sciences. His decision was obviously influenced by his parents who encouraged Alexei in solving mathematical problems and problems in physics. He took up sports and played a good game of chess.

Before deciding on which institute to enter, Alexei found out what each technical institute in Moscow had to offer. His final choice was the Bauman Polytechnical Institute - he passed the entrance examination with high marks.

"You say you want to be an engineer in a broad field. What if we offer you a narrow specialisation?" suggested the chairman of the enrolment board. "Thank you. I'd better get my documents back."

"Wait a minute," said a professor looking through Alexei's examination papers and school certificate. This was evidently the young man the examination assistants had described as having a sound knowledge of mathematics and a gift for theoretical thinking. And quite a character too, this young theoretician!

Alexei studied enthusiastically. After receiving his diploma he went on with graduate work which made more demands on his time. He gave up fencing though he was then a Master. His friends said: "It's a pity Alexei stopped taking part in contests. He's such a promising sportsman, fast and full of energy. A real musketeer."

Meanwhile the "musketeer" was doing so well at the design office that he became indispensable. He impressed colleagues with his imagination and clear theoretical thinking. His Candidate's dissertation was nearly complete. His future seemed set: he would become a highly competent engineer.

But Alexei was an engineer with a dream, He went to the cosmonaut training centre for a thorough medical checkup. When an engineer was needed for a space flight, his friends were certain that Alexei would be chosen. His superiors at the design office weren't too happy about losing a competent worker, but they comforted themselves by thinking that perhaps Alexei would return to them after his space journey, enriched by cosmic experience. During training for the flight, Alexei proved physically strong, fearless, and had remarkable self-command.

In 1968, Yuri Gagarin who was in charge of the cosmonauts' preparations for space travel had this to say about Yeliseyev: "He brings with him vast engineering and design experience which helps the crew to master the operation of the new spaceship and its systems. Alexei is a friendly person, but very demanding when it comes to work. He has become inseparable from our group. He is a valuable specialist in our space programme and we are always glad when such people join us."
Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
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