Voskhod 1 - Multiple Seater
2014 Jul 31
Thursday, Day 212
Voskhod 1 Commander: Colonel Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, Soviet Air Force, age 37
Komarov grew up in an old house in Third Meshchanskaya Street in a district typical of old Moscow and his childhood was typical for the boys of his generation. At school Volodya got good marks, he was fond of mathematics but despised writing compositions.
When the war broke out, Volodya was in the village where he usually spent summer. There he stayed. There for the first time he earned his living working on a collective farm. In the grim war years, boys did a man"s job.
Long afterwards Komarov recalled: "Though I fly jet planes I pride myself on being able to harness a horse".
Volodya soon returned to Moscow. After finishing the seven-year school he entered a special air force school. In these schools (they were disbanded after the war) the pupils studied geometry and zoology, a foreign language and physics and also the ABCs of flying.
Volodya"s mother knew nothing about her son"s plans until he came home one day in uniform with shoulder straps on his shirt.
Graduation day coincided with Victory Day. His mother said timidly: "The war is over, son, perhaps, you don"t have to fly any more?" But he was already in love with the sky, his heart was set on becoming a test pilot. His mother sighed:
"You know better I suppose. Only be sure you don"t fly too fast or too high. So that nothing will happen". Volodya didn"t argue He knew he would be flying at high speeds and at high altitudes.
Two schools of aviation - one in Borisoglebsk and the other in Bataisk - brought Komarov closer to his goal. He was now a fighter pilot but he kept on studying. He was set on being a test pilot and that required knowledge of engineering.
Komarov returned to Moscow and entered the Air Force Academy. With housing still a problem, he and his family - wife and son - went to live with his father. The ink-stained desk, the reading lamp - they were still there to bring back memories of his childhood.
In 1959 Vladimir Komarov graduated from the Air Force Academy and left for his unit.
One day he received a telegram urgently recalling him to Moscow. There followed three weeks of rigid medical check-ups. The slightest flaw in his health was reason enough to be taken off the list. But his health was excellent and he was accepted as an aspiring astronaut. His studies started all over again. At the very first lecture the teacher drew a picture of the Earth and around it, a concentric circle showing the orbit of an artificial satellite. The other fellows in the room - still strangers to him were noticeably younger. They were Gagarin, Titov, Popovich, Bykoysky.
Yuri Gagarin made the first circuit around the planet. The others were getting ready, but not Komarov. He had undergone an operation. From the hospital came the doctors" orders - no overloads, no parachute jumps for the next six months.
"If that"s the case, I"ll concentrate on theory" Komarov said.
"What about your special training?" the chief of the astronaut detachment asked. "You"ll fall behind".
"I"ll catch up" Komarov said doggedly.
They were sceptical. The orders were a "minimum of six months". It could be longer.
His comrades whirled around in the centrifuge, they disappeared behind the heavy doors of the isolation chamber. Komarov looked on, a passive observer.
One day, after another medical check-up, he was told he could start training in the centrifuge. He soon showed he had meant what he said about catching up. He was now a full fledged astronaut and his recovery had taken five months, not six. Everything seemed to be going well, he was already acting as standby for Popovich, when suddenly the doctors came up with another staggering announcement: Discharge.
During a regular workout in the centrifuge the doctors had detected an "extra-systole" in his cardiogram. Ordinarily this disturbance of the heartbeat has practically no ill effects. To an astronaut, in the opinion of the doctors, it meant an end to his career.
>Komarov was taken off training He did not go with the others to the cosmodrome to see off Valentina Tereshkova and Valery Bykovsky. Matters were moving towards an official order for his discharge.
It was a blow that might have discouraged others, but not Komarov. He proceeded to prove that he was physically fit. After a rigid examination in hospital conditions, he was pronounced fit, except for that accursed extra-systole. It haunted the doctors and they couldn"t bring themselves to say "Yes".
So Komarov appealed first to one, then to another top scientist. The command held a top level council. The decision was Komarov could be sent up into space.
Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
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