DEAD: Vladimir Komarov

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Vladimir Komarov (aged 40)
Soviet cosmonaut

Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov (16 March 1927 – 24 April 1967) was a Soviet test pilot, aerospace engineer and cosmonaut. In October 1964, he commanded Voskhod 1, the first spaceflight to carry more than one crew member. He became the first cosmonaut to fly in space twice when he was selected as the solo pilot of Soyuz 1, its first crewed test flight.

DEATH: Komarov was ordered to re-orient the craft using the ion flow sensors on orbits 15 to 17. The ion sensors failed. Komarov did not have enough time to attempt a manual re-entry until orbit 19. Manual orientation relied on using the equipped Vzor periscope device, but to do this, Komarov had to be able to see the Sun. To reach the designated landing site at Orsk, the retro-fire had to take place on the night side of the Earth. Komarov oriented the spacecraft manually on the dayside then used the gyro-platform as a reference so that he could orient the craft for a night side retro-fire. He successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on his 19th orbit, but the module’s drogue and main braking parachute failed to deploy correctly. The module crashed into the ground, killing Komarov.

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