Aleksey Stanislavovich Yeliseyev

After his third and final space flight on Soyuz 10 in April 1971 Yeliseyev became one of Yakov Tregub's deputies, being responsible for the preparation and control of manned missions. He worked mainly on the development of the programmes for missions and the onboard instruction, the technical aspects of crew training, and the control of a flight. When Prime Minister Aleksey Kosygin and America's President Richard Nixon signed an agreement which called for the first joint space mission involving the two space-faring nations, Tregub suggested that Yeliseyev should fly, but Yeliseyev did not wish to make any more flights. "I had the feeling that Tregub saw me as a potential rival. Supposing that I would be interested in working with the Americans, he said several times that perhaps I should fly as the flight engineer, but I had already made up my mind and did not wish to change my decision. Very soon I

14 'TpyflHbie flopom KOCMOca'

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realised that my suspicion about Tregub was justified. When I was called by Minister Afanasyev, . . . he asked me whether I would agree to run mission control for the Soviet-American flight. ... By rank, this offer ought to have been made to Tregub, so I concluded that they must have something against him. I accepted the offer.'' In this way Yeliseyev became the director of manned spaceflight. In parallel, he gained his doctorate in February 1973.

It was at this time that the new Mission Control Centre was built in Kaliningrad. It was more capable than the old facility in Yevpatoriya. In the next eight years (until 1981) thirty manned flights were conducted under Yeliseyev's technical direction. In the case of the historic Soyuz-Apollo mission he was given a delicate task. Once the docking had occurred, the intention was that two of the three astronauts would join the two cosmonauts in the orbital module of the Soyuz. Shortly beforehand, Yeliseyev was called to the office of the State Commission and was told by Ustinov that he was to transmit a congratulatory message by Leonid Brezhnyev. This would not be easy, as every minute of the joint activities had been meticulously planned. But the message had to be read. To avoid sending the message himself, Yeliseyev proposed that it should be done by a professional TV reporter. Ustinov agreed. Such a person was urgently delivered to the TsUP, given the text and instructed to read it, word by word, without omitting anything. Some minutes later the reporter came to Yeliseyev:

''I cannot say 'L. Brezhnyev'. I can say 'Leonid Brezhnyev', 'Leonid Ilich Brezhnyev', or simply 'Brezhnyev'. What should I say?''

Just in case, I decided to ask Ustinov. There was not much time left before the start of the session with the cosmonauts. Without hesitating, I sprinted to Ustinov and put to him the question posed by the reporter. Ustinov remained silent, pretending that he had not heard me. I realised that he did not wish to take the responsibility. I tried my best to assist: I suggested that the reporter should say 'Leonid Brezhnyev'. Still Ustinov said nothing. I started to sweat. There was now just one minute to the beginning of the session. Noticing my nervousness, Afanasyev volunteered, ''I agree with the suggestion.'' Ustinov made a slight ambiguous nod that could be interpreted as his agreement, but also indicated that he considered the conversation over.

As the director of space flight, Yeliseyev sometimes had to make decisions on which depended the lives of cosmonauts in orbit: for example during the flight of Soyuz 25 in October 1977, which was unable to dock with Salyut 6 and had to be ordered home, and again when Nikolay Rukavishnikov was commanding Soyuz 33 in April 1979 and had a problem with his main engine (see below).

In December 1985 Yeliseyev officially left the cosmonaut-engineer group briefly

Roscosmos Mission Control
Flight director Aleksey Yeliseyev (insert) and the new Mission Control Centre in Kaliningrad, Moscow.

in order to serve as a deputy to the General Designer of NPO Energiya. Then, at the suggestion of the Minister of Education, for five and a half years he was the rector of Moscow's Higher Technical School (MVTU) Bauman. But this was not a happy experience because his proposal to restructure the school faced opposition. He gave up the rectorship and went to work for IBM, which had begun to make a presence in the Soviet and Asian markets, remaining with them until January 1996. Today he is the head of the Festo international fund. In Russia this fund promotes education and directs a department of the Moscow Energy Institute. He travels a lot. With his wife Larisa he visits historic places in Russia. He reads books on economics by Western authors. He also thinks about life and his contribution to the space programme: ''On asking myself what I achieved in all those years, it does not seem very much when compared to what was being done around me. Obviously that is the way it ought to be. A life time is no more than a particle in the kaleidoscope that represents men's

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destinies - no more than a drop in the sea.'' This sentiment inspired the title of his autobiography, Life - A Drop in the Sea, which was published in 1998.15

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