The research engineer of the Soyuz 11 crew, Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev,13 was tall and skinny, had green eyes, was going bald, and was so quiet that his presence was often overlooked. Cosmonaut Shatalov observed: "Viktor was the total opposite of Vadim. He was also an engineer, also a top expert. But in contrast to Vadim he was reserved, quiet, self-controlled and humble - he didn't talk much. He liked his job. He was an expert in scientific instruments and related apparatus. He passionately wished to fly in space to test and work with different devices, the majority of which had been designed with his participation. He avoided conflicts, and was never in a hurry to tell anyone what he was thinking about. He knew how to listen to all sides. He would prove his views not by mere words, but by logic and indisputable facts.'' The docking system designer Syromyatnikov said of him: "Viktor was a designer in a neighbouring department, working on the development of the elements for radio-antennae devices. Self-controlled, sometimes a little bit slow, he didn't play games with us - he wasn't interested in sports. I remember wondering how was it possible to select as cosmonauts people who didn't participate in sports. In my naivety, I had thought that it was a job only for real sportsmen.''
Viktor was born on 19 June 1933 in Aktyubinsk, a city in northern Kazakhstan not far from the border with Russia. His father, Ivan Panteleyevich, was a director of the local bakery, but at the time of Viktor's birth was doing regular national military service in the army. After that, he was appointed to head one of the departments of the State Security Service. Viktor's mother, Mariya Sergeyevna, described her first child as follows: "Viktor is the replica of his father in appearance and in character -especially when he grew up to match his father's stature. Above all, Viktor liked sincerity and honesty.'' When Viktor was four years of age the family moved to the small town of Alga, and there, just before the Second World War, they had their second child: daughter Galina. Although Viktor was different from the other kids of his age, he spent his childhood in the same way as everyone in his neighbourhood. Every day during the hot summers he would go with his friends to the Ilek River to swim, fish and collect crabs, and would return home in the late afternoon with a full basket of crabs which, with his grandfather, he would prepare for dinner. In those hard times, fresh crabs were a special pleasure. After the long and severe winter, the steppe would turn green in the spring. Viktor liked to explore with his friends, and one day found a 'kurgan' ('barrow') of a Tatar warrior.14 Standing on the tomb, he informed his friends of the history the these powerful conquerors from the Far East. Once, he returned from the steppe carrying a young eagle that had broken its wing. He looked after the injured bird for months, and when its wing had healed the eagle flew back to the steppe.
As a self-educated person, Viktor learned to read when he was five. In those times, children began school at the age of eight, but he wanted to go earlier. As his mother recalled: ''He went to school when he was only five. In fact, we couldn't separate him
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Viktor Patsayev, the Soyuz 11 research engineer.
from my nephew, who was several years older. Viktor even sat with him on the same bench. The teacher decided not to send him home. In the class photograph, he is present as an equal member of the class. Then when he turned six, Viktor said firmly: ''Now I am starting the school seriously!'' His father said he should remain at home at least another year, as he was too young. We forgot this conversation, and the next September when the time for school arrived of course we didn't buy books, pencils or copybooks because Viktor was still one year too young for the first class. On that day he disappeared, returning with tears in his eyes. 'What happened to you Vitya?' I asked. 'They didn't allow me to enter school,' he replied. Then I thought we had not understood our son sufficiently. I called my husband. He talked with the school director, who agreed to allow Vitya to start school a year early. We thought Vitya would stay there only a few days and return home, but we were wrong again. Actually, after setting an examination the director wished to enroll Vitya straight in the second class. However, his father was against this. By the end of spring 1940, Vitya finished the first class with excellent scores.''
As the stories of the early childhoods of Dobrovolskiy and Volkov describe their characters, this one of Viktor's eagerness to attend school shows his main attribute: his determination to accomplish his goals. His sister grew up under his influence. In 1976 she wrote the book Courage of Aspiration about her brother, in which she immortalised him. At the beginning of the book, she wrote: ''I remember my brother as a tall boy with large green eyes, often with a book in his hands. . . . Once he had started, he would read for hours and nothing could separate him from his book.'' Of
his school subjects, he preferred mathematics and the natural sciences, like physics, biology and chemistry. He also liked literature and painting. He was very neat and tidy. His schoolbooks were immaculate. During the school holidays he used to help his grandfather to mow. One time, he brought home a little fox. But after it got into the chicken house he had to release it.
When the war started, his father was called to the front and in October 1941 was killed near Maloyaroslavtsa, about 130 km from Moscow. He was buried in a mass grave. Many years later, Viktor took his children to the place where his father died defending Moscow. The loss of his father deeply affected Viktor, who was less than eight years old. He became reserved and more serious, as though he had matured before his time. In the spring of 1943 he made his first Chkalovets airplane using a design from a pre-war technical magazine. He carved the wooden body of the plane using his grandfather's knife, and made the propeller from a tin can. The first flight was not very successful, but he learned the concept of centre of mass. His second plane left the backyard and continued across the street.
''It flies, it flies!'' Viktor cheerfully shouted.
''Who flies? What flies?'' demanded his grandfather urgently, hurrying from the house. ''You little devil! You terrified me to the death!''
One year after the war, Mariya Patsayeva and her children moved to the village Kos-Istek with Ivan Volkov, her second husband, who had four children. From the start, Viktor got on well with his two stepbrothers, who were of his age. Together, they enrolled in the No. 45 railway high school in Aktyubinsk, and it was there that Viktor finished his seventh and eighth grades. In 1948 they all moved to Nyestorov, on the Baltic in the Kaliningrad region. Many of the buildings were still in ruins and there remained many unexploded weapons lying around. They lived in a damaged building. His stepfather worked in the bank and his mother in the bakery. In 1950 Viktor completed high school as (in his own words) ''an average pupil''. But he still very much liked physics, astronomy and mathematics. With some school friends he made a small telescope. It may have been his first views of the Moon, the stars and the planets that triggered his desire to fly in space. As he said to one of his friends after using the telescope: ''I would like so much to explore. I'll travel around the world, then continue into space. How much must you need to know to do something like that, I wonder!''
On completing high school, Viktor had to decide what to do next. One idea was to enroll in geology. He sent in an application to the Institute of Sverdlovsk, but as he travelled to take the entrance exam he found that he could not buy the ticket for the train and had to spend a night in the Moscow railway station, which caused him to miss the exam. Instead, he decided to try to enroll at the Moscow Geology Institute Ordzhonikidze. He sent several optimistic letters home, but while his score in the exam was good, he did not gain sufficient points to be accepted. Nevertheless, the Institute suggested to the candidates who just fell short that they should attend the Penza Industrial Institute. Viktor was disappointed at his failure, but did not wish to be a further burden on his mother and, although not yet 18 years of age, he decided to live independently and enroll at the Penza Industrial Institute. He had in mind to make a second attempt to sit the exam for the acclaimed Moscow Geology Institute.
During his first year of study, a course was introduced on calculators and analytical machines. It represented a major challenge, but Viktor applied for and was accepted to study this new technology of computers. This was a key point in his career, as he decided to remain in Penza rather than reapply to the Moscow Geology Institute.
Although Viktor had a small scholarship, it was inadequate; even living alone. He studied during the day and unloaded trains at the railway station at night. However, he was one of the best students in his class. His friends said that he did not need to spend much time preparing for an exam; he would simply attend it and gain a pass! He became a member of the Institute's Scientific Society, and each year he would attend the science and technique conference. He presented at least one paper on the design of radio-technical apparatus.
From his earliest childhood, Viktor had developed a love for writing, reading and literature. In particular, he liked the science fiction novels of Tsiolkovskiy and the classics of Lyermontov, London and others. He would visit the library often. When a student, he wrote articles about movies for publication in the local newspaper, and reviewed the literature of ancient China. He had an impressive literature style. It is not too far from the truth to say that Viktor was one of the best journalists, writers and reviewer among the young physicists in the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. In addition, he liked music, history and art. Many years later, when a cosmonaut, he travelled with his colleagues to one of the eastern cities. In touring its galleries and museums, he served as a guide for the cosmonaut group. He was a great planner and organiser. As a student, his only group sport was handball. He preferred individual sports, particularly skiing, chess and biking. He was a sharpshooter, and competed as an archer in the national championships and in the Spartak games. His vacations were taken with his mother and sister. Galina wrote: ''He was frequently thoughtful and reserved. I remember, on vacations he would lay on the grass in the backyard for hours with his hands under his head. He used to think intensely about things. He liked to be on his own.''
Viktor graduated with distinction on 12 June 1955. The title of his final exam was 'The Design of A Harmonic Functional Analysis Device' and it was 117 pages! He wanted his graduation exam to be something special which would far surpass the required standard, so he prepared it not only as a student but also as a scientist. One week before his 22nd birthday he graduated as a mechanical engineer.15 He went to work as a design engineer at the Central Aerological Observatory of the national Hydro-Meteorological Service, located in the town of Dolgoprudniy. He designed instruments to be carried on the balloon-borne packages and 'sounding' rockets that were used to gain data to identify the physical characteristics, chemical composition, temperature, humidity, pressure, radiation and magnetism of the upper regions of the atmosphere. The Observatory was the leading institution in the Soviet Union for atmospheric exploration. Initially, Viktor had difficulty adjusting to the job. Being a loner, he avoided speaking with his colleagues about his problems. And because he
15 By this time, Viktor could already speak German. He mastered English several years later, while working at OKB-1.
did not keep a diary the only evidence we have of his thoughts during this time are his letters to his mother and sister and, after his marriage in late 1956, to his wife Vera Kryazheva.
Interestingly, in her book Galina Patsayeva described in detail Viktor's friends and colleagues and every important event in his life, but said nothing about how he met Vera, about their marriage, or even about their children. Vera was a researcher in the Central Scientific Research Institute for Machine Building (TsNIIMash) in the Kaliningrad district of Moscow. It hosted one of the ballistics groups which supported the mission control centre at Yevpatoriya. Their son Dmitriy was born in the autumn of 1957, and daughter Svetlana in February 1962.
In his letters, Viktor described his dissatisfaction with the working environment of the Observatory, and in particular his disappointment at the role of young graduates in the organisation. However, he did not let his dissatisfaction disturb his work. In contrast to other young engineers hired straight from university who needed at least a year to familiarise themselves with the new environment, in less than two months he had been accepted as an equal employee. His first assignment was to develop an apparatus to measure sky brightness, and this was later installed in a meteorological rocket. His managers recognised his skill, working habits and commitment, and in
Viktor Patsayev as a student (left, from the book Boldness of Aspiration, courtesy www.astronaut.ru), and tending to a cine-projector with his daughter Svetlana.
January 1956 promoted him to senior engineer in the group investigating the upper atmosphere. He found this much more to his liking. In a letter to his sister he wrote: ''The new job has its own characteristics. It also involves annual expeditions. Now, I am much happier. . . . I like the fact that I will be able to see the world. Our design group isn't large, there are just six of us. ... I cannot say that we have many great successes, although there have been some.'' He participated in expeditions that fired rockets from different sites, including deserts. He continued with his scientific work, too, publishing papers on the design and testing of scientific instruments that were highly regarded by experts. Even so, his colleagues observed that although his work was brilliant he was always dissatisfied, always thinking that he should have been able to achieve better. He was working on the design of instruments to analyse the chemistry, temperature and the magnetic field of the upper atmosphere. As he put it: ''Actually our small group of young engineers and technicians are initiators of the new ideas.''
However, by now something else was interesting Viktor. He met Korolev for the first time in September 1957, when Korolev gave a presentation to the conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Tsiolkovskiy's birth. That same day, Viktor read an article in Pravda about rocketry signed by 'Prof. K. Sergeyev', which was the pseudonym used by Korolev to hide his true identity from Western spies. A few months later, when Sputnik was already orbiting the Earth, Viktor met Korolev at a seminar. The 24-year old engineer went to Korolev and, after introducing himself, asked if he could transfer to his design bureau. Korolev, who liked young engineers who spoke their mind, asked about his current work. After Viktor had outlined his experience in the design of meteorological rockets, Korolev said that he would find him a position, and in November 1958 Viktor moved to OKB-1 to work as a design engineer. ''I was lucky to work with extraordinary people - with the real engineers. They were totally devoted, not wasting even a second of time. They also knew how to inspire others. We all strongly wished to do something new, something unusual.'' He worked as a designer engineer for elements of the spacecraft, including its life support system, until November 1961, and then in January 1962 became an acting manager of one of the sections of OKB-1. Later (together with Vadim Volkov and other young engineers) he became a member of the recovery team responsible for the evacuation of cosmonauts after landing. At that point, Viktor started to think of becoming a cosmonaut. After discussing it with his wife, he once again went to see Korolev. In contrast to previously, Korolev was reserved. Too many of his young engineers were expressing their interest in leaving their design work in order to join the cosmonaut team. He asked Viktor why he wanted to became a cosmonaut. As usual, Viktor carefully explained his thoughts, saying that he believed that he would be more useful if he personally tested his equipment in the spacecraft. Korolev said 'Good. We'll solve that', and the meeting was over. However, it took a long time to gain permission to form a group of civilian cosmonaut-engineers, and when the first group was announced in May 1966 it contained Vadim Volkov, who was Viktor's friend from the Kolomenskiy flying club, but not Viktor.
Svetlana Patsayeva remembers this time with nostalgia: ''We lived until 1967 in a communal flat - three families in a 3-roomed apartment with a shared kitchen and
conveniences. ... I recall my childhood as a happy time. There were four children in one apartment. We played together all the time. We celebrated our holidays with the neighbours in the flat, and lived very happily and harmoniously. Our parents were young and happy. Previously, they had lived only in the student hostel. Now it was one room in a wooden house, where in winter the strong frost froze the water in the teapot. Nevertheless, we were all happy, merry and friendly! It is not surprising that so many folk were dreamers, inventors. Papa was merry, good and a great inventor. He loved to play with us children, although he had very little time left for the family. He would come home late and continue his work at home. All the tasks in the new apartment he did with mom. He liked sports and trained us. During holidays, we all rode bikes together, and skied in the forest in winter. We had football with friends on the meadow. We would light a fire for a barbecue. In the evening, he would read a book to us and then tell a story. We discussed much with him about mathematics and astronomy. We loved to fantasise together.''
In early August 1967 Mishin signed the document to recruit research engineers to participate in the N1-L3 lunar landing programme. On 18 August, after passing the medical examinations at the IBMP, Viktor was accepted into the TsKBEM's second group of civilian cosmonauts with Vladimir Nikitskiy and Valeriy Preobrazhenskiy.
16 The members chosen from the first group were Anyokhin, Bugrov and Dolgopolov - but Dolgopolov left before the lunar training commenced.
Some snaps taken during Patsayev's training. Lower left: In the vestibular testing chair. Lower right: working with a telescope at the Byurakan Observatory. (From the book Boldness of Aspiration, courtesy www.astronaut.ru) Top: A picture taken at Yevpatoriya in the summer of 1969 in training for the Contact programme. Patsayev and Dobrovolskiy (second and third from the right), are accompanied by cosmonauts Makarov, Belyayev, Vorobyev (first, second and third from the left in the first row), Rukavishnikov (first on the right) and Klimuk (second row, first from the left). (From the book Triumph and Tragedies of Soviet Cosmonautics, courtesy www.astronaut.ru)
At that time, he had been the director of Section No. 324 at the TsKBEM for almost two years. Mishin chose three engineers from the first civilian group and three from the second - including Viktor - for lunar training.16
Ten days after joining the cosmonaut group, Viktor completed his examinations at the flying club and became a sporting pilot of the Yak-18 aircraft. In February 1968 he began to fly with an instructor pilot seated behind him, and on some flights he conducted complex manoeuvres that subjected his body to a force of 5 g. Later, he made parachute jumps. With the other research cosmonauts, he trained to simulate weightlessness using a Tu-104 aircraft. In addition, there was a special platform for investigating the dynamics of landing on the Moon. They visited the Zvezda design bureau, and Viktor participated in tests in which he donned the bulky Krechet-94 lunar space suit and rehearsed walking in conditions approximating lunar gravity on a surface expected to be similar to that of the Moon. He was also involved in testing the LK lunar module of the N1-L3 programme. This was to take a single cosmonaut down to the Moon while his colleague remained in the main ship in orbit. Although not members of the lunar cosmonaut group, Viktor and his colleagues contributed to testing the equipment required for the lunar landing mission. In addition, research cosmonauts assisted with the Mi-4 helicopter that was modified to simulate the final phase of a lunar landing.
Viktor's best friends among the civilian cosmonauts were Nikolay Rukavishnikov and Oleg Makarov. According to his son, Dmitriy, Viktor was also a close friend of Vladimir Nikitsky, who was assigned to the lunar training group but had to leave the civilian cosmonauts in May 1968 after being injured in an automobile accident. They all lived in the same neighbourhood, and their families were also friends. His sister Galina recalls: ''When he moved to work at the Korolev design bureau, Viktor began to tell me of Tsiolkovskiy, Kibalchich and Tsander. In December 1968, while walking on the frozen Volga River, he said: 'Such people, you can meet only once in a hundred years.' He respected them all so much. Also, he spoke of the flights of Gagarin, Teryeshkova and Beregovoy. My mother told me that Viktor was working with the cosmonauts. But we didn't know he was already a cosmonaut himself!'' However, Svetlana Patsayeva thinks that her mother did know: ''In our family, we didn't talk about it. Papa was often away on business trips, but I didn't know where he went. Mom certainly knew of his appointment to the group of cosmonauts and of his training trips, but they didn't discuss that with us.''
Cosmonaut Yevgeniy Khrunov recalled of Viktor's first days at the TsPK: ''When Viktor began training, we saw immediately how well this quiet and unpretentious man could work. His modesty was incredible. I remember, during the first months, I sat next to him in the cafeteria. And apart from ''hello'' and ''see you later'', he did not say anything during a period of two weeks. Later, I understood that he remained silent simply because he did not wish to make much noise.''
In May 1969 Viktor joined the Contact group, which was training to test in Earth orbit the rendezvous and docking system to be used in lunar orbit by the spacecraft of the N1-L3 programme. It was during this time that Viktor met Dobrovolskiy for the first time. Viktor was assigned as flight engineer for the active spacecraft on the first test. His commander was to be Lev Vorobyev, until Vorobyev was replaced by
Patsayev in training for the 'third crew' of DOS-1. The photo at top-right shows him with Volkov preparing a centrifuge. (From the book Boldness of Aspiration, courtesy www.astronaut.ru)
Rare photos showing Dobrovolskiy, Volkov and Patsayev in the final phase of their training at the TsPK in Zvyozdniy. Behind are the operator's controls for the Soyuz simulator. Bottom: the cosmonauts with General Nikolayev, who was in charge of their training. (Courtesy Peter Pesavento).
Volkov (in hatch), Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev prepare for their final training in the Soyuz simulator. The 'mission patch' is particularly well presented on Patsayev's arm. (From the private collection of Rex Hall)
"An ordinary journey.'' Prior to departing for the cosmodrome as the backup crew for Soyuz 11, Patsayev (left), Dobrovolskiy and Volkov visited Lenin's office. (From the private collection of Aleksandar Zheleznyakov)
Pyotr Klimuk. Then in early 1970 Mishin assigned Viktor as research engineer on the third crew for the DOS-1 station. Viktor was delighted. His rank in the crew was a minor issue. Although he preferred individual sports, at work he was definitely a 'team player'. ''Your position in the crew - flight engineer, researcher, physician or commander - isn't important. In order to work well together, we have to believe in and respect one another, and we must celebrate the achievements of our crewmates. That is the foundation of a crew.'' At first, he trained with Shatalov and Volkov. But in February 1971 Dobrovolskiy was made commander.
Cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko, who flew with Vadim Volkov on Soyuz 7, wrote of Patsayev: ''When Viktor began to train for a flight he visited us in Zvyozdniy more often, but he was almost invisible. In the medical room, on the sports field, in the cafeteria, he was always so quiet. Some of the staff at the TsPK did not realise who he was until he actually flew in space! He simply had no desire to be the centre of attention. I think he was the opposite of Vadim. I would watch them in Zvyozdniy. Volkov would wave his hands about to demonstrate something. All the time, Viktor would be quiet, looking down, but then he would say something softly and Vadim would fall silent - the conversation was over.''
Viktor spent the Labour Day holiday of 1-2 May 1971 with his family and friends in the countryside. This would prove to be the last time that Svetlana Patsayeva saw her father. ''According to a family friend, when they played football father was the goalkeeper. However, he did not stand between the posts, he climbed onto the cross bar and hung upside down. Our friend explained that later he understood that father had done this to assist in preparing himself for weightlessness. According to mom, when he left for Baykonur he had little expectation that he would fly.'' Her brother Dmitriy adds: ''We knew nothing of the flight and the orbital station. All that was secret. Our mother knew only some details. Our father said only that he was leaving for a short trip related to his work. And it was planned as an ordinary journey, just like the previous ones.''
But when Kubasov was grounded by an ailment, the mission was assigned to the backup crew. On the eve of his launch on Soyuz 11, Viktor told journalists: ''The profession of cosmonaut cannot be anything except attractive. Space exploration is something new and very interesting. I think this flight is a logical continuation of my life.''
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