Shading On The Lung

After a brief rest, hunting near the town of Vladimir and fishing on the Bear Lakes to the west of Zvyozdniy, on 21 May both crews flew to Baykonur with Kamanin and Beregovoy. In the Assembly-Test Building (MIK) the engineers had installed a docking command panel to Soyuz 11, and the cosmonauts rehearsed using it - they now had control of all docking operations until the final stage. In the meantime, one of the Igla rendezvous system units failed during tests. It was replaced, but the TsKBEM managers were concerned about the system's reliability. Then both crews returned to Moscow for their final training at the TsPK. Although the crews had flown to Baykonur in separate aircraft, Beregovoy decided to extend his visit to the cosmodrome and they had to break with precedent by returning in a single aircraft. At the TsPK Gubaryev, Sevastyanov and Voronov (the third crew) were already a month into intensive training. However, Sevastyanov had to break off in order to go to the Air and Space Exhibition in Paris, leaving Gubaryev and Voronov to train alone. If all went to plan, after backing up Soyuz 12 this crew would be the first to visit DOS-2 in the new year.

Although the launch date for Soyuz 11 was only a few weeks off, much remained to be done. Not only had Leonov's crew to fly somewhat earlier than expected, they had also to train to use the revised docking system. The spacecraft was loaded with an additional 10 kg of fuel to allow extended docking manoeuvres, and as a further precaution its resources during autonomous flight were increased from three to four days.

The two crews flew to Baykonur in separate planes on 28 May, accompanied by a large number of experts from Moscow and members of the State Commission. The crew of Soyuz 10 were also present to assist with the final preparations. Two days later, on 30 May, the cosmonauts celebrated Leonov's 37th birthday, and on 1 June they marked Dobrovolskiy's 43rd birthday - no one could know that it would be his last. Later that day, Mishin arrived from Moscow after an unpleasant meeting with the N1-L3 lunar programme expert commission headed by Academician Keldysh. Mishin's dilemma was that he desperately wished to push on with the development of the N1 rocket and start manned lunar missions, but was obliged to spend much of his time on the DOS programme - for which he was the technical manager. After addressing the well-known limitations of the N1, Keldysh had told Mishin that a lunar landing in 1973 was unrealistic and that the lunar project should be reviewed in detail with the members of his commission to devise a new plan for presentation to the Kremlin. On arriving at Baykonur, Mishin did not bother to explain this bad news to his deputies. In fact, everyone was pleased to find him brisk and fresh after having recently spent three days in hospital.

On 2 June the crews discussed with Chertok, Feoktistov and other representatives from the TsKBEM the docking procedures and potential failures of the automatic systems. They also discussed issues relating to the time that the station had spent in space - the possibility of toxic agents having accumulated in its atmosphere, food spoilage, water contamination and erosion of the seal of the hatch between the two spacecraft. After both crews had spent approximately half an hour in the descent module rehearsing, Soyuz 11 was installed on its rocket ready for transport to the pad. Meanwhile, Salyut continued to orbit the Earth, awaiting its first visitors. That evening the cosmonauts exercised and played chess to relax. Kubasov, Kolodin and Volkov liked tennis; Patsayev soccer; Leonov did not mind and would play anyone at anything. After a movie they retired to bed.

Although there was a general feeling that all of the procedures had been assessed and the cosmonauts and the spacecraft were ready, there were still some concerns in relation to the rendezvous technique. After Soyuz 10 Yeliseyev was appointed as deputy to Yakov Tregub, responsible for flight control. As an expert on the control

Kolodin (foreground) was the single rookie on the 'first crew' for Soyuz 11. Leonov (in the middle) was the first man to make a spacewalk. Kubasov was a veteran of the Soyuz 6 mission. (Top picture from the private collection of Rex Hall. Bottom picture first published in Spaceflight magazine by the BIS).

There are not many photos showing the 'first' and 'second' crews for Soyuz 11 in joint training. In this case Kolodin, Leonov, Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev (partially obscured on the right) are being shown equipment for the Salyut space station.

system he had demanded of Chertok and his own former boss, Raushenbakh, who had remained in Moscow, precise figures to enable the cosmonauts to monitor the operation of the Igla in different rendezvous scenarios. This information took the form of graphs showing the permitted variance of the rate of approach as a function of the range to the station. Whenever their speed 'touched' a limiting line on the graph, the control system should automatically fire the thrusters either to accelerate or decelerate in order to remain within the 'corridor'.

After lunch on 3 June Kerimov informed the State Commission of a Politburo meeting at which Brezhnyev and Kosygin had asked for another check to ensure that Soyuz 11 would be able to dock and that the crew would be able to enter the station. Afanasyev, Keldysh, Bushuyev and Smirnov had told the Politburo that Leonov's crew would fly the mission. Kosygin asked if they were well prepared, and Smirnov

Soon after arriving at Baykonur, Leonov recommends a chess move to Yolkov as Dobrovolskiy looks on.

replied affirmatively. Noting that France had announced its intention to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific, Brezhnyev asked whether this would pose a risk to the cosmonauts, and Bushuyev said it would not.

On hearing this, Severin, known for his jokes, suggested to the Commission: ''We should ask the cosmonauts to report how a nuclear explosion looks when seen from space.''

''To enable them to decide for themselves whether it is sensible to return to Earth once the nuclear war begins!''

The Commission decided to install Soyuz 11 on the pad at 6.00 a.m. the following morning, 4 June, and schedule the launch for 7.55 a.m. on 6 June.

While the State Commission discussed the forthcoming launch and laughed about the French nuclear test, the cosmonauts were having a routine medical examination. The mood changed suddenly when an X-ray scan showed an unusual dark spot on Kubasov's right lung which had not been present on a scan in February. Could it be tuberculosis? When an additional scan confirmed that he did indeed have something on his lung, the physicians announced that he would not be able to fly the mission. Kubasov was one of the first civilians to have passed the Air Force's medical screening for cosmonaut selection; he was one of the strongest cosmonauts; he was fit and healthy - only the previous evening he had run 5 km and then played tennis. Although Kubasov insisted that he was feeling perfectly alright and was ready to fly, the physicians ruled that he was unfit to fly.

Kubasov in portrait and undergoing medical screening for the Soyuz 11 mission. Below: After Kubasov was grounded by the medics, Kamanin and Mishin (in the foreground) and Kuznyetsov (standing) argue about who should fly the mission. (From the book Hidden Space, courtesy www.astronaut.ru)

Kubasov in portrait and undergoing medical screening for the Soyuz 11 mission. Below: After Kubasov was grounded by the medics, Kamanin and Mishin (in the foreground) and Kuznyetsov (standing) argue about who should fly the mission. (From the book Hidden Space, courtesy www.astronaut.ru)

This was unprecedented. In 1969 the original Soyuz 8 crew had been replaced as a result of poor scores in the training examinations, but that was almost two months prior to the mission. In this case the cosmonauts were already at Baykonur with just three days to the launch date. Who should fly? Representatives of the Air Force, the Ministry of General Machine Building and the Ministry of Health had all signed a document which specified that in the event of a cosmonaut on a prime crew being medically disqualified prior to travelling to Baykonur he should be replaced by his backup. However, there should be no individual replacements once the crews were at the cosmodrome - the plan was to replace the entire crew with its backup, which meant that Leonov's crew would have to be replaced by Dobrovolskiy's crew. That was the rule ... but the situation was difficult. When Dobrovolskiy's crew was first assigned, this had been in the expectation that it would fly to DOS-2 in 1972. As a result of the inability of Soyuz 10 to dock with Salyut, and the desire to make two visits to DOS-1, Dobrovolskiy's mission had been advanced by one year. Now they faced setting off with only a few day's notice and being the first to attempt the new docking procedure. In contrast to Soyuz 10, which included two veterans, one of whom (Shatalov) was the only cosmonaut to have previously made a docking, only one member of Dobrovolskiy's crew (Volkov) had flown in space.

Kamanin called a meeting of the senior Air Force representatives present at the cosmodrome - cosmonauts Shatalov, Leonov, Kolodin and Dobrovolskiy, General Kuznyetsov, who ran the TsPK, General Goreglyad, who was Kamanin's long-time aide, and the medical staff. They analysed the new situation and, after weighing the factors, decided that the best solution was to reject the rule and instead to substitute Volkov for Kubasov in Leonov's crew. When Kamanin suggested this to Kerimov and Mishin, they agreed. But a short time later Mishin rang Kamanin to say that he had changed his mind - he had discussed the matter with the Kremlin, which was of the opinion that they must follow the rule and assign the mission to Dobrovolskiy's crew.

Interestingly, only a few people at the cosmodrome were aware of what was afoot. In particular, Chertok, who after Mishin was the most senior TsKBEM man present, found out only late in the afternoon when he was stopped outside the dinning room by Severin, who complained about having to replace the couches, flight suits and medical belts - which would not be easy to do now that the spacecraft was installed on the third stage of the launch vehicle and within its aerodynamic shroud. Chertok was dumbfounded. He and Severin went into the dinning room to talk to Shabarov, who was responsible for testing manned spacecraft; he had heard nothing. Severin was astonished: "Is it possible that your boss didn't consider it necessary to consult you about such a fundamental issue? To replace a crew at just two days notice. This is something that has never been done before - not here, nor in America.2 Will we once again perform an experiment 'for the first time in the world'?'' At this point, Mishin called and asked all the managers of the TsKBEM and representatives of the Institute of Biomedical Problems and the Ministry of Health to meet at 11.00 p.m. in

2 In fact, two days before Apollo 13 was due to launch in April 1970 NASA had exchanged a member of the prime crew with his backup, owing to a medical concern.

the MIK. This was to be the civilian equivalent of Kamanin's consultation with the Air Force representatives.

Dr. Yevgeniy Vorobyev, a physician, explained that an X-ray scan had revealed a shading on Kubasov's right lung about the size of a chicken's egg. He also pointed out that the Air Force was responsible for ongoing monitoring of the cosmonauts' health, and that Kamanin and his medical staff were responsible for answering any queries about to the late discovery of this ailment. A senior member of the Ministry of Health then pointed out the failure of the TsPK to discover that cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev had developed a bleeding ulcer, with the result that he died in hospital in January 1970. At midnight, the TsKBEM managers agreed to put Soyuz 11 on the pad the next morning and to replace the crew facilities once it was in place. Severin said that although it would not be straightforward to do this work through the hatch of the orbital module, doing so should take no longer than five hours. Although the TsKBEM managers took it for granted that the crew would be swapped, the formal nomination of the crew was the responsibility of the State Commission.

At 7.00 a.m. on 4 June, shortly after Soyuz 11 had been installed on the pad, the State Commission gathered in the MIK for a meeting which would be remembered forever. General Kerimov, the chairman, reported that Kubasov was not going to fly; the basis of this decision was the medical report that declared him to be unfit. This took some people completely by surprise, because the previous day the Kremlin had confirmed the crew. Dr. Vorobyev explained the situation: "During the X-ray scan, physicians noted a shading on Kubasov's lung. They took layered roentgenography and calculated that the infiltration is located at a depth of 9 cm. It is deemed to be serious and active.'' He added that although an examination of Kubasov's blood was generally satisfactory, there was an increase in eosinophils, which are the white blood cells of the immune system.

Kerimov asked Kamanin for his thoughts about the crew. Taking into account the complexity of the planned mission, Kamanin said that Volkov should fly instead of Kubasov. "Leonov has already been in space. He has even spacewalked. Volkov has flown on Soyuz and he will be able to manage the mission objectives." It was a simple case of replacing one experienced cosmonaut with another.

However, Mishin thought differently: "We object! I consulted with our comrades. We have the document signed by the Air Force that in a case like this we have to change the entire crew. The backup crew passed their training with good scores. A new and unharmonised crew would be worse than the backup one. We categorically insist on the replacement of the entire crew.'' Mishin was supported by Chertok and Shabarov, and even by General Ponomaryev, who was the Deputy Commander-inChief of the Air Force, and by General Kuznyetsov, the head of the TsPK who was aware that his elderly and unpopular boss was soon to retire. Those members of the Commission whose role was to ensure that the spacecraft was launched on time and was able to accomplish the planned mission, and so were not particularly interested in who flew, abstained from the debate.

The State Commission decided to replace the entire crew, and told Kamanin to inform the cosmonauts of this. Kamanin did not object. He knew the rules. Perhaps in different circumstances he would have challenged Mishin, as he had often before.

But he was tired of disputes with the Chief Designer and also of misunderstandings with General Kutakhov, his new boss. The mission of Soyuz 11 would conclude his decade in charge of cosmonaut training. Although Yevgeniy Bashkin, a training instructor from the TsPK, pointed out that his team had worked primarily with the prime crew at the expense of the backup crew, this was not intended as support for Kamanin's case. Shabarov asked for permission to leave the Commission early with Severin and Feoktistov, as they had a lot of work to do on the spacecraft. However, because its business had been decided, Kerimov concluded the session. After a brief breakfast Severin and his team went to replace the apparatus in the spacecraft, and Feoktistov's group made the relevant calculations to allow for the change in overall weight of the crew.

In the afternoon, several top-level medical experts flew in from Moscow. After a detailed analysis of the documentation of Kubasov's ailment, and taking additional scans, they confirmed the symptoms of tuberculosis.

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