The First Crews

Soon after decree No. 105-41 was issued in February 1970 directing that work start on the DOS project, Kamanin asked Mishin to immediately assign crews for the first space station, and Mishin directed his subordinates who dealt with the selection and training of cosmonaut-engineers to do so.

One of the first to be nominated was Aleksey Yeliseyev, who had flown two Soyuz missions in 1969: ''Deputy Chief Designer Yakov Tregub called and said that he would like to include Nikolay Rukavishnikov and I in the first crew. He also suggested that we familiarise ourselves with all works related to the orbital station and the preparation for its launch. Tregub led the testing of the spacecraft systems, the technical training of the cosmonauts, and managed mission control. His opinion was important, and we thought we had good chances. We were so excited to work on the first orbital station!"

At the end of April 1970 Tregub and Colonel Sergey Anyokhin, who was head of the TsKBEM's cosmonaut group, paid Kamanin a visit and explained that the plan was to build two identical space stations, each of which would be occupied twice. Four crews had been selected. The first two would be assigned to DOS-1; the first flying a 30-day mission and the second a 45-day mission.1 The third and fourth crews would serve in a backup role for DOS-1 and then become the prime crews for DOS-2.

The nominations were:

• Crew 1: Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksey Yeliseyev and Nikolay Rukavishnikov

• Crew 2: Georgiy Shonin, Valeriy Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin

• Crew 3: Boris Volynov, Konstantin Feoktistov and Viktor Patsayev

• Crew 4: Yevgeniy Khrunov, Vladislav Volkov and Vitaliy Sevastyanov.

The commander of the first crew, Colonel Shatalov, had been recruited by the TsPK in 1963 as a member of the second group of military cosmonauts. He had flown twice - the first time performing the first docking in space of two manned spacecraft. In 1966 Yeliseyev had become a member of the TsKBEM's first group of cosmonaut-engineers. He was one of three Soviet cosmonauts with experience of spacewalking.2 In January 1969, after Shatalov had docked Soyuz 4 with Soyuz 5, Yeliseyev and Khrunov had made an external transfer to join him. Also, Shatalov and Yeliseyev had flown together on Soyuz 8 in October 1969. Rukavishnikov was also a member of the first group of cosmonaut-engineers, but had not been able to enter training until early 1967. His assignment on the space station crew was as the research engineer.

Colonel Shonin was to command the second mission to the station. Although he had been recruited in 1960 as a member of the first group of the cosmonauts, he did not make his first flight until October 1969, when he commanded Soyuz 6 and spent five days in space. His engineer on that mission was Kubasov, who, like Yeliseyev, was a member of the TsKBEM's first group of cosmonaut-engineers. Lieutenant-Colonel Kolodin was recruited in 1963 as a member of the second group of military cosmonauts. He had served in a backup role for the 'group flight' of 1969. On the space station crew he would serve as the research engineer.

Colonel Volynov, the commander of the third crew, was a member of the first group of cosmonauts. He commanded Soyuz 5, which served as the passive target for Soyuz 4. Spacecraft designer Feoktistov had flown as the engineer of the Voskhod mission in 1964. Because Volynov had been backup commander for that mission, he knew Feoktistov well. Patsayev, a rookie TsKBEM cosmonaut-engineer, was to be the research engineer.

The fourth crew was to be commanded by Colonel Khrunov, who was a member of the first group of cosmonauts. On his first flight he had launched on Soyuz 5 and, with Yeliseyev, had spacewalked to Soyuz 4 to return to Earth. The flight engineer, Volkov, was a TsKBEM cosmonaut-engineer who had flown on Soyuz 7. Although Sevastyanov was chosen as a member of the first group of cosmonaut-engineers, he had not entered training until early 1967. At the time of his assignment as a space

1 According to Mishin, Ustinov ordered that the first visit to the station should last one month.

2 The pioneering spacewalker was Aleksey Leonov in 1965.

station research engineer, he was training for the Soyuz 9 'marathon' mission to be flown in June 1970.

Although Mishin and Kamanin had previously argued that the DOS crews should be drawn exclusively from his own side, five of the nominations that the TsKBEM proposed were Air Force and seven were civilians. Kamanin acknowledged that the commanders were military cosmonauts, but wanted to have two military officers on each crew - only the second nominated crew had two military officers; in the others there were two civilians. He also criticised having two veterans on each crew. He particularly objected to having two of the most experienced cosmonauts - Shatalov and Yeliseyev - on the same crew. There were Air Force cosmonauts who had been waiting many years to make their first space flight.

Kamanin also criticised the nomination of Feoktistov. Every time that he had seen Feoktistov's name on a list of candidates for an assignment, he had opposed it. In 1964 he had argued against Korolev's desire to fly Feoktistov on the first Voskhod mission. After the death of Komarov on Soyuz 1 in 1967, Mishin had proposed that since the primary task of the manned mission planned for October 1968 would be to test the modified Soyuz, the best man to fly it would be Feoktistov, but Kamanin had insisted that the renowned test pilot Colonel Beregovoy be assigned. However, Beregovoy failed do dock his Soyuz 3 with the unmanned Soyuz 2 - despite the fact that unmanned Soyuz spacecraft had twice previously achieved automated dockings. Kamanin's hostility to Feoktistov was not limited to crew assignments. In 1969 the Americans had invited the Soviet Union to send two cosmonauts on a goodwill trip to the United States. The TsPK candidate was Beregovoy. When Mishin nominated Feoktistov, Kamanin argued that another military officer, Pavel Belyayev, who had commanded Voskhod 2, should be sent instead. On that occasion, Mishin won. As regards the DOS nomination, the basis of Kamanin's criticism was that Feoktistov's state of health was too poor, he wore glasses and was divorcing for the second time. But the real reason for Kamanin's persistent antipathy might have been that, unlike the other cosmonauts, Feoktistov never joined the Communist Party. In fact, given that Feoktistov had gone behind Mishin's back to get the DOS programme started, it was perhaps surprising that the TsKBEM's Chief Designer had allowed his name to go forward at all!

Volynov's nomination also caused Kamanin a difficulty. Volynov had been one of the strongest candidates in the first group of cosmonauts, but his mother was of Jewish heritage and this had attracted the criticism of the Kremlin's anti-Semites. Ivan Serbin, who was the Chief of the Industries Department, had openly warned Kamanin after the successful Soyuz 4/5 mission that not only must Volynov not be assigned another space flight, he should not even be allowed to travel to abroad. In 1964 Volynov had been on the verge of commanding the historic Voskhod mission, but at the last moment Kamanin, yielding to Korolev's argument to fly Feoktistov, who was on the backup crew, and to criticism of Volynov's appointment by Serbin and others in the Kremlin, had allowed the backup crew to fly. In the spring of 1966 Volynov had gone to Baykonur to command the planned long-duration Voskhod 3 mission, but this was cancelled - although not owing to criticism of Volynov. Now, with Grechko's man Kutakhov running the Air Force, Kamanin knew that his own position was too weak to resist the criticism which Volynov's nomination to a DOS crew would draw. In February 1970 Kamanin had given Volynov the 'low profile' job of commanding the new recruits; now he told him not to expect a nomination to a space flight for at least several years.

Finally, Kamanin was stunned at the nomination of Khrunov. In 1969, while he was a backup commander for the Soyuz 'group flight', Khrunov had been involved in a car accident two months prior to launch and had left the scene without assisting an injured person. As punishment for this irresponsible behaviour, Kamanin had temporarily excluded Khrunov from training for a future space mission.

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