The Universe Was Alive

At the start of his autobiography Stepping into the Sky, Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov,7 known as Vadim to his friends, wrote: ''To be honest, I was not preparing to be a cosmonaut. In fact, I never dreamt or fantasised about space. As a boy, I had no idea about Tsiolkovskiy.'' Although the book was not published until 1972, he saw the page proofs several days before he set off on the Soyuz 11 mission.

Standing 179 cm tall, broad shouldered and a real sportsman, Vadim was the most sympathetic of the civilian cosmonaut-engineers recruited by the TsKBEM in 1966. He played soccer in the Moscow championship for many years, firstly as a member of the Moscow Aviation Institute where he was studying, then in Club Burevesnik. He also played ice hockey and handball, and was skilled in athletics. He was even a boxer for a brief period. Among the cosmonauts he was one of the best


Vladislav Volkov
Vladislav Volkov, the Soyuz 11 flight engineer.

tennis and chess players, and an excellent guitarist. In contrast to his colleagues, he also had an intense sense of humour, and readily burst out laughing.

Vadim was born on 23 November 1935 in Moscow. He was short and skinny, but impetuous. When his parents moved, he had to change school and meet new pupils. When on the first day the strongest pupil stole his breakfast, the obviously weaker Vadim immediately fought for it. The other pupils respected him for this. It was one of his main characteristics, coincidently incorporated into his surname - 'the wolf. He later fought for his thoughts and beliefs, even against much stronger opponents. His father Nikolay was an aeronautical engineer and this mother Olga worked in an aircraft factory, and he inherited from them his love of aircraft and the sky. Their house was near Tushino airport, so from his backyard he could watch a variety of different types of aircraft take off and land, and during parachutist displays the sky above would fill with the coloured parachute canopies. Many pilots and engineers employed at the airport lived in the neighbourhood. From time to time, his uncle, Pyotr Kotov, a combat pilot from the Second World War, would visit his house and Vadim would stare in amazement at the medals and decorations on his chest. Pyotr was his mentor. In such an environment it was natural that Vadim should select the sky as his destiny. But what would be his profession? To be a pilot like his uncle, an aeronautical engineer like his father, or something else? In fact, Vadim wished to be a test pilot, but on his uncle's advice he decided to study aeronautical engineering. After finishing at Moscow high school No. 212 in 1953 he enrolled at the famous Moscow Aviation Institute, one of two leading aerospace faculties, which his father

''As much as he was serious at work, the rest of the time he was serene and always laughing.'' Left: Volkov with his wife Lyudmila, together with Viktor Patsayev and Viktor's daughter Svetlana. Seeing this photo for the first time, Svetlana said: ''It is good to see my father smiling''. (From the private collection of Rex Hall) Right: Volkov attending to a bicycle with his son Vladimir.

''As much as he was serious at work, the rest of the time he was serene and always laughing.'' Left: Volkov with his wife Lyudmila, together with Viktor Patsayev and Viktor's daughter Svetlana. Seeing this photo for the first time, Svetlana said: ''It is good to see my father smiling''. (From the private collection of Rex Hall) Right: Volkov attending to a bicycle with his son Vladimir.

had attended.8 There he fell in love with Lyudmila Birykova, who was training to be a food-processing engineer. They were married in early 1957, and in February 1958 had their only child: son Vladimir.

On graduating in early 1959, Vadim became an electro-mechanical engineer for aircraft missiles. But in April 1959 he transferred to Department No. 4 of OKB-1, where he had worked as an apprentice during his studies. Vladimir Syromyatnikov, one of the docking system designers, knew him very well prior to his becoming a cosmonaut: ''Vadim was capable, but not a very friendly person; he was astute and jealous. We liked to play soccer and ice hockey. We often used to play together against teams from other departments of our design bureau. I must admit that he was a good player, but he was too selfish. When he had the ball, we didn't expect a pass - Vadim would either score a goal or he would miss, but he wouldn't pass. After his graduation they moved him to the central design bureau, because Korolev wanted to reinforce the basic departments of OKB-1 with new people. But this job did not fit with his temperament and he was moved to the organisation department, where he became a deputy to one of the leading designers. Because he continued to play soccer and ice hockey, I met him often.''

When Vadim joined OKB-1 the development of the Vostok spacecraft which was to carry the first man into space was well advanced. Later, he was involved in the design of the control system for the modified form of the rocket intended to launch the Voskhod spacecraft. In addition, he worked on the design of the R-9 ballistic missile. In September 1961 he became deputy to the leading Vostok engineer, and in February 1962 deputy to the leading designer for the Voskhod spacecraft, which was a modification of the Vostok intended to perform advanced missions while the new Soyuz spacecraft was under development. Vadim would

8 Other notable Moscow Aviation Institute students were Mishin, Kubasov and Sevastyanov.

later say: "I am proud to have been involved in the Vostok spacecraft which carried Gagarin on the first manned space flight, and in its modification for Voskhod; there are my tracks.''

During those years Vadim often met Konstantin Feoktistov, who was one of the leading spacecraft designers. The first cosmonauts were young military pilots who lacked strong technical backgrounds. Although Korolev had some of his engineers, including Feoktistov, instruct the pilots who would soon became famous heroes, the engineers argued that it would be better if they themselves could be permitted to fly in space to assess the performance of the systems they had designed.

On Vadim's first visit to the Baykonur cosmodrome, two Vostoks were launched on consecutive days in August 1962, carrying Nikolayev and Popovich respectively. "It is a marvellous picture. Here, one can see a grand creation of what started on a paper in the design bureau. And, although the involvement is immeasurably small, one feels immense pride in knowing that one belongs to those who conquer space,'' Vadim observed.

While working at OKB-1 he did not lose his desire to fly aircraft. The famous test pilot Sergey Anyokhin suggested that he enroll in an aero-club. He did, and received a diploma as a sports pilot, which enabled him to fly solo on Yak light planes.

The selection of the Voskhod crews began in early 1964. The first mission, which was scheduled for October, was to have a crew of three: the commander would be a military cosmonaut, the flight engineer would be an OKB-1 engineer and the third place would go to a medical doctor. In May Korolev met the 14 engineers chosen as candidates for this historic mission, and Vadim was among them. He successfully passed all the medical examinations preparatory to the special training for the flight, but when the shortlist was posted on 11 June his name was not on it. Dissatisfied, he went to Korolev to complain. He pointed out to the famous Chief Designer that he was healthy and fit, could pilot an aircraft and had even made parachute jumps. To finish, he suggested Anyokhin as a character reference. Korolev replied calmly: "You are still young. There is time. It is impossible to send everyone on spaceships. Somebody also has to design them.'' But such words could not satisfy Vadim. He was so disappointed that in the tramcar he told Syromyatnikov that he was going to finish the soccer referee school and became a professional referee! Of course, it did not happen. However, Vadim was included in the team of engineers responsible for recovering cosmonauts from a spacecraft after it had landed. Interestingly, in March 1965 he participated in the recovery of Belyayev and Leonov, who came down in a snow-laden forest far from the planned site. At that time, Volkov and Leonov could have had no idea that their paths would cross six years later in the manner that they did!

In the meantime, based on the list of Voskhod candidates, 12 engineers passed the medical examinations in July 1965 for further consideration as cosmonauts. Finally, in March 1966, shortly after Korolev's death, Mishin, with the support of Minister Afanasyev, signed the document ordering the recruitment of cosmonaut-engineers. The selection committee was chaired by Mikhail Tikhonravov, and on 23 May 1966 eight men were chosen, and because Anyokhin was the most senior engineer he was nominated as the group leader.9 They were to train for Soyuz flights in Earth orbit and the L1 and L3 lunar missions. Whereas the military cosmonauts were housed in Zvyozdniy, the civilians were accommodated in one of the TsKBEM motels, not far from the design bureau. They began with parachute jumps, flying with instructors in MiG-15 jets, altitude chamber testing, and simulating weightlessness in the Tu-104 aircraft. In August 1966 they trained for recovery from a Soyuz descent module on the Black Sea. This was the first joint training with their military counterparts. One month later, Kamanin sent the TsKBEM's group for medical screening by the Air Force, which only Kubasov, Volkov, Grechko and Yeliseyev passed. They joined the military cosmonauts at the TsPK in training for the mission scheduled for early 1967 in which two Soyuz spacecraft would dock and two cosmonauts would make an external transfer from one to the other. But in October 1966 Grechko broke his leg parachuting, and so Makarov - one of the four civilians who had failed the Air Force screening but had continued to train at the TsKBEM - took the Air Force test again, was passed, and in November joined Kubasov, Volkov and Yeliseyev at the TsPK.10 Having had some of its men rejected by the Air Force, in November the TsKBEM selected two more, who joined in early 1967.11

In November 1966 Kamanin and Mishin agreed eight men to form two prime and two backup crews for the spectacular introduction of the Soyuz ship. Yeliseyev was to be the flight engineer on the prime crew for Soyuz 2, with Kubasov as his backup. However, when Soyuz 1 was launched with Vladimir Komarov on board, it ran into trouble and the launch of Soyuz 2 with a three-man crew, which had been planned for the following day, was cancelled; and when Komarov brought his ship back the parachute failed to open and he was killed.

As regards Vadim, from September 1966 to December 1968 he trained to be the flight engineer of the passive spacecraft. When a third (backup) crew was formed in January 1967 he trained for this role with Shatalov and Kolodin. In August 1968 Kamanin replaced Shatalov with Anatoliy Kuklin, giving Shatalov the active ship.

After the docking and external transfer was accomplished in January 1969, the managers of the TsKBEM and the Air Force developed a programme of missions for the remainder of that year: in April-May Soyuz 6 was to undertake a 7-day solo flight, and in August-September Soyuz 7 and 8 were to dock and remain joined for three days. When the plan was submitted to Ustinov he wrote on it: "This is too thin, it must be thicker.'' He meant that something spectacular was required to offset the likelihood that the Americans would make the first manned lunar landing in July. But what could be done? After the cancellation of the manned circumlunar flights, the only option was a mission in Earth orbit. And the docking and external transfer had already been achieved. However, someone at the TsKBEM remembered an idea

9 In fact, Anyokhin was a colonel in the Air Force and a former test pilot. Interestingly, despite losing an eye in 1945 during a test flight, 21 years later he was nominated by the TsKBEM as a civilian cosmonaut and given command of the group of cosmonaut-engineers.

10 It is impossible to prove, but it is likely that Kamanin ordered the Air Force doctors to pass only half of the cosmonaut-engineers sent to the TsPK by the TsKBEM, in order to minimise the number of civilians available to compete with his military cosmonauts for flights.

11 These two were Nikolay Rukavishnikov and Vitaliy Sevastyanov.

Several rare photos of Vadim Volkov: wearing a helmet-phone (top left) and a spacesuit (top right); preparing for parachute training (lower left) with Beregovoy; and undergoing a medical examination (lower right).

Shatalov Yeliseyev Usa 1971

The crews of the 'group flight' of Soyuz 6/7/8 in October 1969: Kubasov (left), Shonin, Volkov, Filipchenko, Gorbatko, Shatalov and Yeliseyev.

Three Soyuz spacecraft undergoing testing at Baykonur. Soyuz 8 with its active docking mechanism is on the left.

once mooted by Korolev. Encouraged by the success of Gherman Titov's 24-hour flight in August 1961, Korolev had proposed launching three Vostoks on successive days. Although this had been judged too demanding, it had been decided to launch Vostoks in pairs - which had been done successfully on two occasions. So why not now attempt a triple flight? One would adopt a position from which it would be able to film the other two performing the docking! By the end of February the TsKBEM and TsPK managers had drawn up such a programme.

Nominated as the flight engineer of Soyuz 7, the passive spacecraft, Vadim joined two military cosmonauts: Anatoliy Filipchenko, commander; and Viktor Gorbatko, research cosmonaut. The training was intense, and occasionally Filipchenko had to restrain his energetic flight engineer, who, as the designer of some of the spacecraft systems, was eager to play a greater role in the simulator. But in his autobiography Filipchenko chose not to mention the difficulties that he had faced with Volkov in training.

Shatalov, who was in overall command of the three-ship flotilla, wrote of Vadim during this time: ''As much as he was serious at work, at other times he was serene and always laughing - he could tell jokes and funny stories constantly for hours. He knew how to deal with people of all ages. At weekends, we would spend time in the forest with our families. There, Vadim was continuously surrounded with our kids. I envied him his easy and simple way of communicating with kids. He sang the songs about pirates and thieves, played soccer and climbed trees. He liked to be the centre of attention. He was always smiling.''

The three spacecraft were launched one by one, on 11, 12 and 13 October 1969, but owing to a problems with the Igla system on Soyuz 8, an automatic rendezvous with Soyuz 7 was not possible. Although an attempt was made to accomplish this manually, the result was unsuccessful and, with its fuel running low, Soyuz 8 had to give up the chase.

Although Vadim was disappointed not to have docked, he greatly enjoyed his first flight in space, which lasted five days. He had taken with him a lump of Sevastopol soil that his son Vladimir had given him. In addition to the planned experiments, he made TV broadcasts. In fact, he was the first accredited journalist in space, because he had earlier written several articles for the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda,12 which he signed 'Vladimir Volkov'. While in space, he kept a personal diary. Filipchenko was impressed: ''Volkov noted every interesting event during our flight, as well as what happened down on Earth. Even now, knowing how many experiments he had, I observe with pleasure how he succeeded in managing his time and in describing so nicely his impressions and thoughts.''

On the second day of the flight, as the other crewmembers rested, Vadim watched Earth from an altitude of more than 200 km. When he experienced something very unusual, he immediately recorded it in his diary: ''Orbit 47: There are in the world events that I would describe as 'momentary sparkles', meaning that a man does not immediately understand them. Such a 'sparkle' for me was the Earth's voice. Below, it was night-time. I looked at the onboard globe. Our ship was over South America. I

12 Red Star, the newspaper of the Soviet Army.

Volkov's first space mission was as the flight engineer of Soyuz 7, with Lt-Colonels Filipchenko (in the middle) and Gorbatko (rear).

controlled the operation of some instruments and, from time to time, I would look away from the panel towards the Earth in the darkness. In the headset, I could hear a characteristic background noise. I had an impression that behind me, above my ear, there was a giant invisible man breathing. Then it was absolute silence. And suddenly, out of the darkness, I hear the barking of a dog! A dog is barking! Is it an illusion? I strained my hearing and searched my memory of all known sounds of the Earth. There is no doubt - it is a dog barking! The sound was barely audible, but full of life. Then it occurred to me that this is the voice of Layka. And then, clearly, I heard a baby cry! Other voices. And again a baby crying. The universe was alive. The Earth was flying past underneath. Somewhere on the Earth, a baby was crying. Somewhere a mother was gently calming her baby. The dog was barking to protect them. It made little sense, but it was possible to feel it; possible only once in a life time. . . . Orbit 50: I was watching the sunset. Before the final part of the solar disk disappeared, suddenly several layers of the atmosphere appeared above the horizon. It was red just above the horizon, then orange, then dark blue and finally the black of space. Stars were visible shining through this pattern. Then it all became grey. In the constellation of Scorpio there was a subtle crescent of the ash-coloured Moon. I

could clearly see the constellations of the Southern Cross and Centaurus, which are not visible from the northern latitudes of our home. I recall the science fiction books: perhaps one day we will have the chance to fly to the stars?"

In May 1970 Vadim was nominated as the flight engineer of the third DOS crew, with Shatalov and Patsayev. The training for a mission to the space station was very different from his previous experience because, in addition to the Soyuz simulator, the cosmonauts had to familiarise themselves with the much more complex systems of the station.

When in February 1971 the rookie cosmonaut Dobrovolskiy took over command of the third crew, Vadim became its only veteran. The failure of Soyuz 10 to dock with Salyut, and the change of crew on the eve of the Soyuz 11 mission, resulted in Vadim and his crewmates being launched somewhat earlier than they had expected.

In his book, Volkov wrote:

Your hours in space are not eternal, they will end. Some time, unfortunately, they must end; the hours of your life. But only for the time being. There will be others.

The day before they left for Baykonur the cosmonauts held a big party. As usual, Volkov was the centre of attention. He was smiling and singing. Several years later, Viktor Patsayev's wife, Vera, recalled the days before the flight and that last party, and said that Vadim told her of having had a premonition that he would die in space.

On landing after 5 days in orbit, Volkov (centre) embraces Gorbatko (left) and Filipchenko. In contrast to his colleagues, for the first few minutes he had some difficulty in standing.
In May 1970, Volkov became a member of the 'third crew' for DOS-1.

Volkov in training. In an aircraft (left; from the private collection of Rex Hall). On the right Volkov receives flowers as he, Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev conclude their training. (From the book Hidden Space, courtesy

Volkov (left) laughing with Dobrovolskiy.

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