On 26 April 1971, immediately after his return from the Soyuz 10 mission, Shatalov was promoted to Major-General. Two months later he superseded Kamanin. This appointment was largely the result of his close relationship with Marshal Kutakhov, who was his mentor prior to becoming a cosmonaut, his participation in organising the historic visit to Baykonur of President Charles De Gaulle in June 1966,13 and his excellent management skills. His promotion coincided with the Soyuz 11 mission, and his first duty was to participate in the State Commission which investigated the loss of that crew. This recommended a thorough restructuring of the manned space programme. As part of this review, the training of cosmonauts was broadened and, among other things, they became more actively involved in the preparation of the experiments which they were to perform in space.
During Shatalov's 16 years as the head of cosmonaut training he was responsible for equipping the TsPK with simulators and other training facilities, the recruitment of new military cosmonauts, and the selection of crews for a succession of DOS and Almaz space stations. In the meantime, in April 1972 he defended a master's thesis at the Gagarin Military Air Force Academy, and in 1974 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
12 'Ckphthh kocmoc'.
13 Interestingly, it was at this time that the Voskhod 3 mission was cancelled, and Shatalov had been a member of the backup crew.
Kamanin's successor, General Vladimir Shatalov, with Lebedyev (centre) and Klimuk in training for Soyuz 13.
When Gorbachov initiated his reforms of the Soviet Union in 1985, these affected the Army too. The structure of the Air Force began to change. Many older generals were retired, including Georgiy Beregovoy, the 65-year-old Director of the TsPK. After three possible successors had been rejected, it was suggested to Shatalov that he should take on this role in addition to his existing duties. As he was 58 years old at the time and according to the new law his retirement would take effect at age 60, he asked that he be allowed to remain in post for longer. On being promised that he would be able to serve until 65, he accepted. His task would be to organise training for the ambitious Mir and Buran programmes. For Shatalov, the direction of this unique training center, which at that time employed about 400 people, represented a special challenge. When it was put to him that the TsPK should be transferred from the Air Force to the Space Army (as the Strategic Rocket Forces, which managed the Baykonur cosmodrome, had become) he disagreed. When he was promised the rank of Colonel-General in return for his acquiescence, he refused. He also resisted Glushko's efforts to transfer the TsPK to NPO Energiya. His campaign to keep the
General Shatalov with the Apollo-Soyuz crewmembers at the TsPK. Left to right: Leonov, Shatalov, Stafford, Brand and Kubasov. Slayton is out of frame.
TsPK in the Air Force was not helped by the antipathy of the leading military figures. In the aftermath of the upheaval in the Soviet Union in 1991 he was transferred to the reserve corps of the Commander in Chief of the Air Force, and then ordered to retire in March 1992.
By September 1991 Shatalov had been a member of all State Commissions over two decades that had made the final decisions on launching manned space missions. He related his role in the space programme in his autobiography, published in 1978 as The Hard Road to Space.14 He also co-authored the books The Application of Computers in Spacecraft Guidance System (1974), People and Space (1975), The Soviet Cosmonauts (1979) and Space to Earth (1981). For almost three decades he led a society which promoted friendly relations with Cuba. A 21-km-diameter crater on the Moon was named after him.
As regards retirement: "I have decided that after 65 years of life, of which almost 50 were devoted to the Army, I have some right to live for myself. I have not started attaching myself to political, religious or commercial organisations They have no interest for me. Although I had many offers, especially in 1992, I have not gone into politics either - it was suggested that I become a member of one of the many parties and enter parliament." Ever since 1957 he has been interested in underwater fishing. The sea attracts him now, as once he was attracted to the sky and to space: "I cannot imagine the sea without submarine life. What is the point of lying on the sand to sunbathe, without wondering what might be found under water. No matter where I travel, I carry my mask, my fins and 8 kg of iron as ballast for diving. If the weather is suitable, I also like to ski. I love to spend time in my vacation house, to mow, and to tend my small garden. My wife is devoted to agronomy. Every spring we start with transplantation, and plant new sprouts. . . . I want to spend what is left of my life peacefully with my family, children and grandchildren. Now, as a retired person, I analyse the events of my tempestuous life in cosmonautics.''
Was this article helpful?