I almost forgot about Soyuz 11! Today in 1971 the crew of Soyuz 11; Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev; died during landing as a result of their Soyuz depressurizing (among other problems). They were the first crew to stay on a space station, Salyut 1.
This photo is after the press conference that confirmed Volkov, Dobrovolsky and Patsayev as the Soyuz 11 crew. The original crew was taken off when it was discovered on a X-ray that crew member Valery Kubasov might have tuberculosis. Left to right: Volkov, Dobrovolsky, head of cosmonaut training Nikolai Kamanin, Patsayev, Vladimir Shatalov and Nikolai Rukavishnikov, both of the Soyuz 10 crew.
"Flight engineer Vladislav Volkov, left, and Lt. Col. Georgy Dobrovolsky, right, were two of the three Soyuz 11 cosmonauts who died Wednesday as their space ship brought them back to earth. They had been on the world’s first manned orbital space laboratory and had established a record of nearly 24 days in space. Dobrovolsky was commander of the flight. The spacemen are shown as they underwent medical examinations prior to the flight. These pictures are from Tass, the Soviet agency."
The third crewman, not pictured, was Viktor Patsayev.
Some Landing Place Markers
When Soyuz TMA-05M landed this past week, a landing marker was put in, which I had never seen before. So I did a bit of investigating. I wasn’t able to find many like the Soyuz TMA-05M one, most of the markers are permanent statues.
Today is the anniversary of the Soyuz 11 tragedy. After the success of the first crewed mission on the very first space station, Salyut 1, Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev died during landing as a result of their Soyuz depressurizing (among other problems).
I’ve translated a section from cosmonaut Alexei Yeliseyev’s book, Life - A Drop in the Sea, on his visit to the landing site a few hours after the landing. Before undocking, Yeliseyev, at mission control, had advised the crew on their hatch that hadn’t sealed properly.
The spacecraft lay on its side. The hatch was open. The guys were already taken away. Some doctor announced that obviously there was a depressurization, the blood had boiled. Doctors tried to transfuse blood - but all in vain. When the hatch was opened, the cosmonauts were still warm, but gradually… no hope remains… How unbearably painful, how absurd! Flat field, beautiful weather, spacecraft in excellent state, but the guys perished. And then I was struck like an electrical shock. Maybe, it was the hatch? Maybe this is my mistake? But they checked! Maybe they didn’t see something? I will not attempt to describe what I felt at that moment …
Vladimir Shatalov and I went to the descent module in order to compile a report about the state of it after landing. The spacecraft was at once cordoned off by the military, so no outsiders could approach it. The first thing that struck me - the pen which I gave Viktor Patsayev after my flight for good luck. Now it was lying on the sand - evidently it had fallen when he was pulled out. I reminisced, how Vladislav, Viktor and I returned to my house after the meeting where the crew was established, how happy they were, sang songs, how saying goodbye, I gave him this pen… and here - the finale. The end of dreams and plans…
In memoriam the Soyuz-11 crew. Hungarian linocut print, date, artist unknown. C1971.
Soyuz 11 was the first and only manned mission to arrive at the world’s first space station, Salyut 1. The mission arrived at the space station on June 7, 1971 and departed on June 30, 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew. This accident resulted in the only human deaths to occur in space (as opposed to high atmosphere). The crew members aboard Soyuz 11 were Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev.
The plaque and figure of the fallen astronaut on the moon honoring those lives lost in the quest for space exploration.
Charles A. Bassett II
Pavel I. Belyayev
Roger B. Chaffee
Theodore C. Freeman
Yuri A. Gagarin
Edward G. Givens Jr.
Virgil I. Grissom
Elliot M. See Jr.
Edward H. White II
Clifton C. Williams Jr.
Today back in 1971 Soyuz 11 returned to earth after the first ever successful docking to a space station, Salyut 1. Unfortunately the crew suffocated when a breathing ventilation valve broke as the orbital and descent modules separated during reentry.
From left: Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolsky and Viktor Patsayev