Boris Valentinovich Volynov (cyrillic
Борис Валентинович Волынов) was born December 18, 1934
in the city of Irkutsk
, though he spent his childhood in the city of Prokopevsk
. He had always dreamed of becoming a pilot and attended Higher Air Force School
and graduated from Military Engineering Academy
. He became a colonel
in the Soviet Air Force
before being selected as a cosmonaut
in the first group in 1960.
His first assignments were as the backup for both the Vostok 3 and 4 flights. The Vostok capsules were launched one day apart, coming within a few kilometers of each other at the orbital insertion of the second spacecraft. The two cosmonauts were in radio contact with one another during their close passes.
On May 20, 1963 Volynov completed a three days inside the Vostok 5 hot mock up. This was where the cosmonaut was subjected to a full length mission inside the spacecraft while wearing a spacesuit on Earth. It was designed to test whether the cosmonauts could actually withstand the length of time in those conditions. He was in the end selected as the backup crew member for the Vostok 5 flight. This was another dual mission coming with a few kilometres of the Vostok 6 capsule containing Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.
He was the proposed prime crew for the cancelled Vostok 9 flight. During this mission he would have investigated many aspects of spaceflight as well as imaging the Earth and sky.
Once again he was assigned as a back up this time for the Voskhod 1 flight, the first multiperson mission. Instead of being a new spacecraft like the American two person Gemini, Voskhod was little more than a Vostok capsule with the seats at a different orientation to allow three people to fit in. They had to twist their heads in order to read their instruments which were still in their original positions. Volynov was the proposed prime crew for the Voskhod 3 flight which would have been a 19 day mission in a 175 km X 500 km orbit. This was cancelled after the near fatal problems of Voskhod 2.
He was the backup for the Soyuz 3 flight which was meant to dock with the unmanned Soyuz 2 but this failed when Georgi Beregovoi repeatedly put the spacecraft in an orientation that nulled the automatic docking system. He used nearly all his orientation fuel in three attempts.
Finally, Volynov received his first assignment. On January 15, 1969 he launched with Yevgeni Khrunov and Aleksei Yeliseyev on Soyuz 5. During this mission they docked with Soyuz 4. Khrunov and Yeliseyev transferred to the other spacecraft and reentred with Vladimir Shatalov.
It was now that Volynov experienced one of the scariest reentries ever survived. The service module didn't jettison properly and so his spacecraft orientated itself so that the thin hatch was bearing the brunt of the reentry. Fortunately the service module finally broke free and he survived (a much fuller account is found in the Soyuz 5 node).
However it would be 7 years before he flew again. In the meantime he was assigned to Soyuz 15 backup crew and was the proposed prime crew for the next flight which was cancelled.
He was then assigned to the Soyuz 21 mission. Launched July 6, 1976 it docked with Salyut 5 space station for a 49 day stay. During the mission he and Vitali Zholobov made observations of an aquarium fish in the microgravity, imaged the Sun and made TV conferences with school pupils in Russia. They also performed military experiments as Salyut 5 was in fact a Almaz militaty space station designed for reconnaissance. It is thought that Salyut 5 was equipped with a SAR side-looking radar for reconnaissance of land and sea targets even through cloud cover.
They mission was cut short at the request of the crew as Zholobov was suffering from space sickness and the crew had some psychological problems. When they landed, crew was in very bad psychological and mental condition. It was later decided by the Soviet authorities that they had become emotional, not followed their physical training, and developed an unreasonable desire to return to earth.
Volynov never flew in space again but was the proposed prime crew for the last flight to the Salyut 7 space station in early 1986. However the mission was cancelled after the ground lost control of the station.
In all he spent 52 days, 7 hours and 17 minutes in space.
From 1982 until 1990 he was the Head of the Staff Directorate for Cosmonaut Training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. He retired on March 17, 1990.
He was twice a Hero of the Soviet Union and recevied two Orders of Lenin. He received awards from the FAI and Poland. He is an honourary citizen of Kaluga, Prokopevsk, Vorkuta, Magadan (Russia) and Kustanai (Kazakhstan)