Vitali Ivanovich Sevastyanov (cyrillic
Виталий Иванович Севастьянов) was born July 8, 1935
in the city of Krasnouralsk
. In 1953
he left secondary school
with a gold medal
. He then went onto graduate
from the Moscow Aviation Institute
. From there he went to work at the Korolev Design Bureau
. There he worked on the development of the Vostok
spacecraft. He lectured the cosmonaut
s on rocket technology
s. He was selected as a cosmonaut in the 1967 Civilian Engineer Group
He was the proposed prime crew for the last circumlunar flight. To be launched July 1969, the crew would have travelled on a free return trajectory in a Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft.
He was then assigned to the backup crew for the Soyuz 8 mission. During the mission Soyuz 7 and 8 were supposed to dock while Soyuz 6 took spectacular film nearby. The rendezvous system on all three failed and so this was not accomplished. Soyuz 7 and 8 did come with 500 metres of each other.
His first spaceflight was Soyuz 9 launched June 1, 1970. During the marathon 18 day mission that set a record for the longest spaceflight at the time, he and Andrian Nikolayev investigated the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body. They also watch the World Cup Soccer matches and voted in the Soviet Election.
Sevastyanov was on the backup crew for the follow on mission to Salyut 1, after the Soyuz 11 flight. He was also on the support crews for the second flight to the next two space stations. The first exploded during launch and the second was lost 18 days after its launch.
He was again on the support crew for Soyuz 12 which tested the newly improved Soyuz spacecraft. Changes to the Soyuz after the fatal accidents on Soyuz 11 included reducing the crew to two cosmonauts so that they could wear spacesuits and the replacing of solar panels with batteries.
He was on the backup crew for the Soyuz 17 mission which docked with Salyut 4 for a month long mission. He was on the backup crew for the next launch, which was meant to be Soyuz 18. However during second-third stage seperation third stage failed to separate from second stage but still ignited. The crew had no way to initiate the abort and the ground were unaware of the problem. The ground finally realised what was going on and the Soyuz and rocket separated by ground control command at 192 km. The crew experience a 20.6 G reentry. The capsule landed in the Altai mountains, tumbled down a mountainside, and snagged in some bushes just short of a precipice. At first the crew thought that they may have landed in China but the locals that appeared some hours later spoke Russian.
Sevastyanov last flight was the actual Soyuz 18 launched May 24, 1975. He and Pyotr Klimuk docked with Salyut 4 for a 62 day mission. It was the first time that a space station had been home to two seperate crews. During their stay the crew imaged the Earth especially looking a resources in the Soviet Union. They worked on the Oasis garden experiments, planting onions and peas and monitoring their growth. During the mission both Sevastyanov and Klimuk celebrated their birthdays.
In all Sevastyanov spent 80 days, 16 hours and 18 minutes in space over two missions.
He acted as CapCom for the missions to Salyut 6 from 1978 to 1980. He then worked as designer of space equipment and in the late 1980s trained for a Soyuz TM long duration mission to Mir. He was then reassigned to short duration missions after failing medical and worked on Buran shuttle programme.
He retired from the cosmonaut program in 1993 and entered in the politics and is member of the Duma for the Communist Party.
He was twice a Hero of the Soviet Union, has two Orders of Lenin, has a Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal from the USSR Academy of Sciences. He also has medals from Germany, Czechoslovakia and the FAI. He is an honourary citizen of Kaluga, Sochi, Anadyr (Russia), Karaganda, Arkalyk (Kazakhstan), Varna (Bulgaria), Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco (USA).