As with much of the early Russian space program, the aim of this mission was to upstage the Americans. Launched on 23 April, 1967 with Vladimir Komarov onboard, the original mission was for Soyuz 2, with 3 cosmonauts onboard, to launch the next day and rendezvous and dock with Soyuz 1. Two cosomonauts would then spacewalk to Soyuz 1 and then each spacecraft would reenter seperately.

However, it went wrong from the start. One of the solar panels failed to deploy, staying wrapped around the service module. Even though the spacecraft was receiving only half the power expected, an attempt was made to manoeuvre. This failed because the exhaust from the thrusters interfered with the ion flow sensors that worked out the attitude of the spacecraft.

After this it was decided to end the mission early and bring Komarov back to Earth. However the first attempt at retrofire failed because the spacecraft could not properly orientate itself.

Komarov then had to try to manually adjust the attitude. To get the right alignment he had to use the periscope to sight the moon, as he was the on the night-side of the Earth.

Re-entry was successful and the drag chute deployed. But then Komarov's luck ran out - the pressure sensor failed, many that main chute did not deploy. He deployed the reserve which became tangled in the drag chute. The descent module crashed into a field near Orenburg at 7 am.

At first the control centre was not told that Komarov was dead. Finally the head of the space program was informed. He then phoned Brezhnev, then in Czechoslovakia, at noon. The world was informed by TASS seven hours later. Komarov's ashes were buried in the Kremlin Wall in a massive ceremony.


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