Soviet-era cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov, who flew into space twice, dies at 89

Soviet-era cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov, who flew into house twice — as soon as aboard a refurbished spacecraft after which on the primary crewed take a look at of a brand new mannequin — has died on the age of 89.

Aksyonov’s dying on Tuesday (April 9) was introduced by Roscosmos, Russia’s federal house company.

“On behalf of the Roscosmos state company and by myself behalf, I categorical deep condolences in reference to the dying of the twice Hero of the Soviet Union, pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR, lieutenant colonel-reserve engineer Vladimir Viktorovich Aksyonov,” stated Yury Borisov, director common of the company. “His life’s path was crammed with trustworthy service to the Motherland, inventive work and dedication to his chosen trigger.”

Chosen to develop into a cosmonaut with the Soviet Union’s fifth group of civilian flight engineers, Aksyonov lifted off on the primary of his two spaceflights on board Soyuz 22, a spacecraft that first served because the backup to the Soviet facet of the Apollo-Soyuz Take a look at Challenge (ASTP), the primary mission flown with the USA. As a substitute of being outfitted with a docking collar, the capsule carried a specialised digital camera.

Associated: Apollo-Soyuz Take a look at Challenge: Russians, People meet in house

Cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov. (Picture credit score: Roscosmos)

Lifting off with mission commander Valery Bykovsky on Sept. 15, 1976, Aksyonov spent greater than every week photographing the planet from orbit. Through the Earth-observation mission, Bykovsky and Aksyonov took 2,400 pictures whereas flying over 30 geographic areas, together with Siberia, Kazakstan and Central Asia. Different targets had been areas throughout the Soviet Union that, based on up to date media studies, had not been photographed from house earlier than.

Bykovsky and Aksyonov additionally noticed fish swimming in an onboard aquarium, grew vegetation in an centrifuge and monitored the consequences of cosmic rays on their imaginative and prescient, a priority first raised by the USA after Apollo astronauts shared their experiences flying to and from the moon.

On Sept. 23, eight days after launching on his first mission, Aksyonov landed with Bykovsky on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

Aksyonov’s subsequent flight got here 4 years later. Soyuz T-2 was the twelfth mission to the Soviet Salyut 6 house station and the tenth to efficiently dock on the orbiting outpost.

Though he was the extra skilled cosmonaut, Aksyonov once more flew as a flight engineer, this time paired with first-time flier and commander Yuri Malyshev. The almost four-day mission lifted off on June 5, 1980, and spent solely two days on the station, the place Malyshev and Aksyonov visited with the Salyut’s resident crew of Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin.

Vladimir Aksyonov, Soyuz T-2 flight engineer. (Picture credit score: Roscosmos)

The rest of the flight — earlier than and after linking up with Salyut 6 — served as a shakeout cruise for the Soyuz T-class spacecraft, which sported an upgraded laptop, stable state electronics and the return of photo voltaic arrays to allow longer-duration flights. Malyshev and Aksyonov had been the primary to fly the Soyuz T, after an uncrewed take a look at flight.

The 2 returned to Earth on June 9, 1980, marking the final time Aksyonov was aboard a spacecraft. He logged a complete of 11 days, 20 hours and 11 minutes in house over the course of his two missions and 189 revolutions across the planet.

Vladimir Viktorovich Aksyonov was born on Feb. 1, 1935, in Giblitsy, throughout the Kasimovsky District of the previous Soviet Union. He graduated from the Mytishchi Engineering Faculty in 1953, the tenth Army Aviation College for Major Pilot Coaching 1955 and All-Union Correspondence Polytechnic Institute with a level in mechanical engineering in 1963.

In 1962, Aksyonov started working for OKB-1 (at the moment, RSC Energia), the place he test-flew plane and carried out simulations in zero gravity. In 1966, the Soviet authorities determined that civilians (and former navy personnel) may develop into crew members on Soyuz spaceflights, which is what led to Aksyonov becoming a member of the cosmonaut corps.

Soyuz T-2 flight engineer Vladimir Aksyonov on board the Salyut 6 house station in June 1980. (Picture credit score: Roscosmos)


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