The remnants of Vladimir Komarov. Source: history.com

The Most Tragic Victim Of the Space Race

Vladimir Komarov's remains were placed in an open casket as he was deemed a hero who willingly gave up his life for the sake of humanity. 

Space accidents are pretty common in today’s day and age. Multiple astronauts have lost their lives during their trips to the outer space. We did not have sufficient information back when space exploration commenced. Hence, malfunctions in space rockets took multiple lives over the years. Space X and Blue Origin are currently working on rockets that can safely bring astronauts back to the earth. They are trying to minimize the chances of accidents.

Portrait of Vladimir Komarov. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of Vladimir Komarov. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vladimir Komarov was a soviet union officer and was part of the Russian Soyuz program. This is known as the longest-running space program in the history of space exploration. It is considered as one of the most successful programs as multiple rockets and spacecraft have been added to its records since 1966. However, things were not as perfect back when the program was launched.

The Soyuz 1 mission ended with the death of cosmonaut Komarov on board, marking the first death in space history. As per records, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed when his parachute failed to deploy during his spacecraft’s landing. The said incident took place on April 24, 1967.

Vladimir Komarov was selected to test the spacecraft, Soyuz I, amid the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Komarov was a fighter pilot and aeronautical engineer by profession. He was one of the best from the lot. He made his first trip to outer space in 1964, three years before the unfortunate 1967 voyage.

Komarov was scheduled to re-enter earth as he successfully completed 16 orbits of the earth. He, however, ran into a problem and was unable to fire the rocket brakes. It took two trips around the earth before the cosmonaut could manage re-entry.

Komarov had no idea that this would be his last trip to space. He did not think that his space capsule would ultimately kill him. When Soyuz I attained an altitude of 23,000 feet, a parachute was supposed to deploy, bringing Komarov safely to earth. However, the chute did not accurately deploy during the craft’s re-entry. Moreover, he did not have a backup with him; there was a single chute in his space capsule. He ultimately fell to the ground and was killed.

According to various records, he was furious during his last moments. He became unconscious soon after he re-entered the earth and crashed. His remnants were later discovered and were honored by the Russian government. His ruins were taken in an open casket as he was deemed a hero who willingly gave his life for the sake of humanity. 

There was a large public mourning of Komarov in Moscow, and his ashes were buried in the wall of the Kremlin. Komarov’s wife had not been told of the Soyuz I’s launch until after he was already in orbit. She did not get to say goodbye to her husband.

Despite the dangers, both the Soviet Union and the U.S. continued their space exploration programs. The US government sent a spacecraft to the moon after two years of the accident. Neil Armstrong managed to land safely on the lunar surface.

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