- Soviet space program conspiracy accusations
The Lost Cosmonauts, or Phantom Cosmonauts, are
cosmonautswho allegedly entered outer space, but whose existence has never been acknowledged by either the Soviet or Russian space authorities.
Proponents of the Lost Cosmonauts theory concede that
Yuri Gagarinwas the first man to "survive" space travel, but claim that the Soviet Union attempted to launch two or more manned space flights prior to Gagarin's, and that at least two cosmonauts died in the attempt. Another cosmonaut, Vladimir Ilyushin, is believed to have landed off-course and was held by the Chinese government. The Soviet government supposedly suppressed this information, to prevent bad publicity during the height of the Cold War.
While there is some evidence to support these assertions, much of it is disputed. Even with access to published Soviet archival material and memoirs of Russian space pioneers, no hard evidence has emerged. Some argue that records are still being kept confidential, or were destroyed altogether.
James Oberg, who researched space-related disasters in the Soviet Union, found no evidence of these Lost Cosmonauts. [(“Uncovering Soviet Disasters (1988) ISBN 0-394-56095-7, 156-76)] However much of the information now available, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, emerged after Oberg concluded his research.
upposed incidents in space
An article published in the English language edition of "
Pravda" [http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/04/12/3502.html] in April 2001, forty years after Gagarin's successful orbit, gave some details about the three cosmonauts reputed to have been lost in earlier missions.
* Late 1957, Aleksei LedovskyIn December 1959, a "high-ranking Czech Communist" leaked information about many purported 'unofficial' space 'shots'.
Aleksei Ledovskywas mentioned as being launched inside a converted R-5A rocket.
* February 1958, Serenti ShiborinPioneering space theoretician
Hermann Oberthclaimed in 1959 that a pilot had been killed on a sub-orbitalballistic flight from Kapustin Yarin early 1958. He never provided a source for the story. In December 1959, the Italian news agency Continentalereported that a series of cosmonaut deaths on suborbital flights had been revealed by a high-ranking Czech communist. Among these were Serenti Shiborin, said to have perished in 1958. No other evidence of Soviet sub-orbital manned flights ever came to light.
* January 1959, Andrei MitkovIn December 1959, a "High-ranking Czech communist" leaked much information about many of these 'unofficial' launches, and
Andrei Mitkovwas, like Ledovsky, mentioned as being launched inside of an R-5A conversion.
* 1959, Mirya GromovaIn December 1959, again a "High-ranking Czech communist" leaked information about many of these 'unofficial' launches, including that of
Mirya Gromova, a woman who purportedly flew "some sort of 'space aeroplane' into oblivion", never to be seen or heard from again. If the story of Gromova is true, her craft most likely disintegrated upon re-entry from a sub-orbital flight. The 'Space Aeroplane' would likely be a Cosmonaut training vehicle, intended for high-altitude operation.
* 15 May 1960, Unknown person
Robert A. Heinleinwrote in his 1960 article "'Pravda' means 'Truth'" (reprinted in "Expanded Universe") that on 15 May, 1960, while traveling in the Soviet Union, in Vilnius(called by its Polish name "Wilno" throughout the article; Vilnius is far away from Soviet rocket launch sites), he was told by Red Army cadets that the Soviet Union had launched a man into orbit that day, but that later the same day it was denied by officials and that no issues of the " Pravda" national newspaper could be found in Vilniusor, reportedly, other Soviet cities.
Heinlein wrote that there was an orbital launch, later said to be unmanned, on that day, but that the retro-rockets had fired while the vehicle was at the wrong altitude, making recovery efforts unsuccessful. [ [http://www.firearmsrights.com/rah1961.htm Robert A. Heinlein ] at www.firearmsrights.com]
According to Gagarin's biography [cite book
last = Bizony
first = Piers
year = 1998
title = Starman: Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin
publisher = Bloomsbury
id = ISBN 0-7475-3688-0] these rumours were likely started as a result of two Vostok missions, equipped with dummies and human voice tape recordings, to check if the radio worked, that were made just prior to Gagarin's flight.
According to the
NASANSSDC Master Catalog, on 15 May, 1960, Sputnik 4with "a self-sustaining biological cabin with a dummy of a man" was launched. [ [http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1960-005A NASA - NSSDC - Spacecraft - Details ] at nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov]
* 27 September 1960, Ivan KachurA 1959 edition of
Ogonyokcarried images of three men, Piotr Dolgov, Ivan Kachurand Alexis Graciov(?), testing high-altitude equipment. Kachur is known to have disappeared around this time; his name has become linked to this equipment.
* 11 October 1960, Piotr Dolgov
Piotr Dolgovwas a colonelin the Soviet Air Force.
Over the years there have been false reports that Dolgov was actually killed on
October 11, 1960, in a failed flight of a Vostok spacecraft. Such a flight would have occurred six months prior to the historic Vostok 1flight of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. These reports would make Dolgov a phantom cosmonaut, one of a few whose identity is documented, although he was not a member of the cosmonaut team.
Officially he was killed on
November 1, 1962, while carrying out a high-altitude parachutejump from a Volga balloongondola. Dolgov jumped at an altitude of 28,640 meters (93,970 feet). The helmet visor of Dolgov's Sokol space suithit part of the gondola as he exited, de-pressurizing the suit and killing him.
* ?? December 1960,
* 1960-1961, V. ZavadovskyIn late 1959, Ogonyok carried pictures of a certain '
Comrade V. Zavadovsky' testing high-altitude equipment (perhaps with Graciov and others). Zavadovsky would later appear on lists of 'dead cosmonauts', without a date of death or accident description Fact|date=June 2007.
However, in a US press conference on
23 February 1962, Col. Barney Oldfield revealed that a space cabin had been orbiting the earth since about 1960, as it had become jammed into its booster rocket. Korabl Sputnik 1, as it was known, was a prototype of the later Zenitand Vostok manned launchers. The onboard TDU had ordered the retro rocketsto fire, but had instead malfunctioned and done the inverse - putting the craft into a higher orbit. The re-entrycapsule was apparently without even a heatshield. The Soviet Union claimed the capsule had been unmanned. Fact|date=January 2007
* 1961, Ludmila and Nikolay (Anatoly) Tokovy?Supposedly a married couple -
Ludmila Tokovyand Nikolay Tokovyor Anatoly Tokovy. TASSlater reported that an unmanned satellite roughly the size of a London bus had been launched, but had disintegrated during re-entry.
The Torre Bert Recordings
Regardless of the existence of either Nikolay or Anatoly Tokovy, the Torre Bert listening station in northern Italy purported to have picked up a transmission of a woman's voice, sounding confused and frightened as her craft began to break up upon reentry. Presumably the voice was Ludmila's, though no one knows how or why this name has become attached to the voice on the tape. The interpretation of the tape can be found at the website. [http://www.lostcosmonauts.com/wom.htm]
* 2 February 1961, Gennady MikhailovAlleged first human in orbit,
Gennady Mikhailovmay have died in orbit due to heart failure. This rumor may have been derived from reports in the French and Italian press, claiming that Sputnik 7(launched 4 Feb, not 2) was a manned mission. According to the TASSnews agency it was a failed Venus probe. This is believed to be the source of the Torre Bert recording of both heartbeats and breathing. Both files can be found at the Lost Cosmonauts Web site. [http://www.lostcosmonauts.com/man.htm]
* 24 February 1961, Unknown CoupleThere were reports of a couple launched on the 17th aboard a 'Lunik' spacecraft orbiting the earth, reporting "Everything is satisfactory, we are orbiting the earth" at regular intervals.
On the 24th, there were some garbled verbal transmissions about something the couple could see outside their ship, and had to urgently communicate to Earth. What happened is unclear, but communication was lost. Around the same time the listening station at Torre Bert apparently picked up an SOS signal from a craft in space. As the signal got weaker, it was assumed whatever craft it was disappeared into deep space.Fact|date=January 2007
* 23 March 1961, Valentin BondarenkoOne of the incidents that fuels the "lost cosmonaut" stories is the death of
Valentin Bondarenko. A member of the original cosmonaut program, Bondarenko died in a training accident on the ground, when a high-oxygen pressurised chamber he was in caught fire on 23 March, 1961. He was erased from official Soviet pictures and descriptive materials of their cosmonaut program, leading to all manner of speculation about him and other cosmonauts whose histories were less than perfectly known. The true nature of his accident was not revealed until the 1980s.
* 7 April 1961, Vladimir Ilyushin
Vladimir Ilyushin, son of Soviet airplane designer Sergey Ilyushin, was a Soviet pilot and is purported to have been a cosmonaut, alleged by some to have actually been the first man in space on 7 April, 1961--an honor generally attributed to Yuri Gagarinon 12 April.
The theories surrounding this alleged orbital flight are that a failure aboard the
spacecraftcaused controllers to bring the descending capsule down several orbits earlier than intended, resulting in its landing in the People's Republic of China. The pilot was then held by Chinese authorities for a year before being returned to the Soviet Union. The international embarrassment that would have resulted from such an incident is cited as the Soviets' reason for not publicizing this flight, instead focusing their publicizing efforts on the subsequent successful flight of Yuri Gagarin.
However, there are reasons to disbelieve this allegation. Although both were
Communist governments, relations between the Soviet Union and China were strained. The propagandavalue of a Soviet pilot captured flying over Chinese territory would have given little reason for Chinese authorities to cooperate in a cover-up. Also, "bringing the capsule down several orbits earlier than intended" does not make sense, considering that the mission involved a single orbit.
This theory originated on
10 April, 1961, with Dennis Ogden, the Moscow correspondent of the British Communist newspaper Daily Worker, and was actually based on Ilyushin's medical treatment and cure in China. According to many Soviet sources including the article in Komsomolskaya Pravdadated 11 July, 2005, although Ilyushin was a famous test pilot, he was never involved in the space program. On 5 June, 1960, his legs were seriously injured in a car accident, and Ilyushin underwent medical treatment for a year in Moscow, then was sent Hangzhou, China, for rehabilitation under specialists in oriental medicine. [ [http://www.kp.ru/daily/23542/41928/ KP.RU // Ãàãàðèí áûë äâåíàäöàòûì? ] at www.kp.ru] [ [http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/golovanov/kosm-1/05.html Ãîëîâàíîâ. ÊËÅÂÅÒÀ ] at epizodsspace.testpilot.ru] [ [http://www.rg.ru/Anons/arc_2002/0330/3.shtm Èëüþøèí - ñûí Èëüþøèíà ] at www.rg.ru] This explanation was also confirmed by the Soviet defector Leonid Vladimirov, an engineer who had personal contacts with Ilyushin in 1960, in his 1973 book "The Russian Space Bluff", published in Frankfurt[ [http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/vladimirov/02.html Ëåîíèä Âëàäèìèðîâ Ñîâåòñêèé êîñìè÷åñêèé áëåô02 ] at epizodsspace.testpilot.ru] (Russian translation of the book).
The theory was lent some credibility in 1999 in a documentary on the subject titled called
Cosmonaut Cover-Up. Interviewed in English, Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, said that it was true and that Vladimir Ilyushin was actually held in China for over a year as a "guest" of the People's Republic of China. He was later returned to the Soviet Union, but by then the Gagarin legend was in place and the bizarre incident was covered up. The main reason for concealment was to not let the West see the schism between China and the USSR. Vladimir Ilyushin, who currently lives in Russia, has never confirmed this theory.
* November 1962, Alexis Belokoniov
Alexis Belokoniovis reportedly one of three (two men and a woman) cosmonauts aboard a November flight. The Torre Bert tower in Italy allegedly picked up a frantic set of messages relayed by the three occupants. 'Conditions growing worse why don't you answer? ... we are going slower... the world will never know about us . . ' Fact|date=January 2007
* 1966Sources in Western intelligence claim that at least three undisclosed missions failed in the second half of the 1960s, including a multiple launch in 1966.Fact|date=June 2007
A number of claims have been confirmed as hoaxes:
A 1998 American
urban legendheld that during the fall of the Soviet Union, one of their cosmonauts was stranded on the Mirspace station. The Soyuz ferry spacecraft had a nominal on-orbit storage life of 180 days. Financial and technical problems, related to the political uncertainty, delayed the launch of replacement crews.
Several times the Soyuz craft remained docked to the station, in orbit, longer than its six-month-rated life. Every time this happened 'experts' would state on television news reports that the crew was 'stranded'. This first happened on the
Soyuz TM-15flight of 1992.
This legend became the basis for the Norwegian short film 'Kosmonaut', directed by Stefan Faldbakken. The film created a sensation at the 2001 Venice Film Festival Fact|date=May 2007 and told with considerable technical accuracy Fact|date=May 2007 the story of fictional cosmonaut Igor Fedrov. Plot: on a long duration mission aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, Fedrov is unable to contact ground control during the chaotic period after Gorbachev's overthrow in 1991. Stranded in his Soyuz capsule, unable to receive instructions or update his guidance system, his life support supplies dwindling, he finally attempts a manually guided reentry and dies in the attempt.
Soyuz 2was an 'unmanned spacecraft' that was the docking target for Soyuz 3. However, Mike Arena, an American journalist, found in 1993 that Ivan Istochnikov and his dog Kloka were manning Soyuz 2, and disappeared on 26 October, 1968, with signs of having been hit by a meteorite. They had been "erased" from history by the Soviet authorities, who could not tolerate such a failure." [http://www.el-mundo.es/magazine/num84/textos/cosmo.html Ivan Istochnikov: El cosmonauta fantasma] ", El Mundo Magazine", 25th May 1997. Following the links, we find [http://www.el-mundo.es/magazine/num84/textos/semana.html#expo the announcement] of the Fontcuberta exposition.]
The entire story was a hoax perpetrated by
Joan Fontcuberta, [http://www.fundacion.telefonica.com/at/esputnik.html Sputnik Foundation] . Notice the "PURE FICTION" text in red text over a red background.] a 'modern art exercise' that included falsified mission 'artifacts', various digitally manipulated images, and immensely detailed feature-length biographies which turned out to be riddled with hundreds of historical as well as technical errors. The exhibit was shown in Madrid in 1997 and the National Museum of Catalan Artin 1998. Brown Universitylater purchased several articles, and put them on display themselves.
Luna Cornea" magazine however, failed to notice this, and ran issue number 14 (January/April 1998) with photos, and a story explaining the tragic and as-yet-untold truth. [http://www.astronautix.com/astros/istnikov.htm Istochnikov] at the Encyclopedia Astronautica.]
The name "Ivan Istochnikov" translated to English from Russian reads "John of the Source". [
Ivancorresponds etymologically to the first name "John", and "istochnik" (источник) is Russian for "source" [http://lingvo.yandex.ru/en?text=%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA&lang=en&search_type=lingvo&st_translate=1] . "Istochnikov" is genitiveplural for "istochnik", and so it translates as "of the Source"]
11 June, 2006, "Cuarto Milenio","Cuarto Milenio", [http://www.cuatro.com/programas/programa.html?anchor=ctoproent&p=cuartomilenio&s=entretenimiento&type=Tes&xref=20060615ctoultnot_2 page of the 11th June 2006 program] at the Cuatro site.] a mysteries program led by Iker Jiménezon the Spanish TV channel Cuatro, presented the story as possibly true." [http://blogs.elcorreodigital.com/index.php/magonia/2006/06/13/el_cosmonauta_fantasma El cosmonauta fantasma] ", a blog entry at the El Correonewspaper. An excerpt from "Cuarto Milenio" hosted in YouTubeis included. From the same author, there is [http://www.hoy.es/pg060613/prensa/noticias/Contraportada/200606/13/HOY-ULT-208.html an article] in "Hoy".]
Andrei Mikoyanwas reportedly killed together with a second crew member in an attempt to reach the moon ahead of the Americans in early 1969. Due to system malfunction they failed to get into lunar orbit and shot past the moon.
The source of this story was undoubtedly the television series '
The Cape'. The episode 'Buried in Peace' first aired on 28 October 1996. In it a shuttle crew on a mission to repair a communications satellite encounters a derelict Soviet spacecraft with a dead crew - the result of a secret attempt to send a manned mission to the moon 30 years earlier, before the United States. Tom Nowicki played Major Andrei Mikoyan in the story.
The lost cosmonauts are referred to in pop culture including art, science fiction and video games.
*A 2005 Russian
mockumentarymovie " First on the Moon" (Первые на Луне) features the fictional story of a 1938 Soviet landing on the Moon.
*The "" characters of The Boss and The Fury were fictional but noteworthy lost astronaut/cosmonauts.
*There are also references to stranded Russian astronauts in UK comics. A 1989 installment of
Philip Bond's " Wired World", published in the UK comics anthology" Deadline magazine", features a cosmonaut who crash lands in a London park where the main characters are picnicking. He goes drinking with them then phones his mother, and is later grabbed by men in black, presumably KGBofficers. There is also a character called Yuriin Grant Morrison's 2000 AD series " Really And Truly" circa 1992, who wears a space suitall the time and has the strength of seventeen men.
*Daniel Kalder's account of anti-tourism in the unknown ex-Soviet satellite states is titled
Apollo moon landing hoax accusations
Judica Cordiglia brothers
* [http://www.astronautix.com/astrogrp/phaonaut.htm Encyclopedia Astronautica: Phantom cosmonauts]
James Oberg(1988). "Uncovering Soviet Disasters: Exploring the Limits of Glasnost", Random House, ISBN 0-394-56095-7
* [http://www.lostcosmonauts.com/default.htm Lost Cosmonauts]
* [http://www.astronautix.com/astrogrp/phaonaut.htm Encyclopedia Astronautica: Phantom cosmonauts]
* [http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030117.html Straight Dope on "lost" cosmonauts]
* [http://www.jamesoberg.com/usd10.html Oberg chapter on Dead Cosmonauts]
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