Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, Soviet cosmonaut, Died at 83

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Dead, Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov on the 21st of November 2009 at the age of 83, he was a Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer.

When Voronezh was occupied in World War II, Feoktistov, who was then only 16 years old, worked as a scout for the Soviet army, he was captured by the Germans and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Shot through the neck, he feigned death and escaped from a burial trench. He later attended Moscow N.E. Bauman Higher Technical School and worked for a time as a factory engineer.

Feoktistov also wrote several books on space technology and exploration.

Feoktistov enrolled in the Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School as an engineering student and he graduated in 1949.

Feoktistov also later earned a doctorate in physics.

He joined Mikhail Tikhonravov’s OKB (design bureau), and in 1955, Feoktistov formed part of the team that went on to design the Sputnik satellites, the Vostok space capsule, the Voskhod space capsule, and the Soyuz space capsule under the leadership of the Soviet Chief Designer Sergey Korolev.

During this time, Feoktistov also worked on a design for an ion-propelled spacecraft to be capable of taking humans to Mars.

After the flight of Voskhod 1, Feoktistov’s training for any further space mission was discontinued for medical reasons.

However, Feoktistov continued his outer space engineering work, and he later became the head of the Soviet space design bureau that designed the Salyut and Mir space stations.

Feoktistov and Yegorov, the first civilians in space whose training was shorter than prior cosmonauts, were initially disoriented by the microgravity environment but recovered before the end of the 16-orbit mission.

Feoktistov would later recount the highlights of his flight to authors Colin Burgess and Francis French for their book, “Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961 – 1965,” published in 2007.

He listed “the rising and setting of the sun; the observation of layers of brightness above the horizon before the ship would leave the shadow of the Earth; and the fast moving, recognizable but very unusual colourful map of the Earth’s surface.

He campaigned to fly on the second Soyuz mission, after the first suffered a parachute failure taking the life of his Voskhod 1 commander Vladimir Komarov, but his efforts were rebutted by Nikolai Kamanin, the head of cosmonaut training, who declared Feoktistov didn’t meet the physical standards for a pilot.

Voskhod 1, in addition to being the first spacecraft to carry more than one man, was the first to carry specialists (a doctor and an engineer) and the first to make a soft landing on the ground.

After the Voskhod 1 flight, Feoktistov returned to engineering and played a major role in designing the Salyut and Mir space stations.

Konstantin lived a truly remarkable life, and had the honour and distinction of being the first civilian to ever go into space.

Everyone who had been to space prior to him had been members of a government agency.

Feoktistov also carries the distinction of being the first man sent to space by the Soviet Union who was not a member of the Communist Party.

Finally, Feoktistov has a crater on the far side of the Moon named for him as well, the Feoktistov Crater.

Feoktistov lived a dramatic and incredible life, even apart from being the first civilian in space.

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