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Alexei Leonov, 90, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, the first person to go to outer space – Rodina

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 10:06:38

I was lucky to talk more than once with Alexei Arkhipovich. They agreed on one hour, but said two or three. And each time the interview turned into a master class on a cosmic scale. Yes, he was not just a super professional. He was an incredible lover of life, who never succumbed to difficulties and always infected everyone with his sparkling humor. Both on Earth and in space.

It flew into orbit twice. In total I worked there 7 days and 2 minutes. By modern standards, not much. But every minute became truly stellar. It was a revelation.


March 1965. The world was shocked by the 12 minutes and 9 seconds Alexei Leonov spent in outer space. He left the Voskhod-2 spacecraft 1 hour and 35 minutes after launch, at the beginning of the second orbit.

“Attention! Man has entered space!” – these jubilant words of Commander Pavel Belyaev were broadcast by all radio stations in the world. Images of a Soviet cosmonaut flying against the background of the Earth were broadcast on all television channels.

Leonov moved away from the ship at a distance of up to 5.35 meters. No one else has done this with a rope halyard! It was a triumph for Russian cosmonautics. But few people knew then that the Voskhod-2 crew had not only gone to extremes, but had also reached the point of life.

“There are things we lost on Earth, including several emergency situations,” said Alexey Arkhipovich. – But some questions related, in particular, to gigantic pressure drops, cannot be answered in advance: the conditions are not suitable. That’s why the problems arose. In the vacuum of space, the suit swelled; neither the rigid ribs nor the dense fabric could support it. The moment came when my hands came out of the gloves and my feet came out of the boots. This cannot be predicted or verified on Earth.

The situation is critical: Leonov simply could not get back into the airlock hatch. Consult the Earth? Not for a second! He took a risk: entering the airlock, not with his feet, but with his head. Happened. But at the airlock it was necessary to turn around to enter the ship with one’s feet. The diameter of the airlock is 1 m, the width of the spacesuit at shoulder height is 68 cm. How he achieved it, only God knows. And also to the doctors: the astronaut’s pulse jumped to 190.

And then it turned out: the “flowers” ​​were ahead. Already after Leonov returned to the ship.

– The partial pressure of oxygen (in the cabin) began to increase, which reached 460 mm and continued to grow. This is equivalent to 160 mm!… At first we were stunned,” recalls Alexey Leonov. – The slightest spark – and everything would turn into a molecular state, and we understood it. Seven hours in this state, and then he fell asleep…apparently from stress. A little later we realized that he had touched the boost switch with the hose from my spacesuit…

Why cosmonaut Leonov was almost expelled from the party

Ten years later, in July 1975, Alexey Leonov made his second flight into space. He is already the commander of the Soyuz-19 spacecraft of the Soyuz-Apollo program, together with Valery Kubasov. Then, for the first time in the world, ships from two countries docked. Why did they want to expel cosmonaut Leonov from the party after that historic flight? And how did a Soviet cosmonaut wish Americans a life “full of sex”? Alexey Arkhipovich also spoke about this.

It turns out that for a long time he kept silent about a secret of the Apollo Soyuz.

“It was a scientific experiment related to the flight of the Apollo spacecraft via the Soyuz spacecraft, which I controlled,” shared Alexey Arkhipovich. – There were strict instructions: the distance between ships was at least 150 meters. Experts believed: the more, the safer. However, from the practice of aviation flights, it became clear to both me and Tom Stafford, the commander of the Apollo: such a distance was unacceptable due to increased fuel consumption. Pair flights are best performed at a distance of 40 meters.

And this topic is being discussed. Tom demonstrates: it is necessary to fly at a distance of 35 to 40 meters. It’s worth dying. Specialists too. The situation is tense to the limit. I get it: Stafford’s position can only do harm. He dragged him out of the meeting and into the hallway. I say, “Calm down. We will be alone in space. “We will do it as necessary.”

And they did it.

“I flew around the Soyuz 40 meters from the Apollo,” Leonov admitted. – I could clearly see pilot Vance Brand’s face through the window. And until now no one has thought to discover how we fly. How far?

“I recently spoke at the space summit in Houston,” the astronaut continued. – The technical director of the NASA project, Glenn Lunney, was also present. I say, “I’ll tell you a secret: I’m sorry, we violated all the instructions but we performed the experiment brilliantly.” Sometimes it is necessary to perform actions that cannot be described in instructions. Which are born only during the operation.

There was no vodka. And there was cognac

In general, Leonov would not be Leonov if he had not come up with something like that. So, there are still jokes about him pranking the Americans with vodka during the Soyuz-Apollo flight.

“No one at MCC knew about this,” the astronaut said. – Even before the flight, I took out the labels: “Stolichnaya”, “Russian”, “Starka” and “Moskovskaya”. I put them in the logbook and I already had the tape. And after we went into orbit, I stuck vodka labels on borscht tubes. He also wrote a Shakespearean catchphrase: “Oh, brave new world that has such people in it.” And I made friendly caricatures of each of them.

When we sat down at the table after docking, Kubasov and I took out tubes of “vodka”. By tradition, let’s toast the meeting! The Americans refuse: it is impossible, it is a violation. And they show it on television cameras. I say, “I’ll turn it off now so no one can see.” And he turned it off. And from the Earth they shout: “Turn on!” In general, everyone opened the tubes and there… borscht! There’s a close-up of Deke Slayton’s face as he says, “Listen, why did you cheat? It would be better if there was vodka!” But no one believes that we didn’t drink vodka. Nobody”.

– Is it true that there was not a gram of alcohol? – I asked.

– Absolutely.

– Academician Oleg Gazenko, founder of space medicine, was convinced: 5-7 grams of cognac in orbit would not hurt.

– There was a moment like that. When Lebedev and Berezovoy flew, they both turned 40 during the flight. On a freighter I decided to send them cognac secretly: I cut a loaf of bread in half and hid a flask there. So Lebedev wrote “the theory of drinking cognac in space”: you need to bring the bottle to your mouth and shake it vigorously; It will be exactly 30 grams. And it was published in a scientific journal!

The ministry meeting is underway. Minister Afanasyev is blacker than a cloud. He shows the magazine: “Who made this?” I stood up and said: “Sergei Alexandrovich, I did this. They have been flying for so long, they are 40 years old that a bottle of cognac lasts six months.” And from the audience they shout: “It’s not enough! Is not sufficient!” General Yuri Pavlovich Semenov stands up and says: “Alexey discussed it with me and we sent him this bottle of cognac.” “He helped me,” Leonov laughed as he recounted.

Meeting on the Elbe

…Ballistics experts calculated the flight of the Soyuz-Apollo orbital system to the nearest second for a handshake in space over Moscow. But everything happened on the other side of the Elbe.

– Because? – I asked Alexei Arkhipovich.

“I still can’t understand,” he shrugged and smiled mischievously. – I kept track of the time. How did the change come about during these 30 minutes?… But the result, of course, was a surprising effect: in 1945 our parents met on the Elbe, in 75 our children met on the Elbe. As we flew over Moscow, the order from Earth was: “Open the hatches!” “We are already seated at the table,” we respond.

And Americans still remember how our wonderful cosmonaut wished them a life “full of sex.”

“When we finished the whole program, we had a banquet,” shared Alexey Leonov. – I prepared a short game. He said what we did, what kind of relationship there was between us. And he wanted to end with the phrase: “I want to wish you a successful life”-“I wish you all the success in life.” But out of excitement I dropped a letter. And it turned out: “I want to wish you a life full of sex” – “I wish you a life full of sex.”

An explosion of laughter in the hallway. The Americans applaud: “No one has ever wished this on us from the stands.” Ten years later the anniversary of the flight was celebrated. And NASA director James Fletcher suddenly says, “Alexey, please, you have the floor. And you know what, he makes a mistake again!”

He and Tom Stafford became more than just close friends. In Stafford’s house there was a room with a sign: “A. Leonov.” And when Alexey Arkhipovich flew to the United States, he always came to Tom and stayed with him.

“We have had a very tender relationship with Stafford all these years,” Leonov made no secret. – As he says, we have children in common. I helped him adopt two Russian children.

Brezhnev Guardhouse

Why did Brezhnev threaten to send Leonov to the guardhouse? This is what Alexey Leonov said:

– I accompanied the cosmonauts to the award ceremony in the Kremlin. According to protocol, the Secretary General stands up and reads the decree. And the heroes are sitting. This is strange, ugly. And I told the boys: “Don’t sit down!” Leonid Ilyich enters the room and gestures with his hand: “Sit down!” I shake my head: “No!” And so on several times.

“Leonov, I’ll put you in the guardhouse!” – Brezhnev said sternly. “I’ll tell my grandchildren how they put me in the guardhouse,” I oriented myself instantly. “Okay, stop!” -He greeted me. Since then it has been like this: when the decree on the award is read, the cosmonauts stand up.

…Alexey Arkhipovich was “in space” until the last moment. And he never refused to comment on what was happening in the industry to which he dedicated his entire life.

I remember that I urgently needed to know your opinion on some event. I called my home phone. Svetlana Pavlovna, my wife, answered the phone. “And she has a planned hospitalization,” she says. And, sensing how upset she was, she suggested to me: “You know, I’ll give you a secret number, call it, but don’t give me away.” Alexey Arkhipovich was terribly surprised by the call from this phone. Then he laughed: “Well, bandits, they found you here too!”

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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