Did the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin really have predecessors? The article will focus on courageous volunteers who sacrificed their lives for progress.
"Zero" astronauts. Who are they, and were they really?
In 2007, two Italian radio amateurs released data on signals they had intercepted at the dawn of Soviet cosmonautics using a makeshift radio set.
Incredibly, among the radio interference in the recordings, you can allegedly hear not only the heartbeat of the first Soviet dog launched into space, but also human voices calling for help.
But then it turns out that these people have been in space before. Yuri Gagarin? Did Cosmonaut No. 1 really have predecessors?
Undoubtedly, primacy in the field of astronautics would be an indicator of the USSR's superiority in the world political arena, and not everyone liked this.
Soon after, in 1959, the clever Italians caught the first clear signal from the Soviet apparatus "Sputnik 1", Certain government bodies became interested in their activities and sponsored their" research "in exchange for operational information about everything that is happening in the skies over the USSR.
The consequences were not long in coming: already in December 1959, the Italian news agency Continental notified the public that in 1957-1959 in the Soviet Union secret inhuman experiments were being carried out to launch ballistic missiles into space, piloted by living people.
In its statement, the Continental agency referred to a certain Czech communist leader who claimed that about 11 cosmonauts were killed when Soviet rockets were launched.
Western press; instantly took over the baton of exposing the Soviet space program, adding to the list of dead testers all new ones: names: Dedovsky, Shaborin, Milkov, Ilyushin, Bondarenko, Zavadovsky, Mikhailov, Kostiv, Tsvetov, Nefedov, Kiryushin ...
At the same time, few people knew that half of these pilots were alive after Gagarin's flight, and the other half never existed at all.
And why is it so certain that the "voices" on the Italian tape really belonged to living people? The fact is that some of the ballistic missiles actually had ... passengers. But their role was played by standard mannequins, which were jokingly called "Ivan Ivanovich" for their striking resemblance to humans.
Of course, what can you think when you see the military silently take out "lifeless bodies" from a landing ship, load them onto a helicopter and take them away without explaining a word to the media? And some of the "Ivanoviches" were even supplied with tape recorders with recordings of human voices. Perhaps their "cries for help" were noticed by curious Italians?
At the limit of human capabilities
And yet it cannot be fully asserted that the first Soviet cosmonaut had no predecessors. In order for the demonstration flight of Gagarin to be crowned with success, clear data on the congestions awaiting man in space were needed.
To this end, in June 1953, on the basis of the Research Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine, a secret team of 12 absolutely healthy volunteers was formed, who were supposed to test all the difficulties of space flights in laboratory conditions.
Officially, "Detachment-O" did not exist at all, but in reality, the testers were assigned serial numbers and warned that among the probable outcomes of experiments could be all kinds of chronic diseases, disability and even death.
What these courageous volunteers had to endure can be judged by the description of the tests carried out at the research institute. For example, doctor German Manovtsev, biologist Andrei Bozhka and engineer Boris Ulybyshev had to spend a whole year in a 12 sq. M. Heat chamber isolated from the outside world. meters with a continuously humming fan, so that scientists can test the crew for psychological compatibility.
Two other "pseudo-cosmonauts", Viktor Ren and Mikhail Novikov, spent 6 long hours trying to get rid of their spacesuits in a hot pressurized capsule, and then spent 72 hours hanging out in the Black Sea in order to find out what additional funds the astronauts needed to survive after an emergency landing in sea. And courageous Novikov also took part in an experiment to determine the limits of endurance of the human body at -40 ° C.
Having held out in the tundra for 40 hours in some training suits, the testers helped scientists to develop thermal insulation clothing in which future cosmonauts can withstand frost for 72 hours. That is how much time it takes for rescuers to find them anywhere on Earth.
According to the testers themselves, they considered 35 years to be a critical age for themselves: those who survived it and were not written off for health lived to a ripe old age, while the five “written off” - Ogurtsov, Druzhinin, Greshkov, Nikolaev and Kopan - did not last long. stretched out ...
Understudy number zero
As you know, Yuri Gagarin flew around the Earth in the Vostok-1 spacecraft. But few people know that a year earlier "cosmonaut number zero" Sergei Nefedov, Gagarin's actual backup, tested the secret apparatus "Vostok-0" in operation - an exact copy of the ship of his successor. Only all tests of life support systems took place not in orbit, but in laboratory conditions.
Main feature "Zero" cosmonaut Nefedov there was his complete anthropometric similarity with cosmonaut No. 1: the same height, weight and even appearance. The main task of the understudy was to experience on Earth many times more than what expected Gagarin in space, and to tell the "original" about his feelings. For example, if in flight Gagarin had to spend several hours in the "embryo" position, then Nefedov spent a whole month in it, and without imitation of weightlessness.
The spacesuit for Gagarin was also "sculpted" from Nefedov, who had to endure lengthy "fittings" from plaster, standing for hours in an uncomfortable position. Once "cosmonaut number zero" was so overworked during another experiment with nutrition in extreme conditions that he spent 4 hours on the operating table: the stomach simply refused to digest food ...
However, the backup turned out to be tenacious, and at the end of 1961 he joined the ranks of official testers. Now he is over 80, but he is still cheerful and still dreams of space.