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[i]Rozhdestvensky took part in one of the most spectacular and dangerous landings in the history of manned space flight. On October 24, 1976, he was flight engineer aboard Soyuz 23 when he and commander Vyacheslav Zudov made the first splashdown in the Soviet space program, coming down in the middle if Lake Tengiz during a snowstorm in the dark.
It was a fitting end, perhaps, to an aborted space flight. Rozhdestvensky and Zudov had been launched on October 23, 1976, for a planned month-long mission aboard Salyut 5. During their approach to the space station however, the Soyuz guidance system failed and the docking was called off. Mission rules dictated a swift return to Earth, resulting in the cold, late-night splashdown.
Rescue craft were able to reach Soyuz 23 and divers attached a floatation cover to the craft, but it could not be towed to shore until dawn, many hours later. Rozhdestvensky and Zudov spent a cold and one may assume seasick night in the bobbing command module. They recovered, but neither flew in space again.[/i]
The preceding excerpt is reprinted from "Who's Who in Space: The First 25 Years" (1986) by Michael Cassutt.
Born on Feb. 13, 1939, Rozhdestvensky served in the Navy before becoming a cosmonaut in November 1965.
Three years later, he worked as a guidance and telemetry specialist, supporting several manned flights from mission control. He joined the Salyut training group in 1972 and was backup flight engineer for Soyuz 21 in 1976.
After his Soyuz 23 flight, Rozhdestvensky served as senior capcom during the Salyut 6 missions from 1977 to 1981. He supported Salyut as a flight controller as well.
Following his retirement from the cosmonaut corps on June 24 1986, Rozhdestvensky served as a deputy chief at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Rozhdestvensky was married to a Star City systems specialist and together they had a daughter born in 1962.
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