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Cosmonaut Vladimir Vasyutin, led flight to Salyut space station, dead at 50

Soviet-era cosmonaut Vladimir Vasyutin, who led a Soyuz flight to the Salyut 7 space station, has died. (Roscosmos/
July 23, 2002

— Vladimir Vasyutin, a Russian cosmonaut who commanded a 1985 Soyuz flight to the former Salyut 7 space station, died Saturday (July 20) to cancer. He was 50.

A burial service is scheduled for today (July 23) in Monino, Russia, reports the magazine Novosti Kosmonavtiki.

Born March 8, 1952 in Ukraine, Vasyutin graduated from the Kharkhov Higher Air Force School in 1974, where he served as a pilot instructor until he was chosen to train as a cosmonaut in February 1976.

Vasyutin's first assignment was as backup commander for the Soyuz T-7 mission in 1982. He subsequently assumed similar roles for Soyuz T-9, T-10, and T-12.

Vasuytin's first and only spaceflight came in 1985, when he, Georgy Grechko and Alexander Volkov were launched on Sept. 17 and docked to the Salyut 7 space station the next day. Already aboard the station were Viktor Savinykh and Vladimir Dzhanibekov, the latter of whom would return to Earth with Grechko one week later.

For three weeks, operations on the station went smoothly. But by mid-October, Vasyutin developed an infection that resisted antibiotics. By early November, he was fighting a temperature which rose to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eventually, there was no choice for ground controllers: the cosmonauts had to return to Earth, and they did, on Nov. 21. After just 65 days in space, Vasyutin was hospitalized for almost a month.

After retiring as a cosmonaut, Vasyutin was named Deputy Faculty Chief at the Gagarin Aviation Academy in Monino.

He is survived by a wife and two children.

Biographical information used in this article was adapated and excerpted with permission from "Who's Who in Space: The First 25 Years" by Michael Cassutt.

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