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  Yuri Gagarin: A great (or even good) cosmonaut? (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Yuri Gagarin: A great (or even good) cosmonaut?
randyc
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posted 02-23-2011 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, I'm sure that there are many who will disagree with me, but I'm going to go on record that, other than being the first human in space, I don't think that Gagarin was a great, or perhaps even a good cosmonaut.

Basically all he did was ride inside a hollowed out cannonball. He didn't control the spacecraft; he didn't rendezvous and/or dock with another spacecraft; he didn't perform an EVA; in short all he did was know when to eject from the spacecraft after it entered the atmosphere.

I may be wrong but I thought that I read that only the ground had the ability to control the spacecraft. But even if he did have control at best he did very little.

And unless there were political reasons to keep him from another mission (like Glenn) why wasn't he assigned to another mission? And, of course, there are still the rumours that he panicked during the training flight in 1968 that caused his death.

I also find it interesting that his backup (Titov) was suited up and riding with him to the pad for the launch. Why? Were the Russians afraid that Gagarin would panic and not be able to support the launch? Perhaps there was a good reason, but in 50 years of manned launches the U.S. never had a backup crewmember suited up and ride to the pad with the primary crew.

So, from what I've read, Gagarin didn't accomplish much more than Enos (who actually orbited more times than Gagarin).

Was Gagarin brave? Absolutely. Was he a great, or even good cosmonaut? I say no.

Rusty B
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posted 02-23-2011 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember a cartoon in the newspapers of the time. The chimp Ham, who had just completed a suborbital flight before Alan Shepard, was talking to another chimp. He said, "We're a little ahead of the Americans and a little behind the Russians."

dom
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posted 02-23-2011 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, where do I start

Yuri Gagarin was younger than the M-G-A test pilot astronauts, so unfortunately never really got a chance to show us if he had the makings of a GREAT cosmonaut.

The main reason he never flew again was because he was PREVENTED from flying by his Kremlin masters - they needed him alive for their own propaganda purposes.

Unfortunately this lead to much frustration on Gagarin's part after 1961 and he let himself slip - drinking heavily etc - but when he was eventually allowed to train for a space mission later in the decade he showed he was up to the job.

On the specifics of the first flight, he was indeed a passenger on Vostok (which was re-programmed) but he had been given the over-ride code to the system in case of emergency and I'm sure he would have been able to fly the spaceship just fine if he'd had too...

randyc
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posted 02-23-2011 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A lot of speculation (he would have been great had he been given another mission; he would have been able to fly the Vostok 1 spacecraft). But the bottom line is he didn't.

You mention that his frustration led to a lot of drinking. Lots of people get frustrated with their jobs and/or lives but don't resort to heavy drinking.

So frankly, not only is his cosmonaut abilities questionable, so is his ability to handle events in life that didn't go the way he wanted.

Here's another thing to think about... since spaceflight was very risky at that time, and since the passenger in Vostok didn't have to 'fly' the spacecraft, was Gagarin actually the most expendable cosmonaut of the group?

hinkler
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posted 02-24-2011 01:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You are certainly entitled to your opinion but to denigrate the achievement of the first man in space seems a bit over the top.

A greater knowledge and understanding of the Russian space program and and of Gagarin's flight would have answered some of your questions before you asked them.

  • Who knew what the effect of space flight would be on the human body and mind?

  • So what control of the capsule did Alan Shepard have in his suborbital flight?

  • Could the Mercury astronauts alter the orbit of their capsules?

  • Who made the first space flight? The first spacewalk? The first woman in space?
The selection for the first flight came down to Gagarin, Titov and Nelyubov. It has been suggested that Gagarin was chosen for political reasons.

Whatever the reason, Yuri Gagarin deserves his place in history and does not deserve unjustified criticism.

quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
I also find it interesting that his backup (Titov) was suited up and riding with him to the pad for the launch.
There was certainly nothing sinister in Titov being suited up as well and travelling with Gagarin to the launch vehicle. That was the way the Russians did things.

To suggest that was because Gagarin might panic is just plain wrong and shows a regrettable lack of knowledge of the facts. It is also a personal slight on a true space pioneer.

Delta7
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posted 02-24-2011 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gagarin was Komarov's backup for Soyuz 1. One would presume as such he would have been subsequently given a prime crew assignment (although not a given considering the vagaries of cosmonaut assignments at the time). Personally, I wonder if he would have been considered for their first lunar landing; having both distinctions would have been quite a feat.

As for the alleged heavy drinking, as far as I can tell that was just a part of Russian culture. I'm sure he wasn't the only cosmonaut who liked to throw back a lot of Vodkas when the situation called for it.

onesmallstep
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posted 02-25-2011 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hinkler:
It has been suggested that Gagarin was chosen for political reasons.
He most certainly was! Gagarin, the son of peasants, was more 'acceptable' for propaganda purposes than Titov, the son of a school teacher too bourgeouis or middle class for the Kremlin's sake, for sure. And I agree with the other posters regarding his youth and 'what ifs': who knows how he would have matured, being taken at such a young age? Like any astronaut/cosmonaut/test pilot, you yearn for the next challenge.

As for the drinking, heavy or not, you should read the current issue of Air & Space now on the newsstands or online in an article by frequent poster Mike Cassutt: Star City at 50. It's a fascinating look at life at what is basically an isolated, drab facility that since Gagarin has trained the most space travelers in history. Now fallen on hard times since the collapse of the USSR, it's trying hard to adapt to more western, open ways.

It certainly has changed since the current NASA-Russian space cooperation began in '94, but the article states one thing that hasn't: resorting to the bottle by Russian - and yes, on occasion U.S. space flyers - to relieve stress or as part of the social scene. Nothing serious (like actor Charlie Sheen's antics) has occurred, just as an outlet after hard work - of course, discretion is always the better part of valor.

Lou Chinal
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posted 02-25-2011 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Titov rode along suited-up with Gararin just as Nikolayev rode on the bus with Titov. Pavel Popovich rode suited-up with Andrian Nikolayev. That's the way they did things.

The ground had the ability to control the spacecraft, but Gagarin had a manual override by punching in a set on numbers (1-4-5 or 1-2-5) depending on which researcher you talk with.

Tom Stafford tells the story of when they were training for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in Russia, they would assign a nightly astronaut to get drunk with the rest of the cosmonauts. Vodka was a way of life for them.

AJ
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posted 02-25-2011 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
So frankly, not only is his cosmonaut abilities questionable, so is his ability to handle events in life that didn't go the way he wanted.
I have to respectfully disagree with you here, particularly his characterization of Gagarin's situation. It isn't that life didn't go the way he wanted, but he was a man from humble origins who was thrust in massive, worldwide celebrity. Furthermore, he was not allowed to continue to fly in space. Certainly a difficult situation for even the best of us.

I don't feel it's at all fair to judge him, based on one flaw. He was only human, after all, as are we all.

Tonyq
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posted 03-01-2011 02:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
Titov rode along suited-up with Gararin just as Nikolayev rode on the bus with Titov. Pavel Popovich rode suited-up with Andrian Nikolayev. That's the way they did things.

On a point of detail, Valery Bykovsky was back-up to Nikolayev, and rode with him. Popovich didn't have any back-up assignments prior to Vostok IV.

This 'tradition' endured until Vostok VI when Irina Solovyeva was suited up for her role as Tereshkova's back-up. She is the only person to make such ride to the pad, suited and ready to go, who didn't get to go into space, eventually.

hinkler
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posted 03-01-2011 02:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to me that the comments in this thread would indicate that collectSPACE members (bar one) think that Yuri Gagarin WAS a great cosmonaut.

Byeman
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posted 03-01-2011 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Byeman   Click Here to Email Byeman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hinkler:
So what control of the capsule did Alan Shepard have in his suborbital flight? Could the Mercury astronauts alter the orbit of their capsules?
Yes and yes (initiating retrofire is by definition altering the orbit).

The thread's initiator has a point but went around it the wrong way.

Basically the skills required of Garagin for Vostok 1 were no different that those required of the Mercury apes. The issue is that Garagin never had the chance to display his skills and therefore no judgment can be made.

hinkler
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posted 03-01-2011 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I respectfully disagree.

The retro rockets were fired on Shepard's and Grissom's sub-orbital flights but had no effect on their ballistic trajectory.

Yes, the other Mercury Orbital flights did use retro rockets to return to earth but they were unable to change their orbital trajectories in flight.

"Unlike Mercury, which had been able to change only its orientation while in flight, Gemini needed to the capability to move forward, backward and sideways in its orbital path, and even change orbits to rendezvous with other spacecraft. It also required the first onboard computers to calculate complicated rendezvous maneuvers."

Do you really think the apes went through Astronaut/Cosmonaut selection and training and were aware of the fact there was a chance they might not return from their space flight? No one knew what the exact effect of space flight would be on the human body.

Gagarin was given the number code to take control of the space craft if necessary.

Perhaps some of the experts in orbital mechanics can explain this better than I am able to.

kyra
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posted 03-03-2011 02:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps we should not judge the greatness of a cosmonaut solely on the skills needed during their mission(s). It is not what he did during his mission, more of what he was capable of had things went wrong. We should look at all the skills that were mastered prior to the mission, and overall career performance.

Yuri Gagarin, like the other 19 in his selection group was a military officer and a skilled fighter pilot at the time of his selection, recommended by his superiors for inclusion into this program. In addition, he graduated from Orenberg Higher Air Force Pilots School.

Following a thorough and grueling medical and psychological screening, he was included into the group given high-G centrifuge training, placed in an isolation chamber for days, and spun in a 3-axis trainer. His classroom schooling included rocketry, spacecraft systems, celestial mechanics, geophysics, astronomy, space and aviation medicine, and photography. There was also simulator and parachute training.

All of his group completed similar training, and obviously, he would have not made the accelerated training group if he was not proficient.

In terms of comparing the first group of cosmonauts and the first group of astronauts, it is remarkable how similar the training and requirements were. The major differences were mainly in language and the specific systems training. The astronauts had more jet flight hours under their belts, and the cosmonauts more parachute and medical training.

Following his flight, Yuri Gagarin had additional training and attended Zhukovskiy Academy (obtaing the equivalent of a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1968). While the Mercury astronauts had their Life Magazine contracts, the Vostok cosmonauts carried on their PR duties in a country barely suited to deal with celebrity status. Both countries admired their respective space travelers - and Yuri Gagarin was delivered PR with diplomacy and extreme patience as he was restricted in what he could say. I believe he was awesome!

hinkler
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posted 03-03-2011 02:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well said. Agree 100%.

Aztecdoug
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posted 03-03-2011 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two examples of great astronauts in my opinion would 1- Gemini 8 and 2- Apollo 13.

Both are cases of performing outside of their training courses in unusual circumstances. Gemini 8 did it without help from the ground too. I am sure there are many more examples but these two jump out to me.

Sort of like the pilots that landed that DC-10 in an Iowa corn field or the pilot who glided his plane into the Hudson. That is greatness in my book.

Delta7
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posted 03-03-2011 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would add STS-1. So many untried systems and procedures as well as unknowns.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 03-03-2011 11:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kyra - well said.

Anyone who attended the lectures by Tereshkova and Bykovsky at Autographica a few years back marvelled at the risk appetite these early cosmonauts had, training and operating in a far more rudimentary environment than their Mercury counterparts. It's the "pencil vs the spacepen" analogy: both sides achieved their goals but in very different fashions - and with equally brave, skilled and humanly flawed pioneers.

Lou Chinal
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posted 03-03-2011 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tonyq:
On a point of detail, Valery Bykovsky was back-up to Nikolayev, and rode with him. Popovich didn't have any back-up assignments prior to Vostok IV.
Tony, sorry I got my back-ups confused.

Irina Solovyeva was the only person to come so close and not get the thrill of a lifetime.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-03-2011 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aztecdoug:
Both are cases of performing outside of their training courses in unusual circumstances... That is greatness in my book.
Had Ken Mattingly already been exposed to Rubella and he flew on Apollo 13, would he have put Lovell's and Haise's safe return into jeopardy?

Had something happened to either Armstrong or Scott pre-flight and Conrad or Gordon flown Gemini 8 instead, would either have increased the risk of loss of vehicle/loss of crew?

If your answer is no, does that make Mattingly, Conrad and Gordon great, too?

Aztecdoug
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posted 03-03-2011 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If your answer is no, does that make Mattingly, Conrad and Gordon great, too?
My statement is based on reality, not the hypothetical. I think that is Randy's point too. Not whether Gagarin had an override code or not, but the brass tacks stick and rudder real life performance. Not could of, should of, would of, but what really happened. That is the way I read the original question or statement made by Randy.

dss65
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posted 03-03-2011 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got to say, randyc, that you've rattled everyone's cages! You started a very spirited and interesting string -- which I suspect is exactly what you intended to do.

Aztecdoug
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posted 03-03-2011 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dss65:
I've got to say, randyc, that you've rattled everyone's cages! You started a very spirited and interesting string -- which I suspect is exactly what you intended to do.
Don, in a little way this thread reminds me of something a telco engineer told me once. Tell me where you keep your goat and I will go get it for you.

randyc
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posted 03-03-2011 10:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I'm glad to see that my initial post has resulted in interesting responses. And yes, Don, the reason for my initial post was to generate this type of discussion.

I fully realized that my comments regarding one of the most famous and honored men in the history of spaceflight would be controversial. And I probably should have focused on commenting on his demonstrated space-piloting skills and not the other points (why was the backup cosmonaut ready to take over and his 'heavy drinking').

I believe that an individual's greatness in their profession should be judged on their DEMONSTRATED skills not, as Doug stated, what they would have, could have, or should have demonstrated. Sure he had the codes to take control of his spacecraft, but he didn't. Sure he may have demonstrated that he was a great space-pilot had he flown another mission, but he didn't.

Once again I think he was an extremely brave person, and he may have demonstrated great space-piloting skills during training, but in space he was simply a passenger.

As others have pointed out, astronauts such as Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Pete Conrad DEMONSTRATED greatness by actually piloting their spacecraft AND also overcoming adversity. There are other astronauts and cosmonauts that have also demonstrated greatness... I'm simply using Armstrong, Lovell and Conrad as examples. Frankly, even though Alan Shepard did control his Mercury spacecraft (he tested the different attitude control systems) I probably wouldn't consider him a great astronaut if he didn't command Apollo 14, which required him to 'fly' his spacecraft.

Perhaps we collectors have different definitions of greatness. My intent is not to denigrate Yuri Gagarin's place in history... it's simply to generate thoughts and discussions based on the facts and what makes an Astronaut/Cosmonaut, or pilot or race car driver, great in their profession. Once again in my opinion it's DEMONSTRATING their capabilities and skills under nominal and off-nominal conditions. Not what they COULD HAVE demonstrated.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-03-2011 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The issue I have with your approach Randy, is that you are limiting greatness to happenstance.

The crews of Gemini 8 and Apollo 13 (to use Doug's examples) didn't choose to have an in-flight emergency. By yours and Doug's reasoning, had their spacecraft performed as they should have, then you would no longer consider either crew great -- or at least you'd find they were less great than others who were victim to happenstance.

By Doug's measure, Jack Swigert is greater than Ken Mattingly because Apollo 16 resulted in a successful moon landing. The crew of Gemini 11 failed to achieve a level of greatness paramount to the Gemini 8 crew because their spacecraft's thrusters worked as designed.

You fail Yuri Gagarin due to happenstance as well. Had he only been so fortunate to have flown after the greatest challenge was seen as sending a man into orbit and returning him home alive, then he might have had a chance to achieve greatness in your eyes.

The trouble with ranking all astronauts' and cosmonauts' greatness in such a way is that the measuring stick has changed over the course of five decades. At the time Gagarin flew, there was no greater accomplishment than simply surviving the flight. Suggesting that he also needed to pilot the spacecraft is paramount to requiring he land on Mars -- it just wasn't the priority of his day.

Gagarin was for many years deprived a chance to challenge later spaceflight milestones because he was viewed politically as too big to fail. He did pursue another chance though, until he tragically did fail, or rather happenstance dictated his jet to fail and take his life with it.

In my opinion, greatness shouldn't be measured by happenstance. It should be measured by the will of the individual to achieve the challenge set forth for him, even if all that requires is to be ready to respond to an emergency but never have a need to do so.

randyc
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posted 03-03-2011 11:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not measuring greatness by "happenstance". You're thinking that I'm using the in-flight emergencies on Gemini 8 and Apollo 13 as examples of 'greatness'. I'm not.

Even if those situations hadn't happened, Armstrong and Lovell STILL piloted their spacecraft (on multiple missions) and spent far more than one orbit in space (as a passenger). The fact that they had to overcome adversity simply ADDED to their legacies.

It doesn't matter WHY Gagarin was grounded... the fact is he WAS grounded and he never PROVED his space piloting skills.

Robert... we as space enthusiasts should look at the facts and not let sentimental 'hero-worship' cloud our vision. If historians used the rationale that you use to judge a person's greatness in their profession (gee, if only he had the opportunity to demonstrate his greatness) then the label becomes so 'watered down' that it's almost meaningless.

hinkler
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posted 03-04-2011 12:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let me get this straight, you are only great if you fly on more than one mission and coping with a malfunction adds to your greatness.

"DEMONSTRATED greatness by actually piloting their spacecraft AND also overcoming adversity"

I respectfully disagree.

Gagarin was chosen on various criteria as one of 6 from the group of 20, then further chosen as one of 3 to be considered for the first flight. He made the flight when no one knew what the outcome would be or whether he would survive. The objectives of the Mercury Program (as I understand it) were specific:

To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth

To investigate man's ability to function in space

To recover both man and spacecraft safely.

I would expect that the objectives of Gagarin's flight were similar or even identical.

Glenn, Grissom and Shepard were chosen as the 3 considered for the first flight. So as far as I am concerned Gagarin ranks with these 3 as far as demonstrated abilities during training goes.

Whether it was your intention or not, I read your posts as denigrating Gagarin and his achievements. You are entitled to your opinion, but there is no need to demean or be disrespectful to the memory of the First Man in Space.

Lasv3
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posted 03-04-2011 04:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...and in the history books three hundred years from now it will be still Yuri Gagarin as The First Man in Space and nobody will ask whether he made one orbit or twenty or whether he piloted the ship or not.

Another First Man - Neil Armstrong - expressed it very nicely when visiting the Star City: Yuri Gagarin invited us all in space.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2011 05:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
Armstrong and Lovell STILL piloted their spacecraft (on multiple missions) and spent far more than one orbit in space (as a passenger).
They piloted their spacecraft because by the time they became astronauts, that's what astronauts did. Had they been selected with the first group of astronauts, they could have just as easily been assigned to the first couple of flights and not piloted their spacecraft (not to mention not entered orbit).

It's like faulting Lewis and Clark for not using a automobile to drive west.

quote:
It doesn't matter WHY Gagarin was grounded...
It doesn't? What historian do you know finds it acceptable to judge history based on a hand-picked set of facts?
quote:
...we as space enthusiasts should look at the facts and not let sentimental 'hero-worship' cloud our vision.
I agree but I would suggest that your position, as explained, applies something of a reverse 'hero worship' that does not take into account all the facts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2011 05:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One more thing...
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
...then the label becomes so 'watered down' that it's almost meaningless.
Is there meaning to it now?

Astronauts chosen today for the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, for example, are not chosen for their "greatness." They are considered for what they did in space, but also what contributions they made on the ground, both inside and outside of NASA.

That one astronaut is in the Hall of Fame and another is not does not comment on their relative "greatness," nor should it. As just about all of them will tell you, their success was built upon the strength of the team that supported and preceded them.

randyc
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posted 03-04-2011 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, there's certainly at least two members of this group who just don't want to give up their view that Yuri Gagarin was a great cosmonaut. They are confusing BRAVE and FIRST with GREAT. Fine. But before I conclude my postings on this thread let me use this down-to-Earth analogy to emphasis my point:

John Smith needs a new, complex heart surgery to save his life. He hears that Doctors Armstrong and Lovell are GREAT doctors who have considerable hands-on experience performing this surgery successfully. But he's also heard that Doctor Gagarin is a GREAT doctor as well.

He asks about Doctor Gagarin's experience and is told that he was the best doctor in the heart surgery simulators. He's also told that Doctor Gagarin was the first human to assist a robot the first time this new surgical procedure was done. John asks what does 'assist' mean. He's told that had the robot had a problem Doctor Gagarin COULD have taken over. John asks why Doctor Gagarin is considered a great doctor and is told that he was the first doctor trained to do this new procedure and the first to 'participate' as well.

Which doctor should John select? Which doctor would you select? And which doctors SHOULD BE considered great?

It's interesting... even when presented with facts there are people who just won't accept them. Believe it or not there are STILL people who think we haven't landed on the Moon!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2011 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would rather choose the more skilled doctor and then leave questions about who is greater to those who give out medals.
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
...even when presented with facts there are people who just won't accept them.
By your own admission Randy, you choose to only consider some of the facts, and by your first post, you aren't (or weren't) aware of others, so why do you feel you are in a position to judge who is or who is not great? And for that matter, unless you are planning to hand out awards, why does it matter who is or who is not great?

dom
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posted 03-04-2011 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This topic has now become so surreal that it's almost funny. Unfortunately Randy is so obviously set in his views that no one here is going to change his mind...

Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where Michael Palin pays John Cleese to have an argument. It went something like this:

Palin: "Is this the room for an argument?"

Cleese: "No"

Palin: "But I thought it says so on the door?"

Cleese: "No it doesn't"

Palin: "Yes it does!"

Etc. etc.

randyc
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posted 03-04-2011 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually I'm very open to modifying my views, but there hasn't been one good, factual, rational response that would do so.

And, to turn around your comment, Dom, I can say that no matter how convincing an argument I provide Robert and Hinkler won't change their opinions.

I also take offense to Dom's comment that this discussion is funny and the use of the Monty Python skit to imply that my views and postings, or at least my resistance to modifying my view, are comical. My intitial post was to generate serious debate on a historic figure in the history of manned spaceflight. Historians often research famous individuals decades, and sometimes centuries after their passing to learn more about them and, sometimes, to modify the history books as well. This thread is no different.

Suffice it to say that the definition of greatness is subjective: you may think someone is great and I don't and vis a versa.

That being said, I firmly believe that while some praise for Gagarin is warranted (he was brave and a pioneer for human spaceflight) he didn't prove greatness.

And I suspect that many other followers of the space programs feel the same. The fact that they haven't posted any messages doesn't imply that they agree with me, but it may imply that they don't disagree with me.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2011 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Randy, you are right to phrase this as a matter of opinion rather than (as you previously wrote) one of fact. And if that is all you are professing, your personal opinion that Gagarin wasn't a great (or even good) cosmonaut, then so be it. It's your opinion. It is not anyone else's place to tell you that your opinion is wrong.
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
My initial post was to generate serious debate on a historic figure in the history of manned spaceflight.
Your initial post didn't come across as very serious if for no other reason than you didn't appear to invest the time to do your own research. If you had, then you wouldn't have been casting aspersions about suited backups or asking who could control the spacecraft. These are questions that could have been answered in short order had your interest been strong enough to merit a trip to your local library (or perhaps even Google Books).

Would you be open to sharing what you have read about Gagarin on which you are basing your opinion? Perhaps if you establish the foundation for your perspective, it will help others gauge the strength of your position.

hinkler
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posted 03-04-2011 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Despite your opinion Randy I can assure you I am not confusing BRAVE and FIRST with GREAT. Gagarin was GREAT.

To suggest otherwise when you did not bother to research FACTS and rely on supposition that is just plain wrong (Backup suited argument/suggestion) shows why people disagree with you.

Get your facts straight and you might have a little more credibility. Give us your exact definition of great, as at the moment it seems to change when you are challenged on facts.

dom
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posted 03-04-2011 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
That being said, I firmly believe that while some praise for Gagarin is warranted...
Randy, comments like the above make me think you are just trying to wind us up!

Someone once remarked that history made sure that Neil Armstrong was the perfect person to be the first man on the Moon.

Let's just all agree that Yuri Gagarin turned out to be the PERFECT person to represent humanity on its first trip into space...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2011 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
Let's just all agree that Yuri Gagarin turned out to be the PERFECT person to represent humanity on its first trip into space...
Are those really the only choices? Gagarin was either the perfect person or not (even) good?

There has to be a middle ground.

Happenstance dictated that Gagarin was not the perfect person to be first in space, if for no other reason than where he was born. Say what you will about other nation's political systems — actually, strike that, don't — but all things being equal, a Soviet wasn't the perfect person to be first in space.

Just consider, had Gagarin flown on behalf of a more open society, then information about him and his flight would have flowed more freely to the public and discussions like this one would likely never occur. At least part of Randy's position is based on a demonstrated lack of familiarity about Gagarin's life and the space program he represented.

At least part of Randy's (and many, many others') lack of awareness can be blamed squarely on the USSR's policies restricting the free distribution of information.

Of course, Gagarin can't be faulted for where he was born no more so than anyone else can. All the more reason why "greatness" and "perfection" should not be based on matters contingent on happenstance.

randyc
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posted 03-04-2011 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert and others keep on suggesting that the reason why I don't think Gagarin was a great astronaut/cosmonaut is because I don't know the facts. The fact that I didn't know the Soviet's policy about suiting up the backup cosmonaut HAS NOTHING to do with my position. Sure I could look up information like that, but it had nothing to do with forming my opinion. As I said I shouldn't have confused the readers by mentioning that point.

The facts are that Gagarin was a passenger. Show me the facts that said he controlled the spacecraft. Show me the facts that he demonstrated the ability to maneuever the spacecraft. Show me the facts that he did anything more than a passenger in a remote control spacecraft would do.

By the way, Robert and others, I probably know more about the U.S. space program than most members of this forum. I closely followed the Apollo program since 1967 (not just read about it in books) and because I've collected space covers and space memorabilia since 1969 I've learned and know quite a bit about the U.S. Space Program.

In fact I've worked in the space program for over 30 years. Hardware that I've designed has flown on three shuttle missions and was used to successfully deploy spacecraft. I was the Chief Engineer of the Space Station Airlock during it's design phase (the two chamber Airlock attached to the ISS was initially designed by my team). I was also the MB-7 (Mission Build 7) Shuttle Integration Manager responsible for the integration of the entire MB-7 mission's payloads (Airlock and SPDM-DEXTRE). And I've been a technical advisor on space systems to the U.S. Government as well as several domestic and foreign companies such as Loral, Aerospatiale, Mitsubishi Heavy Industies and Alitalia (now Alenia).

Although those credentials doesn't guarantee that one has knowledge about the history of the U.S. Space Program I can assure you that if you knew me you would know that I'm extremely knowledgeable on the subject. So don't criticize my knowledge of the space program.

The fact that I don't know as much about the Soviet space program and details about their 'suiting policies' is by choice. Although they were the first in many cases their space program became somewhat insignificant by comparison to the U.S. after Leonov's spacewalk, so I wasn't interested in learning about their program. Of course now it is significant because the U.S. is relying on the Russians to transport it's astronauts to the ISS.

But that's another topic.

hinkler
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posted 03-04-2011 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No matter how great your knowledge of the US space program, you chose to criticize the Russian program based on supposition and innuendo, NOT facts.

You can try and spin this any way you like, but it does not change the FACT that you did not base your opinions on FACT.

Give me ONE good reason (sorry, fact) to suggest that I should give up my opinion that Gagarin was a great cosmonaut. All you have offered is supposition and innuendo based on a poor knowledge of the Russian program.

quote:
Originally posted by randyc:
My initial post was to generate serious debate on a historic figure in the history of manned spaceflight. Historians often research famous individuals decades, and sometimes centuries after their passing to learn more about them and, sometimes, to modify the history books as well. This thread is no different.
That really is comical. You have gone from supposedly generating serious debate on a subject you admit you know little about to talking about rewriting history.

If you were considered an expert on the Russian space program you may have had some credibility.

How many cosmonauts or people actually involved in the Russian space program have you discussed your opinions with? At a guess, absolutely none.

Ask someone like Colin Burgess or Bert Vis to share their opinions. They are acknowledged as having considerable knowledge of the Russian space program.


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