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  Cosmonaut Valeri Rozhdestvensky (1939-2011)

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Author Topic:   Cosmonaut Valeri Rozhdestvensky (1939-2011)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-02-2011 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cosmonaut Valeri Rozhdestvensky (1939-2011)

Cosmonaut Valeri Iliyich Rozhdestvensky, whose one spaceflight ended with the first Soviet splashdown, died Aug. 31 after succumbing to illness. He was 72.

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.


Credit: Roscosmos/VideoCosmos

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.

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.


Credit: Roscosmos/Spacefacts.de

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.

A moment of silence can be signified by a reply with no words and only a period.

MSS
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------------------
Maciej,
Astronauts, Cosmonauts & their flights

GACspaceguy
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Daniel Lazecky
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Wonderful man. Keep it for an eternal memory as well.

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Very sad to read of his passing and condolences to his family. I was lucky enough to meet him on my very first trip to Star City in 1992, when I was a student. He was kind enough to sign the book I had with me before getting into his car. I remember being surprised that the cosmonaut with the longest surname had such a short signature. I was just pleased to have met him.

I did not meet him again and I believe that for the last 10 years or so he had been suffering from some sort of neurological disease like Parkinson's. He was never seen outside his apartment and did not attend any of the cosmonautics day celebrations over the years.

It is a shame that he will be remembered for that unlucky splashdown. Given a second chance he would probably have had a successful mission. The Soviets were surely tough on those on those military Salyut cosmonauts. However I guess they were comparatively lucky as so many others trained and never flew.

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Well said, Neil.

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