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"The Union". In 1975, Soviet cosmonauts survived after falling from space
Material posted: Publication date: 16-12-2014

One of the most dramatic flight in the history of the Soviet Astronautics has long been a secret.

18, the fraction 1...

The official history of manned flights into space says space ship "Soyuz-18" was launched on may 24, 1975 from the Baikonur cosmodrome with a crew of Pyotr Klimuk and Vitaly Sevastyanov. The ship has successfully docked with the station "Salyut-4" in which the crew worked for two months. On 26 July of the same year, the astronauts returned to Earth.

In these words there is no word of a lie, but really not all. The fact that the ship Klimuk and Sevastyanov insider had a slightly different name — "Soyuz-18". That happened with the "Union-18 A", or, otherwise, "the Union-18-1", specialists of the space industry to spread was not recommended.

Meanwhile, the flight of this ship is one of the most dramatic pages of Russian cosmonautics, and his crew had to survive what is not out to anyone else.

The commander of the ship "Soyuz-18-1" was Vasily Lazarev and flight engineer Oleg Makarov.

Flying doctor

Lazarev, a native of the Altai region, after serving in the army he entered the medical school, became a surgeon, worked as a military medic. Lazarev served in the battalion of airfield-technical support of the regiment of the 30th air army. But he himself since childhood, dreamed of flying, and in 1952 the 24-year-old medic makes a sharp turn — Lazarev entered Kharkov higher military aviation school in Chuhuiv and ends it in an accelerated program with a degree in "fighter pilot".

Naturally, such a versatile specialist proved to be extremely popular — Lazarev experienced different types of aircraft and modifications involved in the testing of various high-altitude pilots of the equipment (suit, anti-g suits, oxygen equipment).

Lazarev participated in the experimental flight of the stratosphere balloon "Volga" — the one from which the parachutist Eugene Andreev in the experiment, the "Star" made unique "jump from space". Vasily Lazarev flew on the Volga 28 hours.

When we were talking about the trials of the "new technology", as accurately called flight of man into space, Lazarev was among the first volunteers. He passed a medical examination together with Gagarin, Titov and other members of the "first crew", but... I got the withdrawal from physicians.

Perseverance Lazarus was, however, not to take — in 1964 he was selected to prepare for the triple flight on spacecraft "Voskhod". Lazarev was the second understudy for doctor Boris Yegorov. And even though in the flight he took no part, this time it drew attention, and eventually Vasily Lazarev was a member of the detachment of Soviet cosmonauts.

The engineer broke into space

Lazarev was trained on several programs, including the manned Soviet "lunar project". It was then that his crew partner was Oleg Makarov.

Oleg Makarov, a native of the Tver region, before ending in the ranks of the astronauts, created the technique. In 1957 he graduated from the Moscow higher technical school named after Bauman and came to work in OKB № 1 — the famous design Bureau of Sergei Korolev. Makarov was involved in the development of the first Soviet manned spacecraft.

Like many other young engineers KB the Queen, he wanted to fly into space. In 1966 Makarov was enlisted in the cosmonaut detachment and several years preparing for "the moon program". The engineer was among those who had to go on a lunar expedition one of the first.

However, the defeat in the "moon race" had forced the Soviet Union to reconsider its priorities.

Lazarev and Makarov, from which emerged a great crew, transferred to the preparation for flight on station "salute-2".

"Test" crew

This training was in a difficult situation. The manned space program of the USSR was interrupted after the death of the crew of "Soyuz-11" decompression when returning to the Ground.

Station "Salyut-2", which were supposed to fly Lazarev and Makarov, out of order, and the flight program was again revised.

The series of mishaps had undermined the confidence of Soviet specialists. The new "Soyuz-12" tested repeatedly, for the crew had developed new spacesuits designed to prevent a repetition of the tragedy of "Soyuz-11".

Still, like any test, no matter how you try to eliminate surprises, and everything on the Earth shouldn't be counted. The crew of "Soyuz-12" in a sense, had to re-do what made the film to reveal to others the way into space.

This mission entrusted to Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov.

On September 27, 1973 "Soyuz-12" with Lazarev and Makarov was successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The flight lasted 1 day 23 hours 15 minutes 32 seconds and finished well. The designers have breathed out — manned program is saved! Lazarev and Makarov became heroes of the Soviet Union, and then began to prepare for another flight — this time on the orbital station "Salyut-4".


In January 1975, Lazarev and Makarov were doubles of the crew of "Soyuz-17" — Aleksey Gubarev and Georgy Grechko. Traditionally, the understudies are sent to space following.

Start of "Soyuz-18" was appointed on 5 April 1975. Unlike flight "Union-12", the specialists of this launch didn't seem extraordinary — after all, the same Gubarev and Grechko made it safely to the station, completely fulfilled the mission and returned successfully.

5 April, everything started smoothly. Traditional pre-flight procedures, landing of the crew in the ship, launch... Rocket, as expected, at 11:04 kills "Soyuz-18" in the sky.

Things went back to normal in due course of time separated the first step, then, in design mode has been reset head fairing. At 261-th second of the flight there supposed to be a separation of the second stage, but instead, the rocket began to shake significantly, and the amplitude increased. It quickly became clear — the media is not bringing astronauts to the orbit calculation, refused. Alarm system, otstrelival the returned product.


It happened at an altitude of just less than 200 kilometers, that is de facto already in space. The emergency descent occurred in unmanaged mode. Simply put, the lander "Soyuz-18" fell from space.

In conditions of uncontrolled descent of the overload significantly increased. In a situation in which Soviet cosmonauts, these overload presented a direct threat to life.

Vasily Lazarev, describing his sensations at the moment, compared them with the machine, who has run over right on the chest. Lazarev recalls: "One day, moving on the centrifuge load in 10g, I noticed the doctor who accompanied me to lots of red dots that covered the back of the tester, which twisted up to me. The doctor calmly replied, "It is the small blood vessels burst. On your back the same thing"". But when the "Soyuz-18" flying to the Ground, his crew piled overload in 20g. What is the magnitude of the gravity high pressure of the cosmonauts, reached the peak, it is not known. Vasily Lazarev has told that experts, analyzing the telemetry, noted that for a few seconds she grew to insane 26g. At this point, the astronauts refused eyesight and was registered cardiac arrest.

On Earth specialists did not have a full picture of what is happening, but without it many added gray hair.

The astronauts came when the parachute system worked. The trained organisms survived unthinkable overload, although they extend a little longer, and to survive the crew of "Soyuz-18" was not meant to be.

Anger designer Glushko

Commander Vasily Lazarev were told that, when he came to, he saw that the flight engineer he says something. But to understand what the partner says, he could not — temporarily failed and hearing.

The crew tried to contact the MCC to find out where to land the lander. But there was no connection. Rather, the astronauts have not heard of MCC, but the MCC is perfectly heard what they say on Board.

— Oleg, where do we sit? — asked Lazarev.

— In China or the Pacific ocean — quipped flight engineer, then described the incident in selected Russian expressions, extremely unflattering praised the work of the engines of the second stage.

Makarov didn't know that his words can hear chief designer Valentin Glushko. Hearing "criticism" flight engineer, Glushko went spots, ordered to disable the broadcasting, and publicly promised that Makarov never in space will not fly.

The "jump to space" took just over 4 minutes, and along with landing the entire flight lasted less than 22 minutes. But the adventures of the crew continued.

No wonder Makarov spoke about China and the Pacific ocean. The fact that emergency landing when the failure of the second stage roughly was to occur in the Altai, or, if you're not lucky, in China, with the USSR then were very difficult. In the event of failure of the third stage of astronauts expected swimming in the ocean.

On the edge of "Teremok"

As a result, there was a "lesser of two evils" — "Soyuz-18" deep in a remote area southwest of Gorno-Altaisk, but on Soviet territory.

But at the moment of landing over the Lazarev and Makarov again faces the threat of death. According to the instructions of the flight crew after landing was to eject the parachute. However, the rescuers was their view on the situation. During the various experiments they have noticed that when landing in a mountainous area the lander after ejection of the parachute could easily roll on a slope with disastrous consequences. So the crew of "Soyuz-18" rescuers gave informal recommendation: in which case, take a look around, and then shoot the parachute.

This advice and saved the astronauts. When they got outside they found that the lander is on the hillside, 150 metres from the abyss, and does not roll down because the parachute is tightly tangled in the treetops.

The only thing that was funny is the name of the mountain, which turned out to be space explorers, the — mansion-3.

At the landing lay a thick snow, the temperature was minus 7, and the astronauts needed to survive in the truest sense of the word.

To approach Lazarev and Makarov rescuers did not work. The first one got to them, was a geologist who landed from the helicopter geological party. However, to lift the astronauts up to the helicopter pilot could not. Staff rescue party, storming the tower-3, got under an avalanche, and they had to be rescued — fortunately, has done without victims.

The next day one of the helicopters of the air force, which was not part of the official rescue team, managed at your own risk to lift astronauts and geologist and evacuate them to safe area.

"Stripped-down" flight "truncated" awards

To the actions of the astronauts no claims could not be — otherwise their behavior as heroic. But in the USSR report on space failures was not accepted, in the media got the information only on those cases that it is absolutely impossible to hide.

Veterans of the Soviet press remember that journalists on 5 April 1975 exposed from the Baikonur immediately after it became clear that something went wrong.

The only incident in the Soviet media appeared may 8 and was buried in the inner pages of Newspapers: "on April 5, 1975 the launch of the carrier rocket with manned spaceship "Soyuz" to continue the experiments together with the station "Salyut-4". Aboard the ship were the crew of Heroes of the Soviet Union pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR Vasily Grigoryevich Lazarev, Makarov Oleg Grigoryevich. On the plot of the third stage, there is a deviation of parameters of motion of a rocket from the calculated values, and an automatic device was given a command on the termination of the flight programme and the separation of the spacecraft for return to Earth. The descent vehicle made a soft landing southwest of the city of Gorno-Altaisk. Search and rescue service delivered the astronauts to the launch site. Health comrades V. G. Lazarev and O. G. Makarov good".

After that, the silence lasted another eight years, until some of the details of the incident were not allowed to write "the red Star".

The astronauts for the flight noted, but "cut" version — the routine of the USSR in order for the second flight was supposed second "gold Star" of Hero of the Soviet Union and the order of Lenin, however, Lazarev and Makarov said only the order of Lenin for heroism.

Emergency and "Soyuz-18" took a room, passing it on to the next ship. And he has remained in history under the strange name of "Soyuz-18-1".

Overload were not in vain

Astronauts believed that nothing heroic they did not commit, and only regretted that flight fell through.

Officially it was declared that terrible overload did not affect the health of astronauts. Indeed, at first it seemed that the way it is — and Lazarev, and Makarov was left in the unit.

But then it turned out that this test is not passed for nothing — the astronauts began to show up illness, one after another.

Makarov, who was five years younger, remained in service longer in spite of threats designer Glushko, he still flew twice into space on the "Soyuz-27" and "Soyuz T-3". By the way, during the launch of "Soyuz T-3" backup crew commander was Vasily Lazarev, sees off into space his longtime partner.

Lazarus himself to fly to the stars more was not meant to be. In 1985, he was dismissed from the Armed Forces to the reserve and deducted from group of cosmonauts in connection with the condition. He died 31 December 1990 at age 62.

Oleg Makarov after retiring from the cosmonaut corps had heart problems so severe that in 1998 he had surgery. However, to fully recover, he never could — may 28, 2003 died of a heart attack at the age of 70 years.

And dramatic story of their flight in 1975, which easily outshines the plot of Hollywood's "Gravity" and still for the majority remains unknown...

Andrew Sidorchyk


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