What the astronauts were ordered to keep silent — an interview with Number One

April 12, 2012 13:33

Victor Gorbatko - pilot-cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union

Victor Gorbatko — pilot-cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union

In an exclusive interview with our newspaper Victor Gorbatko — pilot-cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, a person who has visited three times in space — especially for our readers said about the first steps of Soviet space, the difficulties of everyday life and the first unit, shared memories of Yuri Gagarin, and even impressions of our native Buryatia, where Viktor repeatedly visited.

— Victor, flying — it's a childhood dream, or just coincidence?
— Once, during the war, when I was a kid — we lived then at stud "Sunrise", it was a German-occupied territory — their children's eyes, I saw the Nazi pilots shot down the plane herd of horses. It was not even the cavalry. Just peaceful herd of horses. And that's fine German pilot saw and understood, but, despite this, literally enjoyed killing. And since then I've had one dream — to become a pilot, to protect the peaceful skies of our country — a great time of the Soviet Union. It was me and who leveled — my brother was a military pilot, defended the skies of Stalingrad, where he was shot down, my older sister married a pilot, and about our famous aces — Pokryshkin Kozhedub and I also knew and wanted to be like them. And after 10th grade I went first to the School of the initial pilot training in Pavlograd, then finished Bataisk Military Aviation School and went to serve in the solar Moldavia.
When launched the first satellite, we, the young pilots, often gathered together, watching him, and dreamed of one thing: that's to look out for our Mother Earth.
— And what of the pilots you have come to the first group of astronauts?
— In 1957, out of the blue, right on the airfield I was asked to undergo a medical examination. I went through the full certification, including the KGB. All my dreams there were only about aviation and when I was asked if I wanted to fly a hundred miles above, at first I did not understand the question and smiled, saying: "What is this, the satellites, or what?" When I was told what I was going to cook, and asked to go home, to consult with his wife, of course, I did not go, and without hesitation. October 3, 1959 I arrived in Moscow, and only 5 October met with Yuri Gagarin.
The selection was very strict — had worked for more than 3000 personnel files only pilots of fighter aircraft, but was only selected 20 people, and by March 1960 there were only 12. And March 7, 1960, Air Marshal, Hero of the Soviet Union, Air Force Commander Vershinin announced that we are enrolled in the first cosmonaut.
Each of us wanted to go to space, of course, we knew that before we did not do this one, of course, we knew how much risk we go — but one wanted to be first.
— Last year, during the celebration of the anniversary of the first manned flight into space, the media repeatedly raised the issue that Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. Allegedly, before Gagarin's flight was made several flights with a man on board that ended in tragedy. How would you comment on this information?
— Perhaps these rumors are coming from the fact that long before Gagarin's space sent mannequins. These mannequins are even equipped with a special device that sends to earth human voice recorded on the tape. This was done to check the quality of the signal, due to the ground. Maybe it was the basis of such rumors. But the first person who went into space, definitely was Gagarin.
— It is said that a final decision on the candidacy of Yuri Gagarin was taken by Sergei Korolyov, to some extent, by accident. Still there is a view that has affected good looks Yuri. Or that it is simply "elected" by the KGB. Of course, such an explanation is more like a legend, but still, why was the first Gagarin?
— There was a time when there was a question seriously, instead of Gagarin may be German Titov. He was three pounds lighter Jura, which was very important. But later it all fell into place, Gagarin remained the first choice, no one pressed, though, of course, Titov wanted to be first, he was anxious to take the place of Gagarin. We have seen it, but the first time he admitted it recently, shortly before his death.
Later, during training and preparation for the flight, we all felt that Gagarin ahead. And Sergei Korolev his paternal love. But that's not it. He was the first, because it was the best.
— Are there times when I wanted to quit and go back to the aircraft?
— Of course, we were not easy. Which alone was worth training in the centrifuge. It's was not the devices that are now in the museum of Star City. This device had German Open. We rotated on thirteen-overload, it was impossible to breathe, and yet it is badly cracked, and I think only one thing — if only it is not broke. However, despite these factors, there was never any regret or desire to quit.
— Is it true that you are ready to fly to the moon, and if so, why this expedition did not take place?
— Yes, it is. More specifically, we had two of the lunar program. The first was this — start, circled around the moon, and then return and splashdown in the Indian Ocean. Finish was all — and the ship and crew, but then it was decided that the risk is too great, and even the Indian Ocean — splashdown we have not practiced. In continuation of this program was the second — the program N1L3 — flying with the landing on the moon, which has already trained three of us — Autograph, Khrunova me. We are fully trained, I've personally flown 500 hours in the program. But, unfortunately, the N1 rocket never flew and had to close the program. Therefore the mission to the moon did not take place, though in a dream and I still fly.
— Victor, in your opinion, is there life on other planets? After all, we hear about UFOs, flying saucers.
— Of course, there are some phenomena. When we flew with my flight engineer Yuri Glazkov great guy, who I loved and respected, with us this was the case. We have been in orbit current activities at the station, and suddenly shook us very strong impact. The blow was so strong and so we are scared that we were immediately next to nodes life support — Jura from the air units, and I have the remote control. After landing, I told Vladimir Chelomei — chief designer — about the incident, to which he told me to keep quiet about the incident and did not report to the State Commission. What it was, I do not know. Maybe just a meteorite, but why did not he broke the lining and did not damage it? I do not know.
— Today you can read in the media that wish to be enrolled in the cosmonaut is decreasing. Could be an astronaut — is no longer a dream?
— Today, most of the young guys are thinking about something else. Not about how to profit and glory of their motherland, and on where and how much pay. We, for example, a year generally get exactly the same salary as a simple pilot, but we have not even thought occurred that we are doing something that is not so. Of course, sorry to hear that for the year in those same Americans to ask for admission to the astronauts filed six thousand applications, but we … we have only a hundred. I do not want to say that we have lost our youth, but certainly we do not bring up the case.
— You have repeatedly been in Buryatia, were at the origin of the Rehabilitation Center of astronauts in the lake. As things stand now, with this project, and what are your impressions of our parts?
— Beginning in 1995, I was and still am one of those who are actively promoting the idea of a rehabilitation center for astronauts on the shore of Lake Baikal. Of course, Baikal produces just a big impression. I recognized him from the space immediately. From space, it is very beautiful. And with Earth Buryatia — beautiful land, where they live are very good people, most of them are honest workers. Of course, I'm sorry that the issue with the Centre for Rehabilitation of moving so slowly. I would like more support and interest at the federal level and by the leadership of the republic. But I believe that now that is about to launch flights from the spaceport "East", this issue will come back.
— Victor, now, years later, if you had a chance to choose a different fate, what would you change it?
— No, I do not want to change. I can not say that my life was not so sweet, but the fate I'm not offended. I'm very proud that I was among those who opened the way to space. I am proud that I was able to be with Gagarin, to know people such as kings, forehead and many others.
A Buryatia and readers of "number one" I wish that life had less difficulty that we all enjoyed the great honor to live in our great Russia and Buryatia.

Basil Shishkin, "Number One."

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