Sergey Krikalev - the most famous Russian cosmonaut after Gagarin, who was “forgotten” in space

On February 3, 1994, the first flight of a Russian cosmonaut on an American spacecraft took place. It was Sergey Krikalev’s flight on the Discovery shuttle in the framework of the STS-60 space flight. In orbit near the shuttle the ventilation system was out of order. The Americans had a clear instruction: inform the Earth about the damage and wait for instructions. While in Houston they were deciding what to do, the condensate accumulated in the ducts began to freeze, and something had to be done.

Krikalev did not want to interfere. When the astronauts asked: "What would you do?" - Sergei replied: "I would fix it." And then he took it and repaired it.

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Source: Soviet Space

In December 1990, Krikalev began preparations for participation in the ninth expedition to the Mir station.Soyuz TM-12 was launched on May 19, 1991 with commander Anatoly Pavlovich Artsebarsky, flight engineer Krikalyov and British astronaut Helen Sharman. A week later, Sharman returned to Earth with the previous crew, while Krikalev and Artsebarsky remained on the “Mir”. Over the summer, they carried out six spacewalks, while conducting numerous scientific experiments, as well as maintenance work on the station.

Before his second flight in May 1991, Sergei Krikalev could not have imagined that events on Earth would make him a “cosmopolitan”. On May 19, 1991, as part of the Soyuz TM-12 crew, he launched to the Mir orbital station. The crew of the space expedition successfully completed all flight missions and was about to return home. But the August events made their adjustments to the flight plan. The collapse of the Soviet Union pulled the chain of destructive changes for our country. The budgets of space programs have been significantly reduced, while commitments to other countries have not gone away. According to the program of international cooperation, astronauts from Austria and Kazakhstan were to leave for space.It was planned that they would fly as part of different crews, but at that moment there was no money to launch two spacecraft. It was decided to merge the flights, and a single spacecraft went into orbit, in which there was no room for everyone to return to Earth.

Krikalev had to remain at the Mir orbital station until the arrival of the next spacecraft. Instead of the planned 5 months of work in space, he had to work in space orbit for almost another half a year (about a year in all). In general, our famous cosmonaut remained in space, because the rapidly decaying country could not provide the new Robinson the possibility of return. Krikalev started from the USSR, and returned in March 1992 to another country, Russia. For this flight, the Hero of the Soviet Union S. K. Krikalev was the first astronaut to receive the title of Hero of Russia with the award of the Gold Star medal No. 1.

In October 1992, the leadership of NASA announced that a Russian cosmonaut with experience in space flight would fly on an American space shuttle. Krikalev became one of two candidates sent by the Russian Space Agency for training along with the STS-60 crew.Krikalev participated in the flight of the STS-60 - the first joint US-Russian flight on a reusable ship (shuttle Discovery). The STS-60 flight, which began on February 3, 1994, was the second with the Spacehab module (Space Habitation Module) and the first flight with the WSF device (Wake Shield Facility).

Having made 130 orbits around the Earth and flying 5,486,215 kilometers, on February 11, 1994, the Discovery spacecraft landed at the Kennedy Space Center (Florida). Krikalev became the first Russian astronaut who flew an American shuttle.

Sergey Krikalev works on the ISS, May 2005

During the flight with the American spacecraft an emergency occurred - the life support electronics and the air duct refused. Despite the objections of the American side and the proposal to wait for the backup ship from Earth, our astronaut was able to recover and restart the space shuttle instruments. This caused delight and extreme surprise on both the American and Russian sides.

After the flight STS-60, Krikalev returned to his work in Russia. He periodically went on business trips to the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston to work in the Mission Control Center with the Search and Rescue Service during joint US-Russian flights.In particular, he participated in ground support for flights STS-63, STS-71, STS-74, STS-76.

Krikalev was assigned to the first crew of the International Space Station and was the first in December 1998 to travel to the ISS on the shuttle Endeavor with a short-term mission to the ISS.

Krikalev is known and admired by him all over the world (in some countries there are whole museum stands dedicated to our cosmonaut). American director Michael Bay in 1998 shot the film Armageddon, where the Russian cosmonaut Colonel Lev Andropov was shown in caricature form, living alone on the space station opens the fuel supply valve with a crowbar, blows up the Mir space station) - however, in the end, it is he who by his actions saves all American astronauts, hitting the computer of the “uninviting” shuttle with a wrench. It is not necessary that Krikalev was taken as the basis of the character, of course, but too many coincidences.

In a training spacesuit, June 30, 2004

Today Sergey Krikalev works as the first deputy general director of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Central Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering for manned programs and is the most famous cosmonaut in the world after Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin.

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