In the haunting moments leading to the tragic demise of a seasoned cosmonaut, a chilling recording captures the final transmission as he fell from space.
Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov, known as the ‘man who fell from space,’ met his fate in April 1967 during the ill-fated Soyuz 1 crewed spaceflight of the Soviet space program.
The events surrounding Komarov’s death have been veiled in secrecy due to the nature of the Soviet Union, and his demise is detailed in the controversial 2011 book, Starman, The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin, which has been criticized for its inaccuracies.
What is known is that Komarov completed numerous orbits around Earth in his spacecraft, but encountered difficulties during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, he tragically plummeted to the ground, and the spacecraft exploded, claiming his life.
On April 23, 1967, Komarov embarked on his final space mission, orbiting the Earth 16 times over a 24-hour period. During the mission, one of the two solar panels that supplied energy failed to deploy, hindering his ability to achieve the mission’s objectives. He was instructed to return to Earth, but the re-entry process proved fatal.
After two more attempts at re-entry, Komarov made his final effort. At an altitude of 23,000 feet, his parachute failed to deploy due to entangled lines. The heart-wrenching audio captures the moment Komarov knew his fate was sealed, and his final words were overheard by U.S. listening posts in Turkey. He was clearly frustrated as he communicated with Alexei Kosygin, a high-ranking Soviet Union official, while his aircraft plunged towards the ground.
Reports suggest that Komarov’s remains were charred beyond recognition, with only his heel bone being identifiable.
The audio recording from that harrowing moment can be heard above, and the Starman book claims he also expressed his frustration by saying, “This devil ship! Nothing I lay my hands on works properly.”
However, experts have cast doubt on these claims. When reading the official transcript of Komarov’s final moments from the Russian State Archive, one of the last things he told his colleagues was, “I feel excellent, everything’s in order.” Just moments later, he reportedly said, “Thank you for transmitting all of that. [Separation] occurred.”
According to the Starman book, Komarov’s spacecraft, Soyuz 1, had “203 structural problems” that became apparent before the fateful flight. Allegedly, Komarov’s backup pilot, Yuri Gagarin, argued for the mission to be postponed. Tragically, Gagarin died in a plane crash the following year, 1968. Komarov’s name now lives on as the first known man to die in a spaceflight, and he is remembered and mourned for his sacrifices in the pursuit of space exploration.