Voskhod 2's Perilous Landing

Life as a cosmonaut in the early days of the Soviet space program was difficult. The crew of the Voskhod 2 mission in 1965 had to not only perform a difficult space mission (featuring the world's first EVA), but then landed off course and had to survive subzero temperatures and wild animals in the Siberian wilderness!

According to the spacecraft’s orientation system they landed deep in the Siberian forest almost 1,250 miles from their target. The crew needed to assess their situation to figure out how long it might take recovery crews to find them. The full seriousness of the situation hit them when they wrestled the hatch opened to find themselves nearly chin deep in snow.

Snowbanks six and a half feet tall surrounded them as did thick birch trees. The sun was hidden behind the clouds. It started to snow, forcing the men back into their spacecraft.

Neither man was too concerned. Belyayev’s childhood dream had been to become a hunter while Leonov had sought the beautiful isolation of the forest as an artistic outlet. It was the wildlife that worried them. The forest, they knew, was home to bears and wolves, unusually aggressive in the spring mating season. Between themselves the cosmonauts had one pistol but ample ammunition.

Rescue crews found them relatively quickly, but getting to the cosmonauts and getting them out was a time-consuming task, made more difficult by the space suits they were wearing. Read the rest of the story at Discovery News. Link  -via Greg Laden


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