June 14, 2024

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cosmonaut of the Soviet Union who was refused a return to Earth

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Astronaut Sergei Krikalev could see the whole world from the Soviet Union’s MIR space station. But from that height he could not see the political struggle in which his country was burning.

This is from May 18, 1991, when Krikalev reached the MIR space station on a five-month-long mission sitting in the Soyuz space craft. Anatoly Artebarsky, another scientist from the Soviet Union, and Helen Sherman, a British scientist, accompanied her.

His plane was launched from the Baikanur Space Center in Kazakhstan.

It was the same center on which the Soviet Union overtook America in the Space Race to establish the first satellite in Earth orbit, to send a dog Laika on a space journey and to reach the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin in 1961. .

By this time the MIR space station had become a symbol of Soviet power in the field of space missions.

Krikalev went to space on a regular mission. He had to improve the station by fixing some parts. But while everything was going well in space, the Soviet Union on the ground seemed to be rapidly disintegrating.

Within a few months, while Krikalev was in space, the vast and mighty Soviet Union disintegrated. Due to this, Krikalev, who reached the space center on an easy mission, hanged in the balance for several months.

He had to spend more than twice the time in space as before.

This is the story of an astronaut named Sergei Krikalev who, after spending a long time of ten months, came back to earth, when the name of his country was erased from the world map.

Because of this mission, he is known worldwide as ‘the last citizen of the Soviet Union’.

most talked about astronaut

Sergei Krikalev was born in 1958 in the city of Leningrad in the Soviet Union, which is now called St. Petersburg.

He did his graduation in mechanical engineering from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute in 1981 and after four years of training he became an astronaut.

In 1988, he reached the MIR Space Station (Mir Space Center) for the first time, which was orbiting the Earth at an altitude of four hundred kilometers from the Earth.

Currently, Krikalev is the director of the department of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which sends astronauts to space.

In May 1991, Krikalev made his second space journey.

Kathleen Lewis, historian of space missions, explains, “Krikalev became very popular around the world because he was an astronaut who spoke to ordinary people on Earth through the space station’s radio.”

Referring to the long time spent in space by Lewis Krikalev, she says that he used to talk to ordinary people on earth who got his frequency using the radio.

“That’s how they built informal relationships around the world,” Lewis says. Krikalev was never alone in the MIR space station, but he was quite famous.

Lewis says, “He was not alone on the space station. But he was the only one talking on the radio.”

Historian Lewis believes that another Soviet citizen, Alexander Volkov, was with him in the space station. But Krikalev became known worldwide as the ‘last Soviet citizen’.

Lewis says, “He was not alone on the space station, but he became a popular figure.”

‘When the Soviet Union fell apart’

From 1990 to 1991, all the republics that made up the Soviet Union declared their independence.

At the same time, the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, through his famous campaign Perestroika, modernized the country, brought it closer to capitalism and decentralized the economic power of many companies. With this, he opened the way for the formation of private businesses.

This process was strongly opposed in the Communist Party. Between 19 and 21 August 1991, the strongest section of the Communist Party attempted a coup against Gorbachev.

This coup failed but it caused great damage to the Soviet Union.

‘Everything is alright’

Krikalev was in space when Gorbachev was losing control of his country.

Due to the deepening political and economic crisis facing the Soviet Union, Krikalev was asked to remain in space until further orders.

In a BBC documentary in 1993, Krikalev said, “It was quite unexpected for us. We did not understand everything that was happening.

With the little information he gave us, we tried to understand the whole thing.”

According to Lewis, what Krikalev came to know was after talking to the people of Western countries because in those days ‘everything is fine’ was being chanted in the Soviet Union.

Krikalev’s wife Elina Terekhina was working as a radio operator in the Soviet space program.

She also spoke to Krikalev but he too did not apprise her husband of the ground situation.

In the BBC documentary, Terekhina recalls, “I was avoiding telling him sad things. I think he was doing the same thing.

He always used to say that everything was fine, so it was very difficult to know what he was feeling in his heart.”

duty to fulfill

Krikalev agreed to pursue his mission in space. But he admits that it was not easy.

He recalls, “Will I have enough strength. Can I prepare myself for long periods of time. I didn’t have the answers to these questions.”

Krikalev and Volkov could have returned at any time, but that would have meant leaving the space station empty.

“It was a bureaucratic problem,” Lewis says. They didn’t want to leave the station. But they didn’t even have the money to send another astronaut.

At the same time, the Russian government asked to improve its relations with Kazakhstan that they would send a Kazakh cosmonaut to replace Krikalev.

However, Kazakhstan did not have as experienced cosmonaut as Krikalev, and so it took time to prepare it.

Meanwhile, Krikalev was suffering such physical and mental effects in space, about which complete information is not available even today.

According to NASA, spending time in space puts you at risk of being exposed to radiation, which increases the risk of diseases like cancer.

The lack of force of gravity can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and bone mass as well as a change in immunity and mental problems due to being in isolation.

However, Krikalev says he always knew it was his duty to remain at the space station.

No one came in place of Krikalev

After this, three new astronauts reached the MIR space station in October. But none of them had received enough training to replace Krikalev.

According to Lewis, the people who were most concerned about Krikalev were outside the Soviet Union imagining the conditions of a man who might have been released into space.

At the same time, it was something for the Russian government that they had different priorities and concerns at that time.

After this, on 25 October 1991, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty, so that the cosmodrome from which Krikalev’s relay was to be released was out of Russian control.

After this, on 25 December 1991, the Soviet Union completely disintegrated.

On the same day, Gorbachev resigned, citing ill health, which marked the end of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 nations and the country that sent Krikalev into space became Russia from the Soviet Union. The city in which Krikalev was born and where he studied was also renamed St Petersburg.

When Krikalev returned

While all this was happening on the ground, Krikalev was looking at the earth, listening to the songs being played by his companions and talking to people on the radio.

After this, on March 25, 1992, Krikalev and Volkov returned to Earth. In this way Krikalev spent 312 days in space and went round the earth 5000 times.

He says, “It was very pleasant to be back. Though we got trouble because of the force of gravity but we were freed from the mental burden.

I wouldn’t say it was a joyous moment, but it was quite a good one.”

But even after this long journey, Krikalev was ready for his second adventure. In 2000, he became a member of the first team to go to the International Space Station.

The ISS symbolizes the new space age that has given birth to a model of cooperation between nations to explore the mysteries of the universe, leaving behind old conflicts.

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