As over 40 years have now passed since Yuri Gagarin's flight, new sensational details of this event were disclosed: Gagarin was not the first man to fly to space.
Three Soviet pilots died in attempts to conquer space before Gagarin's famous space flight, Mikhail Rudenko, senior engineer-experimenter with Experimental Design Office 456 (located in Khimki, in the Moscow region) said on Thursday, 12 April 2001.
According to Rudenko, spacecraft with pilots Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov at the controls were launched from the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome (in the Astrakhan region) in 1957, 1958 and 1959.
"All three pilots died during the flights, and their names were never officially published," Mikhail Rudenko said.
He explained that all these pilots took part in so-called sub-orbital flights, i.e., their goal was not to orbit around the Earth, which Gagarin later did, but made a parabola-shaped flight.
"The cosmonauts were to reach space heights in the highest point of such an orbit and then return to the Earth," said Mikhail Rudenko.
According to his information, Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov were regular test pilots, who had not had any special training, Interfax reports.
"Obviously, after such a serious of tragic launches, the project managers decided to cardinally change the program and approach the training of cosmonauts much more seriously in order to create a cosmonaut detachment," Rudenko said.
Source: Pravda.ru 12.04.2001
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