Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jun 15
Saturday, Day 167

Curated by:

Research Engineer

Yevgeni Khrunov ("Zhenka" for short) is from a peasant family, born in the village of Prudy in the Tula Region. He followed agricultural secondary school with an Air Force pilot school. He joined the cosmonaut team in 1960, one of its first recruits. He graduated from the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy with distinction in 1968.

='Khrunov'When the war came, and Nazi occupation, the village burned as retreating Hitlerite troops set fire to it.

His father died and elder brother, Vladimir, who was now the head of the family, said: "Zhenka, you are going to be the scholar in this family." The boy left school and went to Kashira to study at an agricultural secondary school. After practice work at the collective farm he became skilled enough to be able to take to pieces and put back together all the units of the grain harvester.

Yevgeni could have become an expert in farm machinery but for his sudden passion for flying. After finishing secondary school he applied for admission to a pilot school. In 1952 he enrolled and decided to stay in aviation forever.

What was his performance? His Commanding Officer said: "Fighter-pilot Yevgeni Khrunov flies excellently". "He flies gallantly, dashingly," added his friends. The instructor's opinion was: "He flies competently, intelligently."

Yevgeni and Svetlana met like thousands of other young people. They danced and strolled together through the town's streets drowned in greenery. It took her breath away to watch the thundering rockets rising majestically and disappearing into the blue sky. She admired him though she was also afraid. The whole regiment came to their wedding. They celebrated again when their son Valeri was born.

In September 1959, when Yevgeni's regiment was quartered in the summer camp, Khrunov was summoned by his Commanding Officer who introduced him to a stranger. The latter began asking Yevgeni all kinds of questions. "Do you want to study?"

"Yes." Yevgeni replied, "I've already sent in a report stating my desire to enter the Air Force Academy." The question was somewhat puzzling. "How would you like to fly aircraft of unheard-of models?" "You wonder what it would be like. How shall I put it? If we compare the plane you're now operating with a hand scooter, then we might say that the aircraft I have in mind is like a racing motorcycle. Grasp the difference?"

"But I don't feel fit as yet..." Yevgeni mumbled. "Of course you don't. But you will, with time, if you study and try hard."

Speaking about his early experience in the cosmonaut team, Yuri Gagarin wrote: "We studied one another with interest. Very nice chaps! Open-hearted, straightforward and very human." Among them was Yevgeni Khrunov, Herman Titov recalls: "At the last point of communication with the ground, I was greeted by another friend of ours. I immediately recognised his cheerful voice." It was that of Yevgeni Khrunov. Alexei Leonov described the preparations for the space: "Every day when we came for the training, my double and I put on our spacesuits an worked for hours on end... Frankly, it was a gruelling procedure." That double was Yevgeni Khrunov.

"Yevgeni is a good comrade. Among the sports he prefers gymnastics and tennis. He is a regular theatre-goer and loves literature. What is most important, he has got a bright mind for technical subjects." This is his superior's opinion.

Yevgeni does not like to talk about himself. At the end of our interview he said: "if you decide to write about me, please try to do without any high-flown words about upswings and uplifts."
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