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Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jun 15
Saturday, Day 167

Curated by:

Soyuz 4 Commander

Vladimir Shatalov, a military pilot of great experience, received his higher education at the USSR Air Force Academy. In 1963 he joined the cosmonaut team. In the autumn of 1968 he was cosmonaut Georgi Beregovoi's first backup for the Soyuz 3 mission.

='Shatalov'His father worked as an engine driver. One great thrill was a visit to the marshalling yard, which greeted the boy with the clang of carriages bumping against one another and the whistles of brakemen. And all that noise was made just to line up a train for his father to drive to some faraway station! A feeling of pride filled his heart.

As Vladimir grew older he learned that his father started as a stoker, became an assistant and then an engine driver. Then the old man was made a dispatcher in the office, and could spend more time with his family. It was then that he told the boy that in the Civil War he was an airman. Vladimir's eyes sparkled when he listened to his father's stories about the first Soviet pilots.

On June 22, 1941, on the first day of a long awaited vacation the Shatalovs were busily packing for the trip when they heard the radio announce: "War has broken out." On the same day his father was called up.

Shortly after his father's departure Vladimir left home to join his classmates in building the defence line. His father at this time drove a repair train restoring communications and signal systems wrecked by the enemy. Later Vladimir's father distinguished himself during the laying of the "Road of Life" across Lake Ladoga which linked the besieged Leningrad with the mainland. For his outstanding services he was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labour.

After Vladimir finished the eight-year secondary school, he entered an Air Force school for training pilots. On graduation he worked as a pilot instructor for several years but then decided to become a test pilot. Somehow the idea of testing novel aircraft has always had a lot of appeal for aviators.

Vladimir Shatalov went with his friend Valentin Mukhin to the chief of the test pilot school to apply for admission. Though it was after office hours, the chief asked them to sit down and was ready to listen. Vladimir spoke with eagerness. While saying little about himself he had high praise for his friend.

"Your arguments sound convincing" said the chief. "We have one more request" Vladimir went on "What I said about our desire to become test pilots applies to our friend, Yevgeni Kukushev." The chief replied, "your friend Kukushev was here the other day to speak for the three of you. I already have your names on my list." The three were accepted.

Vladimir was not immediately released from his instructor's duties. As to Mukhin and Kukushev, both are now well-known test pilots. Shatalov later entered the Air Force Academy and after graduation served in a number of Air Force units.

He met his future wife, Muza, when she was taking her post-graduate course at the Novocherkassy Agricultural Institute where she graduated with distinction. They married soon after. After her graduation Muza was sent to work at a Leningrad research institute. She was later transferred to a plant breeding station in the Crimea.

When the 35-year-old Vladimir learned that his age was no obstacle to his joining the cosmonaut team, he knew what he was going to do. His vast experience in the air would be useful, and the prospects of working with the latest, highly sophisticated flying vehicles were tempting. Once accepted, he worked hard in preparing himself for space ventures. When the time came, cosmonaut Shatalov performed his task in outer space with brilliance.
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