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Voskhod 1 - Multiple Seater

Tyneside, UK
2022 Aug 15
Monday, Day 227

Curated by:

Konstantin Feoktistov

Voskhod 1 Scientist: Candidate Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, USSR Academy of Sciences, age 38

Konstantin FeoktistovThe press has spared no efforts or colours to convince the public that to become a cosmonaut a person has to beat least a Hercules, and even then if he first steadies his nerves. Yet Feoktistov doesn't look like an athlete. Beside, how was he to keep in the pink of condition? All that he has time for - a few skiing outings perhaps a short hunting expedition and the odd game of table tennis - and that completes his sports activities.

Konstantin became an astronaut by choice, and that choice was made when he was still a child. One day his elder brother, Boris, brought home a book with the intriguing title 'Interplanetary journeys' by Perelman. They read it together and argued about future flights to the Moon, Mars and Venus. To the boy all seemed perfectly simple. He only wondered why people with such exciting possibilities remained on Earth. There was little that could justify this loss of time.

If grown-ups were so preoccupied with their earthly affairs they had no time for the cosmos, that 1oss would have to be tackled by the Feoktistov brothers.

Konstantin was then in the fourth form. Not very much preparation for a space flight. It worried the boy. Apparently in order to be able to figure out the design of a spacecraft and understand Tsiolkovsky's formulae, he would have to study physics and mathematics. Then go to college and perhaps take up a postgraduate course. A regrettable but necessary delay. The youngster sat down and did some figuring. It turned out he would be flying to the Moon in.... 1964.

The war broke into his life. In September 1941, Lieutenant Boris Feoktistov was killed in action. One of the crew of the future spaceship was no more. After suffering a crushing defeat at Moscow, the enemy kept rolling towards the Volga, the front was rapidly approaching Voronezh where the Feoktistovs lived. Further delay was impossible. The army retreated. Maria Fyodorovna, Kostya's mother, gathered up a few things and with her son joined the stream of refugees. At a village where they stopped to rest, Kostya ran away. He met a group of army men. One of them who remembered seeing Kostya at the military commissariat (recruiting office) trying to enlist said: 'Come along, we'll make you a scout'.

On the morning of July 7, 1942, 16-year-old Konstantin Feoktistov crossed the frontline. The following day he returned to his unit with his first information and was commended by the lieutenant-colonel. Kostya's 'luck' held out. He returned safe and sound from many other operations. On his last assignment, Kostya was not alone. With him was a boy two years his junior. They crossed the river in the dead of night and in the daytime they walked around the streets of Nazi-occupied Voronezh. In a restricted district, they were stopped by a patrol.

For a long time they were marched through the city and then ordered to stop near a pit. Someone fired. Kostya felt a sharp pain in his chin, his legs caved in and he fell into the pit. The SS men thought him dead and they left. At night he crawled out.

He managed to escape and make his way back. Kostya was put into a hospital. There his mother found him and carried him off to the deep rear.

A scar on his neck and a medal 'For Victory over Nazi Germany' remained as tangible mementos of the war.

His aim in life had been clear from the age of 10. At 19 he had lost none of his enthusiasm but the road to its attainment was uncertain.

In 1943, Feoktistov arrived in Moscow, too late to apply for admission to the Aviation institute. Friends advised him to try for the famous Moscow Higher Technical School. He did and was admitted.

In college Feoktistov threw himself into the study of mechanics and physics. He cut classes in some subjects altogether. If his absence was noticed, the words 'hold up extra food rations' appeared next to his name. A war was being fought and food was rationed. Students who cut classes were dealt with very simply.

Konstantin learned to deny himself many things, to make the best of his time and opportunities to push toward his goal.

After graduation he was sent to work at a plant in Zlatoust. The cosmos would have to wait until better times.

They came when the plant was notified that Feoktistov had been accepted for a post-graduate course.

A few years later Konstantin Feoktistov was awarded two Orders of the Red Banner of Labour for outstanding work.

Preparations were underway for the first manned space flight. Feoktistov presented himself as a candidate. However, the Chief Designer turned down his offer. He repeated his request before every new flight until his perseverance was rewarded. The scientist was sent into space. And yet his dream has not come true. To Feoktistov the Voskhod flight is only a prelude to a lunar flight.
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