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Nikolai Rukavishnikov, 70; Survived Tight Spots During 2 Space Missions

Obituaries | PASSINGS

October 27, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

Nikolai Rukavishnikov, 70, a cosmonaut whose voyages into space for the Soviet Union encountered hair-raising problems, died Oct. 19 in Moscow of a heart attack, Russian media reported.

Rukavishnikov joined the Soviet cosmonaut program in 1967 and was a member of the Communist Party.

His first space voyage was in 1971 aboard the Soyuz 10, which was to have delivered the first people to the orbiting Salyut-1 space station. The craft docked with the space station, but the crew was unable to gain access, reportedly because of a faulty hatch, and the mission was aborted, lasting less than two days.

In 1974, he made his next flight aboard the Soyuz 16, staying in space for nearly six days on a mission that was part of the U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

His last mission was Soyuz 33 in 1979, which turned into a white-knuckle drama. The craft was to dock with the Salyut-6 station, but an engine failure left it unable to maneuver. The same engine was to have sent the spacecraft back to Earth.

Rukavishnikov was able to fire up a backup engine, which didn't work properly but was sufficient to return him and Bulgarian comrade Georgi Ivanov to Earth.

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