Monday, November 23, 2009

Deceased--Konstantin Feoktistov

Konstantin Feoktistov
February 7th, 1926 to November 21st, 2009

"Konstantin Feoktistov, a Soviet Spacecraft Engineer, Dies at 83"


Cliford J. Levy

November 23, 2009

The New York Times

Konstantin P. Feoktistov, a Soviet engineer who was one of the first civilian astronauts and a prominent spacecraft designer, died on Saturday in Moscow, the Russian space agency said. He was 83.

Mr. Feoktistov, for whom a crater was named on the Moon, was also the only Soviet astronaut who was not a member of the Communist Party, the agency said.

In October 1964, he flew on the first space flight that had more than one astronaut and carried civilians. He was crowded with two others, a doctor and a military commander, into a small spacecraft called the Voskhod (Sunrise). Aloft for a day, the spacecraft orbited the Earth numerous times while crew members conducted experiments on fruit flies and plants. They also took blood and made measurements to determine how humans reacted to being in space.

The mission was considered a major Soviet triumph, and Soviet television showed both live and recorded footage of the three astronauts.

“Can you hear me?” an announcer on the ground asked Mr. Feoktistov. When he did not seem to react, the announcer added, “I want to see you smile.” Mr. Feoktistov then grinned widely.

The astronauts exchanged greetings with the Soviet leader, Nikita S. Khrushchev.

The fact that the Voskhod carried civilians was called an achievement that heralded a new era of space travel. The Russian space agency said the expedition made Mr. Feoktistov “the first spacecraft designer to have tested his brainchild under real conditions.”

Mr. Feoktistov never joined the Communist Party, much to the irritation of the authorities. At one point, his chances of taking part in the Voskhod mission were said to have been threatened because he snubbed the party, but he was allowed on in the end.

Mr. Feoktistov was born on Feb. 7, 1926, in Voronezh in southwestern Russia, near Ukraine. He fought and was wounded in World War II.

Before becoming an astronaut, he was one of the earliest designers of Soviet spacecraft. In a report in the late 1950s, “A Long-Range Program to Master Outer Space,” he described how the Soviet Union should explore Earth’s orbit, then the Moon, Venus and Mars. He also sketched plans for the first craft for human flight and a proposed landing technique.

After his flight in 1964, Mr. Feoktistov continued to work on the space program as a designer of space vehicles and a senior administrator. He also was a professor in Moscow. No information was immediately available on survivors.

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