The Russian Cosmonaut That Fell From Space Without a Parachute

This poor dude. Yes, that is Vladimir Komarov’s remains in a coffin after he plummeted to earth in a small space craft with a faulty parachute that would not deploy.

Fun fact: A cosmonaut is from Russia. An astronaut is from the USA.

Vladimir Komarov was an experienced Russian cosmonaut. He had performed many successful missions. On April 24, 1967, he died from faulty equipment in his space craft. Unfortunately, this lead to his space craft literally plummeting to earth. The craft was known to have several problems and the fixes were probably botched together last minute too.

Most likely, Vladimir was dead before he hit the ground due to the force and massive amount of decompression that took place while the small craft was falling from the sky. Once he reached the face of the earth, the explosion and fire essentially baked him into what is shown in the photo.

He demanded an open casket before the flight (He knew he was going to die).

Knowing that the craft had numerous design flaws, Komarov chose to fly in place of another cosmonaut in order to protect his friend. Komarov knew there was a good chance he himself would die, therefore Komarov insisted before the flight that his funeral be open-casket so that the Soviet leadership could see what they had done.

The Russian government was known for producing faulty machinery and equipment. On more than one occasion, their systems failed which put peoples life in jeopardy. Here are a few examples:

Those are only a small handful of well-known stories. There are hundreds of failed Soviet military experiments.

Here is a Fantastic video that has English subtitles. It’s the final words and transmission of Vladimir when he began being frantic about the failed state of the ship.

One thing of interesting note…you can hear the radio announcer praise communism more than once:

“Greetings to the people of our country, paving the way for humanity to communism. Pilot cosmonaut Komarov.”

-Alexei Kosygin

Imagine pushing the communist agenda so much that you interrupt this critical conversation just to advertise your ideology. That’s shameful. Imagine if NASA praised capitalism when NASA astronaut’s were in desperate need of life-saving mechanical advice.

In Vladimir’s case, his craft is plummeting to the earth, he’s trapped, and the radio announcer Alexei Kosygin is praising communism. They should have just said “We care more about our communist beliefs than this astronaut so you should too, and if you don’t, the KGB will make you disappear.”

Anyway, when the space craft hit the earth, it immediately exploded on fire and essentially torched everything inside, including Vladimir’s body:

Image from RussianSpaceWeb.com. Uncertain of original source.

When he was found and finally put to rest in his coffin, he was an unrecognizable charred mass of ash and bone.

Yikes. This is a terrifying way to die. Fortunately he was dead before this happened.

Here is what the craft looked like before is was smashed into the earth. This is a duplicate ship:

A replica of the ship. Image from Wikimedia

Here is another picture of the ship, although painted white:

Thank you to the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences for this image.

This is a fascinating story. Vladimir Komaro knew the risks associated with the trip. As a true hero, he did what was necessary to protect the people he loved and he followed orders. The picture of his open casket accomplishes everything that Vladimir wanted it to accomplish. Hats off to Vladimir.

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