The Fiery Re-Entry of Boris Volynov
Published by Ray Katz
Only some people are interested in space flight. But nearly everyone is interested in a good story. What follows is a good story that happens to be about space flight.
Some space stories are famous. For example, most people know at least a little bit about Apollo 13. Back in 1971, as the damaged lunar spacecraft and its crew limped home, the media reported events as they happened. And, of course, years later Ron Howard made a popular movie about that flight.
But Boris Volynov was a Soviet cosmonaut. When a Soviet flight had troubles, they were kept a secret. So Volynov's story wasn't revealed until years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Even now, few know his story.
Read what follows, and you will be one of the few. The story is amazing.
The Flaming Re-Entry of Boris Volynov
As Boris Volynov watched the flames lapping at the blunt nose of his Soyuz spacecraft, he felt certain that death was near. With his heat shield out of position, the 5,000 degree flames outside would soon consume him.
He could already smell the burning of the rubber seals which held the spacecraft’s hatch in place. The cabin was now full of smoke. And, wearing no space suit, Volynov was himself beginning to feel uncomfortably hot inside the crew compartment.
Alone, his fuel spent, and with nothing left to do, the cosmonaut began writing and recording notes—his final thoughts.
This wasn’t the first trouble Volynov had experienced as a cosmonaut. From the beginning, Volynov had difficulties, despite his unquestionable ability. Largely, this was because the Soviet Politburo didn’t like Volynov’s lineage; his mother was Jewish.