Because of the physical and mental trauma of his Soyuz 5 mission, Volynov was expected to never fly again. This expectation proved to be wrong.

Volynov got a second space flight. Apparently, either feeling lucky or shrugging off his previous close call, he commanded Soyuz 21 in July 1976. When fellow cosmonaut Vitaliy Zholobov became ill, the mission to the Salyut 5 space station was cut short. It was now Volynov's job to rescue the stricken Zholobov. The pair would return to earth immediately.

But some thing—again—went wrong. Volynov found him self unable to undock from the space station. He fired the engines in an effort to get free, but only succeed in becoming partly free. This lasted for 90 minutes before some emergency procedures resolved the situation. Like Soyuz 5, this mission also made a hard landing. But Volynov (and Zholobov) again survived.

Years later, recalling his near-death experience aboard Soyuz 5, Volynov said: “There was no fear but a deep-cutting and very clear desire to live on when there was no chance left.”

Boris Volynov retired from the Russian space program in 2006. His hair was now grey, but he and his wife Tamara—both very much alive—visited Kennedy Space Center that year and he told his story openly to an appreciative crowd.


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