Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 5: Andriyan Nikolayev

Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolayev
September 5, 1929 – July 3, 2004

Andriyan Nikolayev was a Soviet cosmonaut.

Nikolayev flew on two space flights: Vostok 3 (effectively becoming the third Soviet cosmonaut) and Soyuz 9. His call sign in these flights was Falcon. On both, he set new endurance records for the longest time a human being had remained in orbit. He also served as backup for the Vostok 2 and Soyuz 8 missions. He left the cosmonaut corps on January 26, 1982.

Nikolayev was also the first person to make a television broadcast from space, in August 1962. Vostok 3 was part the first dual space flight, with Pavel Popovich on Vostok 4.

In the early days of space travel, it was usual to place trainee astronauts into isolation chambers to see how long they could last alone. They sat in silence unable to gauge time. Many men cracked. One cosmonaut, Andriyan Nikolayev lasted the longest - four days - and became known as the Iron Man.

On November 3, 1963, he married Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space (see Vostok 6). They had one daughter, Elena Andriyanovna (now a Doctor of Medicine).

Andriyan Nikolayev was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (twice), Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Star, numerous medals, and foreign orders. He was also bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Bulgaria, Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. The lunar crater Nikolayev is named in his honor.

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