This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you get all this information?

A full list of my references and recommended reading is here.

Isn't it true that cosmonauts were killed in suborbital flights before Gagarin? Or on orbital flights that later were covered up?

There does not seem to be any truth at all. All of these stories stem from various newspaper and magazine articles of the early sixties. The apogee of this trend was a pulp publication by Lloyd Nolan in 1966, The Soviet Space Hoax, which claimed that not only were there many deaths but that the entire Soviet space and missile programs were a hoax! Although the Soviets were certainly providing a lot of disinformation (the annulus counterweight on the Vostok with shroud when first shown suspended below a helicopter at Red Square, the Korolev GB-1 "SS-10/Scrag" 'Global Missile'), there is no evidence at all that they really occurred and they have been thoroughly debunked with all the information that came out since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The story of Ilyushin's son being injured in a spaceflight was actually debunked as long ago as 1967 - see Ken Gatland's Manned Spacecraft of that year. Jim Oberg's full account of the phantom cosmonaut myth is HERE.

Aside from everything else, it is clear that the Soviet Union did not have the resources to be pursuing a parallel 'more secret' manned program. As Roads to Space notes, Korolev ruled out any ballistic suborbital manned program, and all of the Vostok precursor flights are accounted for.

Of course, one must always keep an open mind ... for example, it appears that there was a pilot killed in a test of the Vostok ejection seat from a high altitude balloon, even though various Russian sources to this day give varying 'inside' accounts of the event.

What really happened on Soyuz 1?

See Soyuz 1

Where do I get accurate line drawings? Where do I get photgraphs?

Rockets of the World, Second Edition, by Peter Alway (Saturn Press, PO Box 3709, Ann Arbor, MI 48106) provides complete dimensioned drawings of launch vehicles. For Russian equipment, the books Rocket-Spacecraft Corporation Energia named for S P Korolev .

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .