Valeri Fyodorovich Bykovsky was born on August 2, 1934 in the city of Pavlovsky Posad in the Moscow region. In 1951, he graduated from middle school and entered Kachinsk's Myasnikov High Aviation School. After graduation in 1955, he served with the Soviet Air Force.
In 1960 he was accepted into the Soviet cosmonaut unit (1960 Air Force Group # 1). He underwent the full general space preparation course and trained for space flight on Vostok type spacecraft. In August 1962 he was the reserve crew member for the Vostok-3 flight. He performed his first flight on August 14-16, 1963, as commander of the space ship Vostok-5 (call sign - Yastreb). His space flight lasted 4 days 23 hours and 6 minutes.
He next trained for the Soviet Lunar program. In April 1967 he was the commander of the reserve crew (together with Aleksey Stanislavovich Yeliseev and Eugene Vasilyevich Khrunov) for the planned Soyuz-2 flight. Because of the problems with Soyuz-1, which culminated in it crashing and killing Vladimir Komarov, the launch of Soyuz-2 was cancelled.
Bykovsky made his second space flight on September 15-23, 1976, as commander of the space ship Soyuz-22 (call sign - Yastreb-1) together with Vladimir Viktorovich Aksenov. Their stay in space was 7 days 21 hours 52 minutes and 17 seconds.
From 1977 Bykovsky underwent preparations under the Intercosmos program for co-operation with socialist countries. He made his third space flight from August 26 through September 3, 1978, as commander of the space ship Soyuz-31 (call sign - Yastreb-1) together with German Sigmund Jaehn. The cosmonauts worked onboard the orbital complex Salyut-6 - Soyuz-29 - Soyuz-30 together with Vladimir Vasilyevich Kovalenok and Alexsander Sergeyevich Ivanchenkov. Their stay in space was 7 days 20 hours 49 minutes and 4 seconds.
During his three flights Bykovsky spent 20 days 17 hours 47 minutes and 21 seconds in space. In July 1980 he was the commander of the reserve crew (together with the Vietnamese Byi Thai Liem) for the Soyuz-37 flight. In 1988 he left the cosmonaut team.
Bykovsky was Director of House of Soviet Science and Culture in Berlin from 1989 to 1991. He is currently retired.
Awards: Twice awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Hero of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hero of the People's Republic of Bulgaria. Hero of the German Democratic Republic. Awarded three Orders of Lenin, Order of Red Star, Order of Karl Marx (GDR), Order Krest Grunvald (Poland), Order of Star (Indonesia), Tsiolkovskiy Gold Medal (USSR Academy of Sciences), Lavo Gold Medal (FAI). Honorary citizen of Kaluga, Rzev (Russia), Burgas, Varna (Bulgaria) and Seradz (Poland).
Copyright (C) Alexander Zheleznyakov, 1998.
Call sign: Yastreb (Hawk).
Joint flight with Vostok 4. The first such flight, where Vostok capsules were launched one day apart, coming within a few kilometers of each other at the orbital insertion of the second spacecraft. The flight was supposed to occur in March, but following various delays, one of the two Vostok pads was damaged in the explosion of the booster of the third Zenit-2 reconnsat in May. Repairs were not completed until August. Vostok 3 studied man's ability to function under conditions of weightlessness; conducted scientific observations; furthered improvement of space ship systems, communications, guidance and landing. Immediately at orbital insertion of Vostok 4, the spacecraft were less than 5 km apart. Popovich made radio contact with Cosmonaut Nikolayev. Nikolayev reported shortly thereafter that he had sighted Vostok 4. Since the Vostok had no maneuvering capability, they could not rendezvous or dock, and quickly drifted apart. The launches did allow Korolev to offer something new and different, and gave the launch and ground control crews practice in launching and handling more than one manned spacecraft at a time. The cosmonaut took colour motion pictures of the earth and the cabin interior. Recovered August 15, 1962 6:52 GMT. Landed 48:02N 75:45 E.
Joint flight with Vostok 6. The Soviet Union launched Vostok 5, piloted by Lt. Col. Valery F. Bykovsky. Two days later Lt. Valentina V. Tereshkova, the first spacewoman, followed in Vostok 6. On its first orbit, Vostok 6 came within about five km of Vostok 5, the closest distance achieved during the flight, and established radio contact. Both cosmonauts landed safely on June 19. The space spectacular featured television coverage of Bykovsky that was viewed in the West as well as in Russia. Unlike earlier missions, only a black and white film camera was carried. Photometric measurements of the earth's horizon were made.
Mission objectives were officially: further study of the effect of various space-flight factors in the human organism; extensive medico-biological experiments under conditions of prolonged flight; further elaboration and improvement of spaceship systems.
Vostok 5 was originally planned to go for a record eight days. The launch was delayed repeatedly due to high solar activity and technical problems. Finally the spacecraft ended up in a lower than planned orbit. Combined with increased atmospheric activity due to solar levels, Vostok 5 quickly decayed temperatures in the service module reached very high levels.
Bykovsky also experienced an unspecified problem with his waste management system (a spill?) which made conditions in the cabin 'very uncomfortable'. He was finally ordered to return after only five days in space.
To top it all off, once again the Vostok service module failed to separate cleanly from the reentry sphere. Wild gyrations ensued until the heat of reentry burned through the non-separating retraining strap. Recovered June 19, 1963 11:06 GMT. Landed 53:24 N 67:37 E.
The first manned Soyuz flights were an attempt at an 'all up' manned rendezvous, docking, and crew transfer spectacular (eventually accomplished by Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5). Komarov was the pilot for the Soyuz 1 active spacecraft, which would be launched first. Soyuz 2, with the crew of Bykovsky, Khrunov, and Yeliseyev would launch the following day, with Khrunov and Yeliseyev space-walking to Soyuz 1 and returning to earth with Komarov. Komarov's spacecraft developed serious problems after launch, including the failure of one of the spacecraft's solar panels to deploy. The Soyuz 2 crew were given the order to rendezvous with Soyuz 1 and to try during the planned EVA to unfold the undeployed solar panel. But the launch of Soyuz 2 was cancelled due to heavy rain at the cosmodrome. Low on power and battery reserves, Komarov made an attempt to land the following day. Parachute failure led to the crash of Soyuz 1 and the death of Komarov. After the disaster the Soyuz 2 spacecraft was checked, and the parachute system had the same technical failure. If Soyuz 2 had launched, the docking may have been successful, but then both spacecraft would have crashed on landing, killing four cosmonauts instead of one.
Planned second Soviet circumlunar flight. Cancelled after the success of the American Apollo 8. On 24 September 1968 Bykovskiy/Rukavishnikov were the prime candidates for the first Soviet circumlunar flight. When the crews were named, they had been bumped to the second flight.
Surplus Soyuz ASTP spacecraft modified with a multi-spectral camera manufactured by Carl Zeiss-Jena in place of the universal docking apparatus. Eight days were spent photographing the earth. Tested and perfected scientific-technical methods and devices for studying the geological characteristics of the earth's surface from outer space for economic purposes. Recovered September 23, 1976 7:42 GMT. Landed 150 km NW Tselinograd.
Manned two crew. Docked with Salyut 6. Delivered to the Salyut-6 station the third international 'Intercosmos' crew consisting of V F Bykovsky (USSR) and S Jaehn (German Democratic Republic) to carry out scientific research and experiments.Recovered November 2, 1978 11:05 GMT.
Manned two crew. Transported to the Salyut-6 station the sixth international crew under the Intercosmos programme, comprising V V Gorbatko (USSR) and Pham Tuan (Viet Nam), to conduct scientific research and experiments. Returned crew of Soyuz 35 to Earth. Recovered October 11, 1980 9:50 GMT.