Vladimir Komarov - the first person to die in space

While we know who the first man in space was, we don’t know much about the first person to die in space. An astronaut’s death is never in vain, as their missions teach us a lot about how we should approach space exploration further. After someone dies in space, space engineers learn more about system faults, whereas scientists understand how space conditions influence human life. Astronauts who died on space missions are heroes who contribute to our planet’s future. They are space soldiers who risk their lives not only when in space but also when training and running flight tests. But who’s the first person to die in space? Keep reading to learn more about who he was, what happened to him, and what his last words were.

Who Is The First Human To Die In Space?

First human to die in space was a USSR cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. He joined a special Air Force school at 16, back in 1943, when WWII was happening. He was interested in going to the front, so he served as a fighter pilot in Ukraine and Caucasus.

Later, he became an aviation engineer and started working for the State Air Force Research Institute. There, he tested fighters and helped design the Voskhod and Vostok spacecraft without knowing that he would eventually fly one of them.

In 1960, a special commission invited him to participate in a secret space program, so he joined the first Soviet cosmonaut corps. Back then, humanity didn’t have the technological resources we have today. Originally, the Soviets used the Vostok-1 spacecraft for their missions, but it was too small for manned flights. Eventually, they started working on a modified Voskhod-1 version – where Komarov was appointed commander and pilot.

What Happened To Vladimir Komarov?

Vladimir Komarov died during the Soyuz 1 spaceflight on April 23, 1967. Before this mission, he and Yuri Gagarin, who were close friends, expressed serious concerns about Voskhod-1’s readiness for manned missions and docking in space. However, since Russians wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1917’s Russian Revolution, they wanted a new manned space mission.

Spacecraft explosion

Not surprisingly, things didn’t go as expected. Two solar panels failed to deploy, and a back-up antenna didn’t open, obstructing a Sun sensor that was essential to powering the spacecraft. A few other devices could not turn on because there was no electric power. Because of this, mission control decided to land Soyuz 1, and Komarov was asked to pilot this spacecraft like an airplane. For five hours, Komarov struggled to manually orient the spacecraft, trying to conduct a safe landing. But when the landing took place, mission control received a message that an astronaut needed medical assistance.

What Was Vladimir Komarov’s Cause Of Death?

Vladimir Komarov’s remains explained that the astronaut’s cause of death was traumatic injuries and incineration. His Soyuz 1 spacecraft got tangled in parachute cords after re-entry. According to the accident investigation, at a seven km altitude, the spacecraft’s pilot chute didn’t pull the container’s main parachute because a 2.8-ton force was insufficient to deal with container deformation, which resulted from a pressure drop.

While the reserve parachute activated automatically and came out, the ship’s rotation twisted its lines and wrapped around the pilot chute. Vladimir Komarov’s cause of death was crashing upon landing because his ship went to the ground at 80m/s. Then, spacecraft fuel tanks containing concentrated hydrogen peroxide exploded. His body could no longer be recognized after this horrible incident. The astronaut’s remains are buried in Moscow, close to the Kremlin wall. However, his family still thinks that his real grave is at the Vladimir Komarov crash site near Orenburg.

What Were Vladimir Komarov’s Last Words?

Vladimir Komarov’s last recorded words were, “I’m in a chair, strapped down. I feel great; everything is fine. Thank you, tell everyone. Separation has taken place.” He informed mission control about how he was and explained that the descent capsule had been separated from the main ship. Things must have happened very quickly for him to realize that he was dying.

Some Internet sources are saying his last words were “Heat is rising in the capsule” and the word “killed.” Presumably, he was trying to blame spacecraft engineers, but this information has never been officially confirmed.

Astronauts lost in space

Yuri Gagarin had a lot to say after Komarov’s death. He sharply criticized the officials who allowed the Soyuz 1 spaceflight to take place. 1967 was a terrible year for space exploration, and whether Komarov regretted his sacrifice remains a mystery. Let’s not forget that in January 1967, the Americans lost astronauts Ed White, Roger Chaffee, and Gus Grissom, who died in a fire while preparing for the Apollo mission. Still, Komarov has entered history as the first person to die on a space mission.

This sad story raises a good question – should we engage in a space race at the cost of people’s lives? Opinions will clearly differ here. But this is a discussion for another time, so stay tuned for our next articles.

By Bradford

Bradford is an entertainment afficionado, interested in all the latest goings on in the celebrity and tech world. He has been writing for years about celebrity net worth and more!