Man devotes life to friendships, despite risks

Jessica Jost

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Friendship is a powerful thing, a bond between two people who would lay down their lives for each other if the time ever came, even if it means leaving behind a young family. One cosmonaut launched into space despite knowing he was destined to never return alive, but he did it to protect his friend.
On this day in history, Vladimir Komarov died when the faulty space ship Soyuz 1 crashed into Earth.
Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, wanted to further establish the Russian lead in the Space Race over the United States. The plan was for Komarov to launch into space on the Soyuz 1 and on the next day Soyuz 2 would take off. The two vehicles would meet, Komarov would crawl from Soyuz 1 to the other craft and a crew member from Soyuz 2 would take his place. It was supposed to be a simple mission. But it wasn’t.
The Soyuz 1 had 203 structural malfunctions found by senior inspectors, of whom Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was a part of. He was Komarov’s best friend and his back-up commander of Soyuz 1— in the case Komarov could not fly. Gagarin sent a 10 page letter to his KGB friend, Venyamin Russayev, who was to give it to Brezhnev. The letter never made it to him. Everyone associated with the project was afraid of being demoted or sent to Siberia for failing to complete the mission. Russayev was even lowered in rank for having read the letter Gagarin sent.
Through all of this, Komarov had the option of opting out of the flight and sending Gagarin in his place. But he did not back down. Komarov met with Russayev and said he could not back out, “They’ll send the backup pilot instead. That’s Yura. He’ll die instead of me. We’ve got to take care of him.”
On April 23, 1967, the doomed Soyuz 1 launched into space with Komarov abroad. Within minutes of beginning its orbit, the malfunctions began. Navigation was difficult, antennas did not work and the fuel gauge was dangerously low. The launch of Soyuz 2 was canceled.
When Soyuz 1 began its fall to earth, U.S. intelligence in Turkey caught the last words of Komarov. He was on the phone with his wife saying goodbye and also talking to Soviet premier Alexi Kosygin, who was crying. Some interpreters heard him saying, “Heat is rising in the capsule” and that the engineers killed him. No matter the words, he is remembered as crashing to the Earth “crying with rage.”
On April 24, student council representative elections were held, karoke was held at the Hide A Way and 3oNe3 performed at the Blue Note. But 6,314 miles away and 45 years ago, a man died for his friend.
By Jessica Jost