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Boris Chertok is shown here signing copies of the first Russian edition of his 

memoirs Rakety i lyudi (Rockets and People) for famed aviator Mark Gallay at 

Moscow’s House of Journalists in 1995. Waiting in line is a former deputy to 

Korolev, A. P. Abramov.

 21. VSK—Vizir spetsialnyy kosmonavta (special sight for cosmonaut).

470


People in the Control Loop

had to look into dozens of glitches that had cropped up during testing of the 

two vehicles, first at the KIS and now during preparation at the firing range. On 

one of those days, dropping by Bushuyev’s office, I bumped into Mark Gallay 

there. Despite the jealous attitude of Kamanin and all the Air Force training 

specialists involved with spaceflights, Gallay’s thoughts about the human factor 

had been decisive for Korolev. Possessing the exceptionally great experience 

of a combat-seasoned test pilot and aviation engineer, Gallay, a man with an 

acute and critical intellect, who remained outside departmental interests, gave 

surprisingly interesting advice on controlling piloted vehicles.

22

 He had become 



acquainted with Korolev back before the war and had also met up with him 

during the war at the sharashka in Kazan, when Korolev had tested airplanes 

with rocket boosters.

23

 Not a member of any official commission, Gallay had 



the opportunity to personally tell Korolev his views, which he was not always 

able to express in public.

After Korolev’s death, Gallay lost his main support at our OKB-1. Mishin 

didn’t take him to his bosom. Gallay maintained good relations with Bushuyev, 

Rauschenbach, and me.

Turning to me, Bushuyev said, “Mark Lazarevich has his doubts about 

manual docking in the dark.”

“I’ve had to land at night at unlit airfields,” Gallay began to reassure us. “I 

have to say that even for an experienced pilot this is a big risk. But what are you 

going to do if, after an air battle, you’ve run out of gas, and like it or not, you 

return to the ground. I’m one with the airplane until it touches the ground. 

I myself am touching the ground, not the airplane. During each flight, from 

takeoff to landing, the airplane and I are a single organism. The relationships 

between a cosmonaut and a spacecraft are completely different. A cosmonaut 

is in flight for the first time in his life. Perhaps he is a fantastic pilot. But not 

once, you understand, not once has he experienced liftoff on a rocket and the 

state of complete weightlessness. You don’t give him time to adapt and then 

you demand that, in the dark, looking through a sight with a very limited field 

of vision rather than through a big cockpit canopy, he take over control from a 

tried-and-true automatic system, and in its place begin to control a spacecraft 

 22. Mark Lazarevich Gallay (1914–1998) was one the most famous Soviet aviators and 

test-pilots of the Stalin era. From 1958 to 1975, Gallay worked at the M. M. Gromov Flight-

Research Institute at Zhukovskiy and was simultaneously a consultant for Korolev’s OKB-1, 

where he helped train the early group of cosmonauts. Later in his life, he turned to writing a 

series of memoirs and books on aviation.

 23.  Sharashka was the nickname of the special prison design bureaus organized in the late 

1930s by the NKVD—(Narodnyy kommissariat vnutrennikh del [People’s Commissariat of 

Internal Affairs])—to house imprisoned designers, engineers, and scientists.

471


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

for the first time in his life, and at the same time, in complete darkness, get 

the active probe into the passive cone. Now, why would you take the risk and 

place a cosmonaut in a dangerous situation? At least let him fly for 24 hours 

before docking and become acclimated. We on Earth will make sure that a 

cosmonaut knows how to control the spacecraft and won’t do anything foolish.”

“We don’t have these 24 hours,” objected Bushuyev, “because they will 

require additional fuel consumption for correction, and our life-support reserves 

are not very big. We’re scrimping on every kilogram now.”

“Well, look. When we launched Gagarin, then Titov, and others, I was more 

confident. Even the manual emergency orientation for landing with Belyayev 

and Leonov, in my opinion, was simpler than what you are undertaking now. 

And on top of that, Darevskiy simply isn’t capable of making a simulator that 

reproduces the actual dynamics of the situation within these deadlines.”

“If docking fails in the dark, the cosmonaut can hover, and after about 

20 minutes he can make a second attempt in daylight without any lights.”

“Let’s hope so,” agreed Gallay. “The Air Force has two candidates for this 

flight—Beregovoy and Shatalov. Both are test pilots. Beregovoy saw combat 

on fighter-bombers under Kamanin’s command. I think that Kamanin will 

put him in the first slot.”

That’s what happened. Kamanin prudently coordinated the candidacy of 

Hero of the Soviet Union Georgiy Beregovoy with the Commander-in-Chief of 

the Air Force and with the Central Committee. The State Commission agreed 

with his proposal. According to the preparation schedule, the launch of the first 

unpiloted 7K-OK, which was referred to as Soyuz-2, was set for 25 October, 

while the piloted 7K-OK, or Soyuz-3, was set to lift off on 26 October 1968.

On Wednesday, 16 October, Bushuyev and I were called in to the min-

ister’s office. Afanasyev explained that he had been asked to report to the 

Politburo about piloted spaceflights. The unexpected summons had him very 

nervous and worried. I had never before seen Afanasyev like this, somewhat 

dismayed. They had warned him that he would have no more than 10 min-

utes for the report. Sergey Aleksandrovich asked us to “work a little” on the 

text of the 10-minute report with him and assist him with the responses 

to possible difficult questions. We “worked a little” and left the minister at 

10 p.m. In parting, he thanked us and said that he would work another 3 

hours or so on his own.

In the morning, Bushuyev and Rumyantsev did a final edit on the report 

at the ministry. At 3 p.m., Afanasyev appeared before the Politburo. However, 

contrary to his expectations, they did not give him the floor. Brezhnev, who 

was conducting the meeting, said that the minister did not need to be heard.

“I spoke with Mishin,” declared Leonid Ilyich. “He assured me that every-

thing was ready and we needed to launch a man into space. Who is against this?”

472


People in the Control Loop

No one spoke out against it. Only Keldysh, who was present at the session, 

asked for the floor and for about 5 minutes talked about the work performed 

over the past year and the program for the upcoming flight. When Afanasyev 

returned to his office he telephoned me on the “Kremlin line” and said that 

his report would be left for history, but he thanked Bushuyev and me for our 

help at a crucial moment.

On the cold Moscow morning of Monday, 21 October, Shabarov and I 

arrived at our airport, Vnukovo-3. A piercing wind drove wet snow mixed with 

fine, stinging rain. We endured the unwritten boarding protocol—no one enters 

the plane until the brass show up. We waited for the arrival of Afanasyev and 

Keldysh. Only after them did we climb the stairs into the Tu-134.

In Tyuratam the Sun was shining. After the foul autumn weather in Moscow 

we were carried off to the sweet weather of the steppes cooling off from the 

summer heat. At Site No. 2, I settled into cottage No. 1 next to Korolev’s cot-

tage. Recently they had placed a memorial plaque there made of pink granite 

with a bas-relief of Korolev: “Here lived and worked Chief Designer and 

Academician Sergey Pavlovich Korolev. 1956–1965.” The poplar trees that had 

grown up around the cottages in the stillness filled the air with an aroma that 

was unusual for the steppes. That evening, as part of a large retinue with the 

minister, we drove around the N-1 launch sites under construction.

The Soyuz-3 launch was being prepared to take place from Site No. 31. The 

next morning Beregovoy had his “sit-in” and received an additional briefing. 

That evening in the MIK at Site No. 2, an imposing State Commission gathered.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a gathering,” said Isayev, who 

was sitting next to me. Afanasyev’s summons to the Politburo was not in 

vain. Glushko, Barmin, Pilyugin, Ryazanskiy, Konopatov, Iosifyan, Yurevich, 

Lobanov, Khrustalev, Severin, Darevskiy, and Bratslavets had flown in for 

the State Commission meeting.

24

 Mishin, Karas, and Kurushin sat next to 



Kirillov in the presidium of the State Commission. The readiness check of all 

the services began with the launch vehicle. Aleksandr Soldatenkov was thor-

oughly prepared and confidently responded to questions concerning glitches 

that had occurred on all Semyorkas during launches over the past six months. 

After the reports about complete readiness, the State Commission made the 

decision to roll out the launch vehicle and unpiloted spacecraft 7K-OK No. 11 

to launch Site No. 1.

 24.  These were all the principal chief designers involved in the Soviet human space program 

at this time.

473


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

On the evening of 23 October, at Site No. 17 in the cosmonauts’ residence, 

a ceremonial session of the State Commission took place with the showing of 

movie and television footage. Afanasyev spoke at the meeting.

“Today we made a very important decision,” he said. “There has been a 

prolonged break in piloted flights. We have suffered a heavy loss. But we have 

overcome this barrier. We have performed more than 70 test drops to check out 

the parachute systems and more than 700 tests of all kinds on individual ele-

ments. We have complete confidence in the success of the upcoming flight. With 

great satisfaction we accept the proposal for the flight of Georgiy Timofeyevich 

Beregovoy, Hero of the Soviet Union and distinguished test pilot.

25

 We are 



confident that he will fulfill this crucial assignment.

Keldysh also spoke.

“I would like to wish comrade Beregovoy success in the fulfillment of this 

very important assignment. With his flight, Georgiy Timofeyevich will restore 

faith in the reliability of the piloted programs. All of us have been preparing 

for this flight for a long time. Hundreds of people have invested a great deal 

of heart and energy in order to ensure success, which is so essential after the 

compulsory break. Once again I wish comrade Beregovoy success in the fulfill-

ment of his assignment.”

Karas represented the Ministry of Defense.

“The personnel of the cosmodrome and of the military units participat-

ing in the work by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Rocket 

Forces will ensure the fulfillment of all tasks assigned to them.”

In an emotional response Beregovoy thanked everyone for their confidence 

and promised to make every effort to fulfill the assignment of the Party and 

government.

According to the staffing chart, I was GOGU deputy chief and was sup-

posed to be at the control center in Yevpatoriya. On 24 October, after reporting 

before the commission, a group of comrades and I flew from Tyuratam to Saki 

on an An-24. With a stopover for refueling in Uralsk, the flight took more 

than 8 hours. By the time we landed it was 1900 hours. The Crimea, even in 

late October, is still the Crimea. After freshening up at the hotel, I enjoyed an 

excellent dinner in the hospitable officers’ dining room. The table abounded 

with the bounty of Crimean nature. But it was the lively exchange of news 

and the stories full of good-natured humor about the latest “bobiks,” which 

inevitably occur in large rocket-space systems on the ground before a launch, 

that truly delighted those who had just arrived and the local “aborigines.”

 25.  Beregovoy received his first Hero of the Soviet Union award in 1944.

474


People in the Control Loop

The intense work on flight control of Soyuz-2 began on the morning of 25 

October. Liftoff proceeded normally. The orbital parameters were unusually 

close to the design parameters.

26

 For all the groups and services of the Command 



and Measurement Complex, the 24 hours of work on the unpiloted Soyuz was 

excellent training before the piloted launch.

Early in the morning on 26 October 1968, during brief time segments of 

coverage, the ballistics centers of NII-4, OPM, and TsKBEM were supposed to 

process the orbital measurements of the first orbits over our territory, calculate 

the precise time for the liftoff of the active vehicle, and transmit the data to 

the firing range 2 hours before the launch.

The beginning of the 13th orbit at 0500 hours was in the coverage zone 

of two Far East tracking stations. A 10-minute communication session was 

sufficient to determine that all the on-board systems of Soyuz-2 were operating 

normally. By 0900 hours the ballistics centers had sent telegrams: “Launch 

time 1134 hours, 18.1 seconds. Permissible launch delay for beginning of near 

rendezvous no more than 1 second.”

The idea was for the Igla radio system on the passive and active vehicles to 

warm up and switch on for mutual radio lock-on right after the insertion of 

the active vehicle into orbit. Radio lock-on would be ensured if, immediately 

after the orbital insertion of Soyuz-2, the distance to Soyuz-3 did not exceed 

20 kilometers. We issued a command to NIP-3 in Saryshagan to prepare to 

cancel the near rendezvous program loaded before the launch if liftoff were 

to be delayed by more than one second. In this case, GOGU would have to 

decide to issue a command to activate the far rendezvous mode from NIP-15 

in Ussuriysk.

Very precise work was required of the ballistics centers and communica-

tions services so that we in Yevpatoriya could make decisions and transmit 

them to the NIPs in a matter of seconds. The actual liftoff time with errors 

of tenths of a second would have to be reported from Tyuratam to NIP-16 

within 3 minutes.

At 1125 hours the T minus 5 minutes announcement is made. For 

the time being, communication hasn’t let us down. The usual, but always wor-

risome, reports are arriving in the control room: “Feed one,” “purge,” “T minus 

1 minute,” “pressurization,” “feed two,” “we have tower pullback!” “Liftoff!” 

There is an agonizing pause, and then: “Thirty seconds—flight is normal!”

 26. According to official Soviet data, the orbital parameters of Soyuz-2 were 185 × 224 

kilometers with an orbital inclination of 51.66°.

475


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

And then Beregovoy’s voice breaks through: “It’s a go…it’s a go! Slight 

shaking, mild shaking…. Nose wandering a bit…. G-load increasing no more 

than three…. We have separation of the strap-ons…. Fairing ejection….” 

Beregovoy continues to give a running report of his surface impressions.

“Attention!” a voice from the ballistics center interrupts. “We are reporting 

the precise time of liftoff: 1134 hours, 18.4 seconds.”

The error in relation to the design value is just 0.3 seconds!

Agadzhanov looks at Tregub, then at me, we nod, and he picks up the 

microphone: “Now hear this! This is 12 speaking, informing 13 not to issue 

the cancel command!

27

 We are working using the primary program!”



NIP-3, which is referred to as 13 over communication lines, reports, 

“Cosmonaut’s pulse is 104.” And almost simultaneously reports come in from 

Saryshagan and Ussuriysk about telemetry data. Our experienced telemetry 

operators, who can give a running commentary directly from the tapes, had 

arrived ahead of time at these tracking stations.

“Shutdown from integrator…. We have separation!... All elements 

deployed…. Igla antennas and solar arrays deployed…. We have target pres-

ence signal!... Range 1,000 meters!”

There is a rapturous whisper in the control room.

“What a shot! Entering the zone with no more than a kilometer’s deviation 

right after separation without any correction! Way to go, ballistics!”

The latter compliment is addressed to Zoya Degtyarenko and Vladimir 

Yastrebov, who modestly mumble that it wasn’t they, but the ballistics centers 

that had calculated so precisely.

Yastrebov set the record straight: “According to our data, it was 10 kilo-

meters before lock-on. The report of 1,000 meters was after approach with 



Igla’s assistance.”

During the last seconds of the communication from Ussuriysk a report 

came from Beregovoy via Zarya: “Range—40.”

After S



oyuz

-3 left the coverage zone, alarming telemetry data came 

in from Ussuriysk. As it approached Soyuz-2, the Igla antenna platform on 



Soyuz-3 was drifting in some inexplicable way in the pitch angle. The con-

sumption of working fluid from the DPO system during the last seconds of 

communication was higher than any norms.

The most agonizing minutes had set in. We waited for the appearance 

of two spacecraft at once in our zone. How would they arrive: mated or 

 27.  Agadzhanov’s call sign was 12.

476


People in the Control Loop

asunder? The experience of the two previous dockings allowed us to hope 

that we would see rigidly docked spacecraft in our zone. It was an hour of 

excruciating anticipation. Just 40 meters separated the two vehicles before 

we lost communication. In any event, Bashkin and Kozhevnikova were 

instructed to prepare a correction maneuver program for a repeat approach. 

But that wasn’t necessary. As soon as the two spacecraft appeared in the 

coverage zone, the reports that came from the telemetry operators and from 

Beregovoy himself immediately quashed hope of the possibility for another 

docking attempt.

Beregovoy reported, “At 12:25, as soon as the vehicle emerged from the 

shadow, I saw that the vehicle had rolled with an error of around 180°. I 

attempted to correct the roll using the DO-1 system for 3 minutes but real-

ized that it was dangerous to continue approach. Pressure in the DPO system 

was 110 atmospheres, and per instructions I had to shut down the system if 

pressure fell to 135.”

Cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev was conducting communication via Zarya. He 

asked, “How do you feel?”

“I feel great. My mood is lousy,” responded Beregovoy.

One could understand how he felt. He had given up flying, trained for 

a long time, earned the right to perform a crucial spaceflight, and pledged to 

everyone that he would fulfill the assignment of the Party and government. 

How could he explain to his comrades that in the darkness he was unable to 

make heads or tails of the four lights and, after taking over control from the 

automatic system in the final approach zone, the vehicle had begun to roll with 

an error to the point where it was upside down? The conditions for automatic 

final approach and docking had been ideal. And with his intervention, he had 

not only messed everything up, but for some reason he had used up so much 

propellant that the ground wouldn’t permit him to perform a repeat approach 

now. There was only enough working fluid for maneuvers to return to Earth. 

And after all, he was 47 years old! Would he have another opportunity to fly 

into space?

We convened a special on-the-spot technical management meeting. One 

after another, the team members gave their reports that all systems on both 

spacecraft were operating normally. Reproduction of the telemetry data showed 

that the cosmonaut had operated the controls very actively. There had been 

an excessive consumption of the working fluids due to the cosmonaut’s inex-

plicable actions.

“During automatic approach of the vehicles, 30 kilograms of propellant 

were consumed, and after the cosmonaut took over control, consumption was 

more than 40 kilograms in 2 minutes,” reported the analysis group.

“He was fighting with Igla,” said Mnatsakanyan.

477


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

The cosmonaut’s actions particularly outraged Bashkin and Feoktistov. I 

stood up for Beregovoy.

“We did some great things, too. We devised a program that makes a 

human being, who has just endured extremely strong g-loads and who is 

experiencing weightlessness for the first time in his life, without preliminary 

training, 10 minutes after liftoff, in the dark, search with a sight for four 

lights and move a control stick so that the shape of an imaginary trapezoid 

is changed in some incomprehensible way! We ourselves are at fault for 

agreeing to manual approach without any adaptation, and at night no less, 

and the ballistics experts didn’t want to select liftoff times so that approach 

would take place in daylight.”

“I don’t accept this blame,” objected Zoya Degtyarenko. “It’s your com-

rades’ fault that we were forced into a docking at night. They were afraid of 

ionic holes, and the brass demands landings, even off-nominal ones, during 

daylight only. Preference should have been given to approach and docking right 

after liftoff in daylight, and we would have done that. What’s more, Feoktistov 

argued that the approach and rendezvous at night using lights was even easier 

than during the day.”

Tempers flared, but we had no time for squabbling. We needed to quickly 

reorganize the program and prepare the assignments for landing. A report 

came in from Tyuratam that an Il-18 carrying Minister Afanasyev, Keldysh, 

Kerimov, Mishin, Kamanin, Karas, and all the chief designers—75 persons 

in all—was flying out to us.

“Now, not just Beregovoy but GOGU as well is going to start controlling 

with precision until everything is upside down. Because of a proliferation of 

management, we’re going to confuse the piloted vehicle with the unpiloted 

one,” hypothesized someone who still had a sense of humor.

“Stop joking!” announced Agadzhanov. “A report has come in that on the 

passive vehicle, where, thank God, there isn’t a cosmonaut, the 45K Sun-star 

tracker messed up again during the orientation session. But it’s impossible to 

figure out what happened. Through a blunder of the control group program-

mers, information was downlinked from the flight recorder to Saryshagan 

instead of to us. You see, they decided to free up our tracking station for the 

downlink of information about Beregovoy’s actions.”

Two “emergency rescue teams” were formed: one just for Soyuz-2, and the 

other to downlink Beregovoy’s work and analyze his actions.

When the members of the recently arrived State Commission and their 

“entourage” filled our small control room, we tried to distract the attention 

of the brass with detailed reports about the results of the first day so that they 

wouldn’t interfere with the ongoing operations. Beregovoy had been loaded 

down with experiments on constellation identification, photographing Earth’s 

478


People in the Control Loop

snow cover, studying the twilight background, observing luminous particles, 

and checking out the 45K Sun-star tracker.

“You’re chasing me like a rabbit,” complained Beregovoy, receiving one 

radiogram after another from Earth.

“You asked for it,” retorted Shatalov, who was communicating with him 

via Zarya.

During the night leading up to 29 October, I was still the responsible 

duty officer for GOGU. My partner monitoring the actions and communi-

cating with the cosmonaut was Pavel Belyayev. According to the schedule, 

Beregovoy was supposed to be sleeping, and we could calmly chat about what 

had caused his errors.

“All the same, that was very stressful,” said Belyayev. “It’s not at all like 

controlling an airplane. They trust a pilot with his first solo flight after many 

flights with an instructor. It used to be simple for us cosmonauts, because not 

only did they not require us to intervene in control, but they also forbade us 

from doing so. Automatics did everything for us. Before our flight with Leonov 

on Voskhod, I met Sergey Pavlovich in the dining hall when I was off duty and 

asked, ‘Couldn’t we try manual control in the upcoming flight?’ He said, ‘No, 

under no circumstances.’ And despite the prohibition, we had to do it. The 

attitude-control system failed for 

the first time, and Korolev himself 

gave permission from the ground 

for manual orientation and to fire 

the SKDU for landing.”

28

Belyayev recounted very viv-



idly how he and Leonov attempted 

manual orientation for the first 

time, leaning against one another, 

“so as not to float away in zero 

gravity.”

“We did everything calmly. 

Only later did we realize that if 

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