Georgi Grechko (Patron)
And because Americans had this great flight to the moon with landing, our bosses, and government bosses, cancel our programme. Of course Russians shouldn’t be second, only the first… it was crazy idea. Of course we should fly… we should have our own experience… how to fly to the moon and back.
Back to Soyuz 26… how long did you have to train for your spacewalk? I read that by the time it was decided that you were to go, there was only 6 weeks until launch, which to me doesn’t seem very long. Did you feel rushed into it?
I was enter space team in 1966, and immediately after this I break my leg… broke my leg… and it’s very interesting with this thing… of course it was so unhappy for me. I was in deadly bad emotion condition after this breaking because everybody understood that I will not be astronaut after this… and worse of all… I understood it. And first of all I was thrown by this into the end of the line to fly. It was a group, and somebody should be first, somebody second, after I break my leg… broke my leg… I should be… it was happiness to be last, not to be gone out of team.
And of course, I was very unhappy, of course all these 9 years, it was a first flight, emotionally it was a very hard year. But you know, life is very strange thing, I was unhappy, but, because I was in the end of the line I had training, and I as back-up crewman… many years… 9 years of training… and it was very bad for me to break my leg. In the end, after 9 years, it was very good for me, because I was; maybe; the best trained astronaut.
And from this point of view, to be good for flight, for me it took not very many time, because I was ready to fly on many many many different spacecraft and space-stations and for hundreds of experiments, and this two months, I should be only to be adjust to this spaceflight with some special; I should be teached only for something special; not for all this big flight, and of course the special was spacewalk, because it was first spacewalk in new space-suit. And of course, from the first time; this spacewalk should be made only to test space-suit only. Not to make something useful in us.
In programme it was only spacewalk to test spacesuit, nothing more. But unhappy docking before us… in this unhappy docking their spacecraft touched twice… space-station. But you can understand what is a touch between 7 ton spacecraft and 20 ton space-station. In the place where they touch was the electric… I can spoil it by my finger, not by touching 7 and 20 tons!. And it should be checked, it is broken or not; for next docking. And our docking was unusual because we docked from the rear docking port, that was made for unmanned spacecraft. And it was hard enough task, because in the same space-walk we should test space-suit, and we should get out not through the lock that was made for spacewalk, but through the docking devices.
First test should be really without this unhappy docking that was before us, we should only to get out of special space lock to stay on the special step and test the space-suit and go back, but it was impossible through this special air-lock to get docking port, and we should go through the docking port. Its very… to understand its very simple if you will imagine, submarine had lock and they had devices to shoot torpedo’s. And really their lock should be used to get in and to get out, not the torpedo tubes. We should go through like the torpedo’s, and from this point of view it was hard, and we had hard training all the days.
And you know, before the flight I should take exams. So much exams that it was, but I haven’t time for exams, and it was like this. From the morning till the evening training for EVA, for scientific experiments, for something or other. At midnight I have consultation with specialist. At midnight!! At 2.OOam I had consultation from another specialist!! At 9.00am I should go to exams … and many exams a day. Really it should be one exam in two days, but I had sometimes 5 exams in the same, in the one day. And it was funny… but funny of course after this.
That I was near this table, and I have only empty list of paper and around me was decades of specialists, and everybody ask me about their systems, about their experiments… and for the first flight, of Gagarin flight, Nikolayev flight… the role of man was little, not very important because spacecraft… was robotic spacecraft… and before Gagarin it was launched many times the same spacecraft… without man. And in all that time they are joking that exams was this kind.
If you know anything, you obtained 5. Excellent. If you don’t know anything, you obtained good! But in this time it was… upside down, because, through this time… after some cosmonauts made mistake with control of some system, the specialists who gave him excellent mark was punished. And it was crazy because now at our exams every specialist should ask us one question, ten questions, hundred questions, but he should give me questions that I didn’t know, to give me no excellent mark.
And always the case, the specialist ask me, before they could give me only good, not excellent, it was thousands of questions, and in the end of this huge exams, it was from 9 till 6, from 9.00am till 6.00pm; and specialists change around this table, only me with pencil and paper was on this table from the beginning to end… it was endless… but our… every crew has his own physician, Doctor, and at 6, the Doctor of our crew held my hand and get me out of this table to the exit, and said, because even if in the end of this exams you will give him OK to go to space, I will not give him OK because he will be dead after this exam! But the specialists thought not about me, about themselves. And when he pulled me out of this table, some specialists run after me and ask me more and more questions.