Alexander Zheleznyakov, translated by Mikhail Vorobyov
IN MEMORIAN OLEG G. MAKAROV
On May 28th 2003 the legendary Russian cosmonaut Oleg Grigor'evich Makarov died aged 70. One more thread with the epoch when mankind dared to escape from the embraces of Earth gravitation has been broken.
Oleg Makarov was born on January 6th 1933 in the village of Udomlja in the Udomel'ski district in the Kalinin region (nowadays known as Tver) into the family of a military man. Between 1946-1949 he lived in the city of Weimar of East Germany where his father served. In 1951 he finished high school in the town of Rovno, Ukraine.
We cannot say that Oleg dreamed of space when a child - as against many other cosmonauts. On the contrary, his aspirations were relatively mundane - he wanted to become a road-building engineer. Looking back the future cosmonaut couldn’t explain how such an idea had occurred to him.
However one day Oleg met a mate who studied in the Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School and found out they taught engineers of unusual trades there. Something turned over in Makarov’s consciousness. Oleg successfully passed entrance examinations and was enlisted in the oldest technical college of the country.
Years of study flew by imperceptibly. In 1957 Makarov graduated from BMHTS and was sent to work for Sergey Korolev’s OKB-1. Oleg had the good luck to be involved in designing of manned spacecraft. He immersed himself in such interesting work under the management of Konstantin D. Bushuev, Sergey Korolev’s deputy. Then he met another BMHTS graduate – talented engineer, enthusiast of cosmonautics and the future cosmonaut Konstantin P. Feoktistov, depicted here on SG 3046 marking the flight of Voskhod 1. “The work under K. Feoktistov’s management influenced on forming me as specialist strongly” – Makarov recalled.
It is important to say that they worked on designing not only “Vostok” but also other kinds of spaceship in OKB-1 in those days. So, Feoktistov’s group including O.Makarov worked on the “Heavy Interplanetary Vehicle” on their own initiative. It envisaged delivering cosmonauts onto the surface of Mars. Alas, the project hasn’t been realized yet and we still talk about manned mission to Mars as a future prospect.
When working on “Vostok” Makarov designed a cosmonaut’s control panel. At first sight it was just a panel with a lot of buttons, toggle – switches and dials. But a cosmonaut operated all systems of spacecraft by means of it and his life often depended on its work. The designers designed rather original technical concepts which combined reliability and convenience. All the “Vostok” flights were a success and Makarov deserves some merit for that too.
By the way, Oleg Grigor'evich was one of several OKB-1 employees who became acquainted with Yuri Gagarin and other future cosmonauts during “Vostok” spaceship construction. Makarov hardly thought at that time that he would not only build spaceships but also fly on them before long.
In 1966 Oleg Makarov became a space engineering tester. Then the first intake to the recruitment of a group of civilian cosmonauts was made in the Central design office of power mechanical engineering (CKBEM - former OKB-1) and Makarov was one of those "lucky persons" who managed to pass medical tests.
After a year’s training course he was included in the cosmonaut group preparing for flying round the Moon under L-1 program. Later Makarov was appointed to the “Moon” crew as a second pilot – he and Alexei Leonov should become the first Soviet cosmonauts to take a close look at a surface of Earth’s natural satellite. They also trained for the Moonlanding mission under L-1 - N-3 program. Makarov was to have piloted the orbital module while Leonov left "tracks on the Moon". Both projects were closed unfortunately and all cosmonauts preparing within the framework of the Soviet Moon program were reappointed to work on Earth orbital stations.
Makarov’s First Flight
However, Oleg Makarov made his first spaceflight not aboard “Salyut” station but under other programme. The death of the Soyuz-11 crew in June, 1971 forced to make significant design changes to the ship and life-support systems of cosmonauts. “Soyuz” was thoroughly redesigned, new survival suits were developed, docking systems were modified essentially, and much more...
That modernized spacecraft was tested by cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov in September, 1973 in Soyuz 12 commemorated by SG 4261 (above). Their spaceflight lasted less than two days (1 day 23 hours of 15 minutes of 32 seconds to be exact) but it gave the "green light" to all the Soviet manned space programmes.
The “Soyuz Anomaly”
On returning to Earth the Lazarev-Makarov crew began training for future space missions. Their second flight into space begab on 5th April 1975 – one and a half year after the first one but was finished by failure of the third stage of the booster. The lives of the cosmonauts were saved by the system of emergency rescue which separated the descent cabin from the booster in time. They landed in the remote areas of Altai Mountain range in the USSR and were saved again thanks only to lucky coincidence – the parachute slings caught on a tree at the edge of a precipice and kept the cabin from falling it in a chasm. The cosmonauts were found and evacuated from the landing place many hours after their brief flight.
Such an incident would probably scare away such work many others. But Makarov appeared to be of another breed - the experience forced him only to plunge into the training process again.
Makarov’s Third Launch
His third spaceflight started 10th January 1978 as flight engineer of “Soyuz-27” spaceship together with cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov. They worked onboard orbital complex “Salyut-6” - “Soyuz-26” - “Soyuz-27” for 4 days. It was the first time in the world that two spaceships’ crews were onboard a space station simultaneously. Makarov and Dzhanibekov returned to Earth in “Soyuz-26” craft having spent in space 5 days 22 hours 58 minutes 58 seconds.
The preparation for Makarov’s next spaceflight scheduled on November - December 1980 was accelerated as the crew of “Soyuz T-3” comprising Makarov, L.Kizim and G.Strekalov had to go into Earth orbit urgently in order to stabilise the “Salyut-6” orbital station. The station was rescued and went on to work for the benefit of mankind.
This proved to be the last space mission for Oleg Makarov. In 1986 he left cosmonaut team on grounds of ill-health but continued to work for “Energia” corp. creating new spacecraft up to the end of his life.
("ORBIT", Journal of the Astro Space Stamp Society, Issue ¹ 59, October 2003).