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R.I.P: Georgy Grechko

Russian cosmonaut Georgy Grechko died today at the age of 85.

Grechko was one of the Soviet Union’s most important early cosmonauts, flying some of the first long term missions on several of Russia’s early Salyut stations. He was also important in that in the first real elections run by the Soviet Union he ran for office against party officials, won, and helped throw the Communists out of power.

I met and interviewed Grechko when I was writing Leaving Earth. He struck me as a kind and intelligent person, exactly the kind of person you’d want in charge, and who rarely gets that chance. Russia is diminished by his passing.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Noah Peal

    When good people die, we are all diminished. Rest in peace.

  • LocalFluff

    Only astronauts go to heaven more than once.
    From Earth to Earth, by gravity.

    He wasn’t killed by microgravity, space radiation or Martian bugs. Stuff that some people are overly obsessed with today. He even survived riding on a 300 ton kerosene Soyuz bomb through the sky. It seems he was laid to sleep by the same mysterious decay of aging that takes care of us all equally.

  • Michael Miller


    Godspeed, Mr. Grechko.


  • LocalFluff

    Maybe it was a near disaster now that Soyuz landed with Expedition 50?

    The crew seems unharmed, but that was a late landing burn. The Russian space program seems to be disintegrating from quality problems. They do have a reputation for robust safety margins and they are doing great with human space flight, even if it nowadays just looks lucky. It is going the wrong way, in a time when one has to run in order to stay in competition. Soyuz less reliable today than 50 years ago.

  • LocalFluff

    Wow what a very nice landing! Being rolled and dragged around by the parachute. Hardened astronauts deal with this, but it isn’t great marketing for space tourists who seek serenity on weightlessness.

  • wayne

    tangential, but very interesting—

    “What killed Yuri Gagarin?”
    -available at the John Batchelor website…

  • wayne

    cool video.
    -are those lawn chairs made out of titanium?

  • LocalFluff

    I don’t know abut the lawn chairs, they don’t look like any of the most popular IKEA models.

    Astronauts aren’t carried around because they can’t walk after returning from microgravity, but because lab guys want to make kinky medical experiments with them before they exercise their muscles in Earth’s gravity. To try to evaluate the effects both of long term weightlessness and the G-forces of the pretty rough landing. When Soyuz has landed way off almost in China (which would be embarrassing, missing the largest country in the world), the crew has had no problem with climbing out by themselves and perfectly doing everything required to call for and settle themselves during many hours waiting for the rescue team to pick them up from the forest in nowhere.

    I heard that the commander aboard might’ve fumbled with his pushbutton or whatever to cut off the parachute. They aren’t supposed to be rolled over and dragged around like that. But it requires a manual action of the crew to prevent it just in time.

  • Edward

    We are now losing the generation of the early space explorers, a sadness for us all. I hope that the historians have gleaned all that they need to help future generations understand that time period.

    The person who said that the landing rockets fire 3 seconds prior to landing is off by an order of magnitude. My understanding is that the rockets fire when the Soyuz is only 70 centimeters (about 27 inches) above the ground. This is consistent with the answers in the StackExchange link.

    Soyuz may not be experiencing the same quality problems that Russia’s rockets seem to have. There was a Soyuz capsule that did not pass a pressure test, a few years back, and a more recent problem with the need to replace wiring, but the quality control checks that were supposed to find problems like these did their jobs. I have worked on several projects in which similar problems were found and corrected well before launch, so I am less concerned about problems found and corrected before launch than problems that are not. It is the undetected problems or uncorrected problems that worry me most.

  • PeterF

    Localfluff –

    “lab guys want to make kinky medical experiments with them” A twist where the beings from space are probed by the humans from earth…

    But seriously,
    Fair winds and following seas Dr. Grechko

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