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.