The lost cosmonauts of Russia’s black space program

Russian Wostock space rocketOK, this isn’t strictly a science fictional post, but it’s just that interesting a story – and a well-told one, too – that I thought it deserved sharing here, where I think it’ll be appreciated. It’s the tale of two Italian radio geeks, and how they accidentally became the ears of the West within Russia’s space programmes – the one that’s common knowledge, and the ones that were kept quiet.

It is the ultimate in Cold War legends: that at the dawn of the Space Age, in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the Soviet Union had two space programmes, one a public programme, the other a ‘black’ one, in which far more daring and sometimes downright suicidal missions were attempted. It was assumed that Russia’s Black Ops, if they existed at all, would remain secret forever.

The ‘Lost Cosmonauts’ debate has been reawakened thanks to a new investigation into the efforts of two ingenious, radio-mad young Italian brothers who, starting in 1957, hacked into both Russia’s and NASA’s space programmes – so effect­ively that the Russians, it seems, may have wanted them dead.

True, or bunk? I don’t know – but it’s a damned good story. Go read it – it’ll be fifteen minutes well spent. [via the indispensable MetaFilter; image by James Duncan]

5 thoughts on “The lost cosmonauts of Russia’s black space program”

  1. I can easily believe that it is quite possible for cosmonauts to have been lost in space. The Soviets were in a win or lose situation against internal discord within the ranks of political/military leaders and the USA’s growing power and influence. Add to this the Soviets amazing ability of whitewashing anything that made them look bad and I couldn’t think of anything that could truly shame them in the World arena then to be humiliated then by losing one of their prized cosmonauts. Who knows maybe someday someone will find a Soviet era tin can with the body of a poor man/woman mummified with a Hammer and Sickle patch on their suit.

  2. I remember there was an episode of the ‘Skeptoid’ podcast that dealt with these, and the conclusion was (funnily enough) the recordings were probably not what they claimed to be. I have to confess, though, the recording of the ‘dying female cosmonaut’ was the creepiest few seconds of audio I’ve ever heard.

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