True Last Words of Cosmonaut Komarov

There is a horrible urban legend about the tragic death of a Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Investigative author James Bamford included an account about this incident on page 165 of his groundbreaking book, The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization, 1982:

«On April 23, 1967, a number of analysts were routinely copying the return of Soyuz 1, bringing Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov back from twenty-six hours in space, when problems suddenly developed on re-entry. Recalled one of the intercept operators: They couldn’t get the chute that slowed his craft down in re-entry to work. They knew what the problem was for about two hours . . . and were fighting to correct it. It was all in Russian, of course, but we taped it and listened to it a couple of times afterward. Kosygin (Soviet Prime Minister — note by Daniyar Nauryz) called him personally. They had a video-phone conversation. Kosygin was crying. He told him he was a hero and that he had made the greatest achievement in Russian history, that they were proud, and that he’d be remembered. The guy’s wife got on too. They talked for a while. He told her how to handle their affairs and what to do with the kids. It was pretty awful. Toward the last few minutes he began falling apart, saying, «I don’t want to die, you’ve got to do something.« Then there was just a scream as he died. I guess he was incinerated».

Some fake audio files with «last words» of Mr. Komarov have floated around the Internet. In one of them, a Soviet announcer solemnly presents the cosmonaut before the public. Then, gibberish Russian words complete this disgusting sham. The real last words of the cosmonaut were revealed to the general audience in 2006, when Channel One of Russia aired a documentary Cosmos. First Blood («Космос. Первая Кровь»), directed by Dmitry Grachev. The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, was the last person who communicated with Mr. Komarov by radio. As a professional, Mr. Gagarin guided his return to Earth. In an audio excerpt, attached to this post, the following dialogue recorded: «Gagarin. Everything is OK, I am «Zarya» (Gagarin’s call sign means Dawn in Russian). Komarov. Your message has been received. Gagarin. Prepare for final operations. Be attentive, calm. Now, there will be an automated descent with lunar orientation. This descent is normal, real. Komarov. Your message has been received». This casual talk is a documented evidence, while the bloodcurdling rumors have no factual basis.

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