Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov ( November 23, 1935 – June 30, 1971) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 11 missions. The second mission terminated fatally.
Volkov graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute, 1959. As an aviation engineer at Korolyov Design Bureau, he was involved in the development of the Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft prior to his selection as a cosmonaut. He flew aboard Soyuz 7 in 1969.
Volkov, on his second space mission in 1971, was assigned to Soyuz 11. The three cosmonauts on this flight spent 23 days on Salyut 1, the world’s first space station.
After three relatively placid weeks in orbit, however, Soyuz 11 became the second Soviet space flight to terminate fatally, after Soyuz 1.
After a normal re-entry, the Soyuz 11 capsule was opened and the corpses of the three crew members were found inside.
It was discovered that a valve had opened just prior to leaving orbit that had allowed the capsule’s atmosphere to vent away into space, causing Volkov and his two flight companions to suffer fatal hypoxia as their cabin descended toward the earth’s atmosphere.
Vladislav Volkov was decorated twice as the Hero of the Soviet Union (first on October 22, 1969 and posthumously on June 30, 1971). He was also awarded the two Orders of Lenin and the title of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR.
The lunar crater Volkov and the minor planet 1790 Volkov are named in his honor. A street in Moscow is named after him.
A delicious tomato variety from Ukraine was named Cosmonaut Volkov in his memory by his friend the space scientist and gardener Mikhailovich Maslov.
Vladislav Volkov’s ashes were inurned in the Kremlin Wall on the Red Square in Moscow.
Volkov is a honorary citizen of Kaluga and Kirov.
In the movie Virus (1999), an alien intelligence inhabits the computer system of the research vessel “Akademic Vladislav Volkov” via a transmission from space. According to Brian Harvey’s book Russia In Space, there was also a real Soviet communications ship called the Vladislav Volkov, but it was sold by the Russian government following the fall of the USSR.
An account of Volkov’s life and space career appears in the 2003 book “Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon” by Colin Burgess.