On February 7, 1926, Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov was born. Feoktistov was part of the team that would go on to design the Sputnik, Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz spacecraft under the leadership of Sergey Korolev. He trained as a cosmonaut, and eventually launched 12 Oct 1964 for 16 earth orbits as one of the crew of Voskhod 1 (with Vladimir Komarov and Boris Yegorov), the world‘s first multimanned spaceflight.
When he was only 16 years old, Konstantin Feoktistov fought with the the Soviet Army against the German troops when they occupied Voronezh. Feoktistov was captured by the Waffen-SS and was sentenced to death by a firing squat. However, thebullet went right through his neck and and fortunately failed to kill him. Feoktistov managed to feign death and later escaped from a burial trench.
After World War II, Konstantin Feoktistov attended the Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School and studied engineering. Feoktistov graduated in 1949 and later also earned a doctorate degree in physics. He then joined the design bureau of Mikhail Tikhonravov, who was a Soviet pioneer of spacecraft design and rocketry. Feoktistov formed part of the team that went on to design the Sputnik satellites, the Vostok space capsule, the Voskhod space capsule, and the Soyuz space capsule under the leadership of the Soviet Chief Designer Sergey Korolev. In that period, Feoktistov also worked on a design for an ion-propelled spacecraft to be capable of taking humans to Mars.
Konstantin Feoktistov was selected for cosmonaut training in 1964. In October he was assigned to the multi-disciplinary Voskhod 1 crew. Feoktistov became the first civilian to make a space flight, and the only cosmonaut in the Soviet Union who was not a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. After his experience in space, Feoktistov became the head of the Soviet space design bureau that designed the Salyut and Mir space stations.
In 1969, Konstantin Feoktistov and Georgi Beregovoi traveled across the United States including Disneyland in California. The astronauts Eugene Cernan and Neil Armstrong accompanied them and Kirk Douglas hosted receptions for then in Hollywood. In 1990, Feoktistov resigned from his engineering position with Energia and then returned to Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School as a professor.
References and Further Reading:
- Konstantin Feoktistov at Britannica
- Konstantin Feoktistov: Cosmonaut who helped set a space altitude record on Voskhod I
- Konstantin Feoktistov at the New York Times