Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev (Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev)

Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev

Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev (Russian: Ви́ктор Ива́нович Паца́ев; 19 June 1933 – 30 June 1971) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 11 mission and had the unfortunate distinction of being part of the second crew to die during a space flight. On board the space station Salyut 1 he operated the Orion 1 Space Observatory (see Orion 1 and Orion 2 Space Observatories), he became the first man to operate a telescope outside the Earth’s atmosphere. After a normal re-entry, the capsule was opened and the crew was found dead. 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, suffocating the crew. One of Patsayev’s hands was found to be bruised, and he may have been trying to shut the valve manually at the time he lost consciousness. Viktor Patsayev’s ashes were inturned in the Kremlin Wall on the Red Square in Moscow. He was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the title of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR. The lunar crater Patsaev and the minor planet 1791 Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev are named for him. An account of Patsayev’s life and space career appears in the 2003 book Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon by Colin Burgess.


  • June, 19, 1933
  • Aktyubinsk, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union


  • June, 30, 1971
  • Outer Space

Cause of Death

  • decompression of spacecraft


  • Kremlin Wall
  • Moscow, Russia

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