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Russia Cosmonaut Gherman Titov Dies

By Anatoly Zak
Staff Writer
posted: 03:00 pm ET
21 September 2000

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Gherman Stepanovich Titov, the second man to orbit Earth and a legend of the early Space Age, died Wednesday in Moscow at the age of 65.

Cosmonauts React
Two cosmonauts who just returned from the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle were shocked and saddened to learn of Titov's death. Read the story.

Titov's body was discovered in the sauna of his apartment on Khovanskaya Street in Moscow, and initial media reports asserted that carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death. The latest information from Russia, however, indicated that Titov's sauna was electrically operated and cardiac arrest caused the death. Titov was known to have heart problems.

Titov was born on September 11, 1935 in the village of Verkhnie Zhilino in the Altai Region. He graduated from the Stalingrad Military Aviation School and was selected in the first group of cosmonauts in 1960.


In May 1961, after the historic Gagarin flight, the first group of the Soviet cosmonauts vacationed in the Crimean resort of Sochi. The chief-designer of the Vostok spacecraft, Sergey Korolev, and his wife stayed nearby in their residence Yaveinaya. This shot was made at Yaveinaya and appears to be the only photo showing the entire original group of the Soviet cosmonauts except V. Bondarenko who was killed in a ground-training accident in March 1961, as well as A. Kartashov and V. Varlamov who were dismissed from the group for medical reasons. In the first row, left to right: P. Popovich, V. Gorbatko, E. Khrunov, U. Gagarin, S. Korolev, N. Koroleva with Popovich's daughter Natasha, the chief of the original cosmonaut group E.A. Karpov, parachute coach N.K. Nikitin, physician E.A. Fedorov. In the second row: A. Leonov, A. Nikolaev, M. Rafikov, D. Zaikin, B. Volunov, G. Titov, G. Nelubov, V. Bukovskiy, G. Shonin. In the third row: V. Filatiev, I. Anikeev, P. Belayev.

On August 6, 1961, Titov blasted into space aboard a one-person Vostok 2 spacecraft, some four months after Yuri Gagarin made the first piloted journey into space and three months after Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Unlike Gagarin, who completed a single orbit of Earth, Titov circled the planet for a day, greatly pushing that era's limits of human experience in space.

During his 17-orbit mission, Titov attempted many activities that were soon to become routine in human space exploration, such as exercising, sleeping, eating and using an on-board toilet. He also suffered from the syndrome analogous to seasickness that would plague space travelers for decades to come.

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