April 15, 1921|
Fedorivka, Poltava Oblast, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)
|Died||June 30, 1995
(Soviet Air Forces)
Time in space
|3d 22h 50m|
Georgy Timofeyevich Beregovoy (Russian: Гео́ргий Тимофе́евич Берегово́й, Ukrainian: Гео́ргій Тимофі́йович Берегови́й; April 15, 1921 – June 30, 1995) was a Soviet cosmonaut who commanded the space mission Soyuz 3 in 1968. At the time of his flight, Beregovoy was 47 years of age: he was the earliest-born human to go to orbit, being born three months and three days earlier than the second earliest-born man in orbit – John Glenn, but later than X-15 pilot Joe Walker who made 2 (or 3, according to USAF definition) suborbital space flights.
Beregovoy was born on April 15, 1921, in Fedorivka, Poltava Oblast, Soviet Union (now Ukraine). He graduated from a school in 1938 at Yenakieve, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. He joined the Soviet Air Forces (VVS) in 1941, and was soon assigned to a ground-attack unit flying the Ilyushin Il-2 "Shturmovik". He flew some 185 combat sorties during the course of World War II and rose quickly through the ranks, finishing the war as a captain and squadron commander.
Following the war, he became a test pilot, and over the next sixteen years test-flew some sixty different aircraft, rising to the rank of colonel and the position of deputy chief of the air force's flight-testing department. In 1962, he applied and was accepted for cosmonaut training.
In 1956 graduated from the Air Force Academy.
On October 25, 1968, Beregovoy took the Soyuz 3 into outer space: he orbited the Earth for almost four days at altitude up to 252 km. As part of his mission, Beregovoy twice maneuvered his craft into rendezvous positions with the unmanned Soyuz 2 satellite but was unable to establish a direct physical link to the craft before returning on October 30, 1968.
Nonetheless, Beregovoy's flight was in some ways an encouraging success for the Soviet manned space program, and the colonel was celebrated as a hero upon his return. Soyuz 3 was Beregovoy's only spaceflight and soon after it he retired from active duty, having been promoted to Major General.
In October 1969, Konstantin Feoktistov and Georgi Beregovoi traveled as guests of NASA throughout the US, visiting any city they chose and the Disneyland amusement park in California - they were joined on the trip by US astronauts as hosts, to include Eugene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and others. Kirk Douglas and others hosted receptions for them in Hollywood - they were protected by Special Agents of the US State Department on request of NASA. Almost every place they went when accompanied by Eugene Cernan, if a band was present the song "Fly Me To The moon" was played - when they visited Disney Park they enjoyed the ride Trip To The Moon, then joked with the US Astronauts that they went to Disneyland and not the moon. It was a trip that all enjoyed and international friendships were made.
Beregovoy took up a position at the Centre for Cosmonaut Training, and in 1972 was made Director of that facility.
After retirement, Beregovoy became a Soviet parliament member representing the Donbas region of the Ukrainian SSR. In this capacity, he reportedly helped Viktor Yanukovych to start a new life, getting his two criminal convictions expunged from the court records. Many years later, Yanukovych became prime minister and then president of modern independent Ukraine.
Honours and awards
Georgy Beregovoy was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union twice, first time on October 26, 1944 for his military service during World War II, and second time for his space flight. He was the only Soviet cosmonaut who undertook the space flight being the Hero of the Soviet Union (the highest Soviet distinction) for a previous achievement unrelated to space travel.
He was also awarded:
- Title Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR,
- Two Orders of Lenin (1944 and 1968)
- Two Orders of the Red Banner
- Order of Alexander Nevsky,
- Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, 3rd class,
- Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class, twice
- Two Orders of the Red Star,
- Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR, 3rd class,
- Medal for Battle Merit, 1949
- Medal "For Impeccable Service", 1st class
- USSR State Prize (1981)
- Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
- Medal "For the Capture of Budapest"
- Medal "For the Capture of Vienna"
- Jubilee Medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary since the Birth of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin"
- Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
- Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
- Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Gold medal of the Tsiolkovsky Academy of Sciences of the USSR
- Hero of Socialist Labour (1970)
- Order of Georgi Dimitrov (1970)
- Order of the Banner of the People's Republic of Bulgaria
- Medal "25 Years of People's Power"
- Medal "100th anniversary of the fall of the Ottoman yoke" (1979)
- Medal "100th Anniversary of Birth of Georgi Dimitrov" (1983)
- Order of the National Flag (1985)
- Order of the Red Banner, with Diamonds
- Gold Medal "for military cooperation" (1980)
- Order of the People's Hero (Yugoslavia)
- Cross of Grunwald, 3rd class (People's Republic of Poland)
- Order of the Tudor Vladimirescu, 5th class (CPP)
- Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)
Among many other Russian commemorations Beregovoy is memorialized in Moscow with a statue on Cosmonauts Alley. Beregovoy was celebrated internationally, and received a unique award from the International Aeronautical Federation. At the Federation's 62nd general conference held in Helsinki, Finland, Beregovoy was awarded the first Yuri A. Gagarin Gold Medal for achievements in space; Finnish President Urho Kekkonen was the honorary presenter on July 14, 1968. The award was a new design created in memory of Gagarin who had died the previous March, and it continues to be awarded to this day.
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- Clark, Philip (1988); The Soviet Manned Space Program; Orion (Crown Publ.), NY; ISBN 0-517-56954-X. p. 182, "Appendix 3: Cosmonaut Data"
- Clark (1988). p. 182: "This mission was cancelled in late 1965; it is uncertain whether Beregovoy would have been the back-up pilot or commander for Voskhod 3."
- Clark (1988). See p.49-50: "The initial orbital altitude was announced as 205-225km.... [A] further rendezvous between Soyuz 2 and Soyuz 3 was completed. ... the orbital altudes were announced as: Soyuz 2, 181-231km; Soyuz 3, 179-252km."
- Hall, Rex D. & Shyler, David J. (2003); Soyuz, A Universal Spacecraft; Springer/Praxis, Berlin; ISBN 1-85233-657-9. p. 421: "[Beregovoy] tried, but failed, to dock the craft with the unmanned Soyuz 2...."
- Clark (1988). p. 50.: "With Soyuz 3, the Soviet manned programme regained its confidence, and its success may have encouraged the Soviets to consider a manned flight around the Moon in December 1968....[O]verall it [Soyuz 3] represented a successful return to manned space missions after a break of eighteen months."
- New York Times, January 24, 1969; "Gunman Attacks Car in Kremlin, 2 Wounded": "A fifth astronaut, Major Gen. Georgi T. Beregevoi, who orbited the earth last October, was nicked by flying glass."
- New York Times; July 15, 1969; "Borman wins medal for Apollo 8 voyage": "Major General Georgi T. Beregevoi was awarded the Yuri Gagarin gold space medal for his flight in Soyuz 3 on October 26–30, 1968, in which he carried out docking maneuvers with Soyuz 2."
- FAI: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (2010): see The Yuri A. Gagarin Gold Medal (retrieves Sept. 2010).