Pavel Popovich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pavel Romanovich Popovich
Born(1930-10-05)5 October 1930
Died29 September 2009(2009-09-29) (aged 78)
Space career
RankMajor General, Soviet Air Force
Time in space
2d 22h 57m (Vostok 4)
15d 17h 30m (Soyuz 14)
18d 16h 27m (total)
SelectionAir Force Group 1
MissionsVostok 4, Soyuz 14
Retirement26 January 1982

Pavel Romanovich Popovich (Russian: Па́вел Рома́нович Попо́вич, Ukrainian: Павло Романович Попович, romanized: Pavlo Romanovych Popovych) (5 October 1930 – 29 September 2009[2][3]) was a Soviet cosmonaut.[1]

Popovich was the fourth cosmonaut in space, the sixth person in orbit, the eighth person and first Ukrainian in space.[1]


Popovich was born in Uzyn, Kyiv Oblast, Ukrainian SSR[2][4] to Roman Porfirievich Popovich (a fireman in a sugar factory) and Theodosia Kasyanovna Semyonova.[4][5][6] He had two sisters (one older, one younger) and two brothers (both younger).[4]

During World War II, the Germans occupied Uzyn and burned documents, including Popovich's birth certificate. After the war, these were restored through witness testimony, and although his mother said that Popovich was born in 1929, two witnesses insisted it was in 1930, which thus became the official year of his birth.[6]

In 1947, Popovich left vocational school in Bila Tserkva with qualifications as a carpenter.[4] In 1951, Popovich graduated as a construction engineer from a technical school in Magnitogorsk,[4] as well as receiving a pilot's degree.[2]

In 1954, Popovich joined the Young Communist League.

He married Marina Popovich, a retired Soviet Air Force colonel and test pilot. They had two daughters but later divorced, and Popovich married Alevtina Oshegova.[1][4]

Popovich was a keen weightlifter:

"Service in the Air Force made us strong, both physically and morally. All of us cosmonauts took up sports and PT seriously when we served in the Air Force. I know that Yuri Gagarin was fond of ice hockey. He liked to play goal keeper. Gherman Titov was a gymnastics enthusiast, Andriyan Nikolayev liked skiing, Pavel Popovich went in for weight lifting. I don't think I am wrong when I say that sports became a fixture in the life of the cosmonauts."[7]

He was also a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 6th–11th convocations.[3]

After his retirement in 1993, Popovich lived in Moscow.[5]

Popovich died in a hospital in Gurzuf where he was taken following a stroke on 29 September 2009. Brain hemorrhage was cited as the cause of death.[2][3][8] He was buried in Moscow.[5]


In 1952, Popovich graduated from a course at the Stalingrad Military Aviation School near Novosibirsk. He then went on to train at the Military Officers of the Air Force Aviation Training School in Grozny, until 1954,[4] when he joined the Soviet Air Force.[2]


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]

Date Role Location
25 Dec 1954 Pilot 265 Fighter Regiment (IAP)
336th Fighter Aviation Division (IAD) (later the IAD 64-Fighter Air Corps (IAC) 22nd Air Army)
19 Jun 1957 Senior Pilot/Squadron Adjutant
27 Feb 1958 Senior Airman 772-IAP IAS 22nd 26th VA.
31 May 1958 234-Guards Regiment Proskurov 9th IN IAD Moscow (Kubinka)
31 Jan 1959 Adjutant of the squadron
Jan 1982 Deputy Chief Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center
29 Dec 1989 Secondment State Committee of the USSR Agro
20 Aug 1993 Retired by order of the Defense Ministry

Aircraft types flown:


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]

Date Cyrillic English
12 May 1959 Военный летчик 3-го класса Military Pilot, 3rd class
15 Aug 1962 Военный летчик 1-го класса Military Pilot, 1st class
10 Nov 1960 Инструктор парашютно-десантной подготовки (ПДП) ВВС Parachute Instructor (PDP) Air Force
30 Nov 1962 Космонавт 3-го класса Astronaut 3rd class
24 Jul 1974 Космонавт 2-го класса Astronaut 2nd class


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]

Date Insignia Cyrillic English
30 Oct 1954 Лейтенант Lieutenant
24 Apr 1957 Старший лейтенант Senior Lieutenant
30 Mar 1959 Капитан Captain
05 Nov 1961 Майор Major
11 Aug 1962 Подполковник (Podpolkovnik) Lieutenant Colonel
30 Apr 1965 Полковник (Polkovnik) Colonel
5 May 1976 Генерал-майор авиации Major-General (Aviation)
20 Aug 1993 Retired from the Air Force


In 1960, he was selected as one of the first group of twenty air force pilots that would train as the first cosmonauts for the Soviet space program.[2] The training took place between March 1960 and January 1961, and Popovich passed his final exams in Cosmonaut Basic Training on 17/18 January 1961.[4] He was appointed as an astronaut on 25 January 1961.[4]

He was considered a strong candidate for the first spaceflight – but while Yuri Gagarin was ultimately chosen for the Vostok 1 flight, Popovich served as the flight's capcom.[1]

From May to August 1961, he trained to fly on spacecraft "Vostok-2" in a group of astronauts, followed (between September and November 1961) with training to fly "Vostok-3". This flight was cancelled.[4] Between November 1961 and May 1962, he trained as a pilot for "Vostok-4". Between June and August of that year, he received further training in the maintenance of this spacecraft.[4]

Popovich in Vostok 4
Popovich in Vostok 4

He commanded the space flight Vostok 4 (Russian: Восток-4) in 1962[2] which, along with Andrian Nikolayev on Vostok 3, was the first time that more than one crewed spacecraft were in orbit at the same time. His call sign for this flight was Golden eagle (Бе́ркут).

In January 1964, he became a cosmonaut instructor, becoming deputy commander to the 2nd group of cosmonauts.[4]

Popovich was selected to command one of the Soviet Union's planned Moon landings, and trained for this between 1966 and 1968, when the Soviet Moon landing plans were scrapped.[1]

In 1968, he was selected as commander for Soyuz 2, but after the death of Vladimir Komarov during the reentry of Soyuz 1, Soyuz 2 was launched without a crew.

Popovich with Milivoj Jugin in Belgrade

In 1969 he was a senior cosmonaut instructor, and became (by 1972) the Chief of cosmonaut training.[4]

In 1974, he commanded his second (and final) space flight Soyuz 14 (Russian: Союз 14) in 1974.[2] Again, his call sign for this flight was Golden eagle (Бе́ркут). This flight was the first to the Salyut 3 space station.

In 1977, he received a post-graduate degree in technical sciences.[2][4]

In March 1978, he was on duty in the Flight Control Center for Vladimír Remek's flight aboard Soyuz 28.

From 1978 he was the deputy chief of the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center responsible for research and testing work.[4] From 1980 to 1989, he was Deputy chief of the Cosmonaut Training Center. In January 1982, he was removed from the list of active cosmonauts, so that he could serve as Deputy Chief for Scientific Testing and Research at the Center.[4]

Sociopolitical life[edit]

Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]

  • From 1992: Chairman of the Boxing Federation of Russia.
  • From 1994: President of the Yuri Gagarin Foundation; President of the Social Support for Veterans of the Armed Forces of the Union
  • From 1996: Member of the Editorial Board of Space News
  • From 1998: Member of the Editorial Board of the All-Russia scientific and technical magazine Flight
  • From 1999: President of the Ukrainian Union of Cosmonauts
  • Member of the Writers' Union of Russia.
  • President of the Association of Space Museums of Russia (AMKOS)
  • Honorary President of the International Association of Veterans of Physical Education and Sport (MAFIS)
  • Honorary Chairman of the Society of Ukrainian Culture (Slavutich)

Awards and honors[edit]

Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]

Date of Award Award Notes
17 Jun 1961 Order of the Red Star[2]
1962 Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR[2]
1962 Honorable Radio Operator
1962 Honored Master of Sports of the USSRa
1962 Medal "For the Development of Virgin Lands"
19 Aug 1962 Hero of the Soviet Unionb[2]
19 Aug 1962 Order of Lenin[2]
15 Nov 1962 Gold Star Labor Hero of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam[2]
20 July 1974 Hero of the Soviet Union[2]
20 Jul 1974 Order of Lenin[2]
1982 Order of Friendship of Peoples[2]
13 May 1985 Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation"
9 Apr 1996 Order of Honourc for services to the state, many years of fruitful activity in the arts and culture.
6 Oct 2000 Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th Graded for services to the state and many years of fruitful work.
1 Dec 2005 Ukrainian Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 4th classe for his significant personal contribution to the development and strengthening
of Ukrainian-Russian relations, promoting the rise of prestige of the Ukrainian
state in the world.
Unknown Order of the Badge of Honor[2]
Unknown Medal of the Republic of Cuba
Unknown 9 Commemorative Medals


a For setting records in space flight
b Medal number 11117[5]
c For services to the state, many years of fruitful work in the field of culture and art (as President of the Association of Space Museums)[9] (Presidential Decree No. 512 of April 9, 1996)
d For services to the state and long-term fruitful work[9] (Presidential Decree No. 1724 on October 6, 2000)
e For significant personal contribution to the development and strengthening of Ukrainian-Russian relations, promoting the rise of the authority of the Ukrainian state in the world[9] (Presidential Decree No. 1682/2005 dated December 1, 2005)[10]

Other honours[edit]

He received honorary citizenship of several cities:[2][3]


a Popovich is the only person to have received the honorary citizenship of Kaluga twice. The first time was in August 1962 (Decision 597 of the Executive Committee of Kaluga City Council of Workers' Deputies), and the second time was in April 1964 (Decision 237 of the Executive Committee of Kaluga City Council of Workers' Deputies).[11]

A bronze sculpture to Popovich was established in Uzyn.[2]

The name of Pavel Popovich was given to a mountain ridge in Antarctica and to the Mars-crossing asteroid 8444 Popovich.[2][4]

In 1991, he became director of the Institute Rossiyskogo for Monitoring of Land and Ecosystems, then worked as chairman of the board of directors of the All-Russia Institute of Aero-Photo-Geodesic Studies (VISKhAGI), dealing with the compilation of a land inventory of Russia using images from space.[2][4]

He had also been the chairman of Ukrainian diaspora organisation in Russia.

He was awarded a Gold Tsiolkovsky Medal by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and a De La Vaux Medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.[3][4]

In Ukraine there was a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of the first Ukrainian astronaut, twice the Hero of the Soviet Union P.P. Popovich.[12]


In 1984 Popovich joined the Russian Academy of Sciences' newly created All-Union Investigation Committee for Anomalous Aerial Phenomena and became head of the Academy's UFO Commission.

In the 2002 SciFi Channel documentary Out of the Blue, Popovich relays a sighting of a UFO next to the airplane he was travelling aboard as he was returning home from Washington, D.C., with a delegation of scientists. The UFO was seen by everyone on board the plane. It was perfect triangle shaped and emitted a very bright, white light at a distance of about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) and an altitude about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the airplane. The object had an estimated speed of 1,500 kilometres per hour (930 mph) travelling parallel to the airplane and passed and overtook the plane in about 30 to 40 seconds.[13]

Popovich was the president of the UFO association of Russia.


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted[4]


  • "I Flew in the Morning" (1974)[5]
  • "Space Humanity" (1981)[5]
  • "Tested in Space and on Earth" (1982)[5]
  • "The endless roads of the Universe" (1985)[5]
  • "Robinson of the Universe" (1986)[5]

Works in Collections[edit]

  • "Space – My Job"
  • "High Orbit"
  • "Star"
  • "Conquest of Infinity"
  • "... 3, 2, 1!"


  • "Secrets of the Galaxy"
  • "Mysteries of the Eternal Cosmos"
  • "Forward – to the Sources of the Past"


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Pavel Popovich, sixth man in orbit, dies". collectSPACE. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Pavel Popovich – one of forerunners of manned space research, dead". ITAR-TASS. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Doctors: Cosmonaut Popovich died of a stroke". VSESMI.RU. Russia: System News. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Pavel Romanovich Popovich" (in Russian). Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Popovich, Pavel Romanovich" (in Russian). Russian War Heroes. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  6. ^ a b "Cosmonaut Popovich has now permanently left the ground" (in Russian). Novye Izvestiya. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  7. ^ Bykovsky quoted in Gavrilin, p26-7
  8. ^ В Крыму скончался летчик-космонавт Павел Попович [Space pilot Pavel Popovich died in Crimea] (in Russian). New Region 2. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  9. ^ a b c "In Crimea, twice 'Hero of the Soviet' cosmonaut Pavel Popovich dies" (in Russian). Russia: 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  10. ^ "Про нагородження П. Поповича орденом князя Ярослава Мудрого".
  11. ^ "Ими гордится Калуга ("They Bring Pride to Kaluga")" (in Russian). Kaluga: Office of the Affairs of the Mayor of Kaluga. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  12. ^ "A celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of the first Ukrainian astronaut, twice the Hero of the Soviet Union P.P. Popovich". February 15, 2018.
  13. ^ James Fox, Tim Coleman, Boris Zubov (2002). Out of the Blue (Documentary). Hannover House. Event occurs at 0:41:00. Retrieved 2008-11-03. (Source does not state in which year this incident took place)

Further reading[edit]

Codru, Milan. "The cosmic days and nights" (Prague: Práce, 1987)
  • (in Czech) Codr, Milan. "Sto hvězdných kapitánů" (Praha: Práce, 1982)
Codr, Milan. "Sto Star Captains" (Prague: Práce, 1982)
Rebrov, M. F. "Soviet cosmonauts" (2nd ed.) (Moscow: Military Publishing, 1983)
  • (in Russian) Шкадов, И. Н. (Пред.ред.коллегии) "Герои Советского Союза: Краткий биографический словарь. Т.2." (М.: Воениздат, 1988)
Shkadov, J. H. (editor) "Heroes of the Soviet Union: A brief biographical dictionary Vol. 2" (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1988)

External links[edit]