Valery Bykovsky

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Valery Fyodorovich Bykovsky
Born (1934-08-02) 2 August 1934 (age 84)
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union
Order of Lenin
Space career
RankMajor General, Soviet Air Force
Time in space
20d 17h 48m
Selection1960 Air Force Group 1
MissionsVostok 5, Soyuz 22, Soyuz 31/Soyuz 29
Mission insignia
Soyuz 31 mission patch.svg

Valery Fyodorovich Bykovsky (Russian: Вале́рий Фёдорович Быко́вский; born 2 August 1934) is a retired Soviet cosmonaut who flew three manned space mission space flights: Vostok 5, Soyuz 22, and Soyuz 31. He was also backup for Vostok 3 and Soyuz 37.

Early life and career[edit]

Bykovsky was the son of Fyodor Fyodorovich Bykovsky and Klavdia Ivanova.[1] At age 14 Valery wanted to attend naval school; however, his father was not a proponent of this idea and encouraged him to stay at his school. A few days later Valery listened to a lecture regarding the Soviet Air Force Club that inspired him to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. Following this lecture Valery would begin flight theory lessons when he turned 16 at the Moscow City Aviation Club. When he was 18 Bykovsky graduated aviation school and enrolled in the Kachinsk Military Aviation Academy.[1] Bykovsky graduated the academy at 21 years old and received the rank of lieutenant. At 25 he became a jet fighter pilot and later became a pilot and parachute instructor with over 72 jumps by the time he began his cosmonaut training.[1] At 26 years old he started his cosmonaut training at Zhukovsky Military Engineering academy. Bykovsky's most famous flight took place in 1963 aboard Vostok 5 where he would famously rendezvous with first female cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. During his orbit aboard Vostok 5, Bykovsky was also made a member of the communist party.[1]


Bykovsky set a space endurance record when he spent five days in orbit aboard Vostok 5 in 1963 where his callsign was "Hawk" (Russian: Ястреб).[2] Although this flight duration has long since been surpassed by crews of more than one person, to this day it remains the endurance record for a solo spaceflight.

Bykovsky was to have commanded the original Soyuz 2 mission, which was cancelled due to problems with Soyuz 1. After the parachutes failed on that mission, killing Vladimir Komarov, the same problem was found with the Soyuz 2 capsule, which meant if the mission had flown, Bykovsky and his crew would also have been killed.

Many of his later years in the space programme were involved with promoting the Intercosmos programme amongst the world's Socialist nations. He retired in 1988 and then spent three years as the Director of the House of Soviet Science and Culture in Berlin.

Bykovsky was also a keen sportsman:

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, Andran 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.[3]

Honours and awards[edit]

Valery Bykovsky was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union (1963), the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star, and numerous other medals and foreign orders.



  1. ^ a b c d Burgess, Hall, Collin, Rex (2009). The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team:Their Lives and Legacies. Praxis Publishing. pp. 37, 38, 39. ISBN 978-0-387-84823-5.
  2. ^ "Call signs of astronauts".
  3. ^ Bykovsky quoted in Gavrilin, pp. 26–7
  4. ^ "Valery Bykovsky". (in Russian).


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