Friday, May 06, 2011

Backtracking on cosmonaut Komarov's death

Robert Krulwich of NPR reported, uncritically, on a Russian authored book called Starman by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony. This had a sensational version of Valdimir Komarov's death in the Soyuz 1 flight of 1967. I called out what I thought were numerous falsehoods, some of them ridiculous, and unproven claims. I was not one of the historians Krulwich talked to, but people like Asif Siddiqi (and other historians much more accomplished than me) objected too, and he did talk to them. Krulwich backed off. On several major points, including the claims Komarov knew the craft was doomed, talked to his wife and said goodbye, talked to a tearful Premier Kosygin, etc., Krulwich and the book's authors both admit ambiguity at best. For all your accomplishments, Mr. Krulwich, I'm still not impressed. A good writer checks this kind of sensationalist stuff BEFORE going into print with it. ANY space historian he checked with before running the article would have told him the book was full of ... um...rocket exhaust. I hope everyone learned something.

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