reply to post by clintdelicious
The Soviet space program was also a big PR show. Just like NASA missions, things could go wrong, and did, but they wanted to be sure they were
covered, no matter what the outcome.
Yuri Gagarin, the accepted "first human in space", was a great example of a cosmonaut who may NOT have been the historic "first" that history
records. In 1961, when this bit of history was taking place, the US was monitoring the situation carefully, and the evidence seemed to show that the
mission was NOT a success.
What apparently happened was that Gagarin was flown in, by plane, as the vehicle returned, being conveniently photographed as he parachuted to safety,
and victory. By all appearances, he was never on that mission to begin with, someone else probably taking his place, possibly dying, never to be
known, and whoever this real cosmonaut was, it looks like he took the bullet for Gagarin, the photogenic hero, who got all the glory.
The US was aware of the charade, but chose to take the "high road", and send congratulations anyway, instead of causing a stir, and risk being
portrayed as spoiled sports.
It went both ways, and over the years, probably lots of "mistakes" were covered, both sides mutually agreeing that the public was better served by
Gagarin was ever the reluctant "hero", apparently too much integrity to just go with it. He was a monumental hero in the public eye, but "what
if" he cracked, and let the cat out of the bag? His drinking was out of control, he did get violent here and there, etc. Of course, he was watched
constantly, and did not remain alive long, dying under mysterious circumstances when his plane went down only seven years afterward.
But Mother Russia got to keep their forever-young handsome hero, who conveniently died before screwing it all up.
What we don't know about?
As Spock used to say...