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Kamanin, Nikolai Petrovich
Russian VVS Officer, first commander of Soviet cosmonaut detachment 1960-1971. Advocate of piloted spaceflight, fought constantly for VVS role in space, blamed loss of space race on Korolev's insistence on using automated systems.

Born: 1908-10-18. Died: 1982-03-13. Birth Place: Melenki, Vladimir.

Kamanin was born in a worker's family in Melenki, Vladimir oblast in 1908 (in official documents, 1909, due to a school registrar's mistake). In 1927 he entered the Red Army. After flight training he spent the rest of his career in the VVS (Army Air Force). He came to international notice in 1934 when he was named Hero of the Soviet Union for commanding the air squadron that rescued the crew of the ice-bound Chelyuskin Arctic expedition. Kamanin personally flew nine landings on drifting ice floes to return 34 of the expedition to safety.

Following this exploit he was sent for advanced training at the Zhukovskiy Military Engineering Academy. After graduating he was appointed commander of an air brigade in 1938. By the end of the Soviet-Finnish War in 1940 he commanded a Military District Air Force. After organizing new air units in the desperate first months after the German invasion in 1941, he began direction of air combat operations in July 1942. Kamanin commanded various air armies on the Ukrainian front and ended the war in Prague. During the course of the war he developed innovative tactics for the Il-2 ‘Shturmovik' anti-tank aircraft, used to great advantage in the anti-tank operations in the Battle of Kursk.

After the war he held high positions in the command of the DOSAAF civilian reserve forces (All-Union Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Air Force, and Navy). He graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff in 1956. From 1960 to 1971 he was in charge of the Soviet cosmonaut team. In this position he had to invent entirely new methods for selecting and training cosmonauts, and conducting manned space operations. During this same period he was Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief of the VVS Air Forces for Outer Space. Following the death of the Soyuz 11 crew he was dismissed from his position. In 1972 he retired from the service. He died eleven years later and was buried in the Novedichiy Cemetery in Moscow.

Kamanin's diaries are a key documentary source for the history of the Soviet space program. He was engaged in a constant struggle with an indifferent hierarchy for an expansion of air force military operations into space. He also had to fight against Korolev and the other engineers for a role for the pilot in space flight. He blamed Soviet loss of the space race after 1966 to the unwillingness to let the cosmonauts actively control their spacecraft, as the Americans were doing. He figured that Korolev's insistence on automated rendezvous and docking techniques were costing his country years while the Americans were successfully using piloted techniques on Gemini and Apollo. A good Communist and a bit of a martinet, he was scathing in his critiques of the unfocussed Soviet leadership of the space program and especially the failings of Korolev's successor, Mishin.

Country: Russia. Spacecraft: Vostok. Agency: VVS. Bibliography: 376, 5590.
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1961 March 25 - . 05:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Vostok 8K72K.
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1982 March 13 - .

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