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‘Exemplary cosmonaut’: World solo spaceflight record-holder Valery Bykovsky dies aged 84

‘Exemplary cosmonaut’: World solo spaceflight record-holder Valery Bykovsky dies aged 84
Valery Bykovsky, one of the first men to enter cosmonaut training in the Soviet Union, passed away at the age of 84 on Wednesday. He had flown three space missions and set a world solo flight record which remains unbeaten.

After graduating from military pilot school, he became among the first to be selected for grueling cosmonaut training in 1960, as the nation was preparing to send the first man to space.

While Yuri Gagarin was eventually chosen for that historic flight, Bykovsky flew the Vostok 5 mission two years later. He stayed in Earth’s orbit for five days, which remains the record for solo manned frights.

He made two more space flights in the 1970s, captaining the Soyuz 22, and then the Soyuz 31 mission, during which he successfully docked with the Salyut 6 space station. In total, the cosmonaut spent more than twenty days in space.

Hailed as one of the pioneers of space exploration, he was twice awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor. Bykovsky was “an exemplary cosmonaut,” his former colleague Yuri Baturin told local media of his passing.

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