Cosmonaut Igor Volk dead at 79
Former Soviet cosmonaut Igor Petrovich Volk passed away while on vacation in Bulgaria on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 – he was 79. Volk was a test pilot for the Mikoyan Aircraft Design Bureau. His accomplishments covered an array of vehicles and environments – including a mission to orbit.
Born on April 12, 1937, Volk first took to the skies in 1954, becoming an accomplished pilot and test pilot.
Volk had more than 7,000 hours’ worth of flight time in over 80 different aircraft. He also was a test pilot on the Soviet version of the X-20 aircraft. As noted, Volk flew on a wide-range of aircraft which included fighters, bombers, and other craft.
According to SpaceFacts, Volk was selected as a cosmonaut on December 12, 1977, as part of the LII-1 Group.
Volk’s single flight into space saw him serving as a research cosmonaut on the three-person Soyuz T-12 crew that flew to the Soviet Salyut-7 space station in July 1984.
The Soyuz T-12 mission was the seventh to the outpost and it provided Volk with critical spaceflight experience, something he would have needed as it was planned to have him command the first crewed flight of the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle (the spacecraft only flew one uncrewed flight on Nov. 15, 1988).
Volk also worked as the head of cosmonaut training for the Buran program. When Buran was canceled he went on to serve as a Flight Tests Deputy at the Gromov Flight Research Institute in 1995 before retiring a year later.
When all was said and done, Volk had acquired some 11 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes in orbit.
Volk also was the President of the National Aero Club of Russia as well as the Vice President of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. His efforts in aero and astronautics were recognized on July 29, 1984, when he was awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Soviet Union (the highest award given in the former Soviet Union).
His list of accomplishments and awards is extensive and, according to Buran-Energia, included but was not limited to the following:
- Deputy of the council of the Zhykovsky city 1984–1987.
- President of the council of the USSR tennis federation 1986–1990.
- President of the planes amateur federation 1988.
- Executive member of the “green movement” 1989.
- First vice-president of the Russian cosmonauts federation (RCF), executive president of the RCF 2003-2005.
- Hero of the USSR (June 29, 1984).
- Order “For Merit to the Fatherland”, IV class (April 11, 1997).
- Order of Lenin (June 29, 1984).
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour.
- Order of Friendship of Peoples.
Volk leaves behind a wife and two children.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.