Dubbed “the last Soviet citizen” and “the man who is sick of flying,” cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev blasted off into space on May 18, 1991 and unwittingly became a pawn in international politics. For 312 days he watched as the communist superpower, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, became the Russian Federation.Why did Krikalev have to dock with Mir?
As the spacecraft carrying Krikalev and two others approached Mir the targeting system failed, meaning Krikalev had to dock manually, with any wrong move being potentially fatal. Keeping a cool head, he docked and the cosmonauts – plus the first British astronaut Helen Sharman – climbed on board.When did Krikalev become a cosmonaut?
Krikalev was selected as a cosmonaut in 1985, completed his basic training in 1986, and, for a time, was assigned to the Buran Shuttle program. In early 1988, he began training for his first long-duration flight aboard the Mir space station.What happened to Mikhail Krikalev?
In October, several of his colleagues departed at the end of their four-month mission. With nobody else having enough experience to remain on the station alone, and the Soviets unable to afford to send another cosmonaut, Krikalev stayed up there to keep Mir going, circling Earth for much longer than he'd anticipated.