NASA’s Man at the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Almost no one knows today that  the space race with the USSR during Cold War conditions was not much of a race. NASA had a man stationed in the Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome from about 1963 through 1971.

NASA’s man was a space medicine scientist whom Premier Khrushchev allowed to enter the USSR to consult with his Soviet counterparts. He was a very good scientist who was aware of much that went on around him. And he made strong friends with several Soviet scientists and cosmonauts. Colonel Yuriy Gagarin, the world’s first cosmonaut, was one of the American scientist’s friends.

The American NASA scientist made frequent trips to the USSR for at least eight years. In October of 1964 when Khruschev was deposed the American scientist kept going back to the USSR, not really sure that the next Premier, Brezhnev, was going to be as friendly as Khrushchev had been. NASA’s man was a hero.

Now, fifty years after Sputnik, and a great deal of cooperation with the USSR, the American scientist’s brave efforts are still being kept quiet. I wrote to Sergei Khrushchev, son of Premier Khrushchev, and asked him if anyone in Russia today would care if they found out about the US-USSR cooperation in space medicine. Mr. Khruschev was very courteous but his response was not reassuring.

So for a while, NASA’s American Scientist in the USSR will have to remain anonymous.

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