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This Harrowing Video Shows The Only Soviet Astronauts To Die In Space

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Declassified footage shows Soviet military officials frantically trying to revive three dead astronauts in 1971 after their life support failed during retry.

On June 30, 1971, Soviet officials observed an apparently normal reentry of the Soyuz 11 capsule. When the recovery team opened the capsule, they found the crew unresponsive. Military officials performed CPR on the three astronauts, but attempts to revive them failed.

The astronauts died after returning from the only manned mission to board the world’s first space station, Salyut 1, when a pressure equalization valve popped while they were 104 miles above the surface of Earth, causing the crew to suffocate.

“Outwardly, there was no damage whatsoever. They knocked on the side, but there was no response from within,” Kerim Kerimov, chair of the State Commission and a central figure in the Soviet space program, told Space Safety Magazine years later. “On opening the hatch, they found all three men in their couches, motionless, with dark-blue patches on their faces and trails of blood from their noses and ears. They removed them from the descent module. Dobrovolsky was still warm. The doctors gave artificial respiration. Based on their reports, the cause of death was suffocation.”

The three crew members of Soyuz 11 are the only humans in history to have died in space.

America’s NASA has never had an astronaut die in space, but has lost 18 crew members on space agency missions which occurred within Earth’s atmosphere.

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