Sergei couldn't return to Earth because of the political split that occurred in the Soviet Union.

  21 Maret 2024 16:45 - One of the professions that is considered tough and carries a lot of risks is astronautics. Their job is research, up to flying to explore outer space.

It costs a lot of money to do this. Apart from that, advanced technology is very necessary to ensure the safety of astronauts.

But what happens if a spaceman can't return to Earth? Even though it sounds impossible, this incident has indeed happened in the real world.

The incident of astronauts not being able to return to Earth was experienced by a cosmonaut (as a Russian astronaut is called) from the Soviet Union named Sergei Krikalev.

Uniquely, Krikalev couldn't return to Earth not because he was constrained by technology, but because he didn't have the money. The absurd and funny-sounding incident that Krikalev experienced occurred when his country, the Soviet Union, was disbanded in 1991.

What's the full story? The following is a report from from the news page on Thursday (21/3).

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@hologramvin

Krikalev was an aeronautical engineer trained and certified by the Soviet Union's space agency. On May 18, 1991, he conducted a mission to the MIR Space Station as part of the Mir EO-9 crew.

This mission is the second time he and his spacecraft have left Earth's orbit. One of the mission's tasks is to carry out several repairs and updates to various equipment on the MIR Space Station.

Krikalev flew into space on a Soyuz spacecraft with two other astronauts, Anatoly Artsebarsky and Helen Sharman. Arriving at MIR, the three of them carried out their work according to the tasks given to them while on Earth.

However, in the middle of the repair period, Artsebarsky and Sharman went home first.

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@creepydotorg

Meanwhile, Krikalev remained at MIR to complete the task and wait for other astronauts to arrive. Unfortunately, an unexpected incident happened to Krikalev at the end of his mission in October 1991. His colleagues never returned to accompany him into space.

When he was about to go home, there was bad news on Earth that the 33-year-old man had never known about during his mission.

It turns out that the Soviet Union was being hit by political divisions. Since August 1991, the satellite states of the USSR began to secede. The wave of reforms began to undermine the government until at the end of December 1991, the Soviet Union was declared disbanded.

The dissolution of the communist state left Krikalev's fate hanging in the balance at the MIR Space Station. When asked to return to Earth, the Russian government refused. The reason is because the world of astronomy is no longer the main priority of the country which has become federal.

The Russian government is more focused on improving the economy rather than repatriating a cosmonaut at a cost of millions of dollars. In addition, the Russian government said it did not have the money to bring Krikalev back to Earth.

The reason is, at that time Russia's financial condition was collapsing. In fact, the government of the country of the red bear even sold various of its space equipment. Russia sells Soyuz rocket seats and the MIR Space Station itself to other countries to increase state coffers.

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@MikeDoris

Austria bought a Soyuz rocket seat for US$7 million. Japan bought another seat for US$12 million. Russia is even planning to quickly sell the MIR Space Station even though there is still an ongoing program, and Krikalev is still there.

Krikalev's fate as a flight engineer to return home is still up in the air. Even if they are allowed to go home, there is no country where they can land. Kazakhstan, the satellite country where the rocket was launched, has undergone changes after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

This condition left Krikalev stranded in space. He became the longest-staying cosmonaut at MIR. However, to cheer himself up, Krikalev asked to be sent honey. However, there was no honey at that time. Instead, he was sent lemons and horseradish, a spicy horseradish that grows in Russia and Hungary.

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@historyinmemes

Inside MIR there is actually a Raduga capsule which is specifically designed to return to Earth. However, when it came to using Raduga, Krikalev was faced with a quite difficult choice. If you leave MIR, that will be the end of the space station.

However, if they survive in space, their health and even their lives will be threatened. The reason is, one of the side effects of being in space for too long is a decrease in muscle mass (muscle atrophy). Apart from that, he can be exposed to radiation, risk cancer, and experience a weakened immune system from day to day.

However, not even a year later, Krikalev received good news. After being in space for 10 months or 311 days and circling the Earth 5,000 times, Krikalev was finally able to go home.

On March 25, 1992, the German government paid for Krikalev's return by paying US$24 million. The money was used to buy tickets for Krikalev's replacement from Germany, Klaus-Dietrich Flade.

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@latestinspace

Krikalev was finally able to return home safely even though he almost died when he arrived on Earth. He was seen still wearing a space suit that had the words USSR and the Soviet Union flag emblem on it.

When he arrived, Krikalev's face was pale and his bones could not support his weight. There was only one positive thing that Krikalev heard, namely that he was 0.002 seconds younger than humans on the entire Earth.

Krikalev's return home earned him the nickname "the last Soviet Union man" in space. Even so, this bitter experience in space did not traumatize Krikalev and he continued his career as a cosmonaut.

Two years after his return to Earth, Krikalev was made a Russian hero. He was assigned to return to space, as the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on the United States' NASA shuttle.

unique story of Sergei Krikalev Various sources

photo: Twitter/@mission_rf

Krikalev was also the first person to experience the International Space Station (ISS).

To immortalize his story, the unique struggle of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who was unable to return to Earth, was made into the documentary film Out of the Present.