The Phantom Cosmonauts
The Soviet Phantom Cosmonaut Theory is a popular topic amongst conspiracy theorists around the world that argues that the Soviet Union is hiding information about deceased astronauts that died during failed Cold War space missions. The claim is that the Soviets attempted many more space launches than the history books record, but the government covered them up to prevent poor Cold War publicity. Some experts claim Vladimir Ilyushin, a Soviet pilot, was killed in space only 5 days before Yuri Gagarin was officially named the first man in space. His aircraft allegedly failed in orbit on April 7, 1961, which then landed in the People’s Republic of China. Evidence for this is provided from an article from the Daily Worker, a British Communist newspaper. The article is proven to based on medical treatment that Ilyshin received in China after a serious car accident injury. Most experts believe this to be a hoax, simply because no Chinese or Soviet witnesses came fourth with any sort of testimony on the claims. The Torre Bert Recordings were radio transmissions heard by two brothers working on the tower in 1960. The two claim that they heard secretive Soviet Mission recordings, which ended mysteriously or in what appeared to be a crash. After the fall of the Soviet Union, previously classified information on Valentin Bondarenko, a cosmonaut that died while training during the Space Race. He was killed by burns from his aircraft catching on fire during a low-pressure endurance experiment. It is confirmed the Soviet government covered up the incident to avoid a public backlash. Information on Bondarenko’s crash was not leaked until 1980, 5 years after the Space Race concluded. Other theorists claim that unmanned Soviet aircrafts that crashed during the Space Race were in fact manned missions, but covered up after failure. The most popular claim is the Soyuz 2 unmanned craft. The craft was unmanned and was set to be a docking station for the Soyuz 3, which crashed with World War II pilot Georgy Beregovoy. However, Mike Arena, an American journalist, wrote in 1993 that the Soyuz 2 carried Ivan Istochikov and his dog, Kloka. Arena claims that the two were killed in orbit during the failed docking of Soyuz 3, and the alleged landing of the craft on October 28, 1968 was faked. Ultimately, the claims are still incredibly speculative. Many claims have been proven hoaxes, including: the Papel Popovich and Vitali Sevastyanov recordings and the death of Andrei Mikoyan. A majority of historians dismiss all such claims of lost Soviet cosmonauts on accounts of insignificant or inconclusive evidence.