Pavel Popovich

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Pavel Romanovich Popovich
Pavel Popovich.jpg
Born(1930-10-05)October 5, 1930
DiedSeptember 29, 2009(2009-09-29) (aged 78)
Nationality Ukrainian
Occupation Pilot
Space career
Rank Major General, Soviet Air Force
Time in space
2d 22h 57m (Vostok 4)
15d 17h 30m (Soyuz 14)
18d 16h 27m (total)
Selection Air Force Group 1
Missions Vostok 4, Soyuz 14
Retirement26 January 1982

Pavel Romanovich Popovich (Russian : Па́вел Рома́нович Попо́вич, Ukrainian : Павло Романович Попович, Pavlo Romanovych Popovych) (October 5, 1930 – September 29, 2009 [1] [2] ) was a Soviet cosmonaut. [3]


He was the fourth cosmonaut in space, the sixth person in orbit, the eighth person and first Ukrainian in space. [3]


He was born in Uzyn, Kyiv Oblast of Ukrainian SSR [1] [4] to Roman Porfirievich Popovich (a fireman in a sugar factory) and Theodosia Kasyanovna Semyonova. [4] [5] [6] He had two sisters (one older, one younger) and two brothers (both younger). [4]

During World War II, the Germans occupied Uzyn, and burned documents including Popovich's birth certificate. After the war, these were restored through witness testimony, and although his mother knew that he was born in 1929, two witnesses insisted that Popovich was born in 1930, and so this became his official year of birth. [6]

In 1947, he left vocational school in Bila Tserkva with qualifications as a carpenter. [4] In 1951, Popovich graduated as a construction engineer from a technical school in Magnitogorsk, [4] as well as receiving a pilot's degree. [1]

In 1954, he joined the Young Communist League.

He was married to Marina Popovich, a retired Soviet Air Force colonel and test pilot. They had two daughters. They later divorced, and Popovich married Alevtina Oshegova. [3] [4]

Popovich was also a keen weight lifter:

"Service in the Air Force made us strong, both physically and morally. All of us cosmonauts took up sports and PT seriously when we served in the Air Force. I know that Yuri Gagarin was fond of ice hockey. He liked to play goal keeper. Gherman Titov was a gymnastics enthusiast, Andriyan Nikolayev liked skiing, Pavel Popovich went in for weight lifting. I don't think I am wrong when I say that sports became a fixture in the life of the cosmonauts." [7]

He was also a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 6th–11th convocations. [2]

After his retirement in 1993, he lived in Moscow. [5]

Popovich died in a hospital in Gurzuf where he had been taken following a stroke on 29 September 2009. Brain hemorrhage was cited as the cause of death. [1] [2] [8] He is buried in Moscow. [5]


In 1952 he graduated from a course at the Stalingrad Military Aviation School near Novosibirsk. He then went on to train at the Military Officers of the Air Force Aviation Training School in Grozny, until 1954 [4] when he joined the Soviet Air Force. [1]


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]

25 Dec 1954 Pilot 265 Fighter Regiment (IAP)
336th Fighter Aviation Division (IAD) (later the IAD 64-Fighter Air Corps (IAC) 22nd Air Army)
19 Jun 1957Senior Pilot/Squadron Adjutant
27 Feb 1958Senior Airman772-IAP IAS 22nd 26th VA.
31 May 1958234-Guards Regiment Proskurov 9th IN IAD Moscow (Kubinka)
31 Jan 1959Adjutant of the squadron
Jan 1982Deputy Chief Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center
29 Dec 1989SecondmentState Committee of the USSR Agro
20 Aug 1993Retired by order of the Defense Ministry

Aircraft types flown:


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]

12 May 1959Военный летчик 3-го классаMilitary Pilot, 3rd class
15 Aug 1962Военный летчик 1-го классаMilitary Pilot, 1st class
10 Nov 1960Инструктор парашютно-десантной подготовки (ПДП) ВВСParachute Instructor (PDP) Air Force
30 Nov 1962Космонавт 3-го классаAstronaut 3rd class
24 Jul 1974Космонавт 2-го классаAstronaut 2nd Class


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]

30 Oct 1954 Russia-army-leytenant.png Лейтенант Lieutenant
24 Apr 1957 RAF A F1FstLt 2010.png Старший лейтенантSenior Lieutenant
30 Mar 1959 RAF A FCap 2010.png Капитан Captain
05 Nov 1961 RAF A F3Maj 2010.png Майор Major
11 Aug 1962 RAF A F4LtCol 2010.png Подполковник (Podpolkovnik) Lieutenant Colonel
30 Apr 1965 Russia-army-polkovnik.png Полковник (Polkovnik) Colonel
5 May 1976 RAF A F6MajGen 2010.png Генерал-майор авиации Major-General (Aviation)
20 Aug 1993Retired from the Air Force


In 1960, he was selected as one of the first group of twenty air force pilots that would train as the first cosmonauts for the Soviet space program. [1] The training took place between March 1960 and January 1961, and Popovich passed his final exams in Cosmonaut Basic Training on 17/18 January 1961. [4] He was appointed as an astronaut on 25 January 1961. [4]

He was considered as a strong candidate for the first spaceflight – but while Yuri Gagarin was ultimately chosen for the Vostok 1 flight, Popovich served as the flight's capcom. [3]

From May to August 1961, he trained to fly on spacecraft "Vostok-2" in a group of astronauts, followed (between September and November 1961) with training to fly "Vostok-3". This flight was cancelled. [4] Between November 1961 and May 1962, he trained as a pilot for "Vostok-4". Between June and August of that year, he received further training in the maintenance of this spacecraft. [4]

Popovich in Vostok 4 Ppopovic-2.jpg
Popovich in Vostok 4

He commanded the space flight Vostok 4 ( Russian : Восток-4) in 1962 [1] which, along with Andrian Nikolayev on Vostok 3, was the first time that more than one manned spacecraft were in orbit at the same time. His call sign for this flight was Golden eagle (Бе́ркут).

In January 1964, he became a cosmonaut instructor, becoming deputy commander to the 2nd group of cosmonauts. [4]

Popovich was selected to command one of the Soviet Union's planned moon landings, and trained for this between 1966 and 1968, when the Soviet moon landing plans were scrapped. [3]

In 1968, he was selected as commander for Soyuz 2, but after the death of Vladimir Komarov during the reentry of Soyuz 1, Soyuz 2 was launched without a crew.

Popovich with Milivoj Jugin in Belgrade Milivoje Jugin and Pavel Popovic.jpg
Popovich with Milivoj Jugin in Belgrade

In 1969 he was a senior cosmonaut instructor, and became (by 1972) the Chief of cosmonaut training. [4]

In 1974, he commanded his second (and final) space flight Soyuz 14 ( Russian : Союз 14) in 1974. [1] Again, his call sign for this flight was Golden eagle (Бе́ркут). This flight was the first to the Salyut 3 space station.

In 1977, he received a post-graduate degree in technical sciences. [1] [4]

In March 1978, he was on duty in the Flight Control Center for Vladimír Remek's flight aboard Soyuz 28.

From 1978 he was the deputy chief of the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center responsible for research and testing work. [4] From 1980 to 1989, he was Deputy chief of the Cosmonaut Training Center. In January 1982, he was removed from the list of active cosmonauts, so that he could serve as Deputy Chief for Scientific Testing and Research at the Center. [4]

Sociopolitical life

Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]

Awards and honors

Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]

Date of AwardAwardNotes
17 Jun 1961 Order of the Red Star [1]
1962 Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR [1]
1962Honorable Radio Operator
1962Honored Master of Sports of the USSRa
1962 Medal "For the Development of Virgin Lands"
19 Aug 1962 Hero of the Soviet Union b [1]
19 Aug 1962 Order of Lenin [1]
15 Nov 1962Gold Star Labor Hero of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [1]
20 July 1974 Hero of the Soviet Union [1]
20 Jul 1974 Order of Lenin [1]
1982 Order of Friendship of Peoples [1]
13 May 1985 Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation"
9 Apr 1996 Order of Honour cfor services to the state, many years of fruitful activity in the arts and culture.
6 Oct 2000 Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th Gradedfor services to the state and many years of fruitful work.
1 Dec 2005Ukrainian Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 4th classefor his significant personal contribution to the development and strengthening
of Ukrainian-Russian relations, promoting the rise of prestige of the Ukrainian
state in the world.
Unknown Order of the Badge of Honor [1]
UnknownMedal of the Republic of Cuba
Unknown9 Commemorative Medals


a For setting records in space flight
b Medal number 11117 [5]
c For services to the state, many years of fruitful work in the field of culture and art (as President of the Association of Space Museums) [9] (Presidential Decree No. 512 of April 9, 1996)
d For services to the state and long-term fruitful work [9] (Presidential Decree No. 1724 on October 6, 2000)
e For significant personal contribution to the development and strengthening of Ukrainian-Russian relations, promoting the rise of the authority of the Ukrainian state in the world [9] (Presidential Decree No. 1682/2005 dated December 1, 2005) [10]

Other honours

He received honorary citizenship of several cities: [1] [2]


a Popovich is the only person to have received the honorary citizenship of Kaluga twice. The first time was in August 1962 (Decision 597 of the Executive Committee of Kaluga City Council of Workers' Deputies), and the second time was in April 1964 (Decision 237 of the Executive Committee of Kaluga City Council of Workers' Deputies). [11]

A bronze sculpture to Popovich was established in Uzyn. [1]

The name of Pavel Popovich was given to a mountain ridge in Antarctica and to the Mars-crossing asteroid 8444 Popovich. [1] [4]

In 1991, he became director of the Institute Rossiyskogo for Monitoring of Land and Ecosystems, then worked as chairman of the board of directors of the All-Russia Institute of Aero-Photo-Geodesic Studies (VISKhAGI), dealing with the compilation of a land inventory of Russia using images from space. [1] [4]

He had also been the chairman of Ukrainian diaspora organisation in Russia.

He was awarded a Gold Tsiolkovsky Medal by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and a De La Vaux Medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. [2] [4]

In Ukraine there was a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of the first Ukrainian astronaut, twice the Hero of the Soviet Union P.P. Popovich. [12]


In 1984 Popovich joined the Russian Academy of Sciences' newly created All-Union Investigation Committee for Anomalous Aerial Phenomena and became head of the Academy's UFO Commission.

In the 2002 SciFi Channel documentary Out of the Blue , Popovich relays a sighting of a UFO next to the airplane he was travelling aboard as he was returning home from Washington D.C. with a delegation of scientists. The UFO was seen by everyone on board the plane. It was perfect triangle shaped and emitted a very bright, white light at a distance of about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) and an altitude about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the airplane. The object had an estimated speed of 1,500 kilometres per hour (930 mph) travelling parallel to the airplane and passed and overtook the plane in about 30 to 40 seconds. [13]

Popovich was the president of the UFO association of Russia.


Details are from Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote, unless otherwise noted [4]


Works in Collections


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 "Pavel Popovich – one of forerunners of manned space research, dead". ITAR-TASS. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Doctors: Cosmonaut Popovich died of a stroke". VSESMI.RU. Russia: System News. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Pavel Popovich, sixth man in orbit, dies". collectSPACE. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 "Pavel Romanovich Popovich" (in Russian). Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Popovich, Pavel Romanovich" (in Russian). Russian War Heroes. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  6. 1 2 "Cosmonaut Popovich has now permanently left the ground" (in Russian). Novye Izvestiya. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  7. Bykovsky quoted in Gavrilin, p26-7
  8. В Крыму скончался летчик-космонавт Павел Попович [Space pilot Pavel Popovich died in Crimea] (in Russian). New Region 2. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  9. 1 2 3 "In Crimea, twice 'Hero of the Soviet' cosmonaut Pavel Popovich dies" (in Russian). Russia: 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  10. "Про нагородження П. Поповича орденом князя Ярослава Мудрого".
  11. "Ими гордится Калуга ("They Bring Pride to Kaluga")" (in Russian). Kaluga: Office of the Affairs of the Mayor of Kaluga. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  12. "A celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of the first Ukrainian astronaut, twice the Hero of the Soviet Union P.P. Popovich". February 15, 2018.
  13. James Fox, Tim Coleman, Boris Zubov (2002). Out of the Blue (Documentary). Hannover House. Event occurs at 0:41:00. Retrieved 2008-11-03. (Source does not state in which year this incident took place)

Further reading

Codru, Milan. "The cosmic days and nights" (Prague: Práce, 1987)
Codr, Milan. "Sto Star Captains" (Prague: Práce, 1982)
Rebrov, M. F. "Soviet cosmonauts" (2nd ed.) (Moscow: Military Publishing, 1983)
Shkadov, J. H. (editor) "Heroes of the Soviet Union: A brief biographical dictionary Vol. 2" (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1988)