Monday, January 19, 2009
Unluckiest. group. ever.
Today would have been the birthday of Soviet cosmonaut Aleksandr V. Shchukin.
Shchukin was a test pilot for the eventually-scrapped Buran shuttle program.
He died when his SU-26M crashed on August 18, 1988.
Sadly, all but one of his fellow Buran Group members met untimely deaths, too.
Oleg G. Kononenko died at age 42 when he crashed his Yak-38 VTOL fighter while taking off from the carrier Minsk in the South China sea.
Anatoli S. Levchenko died at age 47 of a brain tumor.
Rimantas A. Stankiavicius died at age 46 when he crashed his Su-27 fighter at an airshow in Italy.
Igor P. Volk is the only member of Buran Group still alive; he retired from Gromov Flight Research Center in 2002.
After the Buran project was scrapped following the collapse of the USSR, the original shuttle remained in a hangar in Kazakhstan until it was totally destroyed (and 8 people were killed) when the hangar collapsed due to lack of maintenance a few years back.
Below: The windshield of shuttle OK-1K1 is visible through the rubble after the hangar collapse.