Today I saw movie "Gagarin" and in the bus scene towards the first flight; there were two cosmonauts.

If Gagarin was chosen to fly first then why was the second guy present? What was his name?


1 Answer 1


As was common for spaceflight, there was a primary crew for the mission (Gagarin) and a backup. Gagarin was the primary crew, and his backup was Gherman Titov (who would fly Vostok 2 four months later). Both of them prepared for the mission in the same way, down to having the same schedule the day before and being transported to the launchpad together. So it sounds like the film was accurate in this regard.

So why was he there? Titov will have been present up to the last minute in case of an accident or a problem - imagine that Gagarin had stumbled and injured himself when entering the spacecraft, or that he had felt unwell at the last minute. Having the backup present and prepared means that they could just step up and take over; if he had stayed at base drinking coffee, you would probably have had to cancel the launch and try again the next day.

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    $\begingroup$ During the cold war space race it was important to avoid a launch delay caused by an unprepared backup cosmonaut. Korolev survived Lubyanka prison and Gulag camp. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ The Vostok 2 flight of Gherman Titov had Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolayev as backup and Grigory Grigoryevich Nelyubov as reserve. Yuri Gagrin had Gherman Titov and Grigori Nelyubov. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe yes, I didn't want to speculate too much there but I certainly wouldn't want to have been the one explaining that because Gagarin had had a bad egg for breakfast, the launch was cancelled! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Andrew hopefully they gave Titov eggs from a different basket XD $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @FrankHopkins quite - "what do you mean, you both had the fish?" $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 17:25

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