Did Soviet cosmonauts die in space in the early 1960s?
Any space buff worth his or her salt is keenly aware of the tragic fate of Vladimir Komarov, who died on April 24, 1967, due to parachute failure after the reentry of Soyuz 1.
But the question really is: were there events like this (or ones even more dramatic) earlier in the Space Race that the Soviet Union chose to hide from us?
As a child I heard a number of stories of amateur radio operators intercepting signals of cosmonauts dying or otherwise meeting some dark fate in their efforts to conquer space. The most dramatic I can recall was of a cosmonaut stranded in orbit, his heartbeat failing as he dies, the cabin depressurizing, and his lifeless body taken from the cabin by unknown means.
(Of course, how an amateur radio operator would be able to tell that last part is way beyond me.)
I’m sure these kind of stories helped prime my young mind to be distrustful of the official accounts of Soviet space activities, and lead to my imagination being seized in 1969 by the speculation that Luna 15 (an ostensibly unmanned probe sent to the Moon during the same time as America’s Apollo 11) was secretly a manned space shot. This in turn lead to a short story I wrote that, many years later, became the basis of the novel Red Moon.
Other than these rumors being good creepy stories to tell the kids just before bedtime (to make sure they never sleep again) is there anything to them?