An image of Soviet Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, …

An image of Soviet Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, known as the “Space Victim”, who was stranded on the Mir space station during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Soviet Union’s Cosmodrome, or space complex, was located in the now independent Kazakhstan – who were expecting Moscow to pay huge sums of money to use these sites. With the monumental decrease in value of the Russian Ruble due to the political instability, it was becoming impossible for the Russians to retrieve Sergei from space. This devaluation of currency was made worse by the fact that Sergei’s wages became worthless, hardly being enough for his family to survive.

Eventually, after Sergei spent months longer in space than originally planned, he returned back to Earth after deals between the Kazakhs and Russians for use of the Cosmodrome in exchange for sending a Kazakh astronaut to space. Upon return, Sergei was reported as being “as pale as flour and sweaty, like a lump of wet dough”. Sergei suffered physically an mentally from the length of the journey, but returned to space two years later.

The hearts and minds of Russians were with Sergei, with the ‘Komsomolskaya Pravda’ reporting: “A human race sent its son off to the stars to fulfill a concrete set of tasks. But hardly had he left Earth than it lost interest in those tasks, for worldly and completely explicable reasons”. During Sergei’s time in space, his country changed to Russia, a new president was instated and his home town of Leningrad had now changed to St. Petersburg. 

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