TIL on June 29, 1971 cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev died in space, the first humans to do so, as the Soyuz 11 crew capsule depressurized. They had been the first crew to board Salyut 1, the first space station in orbit, spending 23 days conducting experiments.

Read more: https://www.americaspace.com/2013/04/28/the-crew-that-never-came-home-the-misfortunes-of-soyuz-11-part-2/

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  1. A few additional facts that the title didn’t have enough room for:

    + American astronaut [Thomas P. Stafford](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_P._Stafford) was one of the pallbearers for [Georgy Dobrovolsky’s](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgy_Dobrovolsky) remains. Kind of surprising, given that this happened during the [Cold War](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War).
    + The USSR, at the time, did not publicize *when* the cosmonauts on [Soyuz 11](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_11) would be returning until after the fact. So no one knew exactly when to expect them to return to Earth.
    + One result of this was that no one outside of the USSR space agency & government knew until July 12, nearly two weeks later, when they announced the news. [Science: Triumph and Tragedy of Soyuz 11](http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,903011,00.html) from *Time* on Monday, July 12, 1971 describes reaction around the world to the news.
    + One of the issues which caused the tragedy was that [one of the shutter valves was mislabeled, leading the crew to try to shut the wrong valve (PDF)](https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/bitstream/handle/2346/59748/ICES-2014-248.pdf;sequence=1).

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