Often the test of courage is not to die, but to live.
It was an astonishingly simple plan and one quite breathtaking in its audacity. A gamble for glory that would earn acclaim and tremendous banner propaganda for the Soviet Union but that would subsequently attract justifiable criticism when the full facts were revealed. Words such as reckless, hazardous, and ill-conceived would later be attached to the first manned flight of the Voskhod spacecraft, yet that flight created history at a time when the world was breathlessly anticipating each new space spectacular.
In December 1957 a group of talented young Soviet designers, most of whom had recently graduated from technological institutes in Moscow and Leningrad, was assembled in the planning section of design bureau OKB-I. Their mission was to begin detailed studies of manned orbital flight and to develop spacecraft capable of carrying and sustaining future space travelers. Chief Designer Korolev jokingly called these designers his “kindergarten.” Many of them, including a serious young scientist named Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, would later become pioneering cosmonauts.
Feoktistov, a name of Greek origin that translates as “loved by God,” was then in his late thirties, held a degree in rocket design, and also maintained considerable authority in this group. Konstantin, or Kostya as he was affectionately known, was born on 7 February 1926, the son of bookkeeper Petr Feoktistov and his wife, Mariya. The family lived in the industrial city of Voronezh, in central Russia. It was his older brother, Boris, who first introduced ten-year-old Kostya to the wonders of space travel by bringing home a book called Interplanetary Travel by Yakov Perelman, which they