The Cost of Conquest: Soviet Officials View The Results Of The Soyuz 1 Mission
Soviet officials view the charred remains of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov during an open-casket state funeral, April 26, 1967. Komarov was the cosmonaut of the ill-fated Soyuz 1 mission launched three days prior.
With the Soyuz 1 mission, Komarov would become the first cosmonaut to enter outer space more than once. The honor was short lived, as mechanical complications with the capsule rendered safe re-entry impossible, making him the first human to die during spaceflight. The tragedy would remain controversial for years after, as reports surfaced of shoddy construction being ignored to secure a position in the space race with the United States.
The situation would become more dramatic when recordings capturing the cosmonaut's final moments were leaked, caught on tape by the American National Security Agency at an Air Force base near Istanbul. The recordings capture the doomed Komarov venting rage and frustration with the ship and cursing the situation, his voice giving rise to panic as the craft heats up before slamming into the ground at 40 meters / second.
Fun Fact: Komarov knew the flight was doomed before he undertook the mission. Unfortunately, the backup cosmonaut for this mission was his close friend and national hero Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. From an NPR article discussing the book Starman, by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony:
"He met with Russayev, the now-demoted KGB agent, and said, "I'm not going to make it back from this flight." Russayev asked, Why not refuse? According to the authors, Komarov answered: "If I don't make this flight, they'll send the backup pilot instead." That was Yuri Gagarin. Vladimir Komarov couldn't do that to his friend. "That's Yura," the book quotes him saying, "and he'll die instead of me. We've got to take care of him." Komarov then burst into tears.