Today Turkmenistan and the whole planet celebrate the International Day of Cosmonautics. Sixty years ago, on April 12, 1961, spaceship "Vostok" with the first cosmonaut of the planet Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin flew into space. Many years later, new facts about the first space odyssey of mankind become known.
On April 15, 1961, the IL-18 aircraft arrived in Ashgabat from Moscow. The crew was headed by Sergey Amirzadov who was among those who met Yuri Gagarin who flew from Baikonur to the Vnukovo airport in Moscow. The delighted citizens of Ashgabat asked Amirzadov to tell about his impressions of meeting the first earthling in outer space. The pilot said that after the landing an orchestra rang, the strong figure of the planet's first cosmonaut caught the eye in the atmosphere of universal jubilation, hats and balloons flying in the air.
Many photographs of April 12, 1961 depict the first cosmonaut in a crowd of enthusiastic citizens. Next to Yuri Gagarin you can often see a stately mighty man, against which the hero of Planet Earth looks skinny and short.
After some time, Gagarin's biographer and local historian Vladislav Katz learned interesting facts about the famous pilot's companion. Thanks to information from the first head of the Cosmonaut Training Center, Major-General Evgeny Karpov, it became known that Gagarin's companion in the photographs was Ata Mekhrabanovich Bakhramov, an engineer and developer of the space suit of the first cosmonaut. At the time, Bakhramov's identity and activities were classified, and he signed an oath not to disclose state secrets.
Biographers found a reference about Bakhramov - he was a native of Ashkhabad region of Turkmenistan (born February 20, 1913), a participant in the Great Patriotic War (Commander of the Orders of the Patriotic War, 1st degree and Red Star, medals "For the capture of Berlin" and "For the liberation of Prague", a commissioner of the People's Commissariat for the Aviation Industry in the Second Air Army in the First Ukrainian Front troops), engineer colonel. After the end of the war A.Bakhramov was responsible for repair and maintenance of military aircraft (under his leadership 230 planes were restored and the service life of 470 aircraft engines was prolonged). After retirement he left Moscow for Ashkhabad, then continued to work in the Uzbek SSR Academy of Sciences Cybernetics Scientific and Production Association and was engaged in the modernization of cotton harvesting equipment.
During preparations for the flight of the first earthling into space, A.M. Bakhramov carried out the responsible mission of preserving and transporting the space suit of the first cosmonaut. Gagarin's spacesuit was manufactured by the Zvezda plant of the Ministry of Aviation Industry and was a truly ingenious engineering masterpiece of the time. The suit was supposed to keep the first cosmonaut alive in a number of abnormal situations. The suit was autonomous from the life-support systems of the spacecraft and could support the astronaut for several days in case of cabin depressurization.
The secret spacesuit was not to be photographed or even seen by outsiders, so it was camouflaged in an orange jumpsuit. Among other things, Bakhramov's mission was to keep the secret of this spacesuit during Gagarin's movements, even after the cosmonaut completed the mission. One could say that the engineer colonel became Gagarin's first bodyguard. Constantly being near the first cosmonaut in the secret spacesuit, A. Bakhramov kept in the shadow of the great pilot.
The photo of Yuri Gagarin with Lieutenant Colonel Vitaly Volovich, the flight squadron doctor, and Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Borisenko, the sports commissar of the Central Aero Club, taken on board the plane, became very famous. But, as it turned out, it was cut off the right side - for reasons of secrecy, Colonel Ata Bakhramov's engineer was "removed from the frame.
There is not much information about A. Bakhramov's mission because he never talked to journalists due to his obligation to keep state secrets.
Photo from the personal archive of Vladislav Katz