The name of Yuri Gagarin is known all over the world, as he was the first human to go into space. However, few people know the name of the second Soviet cosmonaut to be in orbit: Gherman Titov, also known as the “forgotten cosmonaut”. The media did not give him the same attention as Gagarin, but he still managed to break several records in space exploration.
The decision in favor of Gagarin
Gagarin and Titov were the two cosmonauts designated for the first launch into orbit, scheduled for April 12, 1961. However, the authorities of the Soviet Union chose Gagarin to be the first human to travel in space because he was older and had more charisma than Titov. Moreover, the modest origins of Gagarin, son of peasants, served the objectives of the Soviet propaganda. Titov as for him, son of teachers, was less charismatic and more introverted than his colleague.
The barriers crossed by Gherman Titov
Although he was not the first person to reach space, Gherman Titov managed to set several records. He became the youngest man in history to be in orbit, at the age of 25. His mission is also known to have lasted longer than Gagarin's, reaching 25 hours in space with manual control of the vehicle. Titov also became the first person to suffer from space sickness, a common phenomenon among cosmonauts today but perceived at the time as a symbol of weakness.
The path taken by Colonel Titov
After the death of Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet authorities forbade Titov to take further risks. So he never flew another space mission as a pilot, but he became an instructor and director for the Soviet space program. Then he made a transition to politics, even becoming a deputy in the Duma for the Communist Party after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Married with two children, Titov died in 2000 of a heart attack.
Ultimately, Gherman Titov is an important figure in the history of space exploration, although he is often overlooked. He broke important barriers and helped Russia to become a space superpower. His success is incomparable and he will be remembered as the “forgotten cosmonaut”.
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