NPR’s Fresh Air has a great article about cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov who, in 1967, piloted the doomed Soyuz-1 space capsule to prevent his friend Yuri Gagarin from shouldering that responsibility. Beyond sad.
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.