After many years of fighting with the bureaucracy over the official story regarding the death of Yuri Gagarin in 1968, Alexei Leonov has been given permission to discuss the formerly classified findings surrounding Gargarin’s death. The official story was that Gagarin, the first man in space, went into a tailspin while trying to avoid a foreign object during a training flight. According to Leonov, another pilot flew too close to Gagarin’s plane and Gagarin responded to avoid hitting the other pilot, which caused the fatal crash which killed Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogi. Under the agreement Leonov has made to reveal what he has, he is not permitted to release the name of the other pilot, who is still alive.
An Indian GSLV F06 rocket exploded moments after launch on Saturday, December 25. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists poured over the flight data trying to figure out what caused a failure in the communication system that was supposed to carry commands to the rocket. The rocket veered off course within 47 seconds of launch and caught fire within another 16 seconds at which time a self-destruct command was successfully relayed to the rocket. The rocket had a communications satellite payload.
Deep Impact passed within 700 km (435 miles) of Comet Hartley 2 on November 4, returning pictures of the comet’s head which show the object to be shaped like a bowling pin. Comet Hartley 2 is about 1.6 km (1 mile) long. Deep Impact took several thousand images during its fly-by. This is the second cometary fly-by for Deep Impact, which had a fly-by and dropped an impactor on Comet Tempel 1 in 2005.
India has ended its first unmanned lunar mission after attempting to regain contact with its lost spacecraft. India lost contact with Chandrayaan-I on August 29 and has determined that there is no way to reestablish communications, although India has requested help from both the United States and Russia in locating the missing craft. According to Indian sources, the satellite, which is already in lunar orbit, has completed most of its scientific missions and has already completed 3400 orbits.