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According to preliminary information, Ukraine’s prominent astronaut Leonid Kadenyuk died during his usual morning run in Tsarske Selo (Pechersk district, Kyiv). Three days ago he turned 67 years old. The astronaut died before the arrival of an ambulance.
We have collected some basic facts about the first astronaut of Independent Ukraine - a space lover, who fulfilled his childhood dream.
As a child, Leonid Kadenyuk wanted to become an astronaut. In an interview with "Facty", he has admitted that the decision has been made on April 12, 1961, when the flight of Yuri Gagarin was announced. At that moment, little Leonid was a third-grader.
Leonid entered Chernihiv Higher Air Force School. Upon graduating, he became a flight instructor until his enrollment in 1976 at the Air Force Cosmonaut Training Centre.
An interesting fact is that Higher Air Force School accepted students of the age of 17 years, but at the time of admission Kadenyuk was 16. And still, he decided to pass a medical acceptance commission. In an interview with Glavred, Leonid confessed that he persuaded the chief of the fourth department, Major Mikheev to help him, and Mikheev "settled the issue" with the local registry office.
"Maybe someday we will meet him at the cosmodrome. Let us help this young man," he said.
After graduation in 1971, Kadenyuk worked as an instructor pilot. He trained as commander for the Buran orbiter and is credited with having improved that craft’s landing and lowering trajectories. As a test pilot he mastered 54 types of aircraft, and in 1989 he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Moscow Aviation Institute. Kadenyuk’s training also included studies in biology and botany, with an emphasis on scientific experimentation in microgravity.
"The selection process was rigorous. For two month, we have been passing the acceptance commission in Moscow... Here are the figures: there were several thousand fighter pilots, who applied; and only nine of them were selected. I was one of those nine," he said.
In total, Kadenyuk has served from 1976 to 1983 and from 1988 to 1992 in the astronaut corps of the USSR.
In March 1983, he was expelled from the detachment. The reason was the divorce and the commentary "My earthly life has nothing to do with the life in the outer space."
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kadenyuk received Russian citizenship, however, renewed Ukrainian citizenship in 1995, two years before his famous flight. From that year he became a member of the cosmonauts' group of the National Space Agency of Ukraine.
His flight on the U.S. space shuttle Columbia lasted from November 19 to December 5, 1997, serving as a payload specialist of Columbia Space Shuttle mission STS-87. In completing his first mission, Kadenyuk orbited the Earth 252 times, traveled 6.5 million miles and in the total of 15 days, 16 hours and 34 minutes in space.
"Different people asked me if it was scary. I replied that it was incredibly interesting, and not because something could happen. For many years, I have been serving as a test pilot. I have tested many airplanes and, of course, like every test-taker, I have faced many emergency situations. Therefore, the nervous system is accustomed to the failures and to the stressful situations," Kadenyuk told in an interview with Channel 24.
In an interview with KP.UA Kadenyuk told about music in space. According to him, everyone was then allowed to take audio tapes with his favorite melodies. Kadenyuk has chosen "products of those singers, whom he has grown up with:" Anatoliy Solovianenko, Dmytro Hnatyuk, Sofia Rotaru, and others.
"Our Ukrainian anthem was played for two times in the space, I chose it as a wake-up melody. So for two times, the Americans in the space woke up with the words "The glory and the freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished..." And the astronauts stood at attention," he recalled.
Later he started another career: in 2001, Kadenyuk was later appointed an adviser to the Ukrainian president on aviation and aeronautics and in 2002 was elected to the Ukrainian parliament, where he served as vice-chairperson of the National Security and Defense Committee.
In 2006, he became a member of the Commission on Space Activities, and from January 2011 was appointed Adviser to the Prime Minister for Aviation and Aerospace.
In December 1999, Kadenyuk became Hero of Ukraine (in addition, he was awarded the "Golden Star" Order). He was awarded the Order "For Services" (grade III) and "For courage" (grade I), as well as the NASA Space Flight Medal.
Despite changing his work, Leonid Kadenyuk continued to hope that he would see the Earth from the space once again. Kadenyuk was inspired by American cosmonaut John Glenn, who visited space at the age of 77 years.