Vladislav Volkov, from a USSR postage stamp (public domain)
Vladislav Volkov was a Russian cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 11 missions, for which he was named a Hero of the Soviet Union twice, and earned two Order of Lenin medals and the title of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR. After the 24-day Soyuz 11 mission, during which they docked with the Salyut 1 space station, he and his crewmates, Georgy Dobrovolsky and Viktor Patsayev, were found dead in their capsule by the recovery crew. A breathing ventilation valve opened shortly after the capsule had undocked from the space station, and the crew asphyxiated shortly afterward. So far, they are the only men to have died in outer space.
President Richard Nixon issued the following statement:
The American people join in expressing to you and the Soviet people our deepest sympathy on the tragic deaths of the three Soviet cosmonauts. The whole world followed the exploits of these courageous explorers of the unknown and shares the anguish of their tragedy. But the achievements of cosmonauts Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev remain. It will, I am sure, prove to have contributed greatly to the further achievements of the Soviet program for the exploration of space and thus to the widening of man’s horizons.
Rest in peace, gentlemen.
Commemorative stamp honoring the crew of Soyuz 11: Dobrovolsky, Volkov, Patsayev. (public domain)
from The Sound of One Hand Typing