Oh how I recall this moment!
It was the summer of 1975, and my childhood love of space and the idea of what it must be like to blast off from the Cape were in full gear. The drama that summer was the United Sates and U.S.S. R. linking up in space with handshakes which produced one momentous occasion for this kid from Hancock.
Today in the paper I read with fondness again about one of the cosmonauts who made the moment happen. Though it was an obituary there was a larger message, though unstated that seemed to leap from the page. The world needs to be reminded, especially at a time such as this weekend when so much seems dark with events unfolding in Ukraine, that when we aim above our fears and petty politics we can achieve so much.
Valery N. Kubasov, who pioneered international cooperation in space when he joined with a fellow cosmonaut in the linkup of Soviet and American spaceships in July 1975 amid the tensions of the Cold War, died on Feb. 19 in Moscow. He was 79.
The great-power rivalry that had consumed the United States and the Soviet Union since World War II was paused when a Soyuz spaceship flown by Mr. Kubasov, a civilian serving as flight engineer, and its commander, Lt. Col. Aleksei A. Leonov, docked about 140 miles above the earth with a three-man Apollo capsule.
The cosmonauts and the astronauts — Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, and Deke Slayton and Vance D. Brand, both civilians — spent 44 hours together, exchanging gifts and conducting scientific experiments, while their spacecraft were linked.
The Soviet leader, Leonid I. Brezhnev, sent good wishes in a message transmitted by Soviet space officials, and President Gerald R. Ford spoke to the crews by telephone as they carried out a mission that presaged the creation of an international space station.
Pondering which half of the earth was the more beautiful, the Western or Eastern Hemispheres, he avoided controversy, saying, as quoted by The Telegraph of Britain, “there is nothing more beautiful than our blue planet.”