Major Tom to Ground Control

Lost cosmonauts

Conspiracy theories: They’re the ketchup splashed across the rice pudding of our lives. What would life be like without that ketchup? Pretty damned bland, that’s what.

Today’s conspiracy involves Italian brothers in a German bunker listening to Soviet cosmonauts who were shot into space on the sly, and died up there.  They called the string of amateur listening posts “Project Zeus,” so no grandiosity there.

The Soviets liked winners, so the theory goes. And only winners are acknowledged. So the theory tells us that there were a number of cosmonauts who were shot into space during the late fifties and into the sixties who never came home, or were never acknowledged. You can imagine a briefing sort of like the Peter Graves-era Mission: Impossible tape recording : “As always, should you be killed in space, the Secretary of the Supreme Soviet will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” If these theories are to be believed, one guy ended up in Red China after falling out of orbit early, a female cosmonaut burned alive on reentry, there were phantom moonshots, phantom Mars expeditions. And so on.

Much more in this 1975 article on James Oberg’s site Pioneering Space.