Mars Rafikov

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Mars Zakirovich Rafikov
Cosmonaut
Nationality Soviet
Born (1933-09-29)September 29, 1933
Dzhalal-Abad, Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic
Died July 23, 2000(2000-07-23) (aged 66)
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Other occupation
Jet fighter pilot
Rank Soviet Air Force
Selection Air Force Group 1

Mars Zakirovich Rafikov (Russian: Марс Закирович Рафиков, 29 September 1933 – 23 July 2000) was a Soviet cosmonaut who was dismissed from the Soviet space program for disciplinary reasons.

Senior Lieutenant Rafikov, age 26, was selected as one of the original 20 cosmonauts on March 7, 1960 along with Yuri Gagarin.

On March 24, 1962, Rafikov was dismissed from the cosmonaut corps, officially for "a variety of offenses, including womanizing and 'gallivanting' in Moscow restaurants, and so forth".[1] Other cosmonauts (notably Gagarin) had exhibited similar behavior, but could not be officially disciplined because of their stature and international reputation. Gherman Titov later suggested, though, that the real reason for his dismissal was because he and his wife had divorced.[2]

He remained in the military, serving as a pilot in the Afghanistan war.[3]

To protect the image of the space program, efforts were made to cover up the reason for Rafikov's dismissal. His image, like that of others who were dismissed, was airbrushed out of cosmonaut photos. This airbrushing led to speculation about "lost cosmonauts" even though the actual reasons were often mundane.[4]

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