Be forewarned that the true story you’re about to read may not be suitable for children or those who have dreams of traveling to space under an oppressive Communist regime. It all began in 1967 when Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union at the time, devised a space mission to mark the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev’s deadly plan

Brezhnev decided that the Soviets would launch a space capsule called Soyuz 1 with an astronaut named Vladimir Komarov inside. As the plan went, they would shoot up a second ship the next day which would meet and dock with Soyuz 1 in space. At this point, Komarov was supposed to be able to crawl out of the first ship and into the second, before it would then return safely to Earth.

Komarov, the cosmonaut who was to be shot up in the first capsule, knew from the beginning that the whole thing was a really horrible idea. He was close friends with Soviet hero, Yuri Gagarin, who was the first man to ever go to outer space.

Gagarian’s desperate warnings

Gagarin and other Soviet technicians had examined Soyuz 1 and realized that “unfit to fly” didn’t even begin to describe the ship’s condition. In the course of checking it out, they uncovered 203 problems, any one of which should have been enough of a red flag.

The problem was that Brezhnev was really set on the mission happening and everyone was afraid to tell the Soviet leader the bad news. Though Gagarin wrote a detailed memo warning him of the dangers of the mission, everyone who even thought about passing it along was demoted, fired, or otherwise forced to keep their mouth shut.

Komarov’s final moments

At this point, Komarov basically knew he was doomed. Though many begged him to refuse the mission, he knew the backup astronaut would be his best friend Gagarin. He consequently went to space knowing he would probably not return, in order to save his friend’s life.

Unfortunately, the mission went just as badly as predicted. So badly that the second spaceship was never even launched. As Soyuz 1 ultimately crashed to Earth in a ball of fire, American Intelligence officers were chilled to pick up Kamarov’s “cries of rage” as he cursed the officials who had sent him on the death mission. One of his final requests was an open casket so that the men behind the disaster would be forced to confront what they’d done.