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Cooling the Cold War: Eugene Cernan’s Cosmonaut Friendships That Broke Barriers

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“Cooling the Cold War: Eugene Cernan’s Cosmonaut Friendships That Broke Barriers” by Peyton Edelbrock
Published in Quest Volume: 31 #2 (2024)
Honorable Mention: 2023 Sacknoff Prize for Space History

Abstract

Friendship is typically not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Space Race. During the détente of the Cold War, a select handful of astronauts fraternized with their Soviet counterparts during domestic and foreign trips. These spacefarers often became diplomats for their respective nations and a few developed close lifelong relationships with each other. Eugene Cernan was one of them. He managed to befriend cosmonauts throughout his time with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and kept his friendships close after his career. Cernan’s experiences with NASA allowed him to host cosmonauts during tours in the United States and granted him a position to work with the crew of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, giving him opportunities to develop friendships with his Soviet counterparts. After he retired from NASA, he continued to stay in contact with many of them, even visiting them in their respective nations. He was able to do so thanks to his charismatic personality and drawing on astronaut-cosmonaut commonalities, including their military fraternity of the “Right Stuff.” Their shared experiences allowed them to deepen conversations and develop trust. Cernan’s contacts, connections, and collaboration earned him relationships with the Soviets that lasted a lifetime.


Citation

Edelbrock, Peyton. “Cooling the Cold War: Eugene Cernan’s Cosmonaut Friendships That Broke Barriers.” Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 31, no. 2 (2024): 17-29.

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More Information

  • Archive ID # G301344
  • Format: Document (PDF)
  • Author/Creator:
  • Publication Year: 2024
  • Publisher: Quest
  • Copyright Status: Copyrighted
  • Copyright Holder: SPACE 3.0
  • Language: English
  • Number of Pages: 13
  • Type: History
  • Subject:
  • Collection: Quest
  • Availability: Digital Download

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