Graduated from Military Pilot School, Grozny, 1954. Graduated from Air Force Academy, Monino, 1968. Cosmonaut training March 1960 - 18 January 1961. Was to have been commander of the first crew for Salyut 2 in April 1973. Call sign: Berkut (Golden Eagle). Director of AIUS Agroresurs, Moscow.
Birth Place: Uzin, Kiev.
Spaceflights: 2 .
Total time in space: 18.69 days.
Despite the conditions, Popovich felt able to go for the full four days scheduled. But before the mission, Popovich had been briefed to tell ground control that he was 'observing thunderstorms' if he felt the motion sickness that had plagued Titov and needed to return on the next opportunity. Unfortunately he actually did report seeing thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico, and ground control took this as a request for an early return. He was ordered down a day early, landing within a few mintutes of Nikolayev. Only on the ground was it discovered that he was willing to go the full duration, and that ground control had thought he had given the code.
The State Commission met again at 17:00, to decide whether to extend Popovich to a fourth day as well. Smirnov and Korolev have already discussed this with Khrushchev. It all right with them, and there are no technical reasons not to. But Popovich is much more active than Nikolayev, since he wasn't expecting a four day flight, and he has not conserved his resources as Nikolayev has. At 12:00 the spacecraft temperature was down to 11 deg C, with low humidity. Kamanin objects violently, and finally it is decided to ask the cosmonaut directly if he feels able to go for the extra day. Popovich, when contacted, immediately declares himself ready to go for an extra day and a 65 orbit mission. It is decided to study expected landing conditions for an extended mission and the physical condition of the cosmonaut before making a final decision.
Nikolayev's post-flight debriefing: The rocket vibration was not great initially, but very forceful at the end of operation of the second stage. There was quite a shock on separation of the spacecraft from the third stage. 15 minutes before the launch of Popovich's spacecraft I oriented the Vostok and at 11:03 the spacecraft was at the correct 73 degree pitch attitude. However I was unable to see either Popovich's spacecraft or his booster rocket. I had bad communications with Zarya on the first day. On the fourth revolution, during the communications session with Khrushchev, I could not hear, but then during the second, third, and fourth day of the flight communications were clear. The Globus instrument was valuable. Zero-G was not unpleasant, and on the fourth day I sharply turned by head to the left and right but could not force any bad reactions. I felt fully trained in use of the equipment. Over Turkey I could see airfields, cities, paved roads, and ships at sea. The TDU retrorocket operated for 42 seconds. The re-entry capsule revolved randomly on reaching the denser atmosphere and I pulled 8 to 9 G's on re-entry. There were many boulders in the landing area, but I was able to guide my parachute to land in a 2 x 2 m clear area.
Popovich debriefing: I could easily see the earth flowing below. Manual orientation using this by day or the stars by night was possible. There was lots of static on the UHF band on space-ground communications. Space-to-space communications with Sokol were very good, especially over the equator. Moving my head caused no motion sickness problems. After ejection, I secured my reserve parachute (as had Nikolayev). I saw a search aircraft twenty minutes after landing. The NAZ antenna did not deploy (as with Nikolyaev).
After the debriefing, a celebration is held with the cosmonauts, State Commission, and local officials. Everyone gets pretty drunk. Kamanin is finally instructed to take Nikolayev and Popovich to bed at midnight. The rest continue until 2 in the morning.
Kamanin receives the decree creating the new TsUKOS military organisation that will direct Soviet spaceflight. He is sure such a resolution would never have passed had Biryuzov not been killed in the plane crash. The VVS retains only its existing role of cosmonaut training.
Mishin and Kamanin meet and decide on L1 crews: Leonov-Makarov (with Kuklin as back-up); Bykovsky-Rukavishnikov (Klimuk back-up); and Popovich-Sevastyanov (Voloshin back-up). But that evening Leonov has yet another automobile accident. He hit a bus with his Volga at kilometre 24 near Shchelkovsky. This was his second accident in four months. Kamanin decides to prohibit him from driving automobiles for six months.
As Kamanin is on the way to the airport, a serious situation develops aboard the station. At 13:00 the cosmonauts report a strong burning smell, and smoke in the station. The crew evacuates the station and retreat to the Soyuz lifeboat. Forty minutes later, just as Kamanin is boarding the Tu-104, Shatalov reports that the mission will continue, but the situation aboard the station is not comfortable. The crew has turned off the primary oxygen regenerator and exchanged the filters of the oxygen supply and reserve regenerator. At 14:05 Kamanin finally boards the aircraft, which takes off and sets course for the Crimea. At 14:30 they are ordered to turn around and land at Chkalovksy Airfield outside Moscow. The whole thing turns out to be a banal mistake by one of the officers at an air traffic control station! They lose two hours in the process. No information is available when the Tu-104 finally lands at Saki, since Nikolayev and the other cosmonauts who attended the emergency meetings had taken off to return to Moscow three hours earlier. Kamanin finally arrives at Yevpatoriya at 23:00, in time for a comms session with Dobrovolsky and Patsayev (Volkov is sleeping). The Soyuz 11 crew reports that the training suits are very tiring. Dobrovolsky reports all is now normal otherwise. He requests permission to continue the flight. Bykovsky reports that the situation on the station is now stable. There is no more smoke or burning smell, but the crew has been overloaded in the last six hours. They have done a lot of work with no food or rest. The situation was so bad at one point that preparations had been made for undocking the Soyuz for an emergency return to earth.