A 1998 American urban legend held that during the fall of Soviet Union, one of her cosmonauts was stranded on the Mir space station. The basis of the story can be found in the fact that the Soyuz ferry spacecraft had a nominal on-orbit storage life of 180 days. After the fall of the Soviet Union, due to financial, technical, and supply-chain problems, launches of replacement crews to the station became rather irregular. Several times this led to the Soyuz docked to the station being in orbit over its six-month rated life. Every time this happened 'experts' would be trundled out on the television news to declare that the crew was 'stranded'. This first happened on the Soyuz TM-15 flight of 1992.
The legend became the basis for the outstanding Norwegian short film 'Kosmonaut', directed by Stefan Faldbakken. The film created a sensation at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and told with considerable technical accuracy the story of fictional cosmonaut Igor Fedrov. Fedrov, on a long duration mission aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, is unable to reach ground control in the chaotic period after Gorbachev was overthrown n 1991. Stranded in his Soyuz capsule, unable to receive instructions or updates for his guidance system, his life support supplies dwindling, he finally attempts a manually guided return to earth and dies in the attempt.
Russian phantom cosmonaut. Forced to attempt manual return to earth in December 1991 when left stranded in space by fall of the Soviet Union. 1998 urban legend held that during the fall of Soviet Union, their cosmonauts were stranded on the Mir space station. Embodied on film by character Fedrov in short Norwegian film 'Kosmonaut'.