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    Valery Kubasov, 79; helped bring Cold War thaw to space

    Lieutenant Colonel Alexei A. Leonov (left) and Valery N. Kubasov docked with a three-man Apollo capsule in 1975.
    USSR Academy of Sciences
    Lieutenant Colonel Alexei A. Leonov (left) and Valery N. Kubasov docked with a three-man Apollo capsule in 1975.

    NEW YORK — Valery N. Kubasov, who pioneered international cooperation in space when he joined with a fellow cosmonaut in the linkup of Soviet and US spaceships in July 1975 amid the tensions of the Cold War, died Feb. 19 in Moscow. He was 79.

    The Russian spacecraft manufacturing company Energia, for which he had worked as a deputy director, confirmed the death. No cause was given.

    The great-power rivalry that had consumed the United States and the Soviet Union since World War II was paused when a Soyuz spaceship flown by Mr. Kubasov, a civilian serving as flight engineer, and its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexei A. Leonov, docked 140 miles above Earth with a three-man Apollo capsule.


    The cosmonauts and astronauts — Brigadier General Thomas P. Stafford, and Deke Slayton and Vance D. Brand, both civilians — spent 44 hours together, exchanging gifts and conducting experiments, while their spacecrafts were linked.

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    The Soviet leader, Leonid I. Brezhnev, sent good wishes in a message transmitted by Soviet space officials. President Ford spoke to the crews by telephone as they carried out a mission that presaged the creation of an international space station.

    Mr. Kubasov was a low-key technical expert in contrast with Leonov, who had a ready wit and usually deferred to him in answering scientific questions from reporters.

    Interviewed while watching the Soviet-American mission on television from the Soviet Union, Lyudmila Kubasov, an aeronautical engineer, was quoted by the Associated Press as calling her husband “calm, restrained, not excitable.”

    Mr. Kubasov provided a televised travelogue and history lesson during a pass over the Soviet Union. “Our country occupies one-sixth of the earth’s surface,” he noted. “Its population is over 250 million people. It consists of 15 union republics.”


    When the spaceships were high above the city formerly known as Stalingrad, he noted that it was where “German fascists were defeated” in World War II.

    Pondering which half of the Earth was the more beautiful, the Western or Eastern Hemispheres, he avoided controversy, saying, as quoted by The Telegraph of Britain, “there is nothing more beautiful than our blue planet.”