The Lost Cosmonauts



Few people realize in these days when satellite dishes are found on every other rooftop that, back in the early sixties somewhere in the hilltops near the northern italian city of Turin, two young italian brothers were prying into the most guarded secrets of the mighty Soviet Union. The space race was in full swing, providing the battleground for a vital propaganda confrontation between East and West, in the midst of the cold war.
The JUDICA-CORDIGLIA brothers, sons of one of Europe's foremost pathologists, set up a listening post which probed the cosmos and successfully tracked all the early american and soviet unmanned satellites.
The geographical location of their station proved particularly suitable for the reception of soviet space vehicles, which regularly overflew Northern Italy during their approach to the soviet tracking centers in the Caucasus.
Using an array of advanced equipment, the two young italians soon learned which radio frequencies to monitor and how to predict the overfly times of the various space probes.
One day in early 1961, weeks before Yuri Gagarin's epic space flight, instead of the usual beeping tones which they had become accustomed to hear, they were startled by a sound which signaled a new chapter in the history of mankind: there, in the listening center of "Torre Bert", these two young students heard, clearly and unequivocally, the beat of a failing heart and the last gasping breaths of a dying cosmonaut.

The incredible, disturbing real-life events which are presented on this site are being uncovered for the first time outside the restricted community of 'insiders' who have, for reasons unknown, decided to protect the secrecy of the Soviet Establishment.
Read on, everything you will find is true.

Radio Moscow’s communiqué about the Judica Cordiglia brothers.

In RealAudio!

April 7, 1965

This is Radio Moscow,

In March of the present year the Milan daily "Corriere della Sera" published an article about "soviet cosmonauts who perished in space".
The article is based upon statements made by the Judica Cordiglia brothers, who allegedly received signals and recorded conversations in space by a number of soviet cosmonauts who did not return from their flights... two years ago the same nonsense could be found in the pages of the "Washington Post"...a few organs of the burgeois press, in an attempt to give their cosmic lies an appearance of truthfulness, mention data provided by the american information services. These services would have provided in confidence to the journalists information about these dead cosmonauts. However, such data do not reflect the truth. And with this statement we could close the whole matter.
But we want to add a few words about the Judica Cordiglia brothers.
This is not the first time that they get involved in the reception of these signals...
No one can doubt the safety of our space vehicles anymore.
In the list of names reported by the "Corriere della Sera", only one is known to me: "Dolgov"…on that day the aerostat…reach the altitude of 25,458 meters...
We have read a few portions of the article written by Lieutenant General Nikolai Kamanin and published in the "Red Star".


Transcript of Dr Achille Judica Cordiglia’s interview on Italian national radio

In RealAudio!

"GOLEM" is a popular radio program which airs four times a week on RAI UNO, Italy’s most important national radio station. The program deals primarily with the "media" at large; in particular with the relationship between media-generated information and reality.

It compares reality as it is presented by today’s mass media and the same reality as seen by the people, who, for better or for worse, have to live through it.

The "Golem" broadcast that we have included in our web site begins with a commentary on the current NATO military action in Kosovo. For the last few days, "Golem" has been relaying information received via short-wave radio or via the Internet from "unofficial" Serbian radio stations.

These are voices of the people, voices that do not belong to any official news agency nor to a state-run information service. Recent broadcasts have also mentioned web sites where it is possible to hear live radio conversations among NATO pilots involved in the war.

In the same spirit, Mario Abrate, webmaster of the "Lost Cosmonauts" web site, contacted the "Golem" staff to make them aware of the intercepts made by the Judica Cordiglia brothers in the 1960s and to create a sort of ideal link between those voices that came from space and these voices that are engaged in battle here on Earth.

Gianluca Nicoletti, the creator and presenter of "Golem" found a connection between the present situation in Europe and the early sixties, highlighting the role played by radio, then and now, in exposing the truth that lies hidden behind the curtain of officialdom laid by the mass media.

You can hear, obviously in Italian, the entire broadcast; it starts with some voices from the war zone: the announcement that the "B92" free radio had been shut down by the Yugoslav government. The topic then shifts to the "Lost Cosmonauts", starting in the fifth minute of the broadcast.

We are providing a transcription of the telephone interview between Gianluca Nicoletti and Achille Judica Cordiglia that was broadcast during the program.

Nicoletti (5:45): Doctor Judica Cordiglia, what do you think about this need that we feel to pick-up via radio and make known to our listeners these fleeting fragments of reality?

AJC: When you can spend entire days and nights at your radio listening station, the way we used to do with our receivers, it is possible to receive a more complete view of what is really happening…

Nicoletti: Have you ever been tempted, during the more recent and sophisticated conflicts to try and eavesdrop on what was going on?

AJC: Yes, indeed! At home, during the war with Iraq, I was able to receive two "unauthorized" radio stations.

Nicoletti: Are you still involved in this type of activity?

AJC: These days I have a different occupation; I am a cardiologist. In my home, however, I still have a room that I use for this. I still have all the equipment from the old days; all the receivers, one of them still works. In my garden I still have the antenna that was the key to our achievements. It is an eight-sided dish antenna, with a diameter of eight meters and it can be rotated in elevation and in azimuth. Back then it was the largest in Italy. It allowed us to receive those signals and it still works. I have it here by the house.

Nicoletti (9:00): What motivated you and your brother to listen for those sounds?

AJC: It was mainly a great passion for Radio communications. We were already Ham radio operators, but what really interested us was listening to transmissions from space. When Sputnik 1 was launched, on October 4, 1957, we set up our listening post and we were able to receive its signals. That’s when our passion for space radio really began.
Thirty or forty years ago we bought some surplus american airborne receivers; we adapted them and we began to listen to satellite broadcasts on that equipment. Then our activity really took off; from a backyard operation it grew into a real tracking station, located in the hills around the city of Turin. Later, for political reasons, given the type of signals we were receiving… a fact that was not appreciated by the Russians… we found a number of red flags… we were in the sixties, remember, the middle of the cold war… and we then decided to move our operation to San Maurizio Canavese, near Caselle airport, where we set up an efficient satellite tracking station, where most of these signals were eventually received and recorded.

Nicoletti: What would you consider the most remarkable and most tragic of all your intercepts?

AJC: In our opinion, there were 14 soviet astronauts who perished in space. It started in 1960 and went on until the early 70s. Fourteen astronauts, men and women. I think the most interesting (I am not sure this is the right word) signals were the heartbeat and gasping breathing that we received on Februuary 2, 1961. These were clearly the heartbeat and breathing of a human being. We even recorded a systolic skip, that confirmed what we were witnessing.

AJC (12:52): We were quite sure of all the fourteen missions because, in addition to the direction in which the antenna was pointing and to the periodicity of the signals, which matched the orbiting period of an Earth satellite, we also detected the "Doppler" shift in the frequency of the received signals. This effect is typical of radio signals transmitted or received by a moving vehicle. The reception would last over twenty minutes, so we knew that it couln’t come from an airplane. The orientation of the antenna, the frequencies being used and, most of all, the character of the conversations left us in no doubt. In those days, we used the Berlitz School to translate the messages.
These events were later confirmed by NASA and, much later, some were even acknowledged from within the Soviet Union, after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Nicoletti: Did the Russians ever admit that there were missions that preceded Yuri Gagarin’s flight?

AJC: Some preceded Gagarin’s mission, some came later. It was typical of the cold war; mainly the race for the Moon.

Nicoletti: Did you ever receive anything more telling than a heartbeat?

AJC: Yes, we received voices, in Russian, both male and female. The transmission is from May 1961; two men and a woman. Together with several journalists who were with us at the time, we witnessed, in real time, the death of the soviet cosmonaut. Her name was Ludmila and we recorded her voice, her last messages while they happened.

Nicoletti: Was this ever aknowledged by the soviet authorities?

AJC: Absolutely not! They denied the whole thing and in April of 1965, TASS released a long communiqué directed against us, in very personal terms. They specifically mentioned our names; they said these things were totally untrue and that the names (we had provided names of the victims) belonged to people who had never existed.
At that point we responded through ANSA (the Italian national Press Agency, n.d.t.) saying that we didn’t just have their names, but also their pictures. We had seen their pictures in the magazine "Ogoniok", in an article published five years earlier that showed the rookie cosmonauts undergoing training. So, the voices between the capsules and ground control, the fact that the cosmonauts were addressed by their first name and the pictures with the names of the trainees allowed us to identify the victims.

At this point in the program, the voice of the female cosmonaut is broadcast.

Nicoletti: The female voice is reading back some technical data. Now she is saying that she feels hot. Later she will announce that her capsule is burning: "Visciu Flama!"- I can see flames!

Nicoletti: Now, forty years later, to hear the voices of people facing the flames of destruction we still have to rely on that old and venerable medium: the radio…




In Florida, the "Mercury 7" astronauts were preparing for the launch of the first manned capsule, which was shortly due to fly a steep, suborbital path, to prove the viability of the Mercury space vehicle. Chimpanzees had successfully been launched and retrieved and the Redstone missile, the brainchild of scientist Wernher von Braun, was one of the most reliable launchers in the U.S. arsenal.

The Soviet Union had beaten the U.S. in 1957 by launching the first, unmanned artificial satellite, Sputnik.
In total secrecy, preparations were also underway at the space center in Baikonur, for an orbital manned flight. The U.S.S.R. had to show the world its scientific leadership by being first with a man in space.

We now present a document which unequivocally proves that on February 2, 1961, nine weeks before Gagarin, another Russian cosmonaut flew into space. His mission was not successful and this hero perished during the flight. His sacrifice was kept secret from the world for reasons of political propaganda.

The attached 'RealAudio' files are actual recordings of the last moments of this hero's life. His failing heartbeat can be heard, as it was recorded by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers. A leading cardiologist of the time, Prof. Dogliotti, confirmed that the heartbeats are those of a dying person. The breathing sounds are, literally, the last gasps of the cosmonaut, already unconscious.





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After the successful orbital flight of Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet authorities wanted to give a further demonstration of their superiority: Alan Shepard had finally entered space on May 5, 1961, but only for a brief, suborbital flight. The U.S.S.R. would send into orbit the first woman cosmonaut, before the americans could even attempt their first orbital flight. And while the americans were planning one additional suborbital flight before attempting a flight of only three orbits, the russian woman cosmonaut would fly 17 times around the earth.

The launch took place on the 16th of May, 1961. We don't know what went wrong during the flight, but re-entry had to be delayed. It is possible that the thermal shield of the Vostok capsule may have been damaged during launch. A decision was finally made to attempt re-entry on May 23rd, due to the dwindling air supplies.

The italian listening post manned by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers had, by now, learned how to intercept the voice communications between the spacecraft and mission control, in addition to the physiological data received on the previous missions.
The document we are presenting is dramatic and unsettling: the cosmonaut can be heard complaining about the increasing ambient temperature, in a professional voice which yet betrays the knowledge of a mission gone terribly wrong. In the end, when flames start engulfing the capsule, the voice becomes heart-rending.

A full english translation is presented, together with the original voice recording.

Three days later, on May 26, 1961, TASS, the soviet press agency announced the return to earth on the 23rd of a large, unmanned satellite which burned upon re-entering the atmosphere. The satellite was the size of a city bus. Its launch had not been previously disclosed and its purpose was unknown.


Last Transmission



Many names have emerged over the years of Cosmonauts who allegedly perished in space, or disappeared suddenly from the scene.
These names come from a wide variety of sources, some more reliable than others. They are offered here without comment nor proof of their true existence.
It is likely, however, that the names of the people whose voice and heartbeat were received by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers may be found among those on the list.


Presumed lost in Sub-Orbital Flights

  • Aleksei Ledovsky (Late 1957)
  • Serenti Shiborin (February 1958)
  • Andrei Mitkoff (January 1959)

Presumed lost in a Winged Rocket-powered Aircraft

  • Mirya Gromova (1959?)

Presumed lost in Orbital Flights

  • Piotr Dolgoff (October 11, 1960)
  • Gennady Mikhailoff (February, 1961)
  • Alexis Gracioff (December 1960)
  • Alexis Belokonioff (May 15, 1962)
  • Ivan Kachur (September 27, 1960)
  • V. Zavadowsky
  • Ludmila ? (1961)

Presumed lost during Cosmonaut Training

  • Valentin Bondarenko (1961)
  • N.K. Nikitin
  • Anatoly Tokoff

Expelled from the Cosmonauts’ Corps or suddenly disappeared from the scene

  • Valentin Filatyeff
  • Grigory Nelyuboff (1966)
  • Ivan Anikeyeff
  • Mars Rofikoff
  • Valentin Varlamoff
  • Anatoly Kartashoff
  • Dmitry Zaikin


In September of 1980 a Cuban "guest cosmonaut", Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, was launched aboard the "Soyuz 38" capsule. After his successful flight, he received a hero’s welcome back in Havana.
Fidel Castro gave a moving speech, in which he described his visit to the Cosmonaut Training Center in Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City). He had been greatly impressed by the faithful reproduction of Yuri Gagarin’s office, where, on the eve of their space missions, cosmonauts go to meditate. In a continuing tradition, they leave on Gagarin's desk a letter in which they pledge to honor and uphold the great tradition of valor of the soviet cosmonauts who have preceded them. The office is exactly how it was at the time of Gagarin’s death on March 27, 1968: his notes are still on the desk, his appointment book lies open on the table, his uniform hangs from the clothes-stand, all the clocks are stopped at the exact hour of his accident.
Castro went on to describe another room, that he called the "room of martyrs". Access to this room is strictly controlled. On the walls of the room are the photographs of all the cosmonauts who have given their lives in the course of the soviet space program. Castro was deeply moved by the display of heroism presented in this very special shrine; he added: "Many are the heroes who sacrificed their lives at the beginning of the space age!"

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There is still no rational explanation, nearly ten years after the fall of the communist regimes of eastern Europe, for the permanence of a curtain of silence over the loss of a number of soviet cosmonauts, at the beginning of the space program.

It is puzzling how, in the midst of 'Glasnost', the unknown heroes who gave their life to take mankind into space have not yet been given the recognition in the history of planet Earth which they earned with their very lives.
The Judica-Cordiglia brothers showed beyond doubt decades ago, that the soviet authorities of the time conducted, for reasons of propaganda, experiments doomed to almost certain failure, sacrificing their best pilots to the cause of communism.
The callousness of the soviet mission controllers went as far as actually cautioning their crews against saying things which "the people in Turin" may pick up and record!
But we know now that these heroes, men and women, are not the only victims of man's quest for space. In both the american and soviet space programs many lives have been lost. Many are the heroes who gave their lives for the supreme ideal of the advancement of science.
Yet those first cosmonauts, those "voices" heard in Turin, have to suffer the shame of being nameless, of being ignored by history. Their lives have been erased, their contribution may never be known.

Many are the nameless heroes of our times. Few are the heroes whose heartbeats, whose very last words we are allowed to hear, extreme farewells dedicated to the advancement of science and the progress of this planet Earth.

Let us not forget them.