State-Run RT Stumbles, Inaccurately Reports Russian Space Launch

RT, a media outlet funded by the Russian government, desperately needed a fact checker for its Wednesday article about the launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station earlier in the day. The unsigned item reported that "the 500th Soyuz rocket has successfully lifted off from the Gagarin's Start launchpad marking a historic milestone for Baikonur Cosmodrome." In reality, it was the 500th overall launch from the site in Kazakhstan, which has hosted several different types of rockets.

The Gagarin's Start launchpad was the site of many of the milestone launches of the Soviet space program. It was where the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, launched in October 1957. Yuri Gagarin took off from the site in April 1961 on the first orbital flight into space. The mission that carried the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, left Earth from the launchpad in 1963.

RT's article later claimed that "the 500th manned rocket launched from the same pad that Yuri Gagarin’s original Soyuz blasted off from on April 12, 1961." It was actually only the 135th Soviet and/or Russian space mission to launch cosmonauts (and, after 1995, American and European astronauts) into space since Gagarin's first orbital spaceflight in 1961. Also, Gagarin flew the Vostok 1 spacecraft into space, not the Soyuz, which didn't debut until 1967.

The first man in space was actually the backup cosmonaut for the pilot of the first Soyuz mission, Vladimir Komarov. Komarov lost his life during the Soyuz 1 mission, after the parachutes of his descent module failed to deploy properly after reentry, causing it to crash land.

Russia Foreign/Non-English Media Russia Today
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