Vladimir Titov was born on January 1, 1947, in Sretensk, in the Chita Region of Russia. He graduated from secondary school in 1965, from the Higher Air Force College in Chernigov, Ukraine in 1970, and from the Yuri Gagarin Air Force Academy in 1987.
From 1970 until 1974, Titov served at the Higher Air Force College as a pilot instructor. He later was a flight commander with the air regiment where the cosmonauts carried out flying practice. He has flown ten different types of aircraft, has logged more than 1,400 hours flying time, and holds the qualifications of Military Pilot, First Class, and Test Pilot, Third Class.
Vladimir Titov was selected to join the cosmonaut team in 1976, and in September 1981, was paired with cosmonaut Gennadi Strekalov. The two men were the back-up crew for Soyuz T-5 in 1982, and Soyuz T-9 in 1983. Titov commanded Soyuz T-8 and the abortive Soyuz T-10 mission, both in 1983, as well as Soyuz TM-4 in 1987. He stayed aboard the Mir space station for 365 days in 1987 and 1988 and flew on two shuttle flights in the 1990s. He has spent over 387 days in space and logged a total of thirteen hours and 47 minutes of Extravehicular Activities (EVAs).
Titov made his first space flight on April 20, 1983, as Commander of Soyuz T-8. He and Strekalov had been specifically trained to repair the faulty Salyut 7 solar array (Cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov was also on the flight). Titov was supposed to dock the Soyuz with the Salyut space station, but once in orbit, the Soyuz rendezvous radar antenna failed to deploy properly. Titov attempted a rendezvous using only an optical sight and ground radar inputs for guidance. During the final approach, which was made in darkness, he had to abort the rendezvous to avoid a crash, and no further attempts were made before the crew returned to Earth after a flight lasting just two days and seventeen minutes.
Titov and Strekalov were next on what is now known as the Soyuz T-10-1 or T-10a mission, on September 27, 1983. One minute before launch flames engulfed their rocket; the Soyuz descent module was fired from the launch escape system, and the cosmonauts landed safely over two miles from the launch vehicle, which had exploded seconds after the Soyuz separated. Though exposed to a force of 20-Gs, neither Titov or Strekalov sustained any injuries in the five and a half minute flight. In February 1984, a different crew flew another successful mission designated as Soyuz T-10.
Vladimir Titov’s next spaceflight was as Commander of Soyuz TM-4, which launched on December 21, 1987. Together with Musa Manarov and Anatoli Levchenko, he linked up with the Mir space station and the Mir EO-2 crew already there. After a week, Levchenko and the EO-2 crew returned to Earth handing over the space station to the Mir EO-3 crew, Titov and Manarov. The two settled down to a long program of scientific experiments and observations and performed several EVAs. From June to September of 1988, they played host to the crew of Soyuz TM-5, and in August of 1988, the Soyuz TM-6 crew as well. After both Soyuz craft returned to earth in September 1988, one of the TM-6 crew, Dr. Valeri Polyakov, stayed aboard the Mir to monitor Manarov and Titov’s health, which he found to be excellent. Titov and Manarov flew back to Earth aboard Soyuz TM-6 on December 21, 1988, after a mission lasting 365 days, 22 hours, and 39 minutes, the first humans to spend an entire year in space. Since then, only Valeri Polyakov (437.7 days) and Sergei Avdeyev (379.6 days) have spent more consecutive days in space.
On October 28, 1992, NASA announced that an experienced cosmonaut would fly aboard the STS-60 Space Shuttle mission in conjunction with the Russian space program (the Soviet Union had collapsed in 1991). Vladimir Titov was one of two candidates named by the Russian Space Agency for mission specialist training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In April 1993, he was assigned as back-up Mission Specialist for Sergei Krikalev, who flew on STS-60, the first joint U.S./Russian Space Shuttle Mission (February 3 to 11, 1994). In September 1993, Titov was selected to fly on STS-63 with Krikalev as his backup.
From February 2 to 11, 1995, Titov was aboard the Orbiter Discovery STS-63. Mission highlights included the rendezvous with Mir, the operation of Spacehab, and the deployment and retrieval of the Spartan 204 satellite. In completing this mission, Titov logged an additional eight days, six hours, and 29 minutes in space.
Vladimir Titov next served on the crew of STS-86 Atlantis (September 25 to October 6, 1997) NASA’s seventh mission to rendezvous and dock with Mir. Highlights included the exchange of U.S. crew members Mike Foale and David Wolf to the Russian space station, the transfer to Mir of 10,400 pounds of science and logistics, and the return of experiment hardware and results to Earth.
While the Atlantis was docked with Mir, Titov and U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski performed a five hour spacewalk to retrieve four experiments first deployed on Mir during the STS-76 docking mission, tethered the Solar Array Cap for use in a future Mir spacewalk to seal any hole found in the hull of the damaged Spektr module, and evaluated common EVA tools which may be used by astronauts wearing either Russian or American-made spacesuits. The mission added another ten days, nineteen hours and 22 minutes to Titov’s time in space.
Vladimir Titov retired from the Russian Air Force and the Russian Space Agency in 1998, having logged over 387 days in space. He next worked for Boeing in Moscow. He has been awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (1983) and recipient of the Order of Lenin (1988). In 1988. the French government awarded him the title of Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur, and in 1990. he and Manarov were awarded the U.S. Harmon Prize. They were the first Soviet citizens to win the award, which was given in recognition of their world endurance record while on the Mir.