Georgi Mikhailovich Grechko (cyrillic Георгий Михайлович Гречко) was born May 25, 1931
in the city of Leningrad
. He was visiting his Grandmother in the Ukraine when Germany invaded Russia. This meant a short vacation was stretched out to two years. He entered the Leningrad Institute of Mechanics, graduating in 1955
with honours. He then started work at the Sergei Korolev
Design Bureau, where he was involved in the computation of the trajectories used by the first Soviet spaceflights. He was selected as a cosmonaut for the 1966
In Vladislav Volkov's diary, he writes of a cosmonaut named "Georgi" who was severly injured during a parachute jump in 1966. It is thought that this cosmonaut was in fact Georgi Grechko, who is said to have actually broke his back, taking more than a year to recover.
His first assignment was the group of cosmonauts training for flights to the moon. He was to have been on the crew of a test flight of the Kontakt rendezvous system that would have been used by the Lunar Lander on its ascent from the lunar surface. All of these missions were cancelled along with the lunar landing program.
His first real assignment was the backup crew of Soyuz 9. During the marathon 18 day mission that set a record for the longest spaceflight at the time, the crew investigated the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body. They also watch the World Cup Soccer matches and voted in the Soviet Election.
He was then on the support and backup crews for the first and second flights to the first civilian space stations respectively. These missions were cancelled after the failure in orbit of both.
Grechko was then on the backup crew for the Soyuz 12 flight. This mission tested out the newly improved Soyuz spacecraft after the fatal Soyuz 11 mission. It featured batteries instead of solar panels and only had space for two crewmembers, who now wore spacesuits.
Grechko's first spaceflight was Soyuz 17, launched January 11, 1975. This was the first mission to the Salyut 4 space station and was a month long. During the mission the crew operated various astrophysical experiments and investigated the effects of microgravity on themselves and various organisms.
His next spaceflight was Soyuz 26, which docked with Salyut 6. Launched December 10, 1977, it lasted until January 16, 1978, when Grechko and Yuri Romanenko landed in the Soyuz 27 spacecraft. The crew broke the space endurance record of 84 days that had been set by the Skylab 4 crew. They also performed the first EVA by a Russian crew in 9 years when they went 'outside' to check whether the docking apparatus had been damaged by the aborted Soyuz 25 mission. It was the first time that the Soviets had admitted that Salyut 6 had two docking ports.
The two docking ports allowed the Russians to launch a Progress freighter to the station. This contained supplies that would keep the station in orbit for longer than if it had to rely on what was launched with it. The Progress also transferred fuel to the station, the first time an in-orbit refuelling had occurred.
Grechko's last flight was Soyuz T-14 launched September 17, 1985. This mission was an nine day visit to the Salyut 7/Soyuz T-13 complex and involved the fist crew rotation on the spaceflight. Vladimir Dzhanibekov, who had launched on Soyuz T-13 came down with Grechko in the Soyuz T-13 capsule, while Valdimir Vasyutin and Aleksandr Volkov stayed on board with Viktor Savinykh.
In all Grechko spent 134 days, and 20 hours and 32 minutes in space over three missions.
After retiring from the cosmonaut corps, he was from 1985 till 1992 the manager of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics.
His hobbies include skiing, underwater fishing, car racing, and collecting stamps.
He is twice Hero of the Soviet Union (by Decrees of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on February 12, 1975 and on March 16, 1978). He has three Orders of Lenin, is a Hero of Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. As well as this he received the Kirti Chakra award from India. From the FAI he received the Gagarin Medal and from the USSR Academy of Science, the Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal. He was the winner of the State Premium of Ukrainian and Estonian SSRs. He is a honourary citizen of Kaluga, Angarsk (Russia), Dzhezkazgan, Arkalyk (Kazakhstan), Prague (Czechoslovakia) and Varna (Bulgaria).