Moscow gave the four Soviet space men a hero's welcome. Thousands defied the freezing weather?
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Background: Moscow gave the four Soviet space men a hero's welcome. Thousands defied the freezing weather and came to Vnukovo Airport to greet them when they landed. Soviet government and Communist Party leaders were there, as well as the diplomatic corps and of course, the families and relatives of the men.
The men and women who designed and built the rockets, automatic interplanetary stations, satellites and space ships were also there.
Just a week ago Vladimir Shatalov, Boris Volynov, Alexi Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov were practically unknown. Today they are world famous, having set a world record with the first link-up of two manned space ships and the transfer of men from one vehicle to another after a walk in open space.
The commanders of the two ships. Lt.-Colonel Vladimir Shatalov and Lt.-Colonel Boris Volynov, report to the government and party leaders on their exploits.
Each man receives hearty congratulations and an embrace from Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party national secretary, and President Nikilai Podgorny. Schoolchildren hand them bouquets of flowers.
After they were hugged and kissed their dear ones, the astronauts are introduced to the heads of the diplomatic missions.
The cars draw up to the airport entrance. They will take the four men to the Palace of Congress in the Kremlin, where a formal meeting will be held to welcome them back to earth.
Other thousands of Muscovites line Lenin Prospect, cheering and waving as the cavalcade moves towards the city. This has become a traditional route for Soviet astronauts. In the past few years twelve of them have ridden down this street after their daring exploits in outer space.
The four men are in the Kremlin at last. The packed hall gives them an ovation.
All four men spoke. They praised the Soyuz ships and told about their experiments and observations in space. Khrunov and Yeliseyev described their impressions of the hour they spent outside the ships. Speaking about the Soyuz, Vladimir Shatalov said, "The flight again showed quite convincingly that it is a splendid and promising machine. it contains reliable systems for automatic and manual link-ups and for the performance of a large range of experiments and observations, as well as comfortable quarters for work and rest". Boris Volynov said the original system of locks on the Soyuz ships had stood the test.
The national secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Leonid Brezhnev, addressed the meeting. This latest Soviet flight, he said, had paved the way for the creation of big orbiting laboratories. The practical significance of Soviet space flights as well as the launching of automatic stations, went beyond the bounds of observations. The fruits of these investigations were already being enjoyed by all nations, particularly in telephone and telegraphic communications and weather forecasts.
Mr. Brezhnev paid tribute to the scientists engineers and workers whose efforts had ensured the success of the flight.
He informed the audience that on proposal from the Communist Party's Central Committee and the Government, Parliament had conferred on all four men the titles Hero of the Soviet Union and Astronaut of the USSR.
President Podgorny had warm words for each man as he handed them the Order of Lenin, the Gold Star and the astronaut's badge.