The case of the missing cosmonauts

Absolutely fascinating article in Wired about how the USSR literally airbrushed leading cosmonauts from the pages of history. Incidentally, the man in the bottom-left is Yuri Gagarin, whose first ever spaceflight was 50 years ago this week.

These group shots of cosmonauts at work and on vacation included some as-yet unflown men. Apparently the subsequent bad behavior — or possibly victimization — of some of them rendered them unfit role models for Soviet youth, and they were erased (as shown above). These men would have been total strangers to the public, the fact that they never later appeared on space missions would seem to suggest that something bad had happened, something that had to be kept secret.