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Alekseyev, Semyon Mikhailovich
Russian engineer. Graduated from MAI in 1937. Lavochkin's right hand man, having a key role in the design of that bureau's fighter designs of World War II (La-3, -5, -7, -9). In 1946 made Chief Designer of OKB-21 in Gorkiy, designing and building prototypes of a twin-engined jet fighter. OKB-21 closed in October 1948 after Yakovlev compared Alekseyev's designs to copies of Me-272. Alekseyev then put in as head of captured German design team at OKB-1, where he oversaw further development and test of German rocketplane and medium jet bomber designs. This program was terminated in 1950. Thereafter leader 1952-1973 of OKB Zvezda, specialized in design of high altitude pilot gear, and later, spacesuits and airlocks.

Born: 1909-12-24. Died: 1993-01-01.

Country: Russia. Bibliography: 474.

1961 February 14 - .
1961 February 22 - .
  • Zenit project review - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Ustinov, Voronin. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Vostok, Zenit-2 satellite, Zenit-4.

    Ustinov heads a review of the reconnaissance satellite program, at that time still referred to as the Vostok-2 and Vostok-4 spacecraft. Thirty staff are working on it full time at OKB-1, but Korolev says that due to delays in the photographic, television, and radar equipment for the spacecraft the first launch will be delayed two to three months. But he points out that since Vostok-1 has already proven the recovery systems, the first Vostok-2 should still be ready for launch in June-July 1961. Ustinov notes that the Ministry of Defence has had little input or understanding of the specification for the spacecraft. The launch of the first Vostok-3 is delayed to March due to the need to fully test all systems. The life support system (Vornonin) and the ejection seat (Alekseyev) are the pacing items. The next meeting is set for 27 February. Kustanin testifies as to the readiness of the spacecraft and the cosmonauts.

1961 February 24 - .
  • VVS Program Review - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1, Vostok.

    A A Kobzanev heads the review. The decision is made that the first launch of Vostok-3 will not have to be contingent on full ground test of each and every system. The gas analyser and antenna deployment unit of the NAZ still have not completed tests. However for the second mannequin flight, all systems must be operative. Other essential tests needed to clear the spacecraft for manned flight include: several ejection seat tower tests; one ejection seat test from the capsule, a test of the emergency abort system at the launch pad, sea trials of the spacesuit and NAZ. After a thirteen-day endurance trial the humidity within the spacecraft should not exceed 60%. In the tests so far, the humidity reached 80% and the temperature 35 deg C after only nine days. The first launch is now set for 2-3 March and the second for 20-25 March. Therefore the Soviet Union should be able to launch the first man into space by the end of March at best, with the first half of April being more likely.

1961 February 27 - .
  • Suit and ejection seat delays - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1, Vostok.

    Alekseyev's bureau continues to be the pacing organisation for the first manned flight. All trials of the suit and seat must be completed by 20 March. The second Vostok 3KA will not be allowed to fly until these tests are completed - which Alekseyev says won't be done until 21-25 April. Installation of unqualified systems in the capsule is seen as high-risk. In the evening the State Commission reviews the matter. The tests must be completed as follows: Alekseyev's tests of ejection of a mannequin from a capsule must be completed no later than 10 March; the LII test centre must complete two ejections into the wind stream from the Il-28 bomber testbed; sea trials of the NAZ ejection seat much be conducted by 10-20 March; and a ten-day test will be conducted from 2 to 12 March of the environmental control system.

1961 March 2 - .
  • Vostok launch preparations - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Bushuyev, Feoktistov, Gallay, Keldysh, Korolev, Voskresenskiy, Yazdovskiy. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Vostok.

    Korolev, Yazdovskiy, Gallay, Feoktistov, Makarov, and Alekseyev spend over three hours editing the 'Instructions to Cosmonauts'. This is the first flight manual in the world for a piloted spacecraft, including instructions for all phases of flight and emergency situations. Korolev, Keldysh, Bushuyev, and Voskresenskiy want the instructions to be simply 'put on suit, check communications, observe functioning of the spacecraft'. Korolev is motivated by his belief that on this single-orbit flight everything should occur automatically. Kamanin, Yazdovskiy, Gallay, and Smirnov are categorically against such a passive role for the cosmonaut. They argue that the cosmonauts know the equipment and must be capable of manually flying the spacecraft after releasing the electronic logical lock. They need to observe the instruments, report on their status by radio, and make journal entries. The emotions of the cosmonaut during high-G's and zero-G must be understood in order to fully prepare the cosmonauts that will follow. After long debate, Korolev and Keldysh give in. The agreed first edition of the flight manual is signed by Korolev and Kamanin. The next Vostok 3KA launch is set for 9 March.

1961 March 4 - .
  • Vostok flight preparations - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Korolev, Yazdovskiy. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1.

    Korolev, Alekseyev, Yazdovskiy, and other engineers lay out the plan for the preparation of the cosmonaut on launch day. The cosmonaut will be put in Nedelin's cottage at Baikonur Area 2 the night before the launch, be awakened five hours before launch, and undergo a physical examination. Kamanin and Korolev will be in the bunker at the launch pad for at least the next two launches. After the launch, Kamanin is to fly to the recovery zone to be present for the landing of the spacecraft.

1961 March 15 - .
  • IAKM Tour - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Agaltsov, Alekseyev, Semyon, Gagarin, Nelyubov, Titov, Vershinin. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1, Vostok.

    Chief of Staff F A Agaltsov visits the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine (IAKM) to review the six cosmonauts' training for flight. An 11-day trial is underway of the hot mock-up of the Vostok capsule's environmental control system. He also sees the dogs that have flown in space: Belka, Strelka, and Chernushka. Strelka has six 3-month-old puppies. Vershinin delivers a speech asking the cosmonauts to be morally prepared for spaceflight. The cosmonauts complain about the performance of Alekseyev's design bureau - of six spacesuits ordered, only three have been delivered (for Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov), and they haven't been able to train in parachute jumping in the suits yet.

1961 March 24 - .
  • Vostok State Commission - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Keldysh. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Vostok.

    The Commission, headed by Keldysh, meets at 11:00. Alekseyev gives the first presentation. The required four ejection seat tests from an Il-28 bomber test aircraft have not even begun yet, or the tower tests of the NAZ ejection seat. They are planned for the next 7 to 10 days. On the other hand ejection tests from the sphere on the launch pad have been completed with satisfactory results. Nikolayev of OKB-124 briefs on the environmental control system. There are still problems with the oxygen regenerator. The fixes made so far resulted in little improvement in performance of the system during the latest ten-day trial. The only solution seems to be to abandon the system entirely and replace it with a different one using active chemical regeneration, but this will take 14 to 15 days. The gas analyser still operates poorly. Despite all problems not having been solved as required, the decision is made to proceed with the unmanned launch anyway.

1961 March 25 - .
  • Vostok rollout - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Gagarin, Rudnev, Titov, Ustinov, Voronin. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Vostok.

    At 08:54 a meeting is held, where it is decided the bad performance of Voronin and Alekseyev in completing their capsule subsystems will be reported to Ustinov and Rudnev. At 13:00 the booster is rolled out to the pad. At 18:00 Gagarin and Titov donn their space suits and practice riding the elevator up to the spacecraft, and entering the hatch. This is to give them a practical feel for the time it will actually take them to get aboard and complete checkout of the spacecraft and suit.

1961 April 6 - .
  • Vostok 1 State Commission - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Gagarin, Keldysh, Korolev, Rudnev, Titov. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 1. Spacecraft: Vostok.

    Rudnev arrives at the cosmondrome, and the first state commission meeting is held with Korolev and the technicians at 11:30. The oxygen regenerator is still not ready, and it is decided to fly with the old dehumidifier on the first flight, since only a 90 minute mission is planned anyway. The suit and all recovery systems worked perfectly on the 9 and 25 March mannequin flights, so the NAZ system is deemed ready for flight. After the meeting Rudnev and Makarov of the KGB go to work on the written orders that will be binding on the cosmonauts in case of accidental landing on foreign territory. Kamanin, Keldysh, and Korolev draw up the final draft of the announcements to be issued in case of normal orbital insertion and after successful landing. In the evening Gagarin and Titov try on their individual suits and Alekseyev checks the parachute systems. The cosmonauts return to the hotel at 11 pm.

1962 June 25 - .
  • Female cosmonaut space suit - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon. Flight: Vostok 6. Spacecraft Bus: Sokol. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1.

    Kamanin meets with Alekseyev on the design of a space suit for the female cosmonauts. He advises the designer of the absolute need to have them finished by the end of the year and provides the measurements of the five ladies. Alekseyev advises he cannot possibly complete the suits earlier than the first quarter of 1963. He won't be pressured in the absence of an official government decree -- at the same time that Korolev and Smirnov are pressing the Central Committee for permission to make a female flight in September 1962!!

1963 January 30 - .
  • IAKM Review of Soviet centrifuges - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon.

    In 1960-1961 the cosmonauts trained on the only centrifuge in the Soviet Union. This had a radius of 3.5 m, was located at Sokolniko, could provide 10 G's, but was built by the Germans twenty years ago. In 1961 an 8 m radius centrifuge was completed at Alekseyev's Factory 918, built in West Germany. In 1962 Shvetsiy at IAKM commissioned a 7.8 m radius centrifuge. GKAT has issued a decree for acquisition of a 16 m radius centrifuge by 1967. By the end of 1963 a 4.2 m radius centrifuge will b e completed that can subject small animals to 40 G's. Work is underway on a 4 m radius centrifuge that will be able to take the cosmonauts to 20 G's in training.

1963 May 4 - .
  • Kamanin informed that a dual spaceflight has been decreed within the next 6 weeks. - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Bykovsky, Khrunov, Korolev, Leonov, Tereshkova, Titov, Volynov. Flight: Vostok 5, Vostok 6.

    Only today is Kamanin informed that a dual flight has been decreed within the next 3 to 6 weeks. The women are ready, but Bykovskiy and Volynov need a few parachute jumps and training in the hot mock-up. Leonov and Khrunov need additional centrifuge training as well. Bykovskiy and Volynov should be ready by 30 May, and Leonov and Khrunov by 15 June. Therefore earliest possible launch date is 5 to 15 June. Alekseyev's bureau is as always the pacing factor. He can adapt one of the female ejection seats for Bykovskiy, but not for Volynov. The space suit for Leonov will only be completed by 30 May. Kamanin talks to Korolev about dumping Alekseyev's bureau in the future. Cosmonaut parachute trainer Nikitin agrees that Bykovskiy can complete his parachute qualification at Fedosiya on 9-10 May. Further bad behaviour by Titov is reported during a trip to Kiev. He insulted an officer ('I am Titov, who are you?') and then had general's wives intervene on his behalf to get him out of trouble.

1963 May 9 - .
  • Cosmonauts Tour Glushko Factory - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Glushko, Khrunov, Komarov, Korolev. Flight: Vostok 5. Spacecraft Bus: Sokol. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1.

    Victory Day Holiday in the Soviet Union. The cosmonauts toured Glushko's engine factory. Glushko has 11,000 employees at four locations. The resentment between Glushko and Korolev, going back to their time in the Gulag, is apparent. Korolev calls during the tour but Glushko does not return his call. Later Alekseyev contacts Kamanin and proposes that Komarov be the back-up cosmonaut for Vostok 5 rather than Khrunov - because he hasn't finished the suit yet for Khrunov!

1963 May 13 - .
  • Korolev fights excessive VVS staff at Tyuratam. - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Bykovsky, Cooper, Korolev. Flight: Mercury MA-9, Vostok 5, Vostok 6. Spacecraft Bus: Sokol. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1.

    The VVS wants to send 55 staff to Tyuratam for the launches, but Korolev wants no more than 25. This is just possible - 11 cosmonauts, 8 engineers, and vital support staff only. Bykovskiy was to start a two day run in the hot mock-up, but it was called off due to defects with his suits - the biosensors were wired to his helmet microphone! The suit seems not even to have been tested before delivery. Alekseyev was supposed to have it ready by 9 May, now it will only be ready for use by 14 May. Gordon Cooper is scheduled for a 34 hour Mercury flight tomorrow....

1966 July 26 - .
  • Soyuz hatch problem - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Anokhin, Gorbatko, Khrunov, Komarov, Mishin, Severin, Sharafutdinov, Shcheglov, Skvortsov, Smirnov, Tsybin, Yeliseyev. Program: Soyuz. Flight: Soyuz 1, Soyuz 2A, Soyuz s/n 3/4. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-OK, Yastreb.

    Training of the new cosmonaut cadre is reviewed. English language courses are proving to be a particular problem. There have been some potential washouts - Sharafutdinov has done poorly in astronomy, Shcheglov suffered an injury at the beach, Skvortsov damaged his landing gear on a MiG-21 flight.

    At 15:00 a major review is conducted, with Komarov, Khrunov, Gorbatko, Kamanin, and other VVS officer meeting with OKB-1 leaders Mishin, Tsybin, Severin, Alekseyev, Anokhin, and other engineers. Film is shown of the difficulties in the zero-G aircraft of cosmonauts attempting to exit from the 660 mm diameter hatch. In four sets of ten attempts, the cosmonaut was only to get out of the hatch half the time, and then only with acrobatic contortions - the inflated suit has a diameter of 650 mm, only 10 mm less than the hatch. Mishin finally concedes the point. But installation of the hatch in Soyuz s/n 3 and 4 is not possible - the spacecraft are essentially complete, and to add the hatch would delay their flight 6 to 8 months. Then Mishin makes the astounding assertion that Gorbatko and Khrunov are not adequately trained to be engineer-cosmonauts, and without this he will not allow them into space. He suggests OKB-1 engineers Anokhin and Yeliseyev instead. After outraged response, Severin finally sinks this suggestion by pointing out that no space suit has been prepared for Anokhin, and that it will take two to three months to make one. Kamanin is astounded that Mishin has pushed Anokhin all the way up to Smirnov and the VPK without even knowing he could not possibly fly due to this restriction. It again points out their poor management. Finally Mishin agrees that spacecraft s/n 5 and 6 and on will have 720 mm hatches. The ECS for the suits for those missions will have to be changed from a backpack configuration, with the equipment rearranged around the waist of the cosmonaut. The crews for the flight will be an experienced VVS pilot cosmonaut as commander, and (Kamanin realizes he may have to concede) a VVS engineer as flight engineer cosmonaut. They will have to complete training by 1 October 1966.

1966 August 5 - .
  • Showdown on spacesuits - . Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Alekseyev, Semyon, Anokhin, Bushuyev, Bykovsky, Gagarin, Gorbatko, Khrunov, Komarov, Litvinov, Mishin, Nikolayev, Severin, Tsybin, Yeliseyev. Program: Soyuz. Flight: Soyuz 1, Soyuz 2A, Soyuz s/n 3/4. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-OK, Yastreb.

    At a meeting at LII MAP Zazakov, Litvinov, Mishin, Tsybin, Bushuev, Severin, Alekseyev, and Komarov spar over the hatch and spacesuit problem. Severin only agrees to modifying the ECS under immense pressure, but the modified suit will not be ready until November. Severin could not get Mishin to agree to an increased hatch diameter from Soyuz s/n 8 - Mishin will only "study the problem". An arrangement of the ECS around the waist of the cosmonaut is finally agreed. Mishin and Litvinov categorically rejected any modification of the hatch in the first production run of Soyuz.

    In turn, Factory 918 insisted on a final decision on Soyuz crews. They cannot build 16 of the custom-built spacesuits for all possible candidates for the flights (8 from VVS and 8 from OKB-1). It was therefore agreed that the commanders of the first two missions would be Komarov and Bykovsky, with Nikolayev and Gagarin as their backups. It was finally decided to assume that the other crew members would be either Khrunov and Gorbatko from the VVS, or Anokhin and Yeliseyev from OKB-1.

1971 June 15 - .

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