Graduated from Sverdlovsk Polytechnic Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering, 1959. Graduated from Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy, Monino, 1967. Candidate of psychological sciences degree, 1980. Civilian Parachutist. Cosmonaut training from April 1962 - 29 November 1962. Member of an all-female Antarctic Expedition, February 1988. Colonel, Soviet Air Force, Retired.
Birth Place: Kireyevsk, Tula.
In May 1962 a Soviet delegation, including cosmonaut Gherman Titov and Kamanin, visited Washington. On May 3 Kamanin and Titov were invited to a barbecue at the home of astronaut John Glenn. Glenn, already politically-connected, was an enthusiastic supporter of the 'Mercury 13' - female pilots who had passed the astronaut physical and were lobbying to be trained as Mercury astronauts. Kamanin understood from Glenn that the first American woman would make a three-orbit Mercury flight by the end of 1962. Armed with the threat that 'the Americans will beat us', Kamanin was able to obtain a decision to go ahead with the first flight of a Soviet woman within weeks of his return.
Meanwhile the five female cosmonaut were going through the complete course of cosmonaut training, including weightless flights, parachute jumps, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, and academic studies of rocket theory and spacecraft engineering. The women undertook 120 parachute jumps and received pilot training in MiG-15UTI jet trainers.
Even though NASA's female astronaut flight never materialised, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. Following her flight the women were enrolled in the arduous test pilot course at the Zhukovskiy Academy (except Ponomareva, who was a graduate engineer from the Moscow Aviation Institute). There were plans for all-female Vostok or Soyuz flights, but these never materialised. The female training group was disbanded in October 1969. The Soviet Union used only male cosmonauts until the 1980's, when women were again recruited, in order to again have a Soviet woman in space before the Americans finally began flying female astronauts on the space shuttle.
Kamanin does not minimise Korolev's key role in creating the Soviet space program, but believes the collectives can continue the program without him. In truth, Kamanin feels Korolev has made many errors of judgment in the last three years that have hurt the program. Mishin, Korolev's first deputy, will take over management of Korolev's projects. Kamanin feels that Mishin is a clever and cultured engineer, but he is no Korolev. Over the next three days the cosmonauts console Korolev's widow.
Korolev's surgery was done personally by Petrovskiy, the Minister of Health. Korolev was told the surgery would take only a few minutes, but after five hours on the operating table, his body could no longer endure the insult, and he passed away.