Vostok commu system
Vostok communications systems schematic
Credit: © Mark Wade
In late 1959 the Moscow evening newspaper showed a photograph of a comrade Mikhailov testing high altitude equipment. Readers Digest in April 1965 ran the story of sensational radio intercepts of the Judica-Cordiglia brothers at Torre Bert, Italy. Among these were what they said were the racing heart beat recorded in 2-4 February 1962. Sven Grahn notes that this recording bears no similarity to actual Russian cardiogram telemetry. This recording has come to be associated with a failed flight with Mikhailov aboard.
The story was embellished further by flying saucer book author Frank Edwards in one of his mass-market Strange World paperback in the early 1960's. Edwards claimed that on February 17, 1961, two cosmonauts aboard a "Lunik" spacecraft were launched from Baikonur. Their original mission, according to rumor, was a circumlunar flight. However, the spacecraft remained in earth orbit, unable to return normally. The two cosmonauts included a man and woman who frequently radioed back, "Everything satisfactory. We are maintaining the prescribed altitude."
On February 24, 1961, about 8 pm Moscow time, a last few strange verbal reports came back, in which the couple made reference to something they could see outside their spacecraft that they felt they had to tell the world about--but the signals were lost right after that. The fate of the cosmonauts remained a mystery according to Mr. Edwards.
Kamanin describes Korolev. He is unable to make a decision about the man's true nature. Everyone is excited about the new seven-year plan, approved on 23 January 1960 in decree 711-296, which authorises design work to start on the N1 superbooster. In the immediate future, Vostok 3KA flights are planned every 8 to 10 days beginning 22 February until the first manned flight is achieved. The first flights will use mannequins to test the cosmonaut ejection seat. A manned flight will be attempted after two consecutive successful mannequin flights.
In the West, the failed Venera 4 launch is being analysed as an attempted manned flight. Some Italians claim to have picked up voices on radio from the satellite. Kamanin describes all of this as unfounded speculation -- the Soviet Union will not risk a man's life until two fully successful mannequin flights demonstrate safe recovery.