Credit: Yves Dejardin Collection - Yves Dejardin Collection
Status: Inactive; Active 1962-1969. Born: 1933-09-18. Birth Place: Moscow.
Graduated from Moscow Aviation Institute, 1957. Graduated from Zhukovsky-Academy, Monino, 1967. Candidate of technical sciences degree, 1974. Civilian Pilot, Academy of Sciences. Cosmonaut training April 1962 - 29 November 1962. Worked in orbital mechanics at the Gagarin Training Center. Later a research scientist at the Institute of Natural Historic Sciences.
Female cosmonauts with Korolev.
Credit: RKK Energia
On this day Kamanin and his staff interviewed 23 of the 58 female cosmonaut candidates. His first impression is that they were all unqualified. What is needed is women who are young, physically fit, and have also completed flight and parachute training of at least five to six months duration.
The group was selected to provide female astronauts for the Vostok manned spaceflight program.. Qualifications: Parachutists under 30 years of age; under 170 cm tall; under 70 kg in weight.. Cosmonaut commander Nikolai Kamanin obtained official approval to train a cadre of female cosmonauts in October 1961. The pool of Soviet female pilots being limited, potential candidates were also sought who were active sport parachutists. Five Soviet women were selected on 16 February 1962 and reported for training a month later. However the flight of a woman in space had little support from Chief Designer Korolev or Kamanin's military commanders.
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.
The only cosmonauts staying at TsPK are Komarov, Shonin, Volynov, and the five female cosmonauts. Kamanin believes the Soviet Union had every possibility of making several multi-day spaceflights in 1962, up to 8-10 days, but that this is no longer possible due to delays caused by repeated booster failures and poor leadership.
Kamanin learns that Ponomaryova and Kuznetsova spent all night in TItov's apartment at TsPK. 'Dumb girls' he intones. Kamanin travels in a Lvov bus from Area 10 to Area 2, a distance of 40 km. Driving a Volga automobile, the stretch can now be done in only thirty minutes on the newly paved road. Korolev and his engineers are hard at work. Spacecraft number 5 is already in final tests, with Spacecraft 6 one to two days behind it in the processing flow. The launches will be observed by all of the female cosmonauts and 4 to 8 of the new engineer-cosmonauts.
Attempt to launch a probe towards Mars. The launch went well, but the fourth stage motor burnt for only 45s of the planned 240s. The stage remained in Earth orbit. However Kamanin notes that it was good that the launch of the basic vehicle was a success - it gave the visiting female cosmonauts confidence in the rocket they will have to ride.
The big question regards Gagarin. Shall the 'Columbus of the Cosmos' be allowed to risk his life on another spaceflight? Most of the Soviet leadership are against it, but Gagarin himself wants to train and fly again. Later in the day the cosmonauts have an idiotic argument with IAKM on high-G centrifuge runs for female cosmonauts. This is the first cosmonaut revolt against the policies and practices of IAKM.
From August 1962 until February 21, 1963 it was planned that the next two Vostok flights (Vostok 5 and 6) would take place in March-April 1963 and be a dual female flight. Two capsules would be launched a day apart; each would remain aloft for three days. Although a final decision would only be made at the last minute, cosmonaut chief Kamanin always planned to name Tereshkova for the first flight. She was appropriately feminine and modest, and always mouthed the correct Communist party line in interviews. Ponomaryova was considered the most qualified candidate technically and emotionally for the Vostok 6 flight. However her aggressive feminism and failure to mouth Soviet catch-phrases were considered drawbacks by the male Communist stalwarts that ran the programme. This dual female flight plan was approved all the way up the Soviet hierarchy until it was killed at the last moment at a meeting of the Presidium of the Communist Party on 21 March 1963 by party ideologue Kozlov and Ministry of Defence Chief Ustinov. Only one female would be allowed to fly for propaganda purposes. A male cosmonaut (Bykovsky) was rushed into final training, delaying the dual flights for two months. Tereshkova made it into space aboard Vostok 6, following Bykovsky aboard Vostok 5. But Ponomaryova and the other female cosmonauts trained in the 1960's never flew.
Korolev reports still problems with components of the electrical system from the Kharkov factory -- the same problems that existed in 1962. The cosmonauts will go to Tyuratam on 27/28 May, with launch planned for 3/5 June. Bykovskiy is named prime for Vostok 5, with Volynov his backup. Tereshkova is named prime for Vostok 6, with Solovyova and Ponomaryeva both as her backups. This selection is however made despite strong support for Ponomaryeva as prime by Keldysh and Rudenko.
At 9 am Tereshkova, Solovyova, and Ponomaryova practice donning and doffing their space suits. Bykovskiy and Volynov prepare their ship's logs. Korolev discusses plans for tests of the cosmonaut's ability to discern objects from space. Colonel Kirillov completes preparation of the spacecraft for flight.
Joint flight with Vostok 5. First woman in space, and the only Russian woman to go into space until Svetlana Savitskaya 19 years later. On its first orbit, Vostok 6 came within about five km of Vostok 5, the closest distance achieved during the flight, and established radio contact. Flight objectives included: Comparative analysis of the effect of various space-flight factors on the male and female organisms; medico-biological research; further elaboration and improvement of spaceship systems under conditions of joint flight. It was Korolev's idea just after Gagarin's flight to put a woman into space as yet another novelty. Khrushchev made the final crew selection. Korolev was unhappy with Tereshkova's performance in orbit and she was not permitted to take manual control of the spacecraft as had been planned.
The cosmonaut weds at the TsPK cosmonaut centre, and 80 guests attend. Of the female cosmonauts, only Ponomaryova is not yet married. However the next female flight will be made no earlier than 1965-1966. Tereshkova looks tired after her tour to Southeast Asia - and she's supposed to go to Ghana on 10 January! Korolev claims that the Soyuz schedule, as laid out in the resolution of 4 December 1963, is still realistic. He will have the first Soyuz flight in August 1964 and the second and third in September 1964. Ivanovskiy doesn't believe it will be possible to make any flights until 1965. Korolev and Tsybin disccuss Shcherbakov's design for a rocket-propelled high-altitude glider. This concept was supported by the VVS, but Dementiev was against it and it was killed in the bureaucracy.
The General Staff of the VVS considers future cosmonaut assignments. The acceptance of Beregovoi into the active cosmonaut corps is hotly contested. He has passed all the tests, but is 43 years old, and the official maximum age for a cosmonaut is 35. Finally it is decided that on 25 January six cosmonauts will begin training for Vostok flights (Volynov, Khrunov, Belyayev, Leonov, Komarov, and Beregovoi). On 1 February four crews will begin training for Soyuz flights: Crew 1: Nikolayev, Shonin, Demin, Kugno; Crew 2: Bykovsky, Zaikin, Artyukhin, Gulyayev; Crew 3: Popovich, Gorbatko, Ponomaryova, Kolodin; Crew 4: Titov, Shatalov, Solovyova, Zholobov.
Kamanin would like to get going with the training of 40 additional cosmonauts from many disciplines in order to 'storm space'. Korolev is opposed. Kamanin is also trying to get new flights scheduled for his female cosmonauts. This is never mentioned in the planning of future flights. Korolev is opposed to sending any further women into space. Kamanin would like to see a two-woman Voskhod flight, or a woman making a spacewalk. Aside from Tereshkova, Ponomaryova and Solovyova are as qualified and talented as any of the male cosmonauts for such flights. Yerkina and Kuznetsova, although they have completed the course, are ruled out by weaknesses in technical areas or character, in Kamanin's opinion.
The 15 cosmonaut candidates have all 'graduated' from basic cosmonaut training. The highest scores were by Beregovoi, Shatalov, Gubarev, and Demin. Two days later they officially receive their cosmonaut rating, bringing the total contingent to 34, of which 9 have already been in space. With this contingent the Soviet Union will fly to the moon and man an orbital station. That is insufficient - Kamanin wants a 40-man second contingent. The new contingent will have to be absolutely healthy male specimens, no older than 32 years, under 175 cm in height and 75 kg in weight. Keldysh, Korolev, and Tyulin are against further female flights in space, despite Kamanin's insistence.
Kamanin visits Korolev and tells him that in an upcoming meeting between the cosmonauts and Brezhnev and Kosygin, they are going to push for the VVS to be given a leading role in the exploration of space, including the necessity to improve the cosmonaut training centre with 8 to 10 simulators for Voskhod and Soyuz spacecraft, and development within the VVS of competence in space technology. Korolev is not opposed to this, but says he doubts the VVS leadership will support acquiring the new mission. Kamanin then indicates to Korolev his proposed crews for the upcoming Voskhod missions: Volynov-Katys, Beregovoi-Demin, Shatalov-Artyukhin. Kamanin hopes that Korolev will support Volynov as the prime candidate against Marshall Rudenko's favouring of Beregovoi. Kamanin then raises the delicate issue of Korolev's unfavourable opinion of Tereshkova. After her flight, Korolev angrily said: "I never want to have anything to do with these women again". Kamanin does not believe his remarks were meant seriously, and broaches the subject of training Soloyova and Ponomaryova for a female version of Leonov's spacewalk flight. Korolev says he will seriously consider the suggestion.
Kamanin queries Vershinin on support for a female Voskhod flight. The Commander-in-Chief approves the idea, but then suddenly brings up the question of Beregovoi. There seems to be a quid pro quo here, but Kamanin says that Volynov is still the lead candidate for the next flight. Cosmonautics Day celebrations go well, with Kamanin feeling he is successful in lobbying both politicians and industry leaders on the idea of an all-female Voskhod flight with Ponomaryova and Solovyova.
Kamanin meets with Marshall Rudenko to present his cosmonaut crew plans. For the experimental gravity flight he proposes Volynov-Katys (prime crew), Beregovoi-Demin, and Shatalov-Artyukhin (back-up crew). Rudenko wants Beregovoi's as the first crew, but Kamanin, sensing the Marshall is unsure in his position, pushes for Volynov. He then presents his plan for the next Voskhod EVA mission: Solovyova and Ponomaryova as the female prime crew, Khrunov and Gorbatko, and Zaikin as the male back-up crew. Kamanin says he already has Korolev, Keldysh, and Vershinin behind this plan. But Rudenko says he will decide this later - he has to take his daughter to the hospital.
Reviewing crewing plans again, Kamanin is shocked when Korolev says he questions Ponomaryova's selection for the flight. Korolev also says he is thinking of taking the physician off the planned later flight and replacing him and the long duration environmental control system with a second manoeuvring engine, so that the Voskhod can demonstrate manoeuvring in space.
Gagarin and the rest of the male cosmonauts, as many as other VVS officers, are opposed to Kamanin's plan for a female Voskhod flight. The first cosmonaut group are also opposed to appointment of Beregovoi and Shatalov to flight crews. Tereshkova has lost 5 kg and looks ill, but all the doctors say she is healthy.
Despite opposition, Kamanin goes ahead with his plans. The 10-day duration artificial gravity flight is planned for October 1965, with Volynov and Katys as the crew. In the first half of 1966 Beregovoi and Demin will fly the long-duration mission, and Ponomaryova and Solovyova will fly an all-female spacewalk mission. However the Americans have announced they will fly a Gemini mission for a 7 to 8 day duration by the end of the year; the Soviets may have to adjust this plan to ensure that they retain the lead in manned spaceflight. Kamanin has told the female cosmonauts of their planned flight, but also warned them there is serious opposition in some quarters.
Kamanin meets with Korolev at 15:00 to discuss crew plans. As Soyuz pilot candidates, Kamanin proposes Gagarin, Nikolayev, Bykovsky, Komarov, Kolodin, Artyukhin, and Matinchenko. Korolev counters by proposing supplemental training of a supplemental group of engineer-cosmonauts from the ranks of OKB-1. He calls Anokhin, his lead test pilot, informs Korolev that there are 100 engineers working at the bureau that are potential cosmonauts candidates, of which perhaps 25 would complete the selection process. Kamanin agrees to assist OKB-1 in flight training of these engineer-cosmonauts. Kamanin again proposes Volynov and Katys as prime crew for the Voskhod 3 12-15 day flight. Korolev reveals that, even though Kamanin will have the crew ready by October, the spacecraft for the flight may not yet even be ready by November - Kamanin thinks January 1966 is more realistic. The discussion turns to the female EVA flight - Ponomaryova as pilot, Solovyova as spacewalker. It is decided that a group of 6 to 8 cosmonauts will begin dedicated training in September for lunar flyby and landing missions. Korolev advises Kamanin that metal fabrication of the N1 superbooster first article will be completed by the end of 1965. The booster will have a payload to low earth orbit of 90 tonnes, and later versions with uprated engines will reach 130 tonnes payload. Korolev foresees the payload for the first N1 tests being a handful of Soyuz spacecraft.
Belyayev and Leonov are going to an IAF congress in Greece, where they will unofficially meet Wernher von Braun and several US astronauts. Komarov is touring West Germany. Factory 918 is refusing to fabricate space suits for the female crew for the planned Voskhod EVA flight. They are categorically against the concept. It is necessary to obtain a specific order instructing them to fabricate the suits.
Tereshkova confides to Kamanin that Ponomaryova is not ready for her scheduled spaceflight. Kamanin does not believe it - he has heard it from no other cosmonauts, and he has spoken to Ponomaryova often over the years. Flight plans for 1965-1966 are reviewed. The pluses and minuses of each cosmonaut in advanced training for Voskhod flights is reviewed. The latest plan for the Voskhod-3 flight is for a 20-day flight with two cosmonauts (in an attempt to upstage the planned Gemini 7 14-day flight). This is followed by another tense phone call from Korolev, then Feoktistov complaining about inadequate VVS support for the Soyuz landing system trials at Fedosiya (no Mi-6 helicopter as promised; incorrect type of sounding rockets for atmospheric profiles; insufficient data processing capacity; inadequate motor transport). When Kamanin appeals to Finogenov on the matter, he is simply told that if "Korolev is unhappy with out facilities, let him conduct his trials elsewhere". Without the support of the VVS leadership, it is up to Kamanin to try to improve the situation using only his own cajoling and contacts.
Tyulin advises Kamanin, that due to the time needed to qualify the environmental control system, Voskhod 3 will fly no earlier than the beginning of March. He still expresses interest in the female Voskhod flight - now a long-duration flight without the spacewalk. Kamanin says that Ponomaryova and Solovyova are fully qualified for such a flight, but that he has no female backup crew, since Yerkina and Kuznetsova have not been trained for that.
Korolev dies at age 59 during what was expected to be routine colon surgery in Moscow. The day began for Kamanin with firm plans finally in place for the next three Voskhod and first three Soyuz flights. Volynov and Shonin will be the crew for the first Voskhod flight, with Beregovoi and Shatalov as their back-ups. That will be followed by a female flight of 15-20 days, with the crew begin Ponomaryova and Solovyova, with their back-ups Sergeychik (nee Yerkina) and Pitskhelaura (nee Kuznetsova). Tereshkova will command the female training group. Training is to be completed by March 15. After this Kamanin goes to his dacha, only to be called by General Kuznetsov around 19:00, informing him that Korolev has died during surgery.
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.
Tyulin and Mozzhorin review with Kamanin crewing plans. Even though the missions of Voskhod 4 and 5 are not yet clear, Tyulin wants to settle on Beregovoi and Katys for Voskhod 4, and Ponomaryova and Solovyova for Voskhod 5. Since October 1965 six crews have been in training for Soyuz flights: Gagarin -Voronov, Nikolayev-Gorbatko, Bykovsky-Matinchenko, Komarov-Kolodin, Zaikin-Khrunov, and Popovich-Artyukhin. But these are just nominal groupings, and firm crew assignments by mission have not yet been made.
Nikolayev, Leonov, Popovich, Bykovsky, Khrunov, Gorbatko, Zaikin, Volynov, and Shonin all receive their diplomas from the Zhukovskiy Test Pilot Engineering Academy. Khrunov graduates with honours. All of them began training for a lunar landing on January 8. Titov and Gagarin will complete their studies for the diploma in May. Ponomareva and Solovyova willl graduate in the second half of 1968, leaving only Tereshkova, Kuznetsova, and Yerkina. Tereshkova has had her appendix removed in surgery at the Vishevskiy Centre. The surgery went well.
Meeting of Kamanin with S G Donevskiy. The L3 trainer will not be finished until May 1970 - and the current schedule for the first manned L3 launch is December 1970! But in any case Kamanin assesses the latter date as unrealistic -- there is no rocket or spacecraft in being yet. Later in the day Efimov, Moroz, and Kamanin meet with the female cosmonauts - Ponomaryova, Solovyova, Yerkina, and Kuznetsova. They advise them that despite the letter to the Central Committee asking for an all-female Soyuz flight, it has been rejected. Ustinov, Smirnov, and Pashkov are all opposed to the idea, as are MOM, MAP, AN, and VVS. Kamanin believes the whole female cosmonaut concept was a mistake. Flying Tereshkova in the first place started the whole thing, but now there is no follow-up.