AKA: Kedr (Cedar). Launched: 1961-04-12. Returned: 1961-04-12. Number crew: 1 . Duration: 0.0750 days. Location: RKK Energia Museum, Korolev, Russia..
11 April 1961 was a 'reserve' day in the launch plan, but it was not needed. All the Chief Designers and Military Space chiefs were at the cosmodrome. Gagarin spent that day in meetings with the prominent personalities.
Three press releases were prepared, one for success, two for failures. It was only known ten minutes after burnout, 25 minutes after launch, if a stable orbit had been achieved.
The payload included life-support equipment and radio and television to relay information on the condition of the pilot. The flight was automated; Gagarin's controls were locked to prevent him from taking control of the ship. A key was available in a sealed envelope in case it became necessary to take control in an emergency. After retrofire, the service module remained attached to the Sharik reentry sphere by a wire bundle. The joined craft went through wild gyrations at the beginning of reentry, before the wires burned through. The Sharik, as it was designed to do, then naturally reached aerodynamic equilibrium with the reentry shield positioned correctly.
Gagarin ejected after reentry and descended under his own parachute, as was planned. However for many years the Soviet Union denied this, because the flight would not have been recognized for various FAI world records unless the pilot had accompanied his craft to a landing. Recovered April 12, 1961 8:05 GMT. Landed Southwest of Engels Smelovka, Saratov.
|Vostok 1 Capsule|
Vostok 1 Capsule after landing.
Credit: RKK Energia
Gagarin with Korolev before flight.
Credit: RKK Energia
|Vostok 1 - Korolev|
Korolev during Vostok 1 flight.
Credit: RKK Energia
The Examination Commission consists of members from the VVS Air Force , AN Academy of Science, industry, and LII Flight Test Institute. The sessions are filmed. Each cosmonaut sits in a Vostok mock-up for 40 to 50 minutes and describes the equipment and the operations to be conducted in each phase of flight. Special emphasis is given in the examiners' questions on orientation of the spacecraft for manual retrofire and egress on land or water. For this phase, Gagarin, Titov, Nikolayev, and Popovich are rated 'outstanding' and Nelyubov and Bykovsky 'good'.
The essay portion of the written examination consists of three questions, with the essay replies to be written out in 20 minutes. After handing in the essay, each cosmonaut is given three to five multiple choice questions. All six pass and are rated as ready to fly the Vostok 3KA. But which of the six is best suited to be the first man in space (at least publicly - one Vostok flight in 1960 would have resulted in the death of the cosmonaut). Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov are in the top echelon. Nikolayev is the quietest of the six. Bykovsky is less so, especially in internal meetings, but he says nothing important and doesn't contribute anything substantial. Popovich is a puzzle, his behaviour perhaps influenced by secret family problems.
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.
Korolev says the Venera flight continues normally. He and Keldysh will fly to Yevpatoriya tomorrow to review long-range communications with the spacecraft. After the launch he and Keldysh talked to Khrushchev, who was very happy with the success. Meanwhile, the Vostok for the next flight attempt has arrived at Tyuratam. Launch is set for 24-25 February.
Korolev gives a briefing to Vershinin and other military leaders at OKB-1 laying out his proposed plans for space in the next two to three years. He pushes for VVS to purchase 10 to 15 Vostok-1 or Vostok-3A spacecraft for a sustained manned flight series. The next Vostok flight is now delayed to 27-28 February. He reviews the two Vostok-1 flights to date. The first successfully orbited and recovered the dogs Strelka and Belka, the second failed to reach orbit, but the capsule successfully landed 3500 km downrange near Yakut in the Tura region, after reaching an altitude of 214 km. The dogs survived a 20-G re-entry and hard landing in the capsule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keldysh, Korolev, Sokolov, Glushko, Bogomolov hear testimony from Kosberg on the causes of the RO-7 engine failure on the 22 December 1960 launch, that resulted in the suborbital flight of the Vostok capsule with a landing in Tura. The causes are not completely understood, but the bottom line is that a fuel line must have leaked. Further testimony is offered on the booster trajectory, landing time at various points along the trajectory, tracking station readiness, communications lessons, and recovery efforts. The communications are clearly unreliable. The radius of the HF radio is 5000 km, and 1500 km for UHF. TsP Moscow and PU Tyuratam, plus Novosibirsk, Kolpachev, Khabarovsk, and Yelizov (Kamchatka) all have HF and UHF transceivers. But due to practical reception problems, only UHF communications were available at Tyuratam, Kolpachev, and Yelizov, and only HF at Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk. It is recommended that each IP tracking station should have a Chief Communications Officer, a cosmonaut to act as capsule communicator, a physician, and a representative from the Ministry of Communications to assure action on problems.
Carried dog Chernushka, mannequin Ivan Ivanovich, and other biological specimens. Ivanovich was ejected from the capsule and recovered by parachute, and Chernsuhka was successfully recovered with the capsule on March 9, 1961 8:10 GMT.
Officially: Development of the design of the space ship satellite and of the systems on board, which ensure necessary conditions for man's flight. Additional Details: here....
Kamanin spend the night in a new hotel with much-appreciated electrical heating. At 11 am they fly to Moscow with Chernushka, the small living specimens, and the mannequin. The flight was a complete victory - all is now ready for the first manned flight into space.
Vershinin formalises two decrees - one to supply a Tu-104 to TsPK for cosmonaut zero-G training, the other for two Il-14's with HF transponders for long-range communications. Two further questions are discussed - should the cosmonauts be given the code for unlocking the manual orientation system of the spacecraft? It is decided they will be. And when will the flight be announced? Kamanin's position is that should happen as soon as the spacecraft safely reaches orbit, the others only want to make the first manned flight public after landing. It is decided to refer the matter for decision at the General Staff level.
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.
The VVS contingent departs for Tyuratam in three Il-14's. The two with cosmonauts aboard stop at Kuibyshev to give the pilots a look at the recovery zone. Aboard the first aircraft are Kamanin, Gagarin, Nelyubov, and Popovich. Aboard the other are Titov, Bykovsky, and Nikolayev. At the VVS Sanatorium at Privolzhskiy on the Volga the cosmonauts relax, and play ping-pong, chess, and billiards. The cosmonauts, Kamanin, Yazdovskiy, and Karpov sleep together in a single large room. Kamanin finds it a lively group; only Gagarin is pale and quieter than the others. On 7 March his wife had their second daughter and only yesterday he brought them back from the hospital. It was tough on him to then have to leave them on his dangerous secret mission - to be the first man into space.
The cosmonauts play chess and cards on the flight to Tyuratam. At the airfield, Korolev, Keldysh, and five film cameramen await the cosmonauts. Korolev and Keldysh warmly greet the cosmonauts, but categorically refuse to be filmed. Korolev asks each cosmonaut one or two technical questions. All are correctly answered. Korolev says he wants to ensure that each one of them is 'ready to fly today'. As of now, six Vostoks have been launched, of which four reached orbit, and two landed successfully (one of these albeit after an emergency separation from the third stage on a suborbital trajectory). Two have been unsuccessful, including one on-pad failure on 28 July 1960. Two hours after arrival the cosmonauts go to the MIK assembly hall to familiarise themselves with the launch vehicle and spacecraft. At 14:00 Kamanin meets with the cosmonauts to review the 'Cosmonaut's Manual'. They make several suggestions. They do not feel it is necessary to loosen the parachute harness during the one-orbit flight. They note that the gloves are tried on only 15 minutes before the launch, and not on the closing of the hatch as indicated by Alekseyev. They recommend that a shortened version of the manual should be on board the spacecraft for use in case of a manual re-entry. Communications will be mainly using the laryngeal microphone Incidents will be recorded in the ship's log. The cosmonauts should be able to manually activate the reserve parachute. Kamanin agrees with the latter, but there is no time to change it for the first flight.
The launch has been delayed to 24-25 March due to problems with L I Gusev's radio system aboard the spacecraft. A meeting of the cosmonauts at 10:00 reviews landing contingency plans that will bring the capsule down on the territory of the USSR. The best chances for such a landing are on orbits 1, 2, and 16, but it is also possible on orbits 4, 5, 6, and 7. A map will be aboard the capsule to show where and when to ignite the TDU retrorocket for each landing opportunity. Feoktistov was a great help in developing this visual aid. For about an hour Kamanin, Korolev, Yazdovskiy, Karpov, and Azbiyevich discuss long-range plans. Korolev is interested in the VVS position that they should be responsible for all military space activities. The reconnaissance satellite version of Vostok is discussed. Korolev says he plans to send a cosmonaut to the moon by 1965.
Afterwards the cosmonauts develop the radio communications plan for the flight. During the 710-second ascent to orbit, and after landing, they are to use the UHF radio. The HF and UHF radios can be used from orbit, but only over the USSR. Plans for filming the cosmonaut in flight are also discussed.
The cosmonauts practice donning the suits and adjusting the regulators. Kamanin muses on the need to convince the VVS leadership to support the TTZ for a new manned spacecraft, on the way to better organize the IP tracking stations, and how to obtain a leading role for the VVS in development of reconnaissance satellites. Otherwise, he believes the Russians will lose the space race to the Americans, who are launching 3 to 4 times more satellites. He notes that 22 Discoverers have been launched to develop an American reconnaissance satellite, and he comments on the Echo-1 passive communications balloon. The Americans are pushing to match the Soviet Union in launch vehicles and already surpass them in electronics, communications, and telemetry. Kamanin notes that communications with Venera 1 were lost when it was only 2 million kilometres from earth, while the US has already demonstrated communications with satellites out to 37 million kilometres. He admires the way the Americans have concentrated all of their efforts in one civilian space organization, with full-time managers for the effort. By comparison, the Soviets only have part-time managers, such as Ustinov, Rudnev, and so on. After the suit exercise the cosmonauts play chess and cards, but again Gagarin does not take part, and is deep in silent thought.
It is a beautiful day. The cosmonauts discuss contingencies in case of a water landing. In fact their chances are slim. There are only two Soviet ships equipped with HF and UHF direction-finding equipment that could locate them. The NAZ ejection seat is not designed to float, and the spherical re-entry capsule is no better. Therefore the only option is a landing on the territory of the Soviet Union. In the evening Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov practice at the MIK - donning their suits, landing in the spacecraft cabin if that is necessary, getting out of the suit, communications operations, and so on. They are able to get the suit on in 20 minutes, and get it off in 15 minutes. Many space centre workers come to watch the exercises.
Between 10:00 and 12:00 Chief Designer of Launch Facilities Barmin meets with the cosmonauts. He reviews the launch mechanism. The rocket is suspended at the 'shoulders' of the strap-ons, on four swivelled supports. After the rocket has lifted 49 mm, it is free from these, and counterweights weighing dozens of tonnes will swing them back and away from the rising booster. At 12:00 Kamanin meets with Keldysh and Korolev. They agree with his position that the flight be announced as soon as the cosmonaut is safely in orbit.
At Tyuratam in the morning, LII engineers brief the cosmonauts on correcting the Globus instrument in flight, which indicates their position over the earth. Korolev checks in for a few minutes to make sure the cosmonauts have everything they need. In the evening the news of the death of cosmonaut Bondarenko reaches the cosmodrome. He died on the tenth day of a 15-day endurance experiment in a pressure chamber at IAKM when a fire broke out in the pure-oxygen cabin. Kamanin blames his death on IAKM's poor organisation and control of the experiment.
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.
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.
Carried dog Zvezdochka and mannequin Ivan Ivanovich. Ivanovich was again ejected from the capsule and recovered by parachute, and Zvezdochka was successfully recovered with the capsule on March 25, 1961 7:40 GMT.
Officially: Development of the design of the space ship satellite and of the systems on board, designed to ensure man's life functions during flight in outer space and return to Earth. Additional Details: here....
The capsule was recovered 45 km southeast of Votinsk. The mannequin was ejected successfully from the aircraft, the dog Zvezdochka was fine, and was displayed to journalists all day. Therefore all is ready for a manned flight. The cosmonauts agree: 'Everything is finished, we can fly'. All is ready for a one-orbit flight with recovery in the USSR, but Kamanin still worries about the lack of any realistic plan in emergency situations. The environmental control system has still not completed endurance tests, and won't be able to keep the cosmonaut alive for the ten to twelve days it would take the spacecraft to decay from orbit if the retrorocket fails. Trials with the hot mock-up of the ECS in the capsule have still not been successful. Furthermore, a recovery at sea is not practical.
The pace quickens leading to the first human spaceflight. Kamanin coordinates matters with Korolev and Voronin, and then discusses the ECS problems and cosmonaut landing issues with Dementiev. Plans are made for a meeting with Ustinov and Kozlov. In the evening a meeting of the General Staff is held. Decisions made: 1) Announce the name of the cosmonaut as soon as he is in orbit; 2) improve VVS support (aircraft, helicopters) needed to pick up the cosmonaut immediately after landing; 3) issue a formal letter to Moskalenko on rules for filming of the cosmonaut at the launch site; 4) organise an examination of the 11 cosmonauts not in the group of six now being prepared for flights.
The meeting is held at G T Voronin's OKB-124 at the 'Daks' factory. All of the program bigwigs are there (Korolev, Keldysh, etc). The big issue is the problem with the oxygen regenerator. On the 10 day trial 4 litres of lithium chloride were consumed, but the test was unsuccessful. A new solution of chlorine-lithium is proposed. But this is dangerous - the doctors are worried that if it gets into the cosmonauts body, it will poison him. A sharp discussion ensues, but the final decision is to try a five day trial with lithium chloride. At 12:00 the commission proceeds to Dementiev's GKAT. The tests of the Vostok recovery system are reviewed. There were to have been two to four ejection seat tests from Il-28 bombers, tests, plus tests at sea at Fedosiya of the NAZ ejection seat and the characteristics of the parachute underwater. The discussion turns again to the five-day ECS cabin test. It is decided to keep the faulty gas analyser, but not to connect it to the telemetry - the readings will be read with a television camera instead. There is a clear political aspect in the argument between the VVS design bureau and the institute over the performance of the ECS system. Lieutenant-General Kolkov orders yet another examination of the cosmonauts.
The commission meets from 16:00 to 18:00 to assess readiness for launch. Korolev says he is ready to launch a man, following the two consecutive successful mannequin flights. Who will be selected to be the first man in space? The commission discusses the issue at some length. Afterwards, Kamanin meets with Ustinov at 18:30 and shows him a picture album of photographs taken from Vostok on the March 9 and 25 test flights. One taken over Turkey clearly shows the city of Alexandretta and the concrete runways of the airfields, demonstrating the military potential of the system. All is ready for the flight. The Central Committee of the Communist Party has issued a decree that the first man be launched into space between 10 and 20 April 1961. Three variant press releases are prepared, for 1) attainment of a successful orbit; 2) after a successful landing; and 3) in the event of an emergency landing with a request for international assistance in recovery and return of the cosmonaut. The consensus is that the APO destruct system used in the unmanned test flights will be deleted for the manned flight. Only Ivashutin is against this. Two successful ejection tests from an Il-28 bomber were reported from LII, finally completing a key milestone required for the flight.
An air fleet has been assigned for the first manned flight. Aircraft that will be deployed with UHF direction finders include 20 Il-14, 3 An-12, 2 Tu-95, 10 Mi-4, and 3 Mi-6. Two Il-14 with HF direction finders will be deployed to Kuibyshev and Sverdlovsk.
The VVS leadership has been diverted for the last three days in meetings of the General Staff of the Warsaw Pact. At 09:00 Kamanin takes a break to prepare two letters. One goes to the Ministry of Defence, certifying readiness for the launch of Vostok 1 on 10-20 April; the other goes to Zakharov on the General Staff, turning over all in-flight photographs to the VVS. Vershsinin pages through Kamanin's photo album of earth photographs taken during the unmanned Vostok test flights. They show the precise orbital orientation of the spacecraft. He says he will show these to Grechko and Malinovskiy, trying to convince them of the usefulness of manned spaceflight. Kamain calls Korolev and advises him that Voronin is ready. Korolev says that he plans to put wood wool into the cabin to absorb any excess lithium chloride.
Trials of the NAZ ejection seat at sea with the underwater drag chute trials were unsuccessful. The NAZ is simply not seaworthy. The antenna remained submerged in all tests, making communications impossible. The five-day test of the ECS was also unsuccessful. The lithium chloride was used up at the end of four days. Kamanin believes that Voronin is a poor manager, and that a completely new solution to the Vostok life support system will be needed after the first flight.
The eleven cosmonauts not short-listed for early spaceflights are given a new screening examination. However only Khrunov and Komarov are interviewed before an urgent phone call is received from the General Staff: report at 13:00 with Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov, then proceed to a Communist Party meeting at 15:00 for the first flight decision. All concerned again confirm readiness for flight, and again Kamanin passes around his photo album, showing the Vostok's potential for military photoreconnaissance. Kamanin briefs the cosmonauts afterwards on the results of the NAZ ejection seat tests. There have been three successful ejections from the Il-28 aircraft, plus ejections from the re-entry capsule on the ground and from an altitude of 5 km. All tests were successful. The cosmonauts are aware of the remaining problems with the capsule but are confident it is safe for a one-orbit flight. Gagarin says that Parachutist Colonel Nikolai Konstantinovich Nikitin, their instructor, should inspect the cosmonaut's parachute at the pad. The cosmonauts have confidence in him, but he has made problems over the tests at Fedosiya. At 16:00 Korolev calls. The Central Committee has approved the flight. He leaves for Tyuratam for final launch preparations. The cosmonauts' confirmation of readiness for flight was recorded and played back to the committee. The resulitng decree 'On approval for launch of Vostok' provided the final authority to proceed with the first manned spaceflight.
They also, on the basis of the recent examinations and interviews, clear the rest of the cosmonaut trainees for flight except for Rafikov, Filatev, and Zaikin, who passed the examinations but had not yet completed all the tests and training. Moskalenko has given approval for a Soviet film team to go to Tyuratam and film preparations for the flight. At the Presidium meeting Khrushchev had questioned what would be done if the cosmonaut reacted poorly in the first minute of the flight. Korolev answered in his deep voice: 'Cosmonaut are extraordinarily trained, they know the spacecraft and flight conditions better than I and we are confident of their strength'. The flight is still seen as very risky - of seven Vostoks flown unmanned so far, five made it to orbit, three landed safely, but one did not. On the other hand, both recent Venera launch attempts reached low earth orbit.
Kamanin departs for the airport in the morning after a good breakfast. There was a fresh snowfall overnight, and Moscow looks beautiful. Three Il-14's wait to shuttle the six cosmonauts and other VVS staff to the launch centre. Gagarin and Nelyubov will fly in Kamanin's aircraft, and Titov and the others in General Goreglyad's. The third aircraft will carry the physicians and film team. The aircraft depart at fifteen-minute intervals, and the entire flight is in beautiful weather. Kamanin's Il-14 lands at Tyuratam at 14:30. Korolev, Gallay, and officers of the staff of the cosmodrome are there to greet them. Korolev requests additional last-minute training for the cosmonauts in manual landing of the spacecraft, suit donning, and communications, but Kamanin refuses. He sees no reason for any training not already agreed in the official plan. Korolev says rollout of the booster is planned for 8 April, followed by launch on 10 or 11 April. Everyone wants to know first - Gagarin or Titov? But Kamanin has not made a final decision yet. Gagarin shows hesitancy in accepting the automatic parachute deployment on the first flight, and only reluctantly agrees to the compromise solution. Titov is a stronger character, better able to hold up during a long duration mission, such as the one-day flight planned for the second mission. But the first into space will be the object of all of the attention from the news media and public. There is not a day that goes by that Kamanin does not think through the issue, without reaching a final conclusion. In the evening the cosmonauts go to the theatre, but the projectionist refuses to run the planned movie on orders of the base commander.
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.
At Area 2 the cosmonauts conduct three hours of training on manual landing, and activities after landing. All three accomplish the manual landing well. Then they have three hours of badminton for physical conditioning. Both Gagarin and Titov like the game, and they are filmed for posterity. In the evening Rudnev discusses adding a night shift in order to achieve launch on 11 to 12 April. Afterwards Vershinin is briefed, and told all is normal, heading for an 11/12 April launch. Vershinin replies that the Americans are planning to launch their first man into space on 28 April. Kamanin is confident, there will be no difficulty in beating them. He notes the Americans launched a Mercury capsule on 24 March, but there was an abort and the capsule sank in the Atlantic. In the evening the movies are 'Careful, Babushka' and 'Vostok-1'. Kamanin finds the film on the mission good. General Moskalenko calls - he wants a meeting with the cosmonauts on launch day. Kamanin is not opposed, but he needs to know a specific time - it will be a busy morning before the launch
Rudnev chairs the meeting, in which Kamanin recommends that Gagarin pilot the first manned spaceflight, with Titov as backup. A discussion follows on whether to have a representative from the FAI at the launch in order to obtain registration of the world record. Marshal Moskalenko and Keldysh are opposed - they don't want anyone from outside at the secret cosmodrome. It is decided to enclose the code to unlock the controls of the spacecraft in a special packet. Gagarin will have to break it open in order to get the code that will allow him to override the automatic system and orient the spacecraft manually for re-entry. An emergency ejection during ascent to orbit is discussed. It is decided that only Korolev or Kamanin will be allowed to manually command an ejection in the first 40 seconds of flight. After that, the process will be automatic. There is embarrassment when Moskalenko confronts Yazdovskiy: 'so why are you here, when you're a veterinarian and only handle dogs?' Kamanin has to explain that Yazdovskiy is actually a medical doctor. After the meeting, Kamanin reviews Titov's training in the spacecraft, which has gone well.
It is a pleasant spring day at Area 10. The cosmonauts play sports, games, and chess. Rudnev and Moskalaneko think the launch will not realistically happen until 14-15 April. Kamanin informs Gagarin and Titov of the selection of Gagarin to be the first man in space.
Kamanin plays badminton with Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov, winning 16 to 5. At 12:00 a meeting is held with the cosmonauts at the Syr Darya River. Rudnev, Moskalenko, and Korolev informally discuss plans with Gagarin, Titov, Nelyubov, Popovich, Nikolayev, and Bykovsky. Korolev addresses the group, saying that it is only four years since the Soviet Union put the first satellite into orbit, and here they are about to put a man into space. The six cosmonauts here are all ready and qualified for the first flight. Although Gagarin has been selected for this flight, the others will follow soon - in this year production of ten Vostok spacecraft will be completed, and in future years it will be replaced by the two or three-place Sever spacecraft. The place of these cosmonauts here does not indicate the completion of our work, says Korolev, but rather the beginning of a long line of Soviet spacecraft. Korolev predicts that the flight will be completed safely, and he wishes Yuri Alekseyevich success. Kamanin and Moskalenko follow with their speeches. In the evening the final State Commission meeting is held. Launch is set for 12 April and the selection of Gagarin for the flight is ratified. The proceedings are recorded for posterity on film and tape.
The booster is rolled out to the pad at 05:00. At 10:00 the cosmonauts meet with Feoktistov for a last review of the flight plan. Launch is set of 09:07 the next day, followed by shutdown and jettison of the lateral boosters of the first stage at 09:09, and orbital insertion at 09:18. The spacecraft will orient itself toward the sun for retrofire at 09:50. At 10:15 the first command sequence will be uploaded to the spacecraft, followed by the second at 10:18 and the third at 10:25. Retrofire of the TDU engine will commence at 10:25:47. The service module will separate from the capsule at 10:36 as the capsule begins re-entry. The capsule's parachute will deploy at 10:43:43 and at 10:44:12 the cosmonaut's ejection seat will fire. While the cosmonauts go through this, the booster has been brought upright on the pad, the service towers raised, and all umbilical connections made. Korolev, Yazdovskiy, and the others make a final inspection at the pad prior to the commencement of the countdown. At 13:00 Gagarin meets a group of soldiers, NCO's, and officers. After this Kamanin and the cosmonauts go to the cottage formerly occupied by Marshal Nedelin, where they will spend the last night before launch. They eat 'space food' out of 160 g toothpaste-type tubes for lunch - two servings of meat puree and one of chocolate sauce. Gagarin's blood pressure is measured as 115/60, pulse 64, body temperature 36.8 deg C. He then subjects to placement of the biosensors he will wear during the flight, and baseline measurements are taken for an hour and twenty minutes. He is very calm through all this. At 21:30 Korolev comes to the cottage, says good night to the cosmonauts, then goes back out to check on launch preparations. Gagarin and Titov go to bed after this. Kamanin stays up a while in the next room, listening to them talk to one another in the dark.
First manned spaceflight, one orbit of the earth. Three press releases were prepared, one for success, two for failures. It was only known ten minutes after burnout, 25 minutes after launch, if a stable orbit had been achieved.
The payload included life-support equipment and radio and television to relay information on the condition of the pilot. The flight was automated; Gagarin's controls were locked to prevent him from taking control of the ship. The combination to unlock the controls was available in a sealed envelope in case it became necessary to take control in an emergency. After retrofire, the service module remained attached to the Sharik reentry sphere by a wire bundle. The joined craft went through wild gyrations at the beginning of re-entry, before the wires burned through. The Sharik, as it was designed to do, then naturally reached aerodynamic equilibrium with the heat shield positioned correctly.
Gagarin ejected after re-entry and descended under his own parachute, as was planned. However for many years the Soviet Union denied this, because the flight would not have been recognized for various FAI world records unless the pilot had accompanied his craft to a landing. Recovered April 12, 1961 8:05 GMT. Landed Southwest of Engels Smelovka, Saratov. Additional Details: here....
The commission meets from 09:30 to 12:00, making the official interview of Gagarin on his flight. There are unending questions. Afterwards Gagarin fields more questions by phone from the press. In the second half of the day he is readied for the return to Moscow. He has to make a half-hour speech to Khrushchev, but he hurries through the prepared text. Two or three trainers had noted this impatience of his, but Kamanin had already decided before the flight that Gagarin had the makings of a good orator. In the evening Brezhnev calls twice, and Vershinin several more times, coordinating things for Gagarin's return to Moscow. Bad weather is predicted for the next day and it is decided that Gagarin's airplane will arrive at Vnukovo. Gagarin is to exit the aircraft and walk alone to the reviewing stand. For this performance he is measured for a new uniform and great coat. He rehearses the speech twice, with Kamanin playing the part of Khrushchev in posing impromptu questions.
Everyone is up at the dacha on the Volga at 06:00 and are ready to leave shortly thereafter. Now the weather in Moscow is expected to be fine. At 10:40 an Il-18 takes off for Moscow with Gagarin's party. This consists of Gagarin, Agaltsov, Rytov, Yazdovskiy, several correspondents, and some film operators. 50 km from Moscow seven fighters intercept the transport and form up as an escort, two off each wing, and three trailing. Gagarin calls them on the radio 'Brother fighter pilots - I send you greetings - Yuri Gagarin!' The aircraft formation flies down Lenin Prospekt, Red Square, and then up Gorkiy Street to Vnukovo. There are masses of people everywhere below. At exactly 15:00 the aircraft shuts down its engines 100 m from the reviewing stands. Yuri exits the aircraft and steps into history....
He checks into the Central Aviation Hospital for five to six days of intensive physical tests and observation. Denisovo and Borzenko from Pravda interview him during this period for the book that is to be issued. Kamanin has been named as the editor for the work.
Kamanin is having to take a lot of time preparing the paperwork for awards and promotions to be made as a result of Gagarin's flight. Of 500 VVS staff connected with the flight, 200 are to receive recognition of one kind or another. In the evening the VVS Military Soviet convenes to take testimony on the death of cosmonaut Bondarenko. It is found there were serious defects in the organization of the tests conducted at IAKM.
Malinovskiy, head of the VVS Miliatry Soviet, and his wife and daughter throw a reception for the cosmonauts and their wives. The party goes from 18:00 to 24:00 and passes without incident, but Kamanin found the guests' attempts to convince Malinovskiy to support military space projects were unproductive. He just doesn't get it.