The Space Race: Vostok (1960-65)

Space Race Vostok
Figure 1.--This 1961 photograph shows Soviet Young Pioneers reading an incription on a memorial stone, "Here will be built a monument in honor of landing a spaceship "Vostok-2", piloted by German Titiov".

Vostok was the first manned space craft and the workhorse of the Soviet space program. It was the producgt of a team of scientists and engineers led by the Soviet Union's pioneer aerospace engineer, Segei P. Korolev. The Vostok 1K was the prototype used for six unmanned test missions (1960). Vostok 3KA was used by Yuri Gargaran for the first manned trip into space and the first earth orbit (1961). Soviet Air Force Lieutenant Yuri A. Gagarin become the first man in space when his Vostok spacecraft (Swallow) was launched into space by the massive SS-6 Sapwood ICBM (April 12, 196). Gargarin and Shallow made one Earth orbit and 108 minutes after launching he returned to Earth, landing near the village of Smelovaka. The design of Vostock proved so effective that derivatives were still being used by the Soviets and then the Russians more than 30 years later for various purposes, including military photo-reconnaisance, earth resources, mapping, and biosat missions. Vostok 3KV was also known as Voskhod (1964) This was an adaptation of the basic Vostok spacecraft to conduct three-man flight before the American Gemini program. Vostok 3KD was also known as Voskhod (1965). It was a the Vostok modified by adding aninflatable airlock so cosmonautd could carry out spacewalks. The Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft proved be reliable spacecraft. They had, however, serious limitations. Vostok like the American Mercury capsule could not maneuver in orbit. Once injected into an earth orbig they only had the capability of ending the otbit. They essentially could only move into a fixed axis. Once the mission was completed the the main engine could be used to slow down or brake the space craft and reenter the earth atmosphere. Vostock had only very basic instrumentation. Voistok did not have the instrumentation that appeared in American spacecraft, especially Gemini. There was no gyros or eight-ball used for maneuvring. Vostock reentries were done automatically by ground radio command.

Designers

Vostok was the first manned space craft and the workhorse of the Soviet space program. It was the producgt of a team of scientists and engineers led by the Soviet Union's pioneer aerospace engineer, Segei P. Korolev. The design of Vostock proved so effective that derivatives were still being used by the Soviets and then the Russians more than 30 years later for various purposes, including military photo-reconnaisance, earth resources, mapping, and biosat missions.

Vostok 1k (1960)

The Vostok 1K was the prototype used for six unmanned test missions (1960).

Vostok 3KA (1961)

Most of the initial firsts in space were achieved by the Soviet Union. The Soviets launched the first satellite. They also put the firt man in space. Vostok 3KA was used by Yuri Gargaran for the first manned trip into space and the first earth orbit (1961). Soviet Air Force Lieutenant Yuri A. Gagarin become the first man in space when his Vostok spacecraft (Swallow) was launched into space by the massive SS-6 Sapwood ICBM (April 12, 1961). Gargaran spacecraft and mission is often referred to as Vostock 1. From space Gagarin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows". This was a song known to many Russians, it began, "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". It was a patriotic song written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951. Nikita Khrushchev later said, "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any God there". Soviet media began attributing the comment to Gagarin himself. Unlike America missions, the Gagarin flight was not televised live, least the mission fail. Gargarin and Shallow made one Earth orbit and 108 minutes after launching he returned to Earth, landing near the village of Smelovaka. Once Gagarin safely returned, Khrushchev rushed to his side and Gagarin issued a statement praising the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Gagarin became an instant Soviet celebrity and was soon making tours estoling the achievements of Soviet science. He was elected to the Supreme Soviet. returned to "Star City" to work on reusable spacecraft. He became the Star City deputy training director, but was tragically killed on a routine training mission (1968).

Vostok 3KV (1964)

Vostok 3KV was also known as Voskhod (1964) This was an adaptation of the basic Vostok spacecraft to conduct three-man flight before the American Gemini program.

Vostok 3KD (1965)

Vostok 3KD was also known as Voskhod (1965). It was a the Vostok modified by adding aninflatable airlock so cosmonautd could carry out spacewalks.

Capabilities

The Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft proved be reliable spacecraft. They had, however, serious limitations. Vostok like the American Mercury capsule could not maneuver in orbit. Once injected into an earth orbig they only had the capability of ending the otbit. They essentially could only move into a fixed axis. Once the mission was completed the the main engine could be used to slow down or brake the space craft and reenter the earth atmosphere. Vostock had only very basic instrumentation. Voistok did not have the instrumentation that appeared in American spacecraft, especially Gemini. There was no gyros or eight-ball used for maneuvring. Vostock reentries were done automatically by ground radio command. The Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft, like the U.S. Mercury, could not perform orbital maneuvers - they could only be translated around their axes. The main engine was used only at the end of the mission for the reentry braking maneuver. Instrumentation on the Vostoks was rudimentary in the extreme. There were no gyros and no eight-ball for maneuvring as on the Gemini. The reentry maneuver was normally handled automatically by radio command. Spacecraft attitude in relation to the local motion along the orbit was determined by sun sensors, infrared horizon sensors and ion gauges, which could detect the spacecraft's direction of motion by the greater velocity of ions impacting the spacecraft in the direction of motion.





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Created: 4:34 PM 6/5/2007
Last updated: 4:34 PM 6/5/2007