Born: 1912-12-19. Died: 1982-11-10. Birth Place: Kamensk.
Secretary of Central Committee for Defense and Space 1957-1960 and 1963-1965. First Secretary of the Communist Party and effectively leader of the Soviet Union between 1965 and 1982. Soviet leader during the entire manned lunar landing program. He made key decisions leading to the development of a succession of Soviet space stations built in the 1970s.
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.
The Soviet leadership reviewed missile development since the Pitsunda meeting. Both the Yangel R-26 and Chelomei UR-100 were proposed as small ICBM's to be put into mass production as a counter to the American Minuteman. The UR-100 was an ampulised missile with a guaranteed ten-year storage life. Yangel had not solved the problems of long-term storage of corrosive storable fuel yet. Therefore Khrushchev, supported by Kozlov and Brezhnev, selected the UR-100. A decree for mass production was issued on 30 May 1963.
This was his last visit, just weeks before his overthrow. The Soviet leadership were shown the UR-100 and observed launches of the competing UR-200 and R-36. Khrushchev agreed with the decision to put the R-36 into production instead of Chelomei's UR-200. He felt he couldn't turn down Yangel a third time after approving Korolev's N1 instead of Yangel's R-56 and Chelomei's UR-100 instead of Yangel's R-26. Khrushchev decided to cancel Korolev's badly behind schedule R-9A, even though Smirnov and Ustinov insisted they wanted it in their arsenal (in May 1965, after Khrushchev's overthrow, this decision was reversed and the R-9A went into production).
Khrushchev also visited a secret space fair, with Korolev, Chelomei, Yangel, and Glushko presenting their rockets and spacecraft. Chelomei presented his UR-700 heavy lift design as an alternative to Korolev's N1. This presentation was a surprise to Ustinov and Dementiev. Khrushchev ordered Chelomei to prepare a draft proposal for the design. Chelomei hoped that 12 to 18 months later, when the UR-700 draft project would be completed, the fallacy of Korolev's N1 design would be apparent to all. Korolev's N1 plans were also reviewed and approved at the meeting.
Over the two days, Khruschev witnessed five launches of rockets by Korolev, Yangel, and Chelomei, all of them successful. Gagarin and Belyayev explained the Vykhod spacecraft to him, and Leonov donned a spacesuit and demonstrated how he would exit into open space form the inflatable airlock and return thereafter. All went very well.
This was the last time Khrushchev saw the chief designers of the Soviet rocket industry. Despite his support for them not one of them visited him in his retirement.
Five aircraft are necessary to fly all of the VVS staff and engineering workers back to Moscow. Word has come through that Khrushchev has been removed from his posts, with Brezhnev now the First Secretary of the Communist Party and Kosygin now Premier of the Soviet Ministers. Kamanin's opinion was that Khrushchev was not in the same league as Lenin or Stalin, and that he would have only a minor place in history, but he is surprised by his sudden downfall. Tyulin believes that Korolev's promise to Khrushchev to fly Vykhod in November is now nullified, and that a more reasonable date of March-April 1965 can be set.
The crew arrives at Vnukovo Airfield at 12:30 aboard an Il-18. The crew walks up to the reviewing stand and Komarov makes the standard report to the Communist Party and Soviet Ministers. At 14:00 there is a meeting at Red Square, and at 17:00 an audience at the Kremlin. The next day will be the customary meeting with Korolev and the workers of OKB-1, and the day after, the press conference, and on 22 October the meeting with the staff at the Cosmonaut Training Centre. The celebrations provide the first opportunity for Brezhnev to present himself in public in the role previously held by Khrushchev. The celebrations are somewhat dampened by new that an Il-18 crashed near Belgrade, killing all 17 occupants of a military delegation, including Marshal Biryuzov. This was the same aircraft and same crew that had flown the cosmonauts from Kustanin to Tyuratam....
Korolev speaks privately to Chertok. Kozlov has told him it will be impossible to build an N1 with the 93 tonne payload capability until the fourth flight article. The L3 concept was still the same as in the August decree - 2 cosmonauts aboard the LOK orbiter, one aboard the LK lander. Korolev asks Chertok to take 800 kg out of the weight budget for the L3. Chertok informs him that they are already 500 kg over the August budget. This is still without all the unknowns of the automated lunar landing being solved. Additional Details: here....
Gagarin, Titov, Nikolayev, Popovich, Tereshkova, and Bykovsky have all managed to make it to Moscow by plane, and they meet at TsPK at 13:00. Kamanin takes the unique opportunity of having them all together to discuss plans for their higher engineering education at the Zhukovskiy Academy, plans for construction of new quarters at the TsPK, and an overview of planned future missions based on recent resolutions. At 14:30 the group departs in four Volga automobiles for Moscow. The unveiling ceremony is at 16:00. Brezhnev, Kosygin, Mikoyan, and other bigwigs are there as well.
A corespondent from the APN agency calls Kamanin and wants to know if the official press should react to the claims of a Belgian professor that all of the Soviet cosmonauts have returned from space with serious psychological problems. Kamanin says there is nothing to it, but that the best course is to ignore the report and publish no official response. Kamanin looks forward to the missions planned in the new year: first the Vykhod, the first spacewalk, followed by a 10 to 12 day mission by a single cosmonaut, then later crews of first two, and then five to six in joined Soyuz spacecraft. In 1966 the first space docking is planned, followed by the first lunar flyby. Kamanin feels apprehensive, though. All manned flights have been completed to date without a serious problem, whereas Soviet unmanned spacecraft have been extremely unreliable and failed more often than not. He attributes this to the involvement of the VVS in the manned flights, whereas the RVSN rocket forces were responsible for the others. He worries that, with the ascendancy of Brezhnev and the death of Biryuzkov, that standards will drop in the future. Indeed, the RVSN has asked if Komarov could transfer officially from the VVS to the RVSN, a move that Kamanin vigorously opposes.
At least progress on improvements at TsPK are underway. One apartment building with 75 apartments for cosmonauts is already finished, and an 11 story building should be finished in 1965, as well as schools, nurseries, stores, and so on. Currently there are 17 active cosmonauts and 13 candidate cosmonauts in training. An additional 40 will have to be recruited in 1965 to support the ambitious space plans recently adopted.
With the rocket erected on the pad, a meeting is held several hundred meters away between the chief designers, Keldysh, Rudenko, and 600 to 700 workers. Afterwards Korolev and Tyulin call Moscow, and certify to Smirnov, Ustinov, Kosygin, and Brezhnev that all is ready for the flight.
By the next morning, two clearing suitable for helicopter operations have been cleared - a small zone 1.7 km from the capsule, and a larger zone 5 km from the capsule. At 6:50 the cosmonauts and their rescuers - seven in all - ski away from the capsule, reaching the small zone at 8:06. They are picked up there by an Mi-4 helicopter and flown to the large zone, arriving their 20 minutes later. From there a larger Mi-6 helicopter flies them at 9:50 to the airport at Perm. They were to depart aboard an An-10 from Perm at 11:00 for Tyuratam, but their departure is delayed by an hour as they talk on the telephone with Brezhnev. Afterwards toasts are raised at Area 10 at Baikonur by the Chief Designers and Keldysh. Korolev calls for them all to push together toward reaching the moon. The cosmonauts finally arrive at the cosmodrome at 17:30 and are driven through cheering crowds in Zvezdograd. In the hall of the hotel they give the first account of their mission.
Kamanin meets Korolev at 9:30; Korolev agrees with Kamanin that the truth of the difficulties encountered should be revealed at the press conference. The matter must be escalated to Brezhnev, since Keldysh and Smirnov are against this course. At 10:30 the leading engineers of OKB-1 meet with 11 of the cosmonauts. The results of the Voskhod-2 flight are reviewed.
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.
Tsybin has learned through his Ministry of Defence contacts of Gagarin's letter to Brezhnev. He hears that they have criticized the space policy of the Minister of Defence and proposed that the VVS manage Soviet manned spaceflight. The letter also reportedly requests production of a new series of Voskhods to fill in the manned spaceflight gap created by delays in the Soyuz program. Korolev is remarkably unperturbed that he had not heard of the letter, and that Gagarin never said anything to him about it.
Brezhnev has not yet had even one hour to glance at Gagarin's letter. Kamanin and the cosmonauts are frustrated - the country has the means - the rockets, the spacecraft designs - to be beating the Americans, but nothing is done due to zero planning, poor organisation and management. Korolev still talks about flying a Voskhod in November, but neither the equipment for the artificial gravity experiment or the 3KD spacecraft for the EVA have been completed. Kamanin hears from Tsybin that Korolev is considering abandoning the Voskhod flights completely so that OKB-1 can concentrate on completing development of the Soyuz...
Brezhnev has finally read Gagarin's letter, and forwarded it to Smirnov for a full report. Smirnov in turn has asked the commanders of the military branches to convene a soviet to address the issues raised in the letter. Marshal Sudets meets with cosmonauts Gagarin, Titov, Nikolayev, Komarov, Leonov, as well as Kamanin and Kuznetsov. There is a consensus that a single military branch should handle space - either VSS, PVO, or RVSN - but many are opposed to that branch being the VVS. The consensus is that the mission should be given to the PVO.
Gagarin, Belyayev, and Leonov are preparing for a meeting with Brezhnev. Nothing controversial is to be raised. The real issue now is to develop a winged, manned orbital spacecraft, and a winged booster stage for space launches. This will be essential to future manned military activities. Mikoyan's MiG bureau has been working on the orbital spaceplane, and Tupolev the winged booster stage. Titov, Filipchenko, and Matinchenko and a few other cosmonauts will coordinate with Mikoyan on development of the spaceplane design.
Korolev visits the centre, and spends more than six hours with the cosmonauts. However he says nothing about concrete flight plans. Afterwards Kamanin meets with Gagarin, Titov, Popovvich, Nikolayev, Tereshkova, Bykovsky, Komarov, and Belyayev (Leonov is at courses at the Academy). A profound pessimism prevails. Nothing has come of the letter to Brezhnev.
The urn with Korolev's ashes is placed in the Kremlin Wall by an honor guard of cosmonauts and the highest leaders of the state. Kamanin knows that the like of Korolev will not be seen again. There are dozens of Chief Designers, but none with the genius, talent, and drive of Korolev. Kamanin worries for the future in the space race with the Americans. Even in life, Korolev was never able to achieve more than one or two spaceflights per year. Now, in 1966, they are supposed to achieve four times that flight rate without him.
Brezhnev has finally agreed to meet with Gagarin, Leonov, and Kamanin on 28 or 29 July. Gagarin will be in Czechoslovakia on 25 July, and Leonov in Hungary; they'll have to be back by the 27th to prepare for the meeting. Kamanin holds no great hope for the outcome - the cosmonauts' desire to reorganize and reprioritise Soviet spaceflight will meet powerful opposition from Ustinov, Smirnov, and Malinovskiy.
Mishin sends a letter to Kamanin, linking acceptance of his eight cosmonaut candidates from OKB-1 to continuation of sea recovery tests of the Soyuz capsule at Fedosiya. Kamanin's early hopes for Mishin have been dashed - not only is he no Korolev, but his erratic management style and constant attempts to work outside of accepted channels and methods, are ruining the space program. Later Gagarin briefs Kamanin on the impossibility of meeting Brezhnev, who has flown south for vacation without reacting to Gagarin's letter. Most likely, the letter will be referred to Ustinov, who will pass it to Smirnov, with instructions to suppress this "revolt of the military". Gagarin requests permission to resume flight and parachute training in preparation for a space mission assignment. Kamanin agrees to allow him to begin three months before the mission to space. This will be no earlier than 1967, as Gagarin will not be assigned to the first Soyuz flights.
Kamanin decides to smooth over matters with OKB-1. He calls Mishin, and then Tsybin, and agrees to begin processing of Anokhin, Yeliseyev, Volkov, and Kubasov as soon as he receives their personnel files and security clearances. Mishin promises to deliver the Soyuz mock-up of the Tu-104 zero-G aircraft soon - it slid from 20 July, then from 7 August.
As expected, Gagarin's letter to Brezhnev was referred to Ustinov, then to Smirnov, who has now referred it to Afanasyev and Malinovskiy with the instructions that they are "to present a mutually agreed solution". Malinovskiy referred it in turn to his four marshals, and Rudenko immediately makes an error by conceding that TsPK will accept OKB-1 cosmonaut candidates for training aboard Soyuz.
Crews are in training for Voskhod, Soyuz, Lunar L-1, Almaz, and 7K-VI missions. There will be 100 cosmonauts in training by February. Meanwhile the Americans have conducted 10 manned flights since the last Soviet manned flight in March 1965. The cosmonauts want Kamanin to be training 8 crews for L-1 translunar flights, but he only has 4 in training. He doesn't think it is worth to train more, since if one successful L-1 flight is conducted before the 50th Anniversary of the Soviet Union in November 1957, all subsequent flights will be cancelled. Additional Details: here....
The L3 spacecraft still does not even exist in mock-up form. All of the leadership are responsible for this farce - Malinovskiy, Smirnov, Ustinov, Brezhnev. There is no single manager of the space program. The VPK and Central Committee operate on rumours. The Interagency Soviet headed by Keldysh was supposed to coordinate space activities, but in fact has not functioned in the last four to five years. There is no single military space organisation in the Ministry of Defence. Piloted flight tests are being run by former artillery officers in the RSVN. Various organizations of MAP and VVS coordinate ground and flight tests poorly. These are the reasons for the failure of the Soviet Union in space. Today in the Central Committee Ustinov asked - 'how to answer Apollo 8?' Ustinov relies on Keldysh, Keldysh supports Mishin, and Mishin is unfit for his duties. But Mishin is not even there! The program they come up with: In January 1969, 2 Venera probes will be launched, two manned Soyuz missions, and L1 s/n 13 will be sent around the moon. In February the first N1 will be launched. By the end of March the first Ye-8 robot will land on the moon and return lunar soil to the earth. This meeting is followed by a session of the VPK at 16:00. The crews are named for the Soyuz 4 and 5 flights.
After Shatalov and Yeliseyev transferred to Soyuz 4, Volynov remained behind to live through the most unbelievable re-entry in the history of spaceflight. The service module of the Soyuz failed to separate after retrofire. Once the Soyuz started reaching the tendrils of the atmosphere, the combined spacecraft sought the most aerodynamically stable position - nose forward, with the heavy descent module with its light metal entry hatch at the front, the less dense service module with its flared base to the back. Luckily the struts between the descent and service modules broke off or burned through before the hatch melted through and the descent module righted itself, with the heat shield to the rear, before being consumed. Due to a failure of the soft-landing rockets the landing was harder than usual and Volynov broke his teeth. The landing came at 7:58 GMT. Additional Details: here....
The assassination attempt is made on Brezhnev, instead hitting the cosmonaut's car, on the way to the Kremlin. A muted press conference follows. All the cosmonauts are there, except Feoktistov, who is on honeymoon with his second wife, and Nikolyaev, who has the Hong Kong flu.
The VPK Military-Industrial Commission and the Central Committee of he Party discussed the matter of delaying further N1 tests until completely redesigned engines became available. Back came the ritual reply -- a Soviet manned lunar landing must be achieved by the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Lenin (April 22, 1970). On that date a Soviet man would plant the Red Banner and unveil a bust of Lenin on the lunar surface. Unlike the US President, Brezhnev would never get to see a manned launch to the moon. Additional Details: here....
VPK Deputy Chairman Tyulin headed a state commission on the L1 programme. Mishin pushed for a manned L1 circumlunar flight in 1970. This meeting was only five days before a Ye-8-5 robot spacecraft was to have returned lunar soil from the earth. The Block D stage failed in earth orbit, and the flight was given the cover name Cosmos 300. This indicated the L1 system still did not have the necessary reliability for manned flight. Furthermore, politically, Brezhnev and the Politburo did not want to see a Khrushchev-originated project like the L1 succeed.
The cosmonauts fly from Baikonur to Moscow, escorted by six MiG-21 fighters to Vnukovo airfield, where they receive honours all around, followed by meetings with reporters. Brezhnev was no there - he was on his way to Baikonur to observe the Tyulpan ICBM exercise.
A Czech delegation to Baikonur was shown the Vostok and Proton launch vehicles, Zenit-2, Ye-8, 7K-L1 spacecraft, a Vostok re-entry capsule, and the N1 moon launcher mock-up mounted on the remaining left launch pad. They were the first non-Russians to see evidence of the Russian manned lunar program. This was also Brezhnev's first view of Soviet moon-landing hardware. He proudly told the Czechs that 'this rocket will take us to the limits of the solar system'.
Kamanin notes that interest of the leadership in manned spaceflight has collapsed with the end of the moon race. Brezhnev has declared that his primary interest is in earth orbital space stations. Both Mishin and Chelomei have stations in development, but the work is progressing slowly. There will be no launch of either of their projects until 1972 - which means the Soviets will be beaten by the US Skylab. Kamanin believes the Americans can never be beaten in space unless all space projects are guided firmly by a single Ministry of Defence and Civilian Space office. Meanwhile the Hong Kong flu epidemic is hitting many at the cosmodrome - Moroz, Popovich, and Bykovsky are all seriously ill.
Work continues at the Gagarin Centre even on Sundays. Kamanin studies the reorganization of space units within the Ministry of Defence. Leonov wants to write a letter to Brezhnev, complaining about the management of the space programme. He wants to finger Mishin, Keldysh, Sminrov, Serbin, Ustinov, Krylov, Zakharov, and Grechko by name. Kamanin asks him -- can all the cosmonauts write to the head of state whenever they want? Who will protect them from the inferno of backlash that would result? He doesn't support Leonov's idea.
Kutakhov calls Smirnov to give the VVS position on DOS-7K flights. He is told that Mishin has not only Ustinov and Smirnov, but even Brezhnev behind him in support of 30, and then 60 day spaceflight durations aboard DOS. The VVS' position of limiting flights to 20 to 24 days has no chance.
Kamanin is furious. Of 25 cosmonauts that have flown, five are buried in the Kremlin Wall, one in Novdevich cemetery, and 19 are still in service. These deaths are due to the incompetent management of Ustinov, Serbin, Smirnov, Mishin, Afanasyev, Bushuyev, and Serbin. Some people are trying to blame Kamanin or the cosmonauts, saying the vent could have been plugged with a finger if the crew was properly trained. Others blame the crew in other ways. But the main problem was already brought up early over and over and over by the VVS and Kutakhov - the crew should never have flown without spacesuits! This has been going on for seven years. Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Ustinov, Smirnov, all wrote of their fear of allowing dangerous spaceflights. But these were the same leaders who supported the categorical rejection of the need for the crew to fly in spacesuits. The need for the suits was rejected first by Korolev, then Mishin. They kept saying that hundreds of manned and unmanned spacecraft had flown without depressurisation ever occurring.
The idea of plugging the vent with a finger is absurd. Had they done so, they would have had only 15 to 17 minutes to work the problem before the onset of G-forces. Imagine the real situation - retrofire was normal - the BO module jettisoned - suddenly the depress light on the caution warning panel is on! Dobrovolsky checks the hatch, but it's not the hatch -- and there are only 25 to 30 seconds until they all become unconscious. Volkov and Patsayev undo their straps and turn on the radio. The whistling of the air can only be heard at the commander's seat - where the vent valve is located. Kamanin discontinues diary entries for two years after this date.
Since Soyuz 11 and his subsequent 'retirement', the Soviet Union has launched two space stations that failed in orbit, and made only one two-day Soyuz flight. Meanwhile the Americans had run successfully their entire Skylab program. The fourth N1 exploded on 23 November 1972. Ustinov has thrown away tens of billions of roubles on that useless project. Soyuz 13 landed yesterday - the first Soviet manned spaceflight not under Kamanin's command. Khrushchev made many mistakes, but Brezhnev continues to make even more. Kamanin feels his country is however not fit for democracy, that it needs discipline - otherwise there will be anarchy.
Glushko's first action was to implement a decision of the leadership to develop a completely new heavy-lift launch vehicle. This work started in 1974, with a planned first flight in 1984, at a total estimated cost of 5 to 6 billion roubles. One factor in the decision was the fact that Keldysh was greatly disturbed by the manoeuvrability of the space shuttle. He talked the matter up until he managed to get Ustinov and Brezhnev worked as well. He told them a US shuttle could manoeuvre around Soviet PVO and PKO anti-missile and satellite defences and deliver a 25 tonne nuclear bomb of greater than 25 megatons force directly on Moscow.
Keldysh was convinced that the US planned to use the shuttle for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Russia. Therefore the USSR needed an analogous capability to maintain the strategic balance. While this discussion was going on, the energies of TsKBEM were completely absorbed in the Apollo-Soyuz program, on which the prestige of the Soviet Union depended. Additional Details: here....