Encyclopedia Astronautica
1964.10.13 - Landing of Voskhod 1

The world's first recovery of an orbital spacecraft with its crew aboard on land was made possible by rocket package suspended above capsule in parachute lines, which ignited just prior to impact in order to cushion landing. The trio landed after 16 orbits of the earth, 24 hours and 17 min after they had left, on October 13, 1964 07:47 GMT.

The landing commission meets at 08:00. Although the orbital parameters and supplies aboard the spacecraft are good for three days of flight, it is decided to bring the cosmonauts down according to plan, at the beginning of the 17th orbit, after one day of flight. The primary flight objective - demonstrating flight of a three-man spacecraft - has been achieved, and nothing is to be gained by prolonging the flight beyond the planned duration. At 09:00 Moscow time the main players gather at the command point at Baikonur. Tyulin, Korolev, Rudenko, Kamanin, Gagarin, Nikolayev, Kuznetsov, Babiychuk, and several others man their posts The State Commission members gather in Kirillov's office and confirm the landing order. Komarov is advised of the order over the high frequency telegraph.

The tracking ship off the west coast of Africa receives signals from the spacecraft confirming completion of the orientation of the spacecraft for retrofire, and the igniting and shutdown of the TDU engine. There are some indications that things did not occur correctly, but there is only silence from the spacecraft and the tracking ship. No voice communications with the crew are obtained, but the capsule transmits the 'PO' signal, confirming separation of the re-entry capsule from the equipment section. 2 or 3 minutes later a tracking station sends the commands 'Spusk-1' and 'Spusk-2'. At 10:22:30 Moscow Centre reports receiving the 'SA' signal - meaning that the TDU had operated, and that the capsule must be entering the thicker layers of the atmosphere. 3 or 4 minutes later the Krug system at the Kavkaz tracking station picks up the capsule. It follows the capsule as it re-enters over the Caspian Sea... and flies over Aralsk... and then receives the signal that the parachute hatch has jettisoned as the capsule lands near Kustan. But then there is consternation when no homing signal is received. This should have begun with the whip antenna deployment after the parachute deployed.

Then a voice from Kustanin comes over the speakers "Number 50, this is 52. Airman Mikhailov in an Il-14 40 km east of Marevka reports an object in the air". Kamanin is relieved, but Korolev grabs the microphone and calls back: "Number 52, then is Number 20. Report, does Mikahilov see parachutes, and if so, how many - one or two?". Kustanin replies, "Mikhailov sees an object with two parachute cupolas". Now there is only to wait, to see if the soft landing system works. If it does not, the capsule will hit the earth with the velocity of the Vostok capsule - 7-8 m/s - sufficient to injure the occupants. But then Kustanin reports: "Airman Mikhailov sees an object on the ground, and near it three men, waiving at him". The command point erupts in joy.

Korolev says - who would have thought the Vostok capsule could have been modified to take three men to space, and return them to earth, without a scratch. It is decided the plan to fly the crew to Kuibyshev will be cancelled; instead they will be flown directly to Tyuratam. An Mi-6 helicopter takes them to Kokchetav, and from there an Il-14 to Kustanin, and finally an Il-18 to Tyuratam's aerodrome, where they arrive at 18:30 local time. Feoktistov and Yegorov are in great spirits and condition, but Komarov is pretty tired.

The crew has not yet talked to Khrushchev. They were supposed to speak to him from Kustanin, but Smirnov cancelled the call. Word was that Khrushchev had returned from Pitsunda to Moscow, but attempts to call him there from the cosmonaut dormitory at Area 17 were also unsuccessful. At 10:00 the crew briefs 200 military and industry staff on their flight. Feoktistov reports that at no time did he find zero gravity unpleasant. Yegorov felt unwell for the first six orbits, but all right after that. Planned briefings to the State Commission were disrupted when Marshal Rudenko was suddenly ordered to immediately fly to Moscow.

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