Encyclopedia Astronautica
1965.03.19 - Landing of Voskhod 2

On re-entry the primary automatic retrorocket system failed. A manually controlled retrofire was accomplished one orbit later (evidently using the primary engine, not the backup solid rocket retropack on the nose of spacecraft). The service module failed to separate completely, leading to wild gyrations of the joined reentry sphere - service module before connecting wires burned through. Vostok 2 finally landed near Perm in the Ural mountains in heavy forest at 59:34 N 55:28 E on March 19, 1965 9:02 GMT. The crew spent two nights in deep woods, surrounded by wolves. Recovery crews had to chop down trees to clear landing zones for helicopter recovery of the crew, who had to ski to the clearing from the spacecraft. Only some days later could the capsule itself be removed.

Kamanin wakes up at 03:00 and goes to the command point. Korolev is there, and tells him that on the 13th orbit the pressure in Voskhod-2's air tanks has declined from 75 to 25 atmospheres. This indicates that the cabin of the spacecraft is leaking, and that an early landing may be necessary. However analysis then shows that even at this leakage rate there should be enough for 17 orbits, allowing landing as planned. Chief Designer Voronin warns that the pressure in the cabin cannot be allowed to go below 500 mm, and that there is only enough oxygen for three hours. In a communications session with the cosmonauts on the 14th orbit, Belyayev reports that the oxygen pressure in the tanks has stabilised at 25 atmospheres, and the cabin parameters are normal, and the crew is feeling fine.. It is decided to proceed with the planned automatic landing on orbit 17.

The first command for an automated re-entry has no result: the automatic orientation system does not engage and therefore the retrorocket is not ignited. It is decided that the spacecraft will conduct a manual re-entry on the 18th or 22nd orbits (this will be the Soviet's first manual re-entry). On the second attempt, the command point is informed by the steamer Ilichevsk that the re-entry command was sent, but after that there is no information for four hours. First indications from the capsule are received from the tracking station at Odessa, then from Saransk. It is believed that Voskhod 2 has landed at 12:06 not far from Shchuchin (25-30 km south-west of Bereznikov, north of Perm), but no indication is received from the spacecraft. The Krug beacon aboard the capsule can be received from a range of 50-70 km, but the recovery aircraft are out of position, 600 to 800 km from Perm.

While the wait goes on, there is some reassurance, when Alma Ata reports intermittently receiving on HF the telegraph code 'VN, VN, VN..", which means that all is OK with the crew. Finally a helicopter reports that it has sighted and red parachute and the two crew in thick forest between Sorokovaya and Shchuchino. The spacecraft has landed far from the estimated point, and the area is covered in deep snow. By 10:00 Moscow time in the evening, no one has yet reached the crew. Two hours later a helicopter manages to land in the forest 5 km from the crew. Two snowmobiles with soldiers from a PVO regiment also manage are approaching the landing area. But it is night and temperatures have dropped to -5 deg C.

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