Encyclopedia Astronautica
Vostok 6A


Crew: Ponomaryova. Originally Vostok 5/6 were to be dual female flights. Two capsules would be launched a day apart; each would remain aloft for three days. Changed by leadership to single female flight in March 1963. Backup crew: Yerkina.

From August 1962 until February 21, 1963 it was planned that the next two Vostok flights (Vostok 5 and 6) would take place in March-April 1963 and be a dual female flight. Two capsules would be launched a day apart; each would remain aloft for three days. Tereshkova would be pilot for Vostok 5, and Ponomaryova was considered most qualified candidate for Vostok 6. This dual female flight plan was approved all the way up the Soviet hierarchy until it was killed at the last moment at a meeting of the Presidium of the Communist Party on 21 March 1963 by party ideologue Kozlov and Ministry of Defence Chief Ustinov. Only one female would be allowed to fly for propaganda purposes. A male cosmonaut (Bykovsky) was rushed into final training, delaying the dual flights for two months. Tereshkova made it into space aboard Vostok 6, following Bykovsky aboard Vostok 5. Ponomaryova and the other female cosmonauts trained in the 1960's never flew.

Although a final decision would only be made at the last minute, cosmonaut chief Kamanin always planned to name Tereshkova for the first flight. She was appropriately feminine and modest, and always mouthed the correct Communist party line in interviews. Ponomaryova was considered the most qualified candidate technically and emotionally for the Vostok 6 flight. However her aggressive feminism and failure to mouth Soviet catch-phrases were considered drawbacks by the male Communist stalwarts that ran the programme.

First Launch: 1963 June.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Ponomaryova Ponomaryova, Valentina Leonidovna (1933-) Ukrainian pilot cosmonaut, 1962-1969. Was married to astronaut Yuri Ponomaryov. More...
  • Yerkina Yerkina, Zhanna Dmitriyevna (1939-) Russian pilot cosmonaut, 1962-1969. More...

See also
Associated Programs
  • Vostok World's first manned spacecraft, it was later developed into the Voskhod, and numerous versions of Zenit recoverable reconnaisance, materials, and biological research satellites which remained in service into the 21st Century. More...

Vostok 6A Chronology


1962 August 8 - .
  • Additional Vostok missions; launch preparations. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Rudenko; Nikolayev; Popovich; Korolev; Gagarin; Titov. Program: Vostok; Soyuz. Flight: Vostok 3; Vostok 4; Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9. Spacecraft: Vostok; Soyuz A; Soyuz B; Soyuz V. Kamanin discusses with Rudenko the need for construction and flight of ten additional Vostok spacecraft. Korolev still plans to have the first Soyuz spacecraft completed and flying by May 1963, but Kamanin finds this completely unrealistic. The satellite is still only on paper; he doesn't believe it will fly until 1964. If the Vostoks are not built, Kamanin believes the Americans will surpass the Russians in manned spaceflight in 1963-1964. From 13:00 to 14:00 Nikolayev spends an hour in his spacesuit in the ejection seat. Kamanin finds many mistakes in the design of the ejection seat. There is no room for error in disconnect of the ECS, in release of the seat, and so on. At 17:00 the State Commission holds a rally to fete Gagarin and Titov in the square in front of headquarters. Kamanin finds the event very warm but poorly organised. At 19:00 Smirnov chairs the meeting of the State Commission in the conference hall of the MIK. Korolev declares the spacecraft and launch vehicle ready; Kamanin declares the cosmonauts ready. Nikolayev is formally named the commanding officer of Vostok 3, and Popovich of Vostok 4. Rudenko gets Popovich's name wrong - his second serious mistake. He had earlier called the meeting for the wrong time.

1962 August 22 - .
  • Future Vostok flight plans discussed - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Smirnov; Malinovskiy; Korolev; Keldysh. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10; Vostok 11; Vostok 12. At Baikonur for the launch of a Venera probe, the Soviet space leadership discussed future plans. The female cosmonaut training group was there for their first rocket launch. The next Vostok would carry the first woman into space; Ponomaryova, Solovyova, and Tereshkova were the leading candidates. Flight plans were discussed at a meeting in the evening between Kamanin and Leonid Smirnov. It would be possible to make the flight by the end of 1962, but March-April 1963 was more likely, depending on the final report on the Vostok 3/4 flights. The work force would be fully occupied in August-October in launching probes to Venus and Mars, also probably delaying any Vostok flight until the following spring. The next flight would probably be part of a group flight of two or three spacecraft, piloted by both men and women. The female flights would be limited to three days, while the male flights would last for 7 to 8 days. Additional Details: here....

1962 August 27 - .
  • Female Vostok flights delayed to 1963 - . Nation: USSR. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10; Vostok 11; Vostok 12. Spacecraft: Sokol SK-1. The prospects did not look good for authorisation of production of ten further Vostok spacecraft. In a heated discussion between Rudenko, Ivanovskiy, and Grechko, it was argued that production of further Vostoks would delay flight of the first Soyuz spacecraft by a year. On the other hand this would mean no Soviet manned flights in 1963-1964. Furthermore Ivanovskiy reported that production of the female version of the Vostok space suit could not be completed until the end of 1962. Therefore this meant that the flight of two female cosmonauts in the final two available Vostok spacecraft would be delayed until March-April 1963 - the very end of the storage life of the spacecraft.

1962 September 13 - .
  • General Staff tries to prevent further Soviet manned spaceflights - . Nation: USSR. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10; Vostok 11; Vostok 12. At a meeting of the General Staff on space plans, it was reported that the Ministry of Defence supported completion of two additional Vostok spacecraft to allow four Vostok flights in 1963. But Malinovskiy was adamant: the Vostok fullfilled no military objectives, would not be accepted for military use, and he would recommend to the Military Industrial Commission that the additional flights be rejected. Kamanin noted that history was repeating itself - fifty years earlier Tsarist generals had rejected the acquisition of aircraft by the Imperial Russian Army.

1962 November 12 - .
  • Plans for Vostok female cosmonaut flight discussed. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A. A meeting was held to discuss alternatives for the next two Vostok flights. Alternatives were simultaneous flight of two capsules, each with a female cosmonaut; or one female flight and a male 5 to 7 day flight. The flight would occur no earlier than April 1963.

1962 November 19 - .
1962 November 29 - .
  • Final tests for female cosmonauts. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A. Academic examinations were completed of the female cosmonaut corps. Kuznetsova had missed to much training and was excluded from even taking the test. Of the four women remaining, only Tereshkova did not receive the highest marks. This was attributed to her being too nervous and excited during the examination. All were given the rank of Junior Lieutenant in the VVS Soviet Air Force.

    Kamanin considered Tereshkova as the leading candidate for the first flight, with Solovyova as her back-up. In personality they were equivalent to Gagarin/Nikolayev - indeed, Tereshkova was considered 'Gagarin in a skirt'. Ponomaryova and Yerkina were equal candidates for the second female Vostok flight. The group would go to a resort in the Urals from 30 November to 10 January. The final decision as to which one would fly would only be made 3 or 4 days before the flight.


1963 January 7 - .
  • Seven Vostok flights planned in 1963 - . Nation: USSR. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. Summary: Agreement was finally reached among space management for the production of five additional Vostok spacecraft during 1963. Two would be used in solo flights and five in group flights..

1963 January 9 - .
  • Agreement reached on future Vostok flights - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Malinovskiy; Keldysh; Smirnov; Dementiev. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. After eight months of debate, a Vostok project plan was finally agreed. There would be a single female cosmonaut flight in March-Apriil 1963. This would be followed by 4 to 5 additional Vostok flights in 1963 and 2 to 3 flights in 1964. This plan was approved by Malinovskiy, Keldysh, Smirnov, and Dementiev and forwarded to the Communist Party Central Committee. However Rudenko and others were still opposed.

1963 January 11 - .
  • Korolev lays out detailed plan for future Vostok flights - . Nation: USSR. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. Korolev and Kamanin meet to lay out Vostok flight plan. There were three variants possible for the March flights: 1) A single female flight of 2 to 3 days; 2) Two female flights launched one day apart, but landing at the same time; 3) An 'absurd' version: launch of a female cosmonaut for a three day flight, followed two days after her landing by a male cosmonaut on a 5 to 7 day flight. The planners selected the two female flight variant.

1963 January 31 - .
  • Smirnov opposed to dual female Vostok flight. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Smirnov; Titov. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A. Spacecraft: Vostok. Smirnov only wants to fly two, not four Vostoks this year. One male, and one female cosmonaut would be launched in a group flight. Correct approvals cannot be obtained in time for manufacture of four Vostoks until August of this year. Later Kamanin has another scene with Titov. The cosmonaut was drunk on a factory visit, and defied the militia when confronted.

1963 February 1 - .
  • 35 Soviet Cosmonauts in six groups in training - . Nation: USSR. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. These were:
    • Group 1 - Four cosmonauts (Solovyova, Ponomareva, Tereshkova, Yerkina) in final training for two simultaneous female flights in March 1963
    • Group 2: Three male cosmonauts (Komarov, Bykovsky, Volynov) in training for two or three individual flights of over five days duration in the second half of 1963
    • Group 3: Four flown cosmonauts (Gagarin, Titov, Nikolayev, Popovich) in academic training but also very occupied in public relations tasks
    • Group 4: Six cosmonauts from the first group - not trained for Vostok and available for Vostok or Soyuz flights in 1964 and later (Nelyubov, Shonin, Khrunov, Zikin, Gorbutko, Filyatev)
    • Group 5: Seven pilot-cosmonauts, just selected and starting training
    • Group 6: Eight engineer-cosmonauts, just started training.

1963 February 16 - .
1963 February 18 - .
  • Soviet Ministers' decree on use of Vostok - . Nation: USSR. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. The Soviet Ministers finally issued decree 24. Four additional spacecraft are to be completed in the first half of 1963. Together with the two existing spacecraft, these will be used for two female flights, three male flights of up to ten days duration, and one 30-day biosat flight.

1963 March 8 - .
  • Ustinov challenges Vostok plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Ustinov. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. Ustinov, Smirnov, and other industry leaders challenge the plan for dual female flights. They would send only one woman aloft in Vostok s/n 007. Vostok s/n 008 would be held as a reserve. If Vostok s/n 007 was successful, s/n 008 would be used for a simultaneous manned flight. Training was to be complete by 1 April. The Soviet Air Force was categorically against this sudden revision. There were four women that had completed advanced training and were ready for flight, while there were only three men in training for flights later in the year. It would be impossible to complete the training of the male cosmonauts in a few weeks. However the spacecraft would reach the end of their storage life by May-June 1963 and would have to be used by then.

1963 March 21 - .
  • Vostok programme cut back - second female flight cancelled - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Kozlov. Flight: Vostok 5; Vostok 6; Vostok 6A; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10. Spacecraft: Vostok. Vostok flight plans were drastically curtailed at a meeting of the Presidium of the Communist Party. Korolev presented the plan for 1963 as approved by the Interorganizational Soviet at the beginning of the year. This plan, already in an advanced stage of execution, was rejected utterly by Kozlov and Vershinin. The Ministry of Defence announced its categorical opposition to further Vostok production. It was finally decided that there would be only two flights in 1963 using existing spacecraft. These were scheduled for June and would consist of simultaneous female and male flights. Kamanin was infuriated that although he was ordered by a leadership decree in December 1961 to train five women for spaceflight, the same leadership was now asking - Who ordered this? What was the purpose? Are we sure they're ready?

1963 April - .
  • Vostok 6A (cancelled) - . Crew: Ponomaryova. Backup Crew: Yerkina. Payload: Vostok 3KA s/n 8. Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Ustinov; Tereshkova; Bykovsky; Ponomaryova; Yerkina. Program: Vostok. Flight: Vostok 6A. Spacecraft: Vostok. Decay Date: 1963-06-19 . USAF Sat Cat: 595 . Apogee: 192 km (119 mi). Perigee: 163 km (101 mi). Inclination: 64.9000 deg. Period: 88.00 min. From August 1962 until February 21, 1963 it was planned that the next two Vostok flights (Vostok 5 and 6) would take place in March-April 1963 and be a dual female flight. Two capsules would be launched a day apart; each would remain aloft for three days. Although a final decision would only be made at the last minute, cosmonaut chief Kamanin always planned to name Tereshkova for the first flight. She was appropriately feminine and modest, and always mouthed the correct Communist party line in interviews. Ponomaryova was considered the most qualified candidate technically and emotionally for the Vostok 6 flight. However her aggressive feminism and failure to mouth Soviet catch-phrases were considered drawbacks by the male Communist stalwarts that ran the programme. This dual female flight plan was approved all the way up the Soviet hierarchy until it was killed at the last moment at a meeting of the Presidium of the Communist Party on 21 March 1963 by party ideologue Kozlov and Ministry of Defence Chief Ustinov. Only one female would be allowed to fly for propaganda purposes. A male cosmonaut (Bykovsky) was rushed into final training, delaying the dual flights for two months. Tereshkova made it into space aboard Vostok 6, following Bykovsky aboard Vostok 5. But Ponomaryova and the other female cosmonauts trained in the 1960ís never flew.

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