Born: 1894-04-05. Died: 1971-09-11. Birth Place: Kalinovka.
Nikita S. Khrushchev was premier of the USSR from 1958 to 1964 and first secretary of the Communist party from 1953 to 1964. He was noted for an astonishing speech in 1956 denouncing the crimes and blunders of Joseph Stalin and for gestures of reconciliation with the West in 1959-1960, ending with the breakdown of a Paris summit with President Eisenhower and the leaders of France and Great Britain in the wake of Khrushchev's announcement that the Soviets had shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft over the Urals on 1 May 1960. Then in 1962 Khrushchev attempted to place Soviet medium range-missiles in Cuba. This led to an intense crisis in October, following which Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles if the U.S. promised to make no more attempts to overthrow Cuba's Communist government. Although he could be charming at times, Khrushchev was also given to bluster (extending even to shoe-pounding at the U.N). and was a tough negotiator, although he believed, unlike his predecessors, in the possibility of Communist victory over the West without war.
Khrushchev desired to decentralise the missile industry, since a single nuclear bomb on Moscow would wipe out Korolev's factories. Ustinov was requested to draw up a plan for two additional completely independent missile design bureaux, one in the south of the Soviet Union, the other in the Urals. It was also envisioned a third bureau would be built in the east, in Siberia, but this was never done. This effort cost tens of billions of roubles. While the managers and lead technical staff would be taken from Korolev's bureau, the working engineers, technicians, and workers for the bureau and associated factories would be recruited locally at each site. This would avoid the additional expense of building extra housing. Korolev fought to keep control, wanting to make the new bureaux just branches of his own, but Khrushchev was adamant that only completely autonomous organisations would be acceptable. Yangel was easily selected for the southern bureau, and the young Makeyev was a more contentious selection for the Ural bureau.
Khrushchev, Molotov, Bulganin, and other leaders are given a tour of Korolev's OKB-1 in Kaliningrad. They are shown the R-1, R-2 and R-5 missiles as well as a mock-up of the R-7 and are awed. Ustinov reports that only five warheads would be needed to destroy Britain, and seven to nine for France. The need for the R-12 was discussed - the longer range was essential so that the missiles could be based farther from NATO's borders (the experience of the German invasion and quick destruction of forward-based units and equipment was on everyone's minds).
Ministry of Aviation Industry (MAP) Decree 293-140 'On subordinating GSNII-642 to OKB-52' was issued. On the same day Chelomei hired Nikita Khrushchev's son, Sergei, to work as an engineer in his design bureau. This gave Chelomei sudden and immediate access to the highest possible patron in the hierarchy. He was rewarded with his own design bureau, OKB-52, in 1959. This would lead to Chelomei being a key figure in the Soviet space program, even after Khruschev's ouster in 1964.
Khrushchev independently conceived of the idea of storing and launching ballistic missiles from subterranean silos. He called Korolev to his dacha in the Crimea. Korolev told him his idea was not feasible. He then called Barmin and Yangel. Barmin said he would study the idea. Yangel remained silent. Some time later Khrushchev's son saw a drawing of the same concept in a US aerospace magazine. He informed his father, who ordered immediate crash development of the first generation of Soviet missile silos.
The Soviet Central Committee advises China it will not provide prototype or drawings of atomic bombs as agreed previously. Khrushchev promised China that he would provide the drawing package for the R-12 IRBM as soon as testing was completed. However then came the affair of the Sidewinder. At the end of 1958 or early 1959 a complete missile fell into the hands of the Chinese. They promised to provide it to the Russians, but then dragged their feet. They were finally told in February 1959 that unless they provided the Sidewinder, they would not be given the R-12 package. The missile was finally delivered but it was found that the key crystal in the infrared homing sensor was missing. The Chinese had also been caught disassembling a P-15 cruise missile at a training facility in China. It had taken the Russian trainers two days to get it reassembled correctly. Therefore on June 20 1959 the decision was taken not to transfer the R-12 or the promised nuclear warhead design to China.
The Soviets created a new design bureau to copy the Sidewinder. Fabrication of the crystal for the infrared sensor was the main obstacle. The initial production batches had a 99% rejection rate. A state commission was set up to get to the bottom of the problem, but couldn't find a solution. The main problem seemed to be low-quality ore provided by the mines.
Khrushchev tours Yangel's missile factory at Dnepropetrovsk. At this time Yangel was developing the R-16, equipped with an autonomous inertial navigation unit -- while Korolev was still using radio guidance. Leonid Smirnov was manager of the factory (he would later be made Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, reporting to Ustinov). The delegation included Rudnev, Kalmykov, Serbin, Nedelin and Podgorny. Yangel told the leaders to think of the R-16 as an R-12 stacked atop an R-14. In this way he was able to quickly develop an ICBM on the basis of existing rockets. He expected to have an R-16 test article ready for tests with the first ICBM silo by September 1959. Khrushchev was overjoyed and discussed his plans to create an entirely new branch of the service - the RVSN, Strategic Rocket Forces. The Soviet Union had no real equivalent to the US Strategic Air Command and the VVS Air Forces would not handle ballistic missiles correctly. He asked Nedelin to draw up a plan to create the new branch. There was no objection form the leadership or military chiefs. None of the military services wished to handle the missiles.
In accordance with instructions issued by Khrushchev the previous summer, the RVSN rocket forces were established as a separate branch of the armed services. Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 1384-615 / TsK Decree 254 'On the Establishment of the Post of Commander-in-Chief of Missile Forces in the Armed Forces of the USSR--creation of the Strategic Missile Forces' are issued.
Korolev believed it would be truly possible with backing from the very top to have a large rocket in the USSR in a very short span of time. Unfortunately at the meeting Korolev made a slip of the tongue he would always regret, admitting that his plan had not been agreed among all of the Chief Designers. This resulted in Khrushchev throwing the matter back for a consensus plan.
Chelomei visits Khrushchev in the Crimea and presents his ambitious plan for an Organic Space System - a space infrastructure serviced by an integrated family of launch vehicles and spacecraft. The system would include orbiting stations, space factories, winged rockets, and nuclear weapons stored in space with plenty of decoys to defeat any enemy counter-measures. UR-200 rockets would fulfil all roles in servicing this array of weapons. Dementiev supported Chelomei's proposals, but the chief designer would need a factory to support fabrication of the rockets and spacecraft. Myasishchev's bureau and its associated Khrunichev factory were an obvious choice, since the decision had been taken not to put the M-50 bomber or Buran cruise missile into production and the factory would soon be idle.
Korolev says the Venera flight continues normally. He and Keldysh will fly to Yevpatoriya tomorrow to review long-range communications with the spacecraft. After the launch he and Keldysh talked to Khrushchev, who was very happy with the success. Meanwhile, the Vostok for the next flight attempt has arrived at Tyuratam. Launch is set for 24-25 February.
They also, on the basis of the recent examinations and interviews, clear the rest of the cosmonaut trainees for flight except for Rafikov, Filatev, and Zaikin, who passed the examinations but had not yet completed all the tests and training. Moskalenko has given approval for a Soviet film team to go to Tyuratam and film preparations for the flight. At the Presidium meeting Khrushchev had questioned what would be done if the cosmonaut reacted poorly in the first minute of the flight. Korolev answered in his deep voice: 'Cosmonaut are extraordinarily trained, they know the spacecraft and flight conditions better than I and we are confident of their strength'. The flight is still seen as very risky - of seven Vostoks flown unmanned so far, five made it to orbit, three landed safely, but one did not. On the other hand, both recent Venera launch attempts reached low earth orbit.
Everyone is up at the dacha on the Volga at 06:00 and are ready to leave shortly thereafter. Now the weather in Moscow is expected to be fine. At 10:40 an Il-18 takes off for Moscow with Gagarin's party. This consists of Gagarin, Agaltsov, Rytov, Yazdovskiy, several correspondents, and some film operators. 50 km from Moscow seven fighters intercept the transport and form up as an escort, two off each wing, and three trailing. Gagarin calls them on the radio 'Brother fighter pilots - I send you greetings - Yuri Gagarin!' The aircraft formation flies down Lenin Prospekt, Red Square, and then up Gorkiy Street to Vnukovo. There are masses of people everywhere below. At exactly 15:00 the aircraft shuts down its engines 100 m from the reviewing stands. Yuri exits the aircraft and steps into history....
Titov attends in place of Gagarin. Kamanin's cover story is that Gagarin is in the hospital, suffering from exhaustion, and that he will confined to bed until 25 October. Everyone, from Khrushchev on down, is unhappy with this. Kamanin's enemies are using the situation to criticize VVS participation in the space program in general, and Kamanin personally. Without Gagarin, Titov is not seated in the Presidium, and the VVS loses an important lever of influence at the meeting.
The Soviet leadership attends a secret exhibition of Soviet rocket technology in a sporting hall at Pitsunda, on the Black Sea. The Chief Designers offer competing designs. It is decided that the R-16, R-9, UR-200, UR-500, and N1 will go forward. Yangel's R-56 is rejected. Additional Details: here....
Joint flight with Vostok 4. The first such flight, where Vostok capsules were launched one day apart, coming within a few kilometers of each other at the orbital insertion of the second spacecraft. The flight was supposed to occur in March, but following various delays, one of the two Vostok pads was damaged in the explosion of the booster of the third Zenit-2 reconnsat in May. Repairs were not completed until August. Vostok 3 studied man's ability to function under conditions of weightlessness; conducted scientific observations; furthered improvement of space ship systems, communications, guidance and landing. Immediately at orbital insertion of Vostok 4, the spacecraft were less than 5 km apart. Popovich made radio contact with Cosmonaut Nikolayev. Nikolayev reported shortly thereafter that he had sighted Vostok 4. Since the Vostok had no maneuvering capability, they could not rendezvous or dock, and quickly drifted apart. The launches did allow Korolev to offer something new and different, and gave the launch and ground control crews practice in launching and handling more than one manned spacecraft at a time. The cosmonaut took colour motion pictures of the earth and the cabin interior. Additional Details: here....
A meeting of the state commission is held at 07:00 to decide whether to prolong Nikolayev's flight to a fourth day. It is finally agreed that they will bring both spacecraft down on 15 August, with Nikolayev re-entering on his 65th orbit and Popovich on his 49th. Kamanin advises Nikolayev via the Yelizovo tracking station: "Go for a fourth day / 65 orbits". But this will ruin plans for a three-day comprehensive post-landing medical examination, since Nikolayev and Popovich have to be in Moscow on Friday, the 18th, for the preplanned celebrations at the Kremlin.
The State Commission met again at 17:00, to decide whether to extend Popovich to a fourth day as well. Smirnov and Korolev have already discussed this with Khrushchev. It all right with them, and there are no technical reasons not to. But Popovich is much more active than Nikolayev, since he wasn't expecting a four day flight, and he has not conserved his resources as Nikolayev has. At 12:00 the spacecraft temperature was down to 11 deg C, with low humidity. Kamanin objects violently, and finally it is decided to ask the cosmonaut directly if he feels able to go for the extra day. Popovich, when contacted, immediately declares himself ready to go for an extra day and a 65 orbit mission. It is decided to study expected landing conditions for an extended mission and the physical condition of the cosmonaut before making a final decision.
Recovered August 15, 1962 6:59 GMT. Landed 48:09 N 71:51 E. By 07:00 the temperature aboard Vostok 4 is down to 10 deg C, and the humidity at 35%. Popovich is ready to continue for a fourth day, but he admits the cold is getting to him. Keldysh and Rudenko now support returning Vostok 4 to earth on the 49th orbit, but Smirnov still wants to go for the extra day. Then Popovich radios 'I observe thunderstorms (groza). Groza is the pre-agreed code word to indicate that the cosmonaut is vomiting. It is believed he is declaring an emergency and requesting an immediate landing. The State Commission meets again and has to decide within 40 minutes whether to begin setting the spacecraft up for retrofire. But then when Korolev and Smirnov ask the cosmonaut to verify, he explains "I am excellent, I was observing meteorological thunderstorms and lightning". However Gagarin and Kamanin are suspicious of the explanation - they believe Popovich had an attack of nausea, panicked, made the emergency radio transmission, but then felt better and didn't want to admit to his weakness when confronted by the leadership. However it is now too late. He is set to return at nearly the same time as Nikolayev on Vostok 3. Both spacecraft land successfully six minutes apart a short distance from each other. However flight plans for the State Commission are wrecked due to bad weather at nearby airfields.
Korolev, still very ill in the hospital following a collapse six days earlier, supported Kamanin's plan for acceptance of the Vostok manned spacecraft for military service with the Soviet Air Force. It could enter series production and be used for continuous military research flights. However the General Staff continued to oppose any expansion of manned space flight. It it wasn't for Khrushchev, Korolev noted, there would not be any Soviet manned space programme at all.
Work on the OS-1 began following a meeting between Khrushchev and chief designers at Pitsunda. Korolev was authorized to proceed immediately to upgrade the three stage N vehicle to a maximum 75 tonne payload in order to launch the station. By 1965 the mockup of the huge station had been completed.
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.
At 8 am the State Commission meets and approves a five-hour countdown to launch of Vostok 5 at 14:00. The cosmonaut and his backup have slept well and are at medical at 9:00 for the pre-flight physical examination and donning of their space suits. At T minus 2 hours and fifteen minutes they ride the bus to the pad. A few minutes after Bykovskiy is inserted into the capsule, problems with the UHF communications channels are encountered - three of the six channels seem to be inoperable. Gagarin and Odintsov are consulted on how it will be for the cosmonaut to fly with just three channels operable - is it a Go or No-Go? Go! Next a problem develops with the ejection seat. After the hatch is sealed, a technician cannot find one of the covers that should have been removed from the ejection seat mechanism. It is necessary to unbolt the hatch and check - the seat will not eject if the cover has been left in place. At T minus 15 minutes Gagarin, Korolev, Kirillov, and Kamanin go into the bunker adjacent to the rocket.
A new problem arises -- the 'Go' light for the Block-E third stage won't illuminate on the control room console. It can't be determined if it is a failure of the stage or an instrumentation failure. It will take two to five hours to bring up the service tower and check out the stage. But if the rocket is left fuelled that long, regulations say it must be removed from the pad and sent back to the factory for refurbishment. In that case there can be no launch until August. Krylov and the State Commission would rather defer the launch to August. The last possible launch time is 17:00 in order to have correct lighting conditions for retrofire and at emergency landing zones. But Korolev, Tyulin, Kirillov, and Pilyugin have faith in their rocket, decide that the problem must be instrumentation, and recycle the count for a 17:00 launch.
The launch goes ahead perfectly at 17:00 - even all six UHF communications channels function perfectly. On orbit 4 Bykovskiy talks to Khrushchev from orbit and good television images are received from the capsule. Bykovskiy reports he can see the stars but not the solar corona. His orbit is good for eleven days.
Bykovskiy slept well, his pulse was 54. The ground station could observe him via television - he made no motion while sleeping. On orbit 23 the cosmonaut was to communicate with earth, but no transmissions were received. Gagarin asks him why, and Bykovskiy simply replies that he had nothing to say and had already had a communications session with Zarya-1. But this was not true, they also reported no transmissions. At 07:00 he is asleep again, pulse 48-51. An hour later Korolev calls and discusses the impending launch of Vostok 6, 11 hours later.
At 12:15 Tereshkova is on the pad. Her pulse skyrockets to 140 aboard the elevator to the top of the rocket. 10 to 15 minutes later she is in the capsule and testing radio communications with ground control. There are no problems with the spacecraft or launch vehicle during the countdown - everything goes perfectly, just as it did on 12 April 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Tereshkova handles the launch and ascent to orbit much better than Popovich or Nikolayev according to her biomedical readings and callouts. Kamanin feels reassured that it was no mistake to select her for the flight.
The launch of the first woman into space creates a newspaper sensation throughout the world. Direct orbit-to-orbit communications between Tereshkova and Bykovskiy are excellent. She talks to Khrushchev and the Soviet leadership soon thereafter. This was truly a great victory for Communism!
The big day for the cosmonauts. Departure for Moscow was scheduled for 10:30, with the meeting with Khrushchev at Vnukovo planned for 15:00. A sensitive issue - who would exit the aircraft first - Tereshkova, the main celebrity, or Bykovskiy, the senior cosmonaut and the first one launched? An enormous motorcade takes the entourage from the house on the Volga to the airport. Tereshkova and Kamanin are in the lead automobile, followed by Bykovskiy in the second, then the correspondents and so far in others, at five minute intervals. Huge crowds all along the route chant 'Valya! Valya! During the flight to Moscow Kamanin goes over Tereshkova's speech with her. When she and Bykovskiy get off the plane and march up to the tribune, a completely new life will begin for them. After the immense reception at the airport, they go with the leadership to a huge rally at Red Square.
Khrushchev has given Nikolayev and Tereshkova a new apartment in Moscow. It is in a building normally reserved exclusively for the highest Communist Part members - Kutuzovskiy Prospect number 30132, Apartment 1013L. The apartment has 7 rooms and can be divided into two sections if they wish to live apart.
Kamanin meets with Nikolayev, who briefs him on his goodwill tour of Soviet cities. Kamanin shows him a 200-rouble fine art book on the first space missions, of which he has received only six copies to distribute. Nikolayev would like one, but Kamanin says it is reserved for Tereshkova. Gagarin later briefs Kamanin on his tour of Western Europe. Gagarin is interested in commanding the Voskhod 1 mission, but Kamanin believes it is too risky. However the excuse he gives to Gagarin is that none of the flown cosmonauts are flight-ready due to constant publicity tours. Given only three months to prepare for the flight, the commander will have to be one of the unflown cosmonauts current in training. Later Kamanin formulates a position for the General Staff on the Voskhod flights. The VVS should promise full support for the Party's resolution, while pointing out the risks and the unreliability of the Voskhod design. Kamanin is told the support will be transmitted, but the qualifiers will not. Kamanin fumes that Khrushchev has given the go-ahead to proceed without being informed at all of the grave risks.
Kamanin has decided to train two groups in parallel: flown cosmonauts (Titov, Bykovsky, and Popovich), and passenger-cosmonauts. Gagarin and Nikolayev oppose plans to fly non-military personnel in space. Kamanin observes with disgust that Khrushchev is handing out medals meant for true Soviet heroes to himself and foreign leaders such as Janos Kadar and Fidel Castro. He observes that Khrushchev will turn 70 on April 17, and no longer enjoys support from the military or other sectors of the state. Kamanin recites what he sees as Khrushchev's mistakes: his denunciation of Stalin, his ruining of relations with other Communist states such as Yugoslavia, Albania, and China; and he has ruined the Soviet domestic economy, with basic foodstuffs suffering in quality and quantity.
Korolev meets with the cosmonauts, VVS, and RVSN staff to discuss concerns as to the safety of Voskhod. As for flying without spacesuits, Korolev points out than in 14 Zenit-2/Zenit-4 and 10 Vostok flights there has not been a single instance of loss of cabin pressure. He conveniently omits stating that the suit used on the Vostok missions allowed the cosmonaut 4 to 6 hours of oxygen supply to return to earth in case of cabin depressurisation; but on Voskhod the crew will perish. As for individual crew parachutes, he believes they are useless since the crew would not get a chance to use them in an emergency anyway. Korolev sold Khrushchev on the mission by characterising Voskhod as a modification of the reliable Vostok spacecraft. However, he did inform Khrushchev that the risk of loss of the crew on a Voskhod flight was greater than on a Vostok flight. However it was decided this risk was worth taking in exchange for the great political effect of having the first multi-man crew in space.
The cosmodrome is a beehive of activity, not just for the unmanned Voskhod launch, now set for 18 September, but also for the impending visit of Premier Khrushchev on 24 September. Meanwhile Tsybin, Chertok, Kholodkov, and Vinokur are hurriedly implementing and testing changes made to the landing system as a result of the failures at Fedosiya. This will likely slip the mannequin launch to the end of September.
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.
Kamanin arrives at Baikonur. All is ready for the Voskhod launch, except the spacecraft. Kamanin conducts a final readiness review with Volynov, Komarov, Katys, Feoktistov, Yegorov, Sorokin, and Lazarev. He tells them that every one of them must do his utmost to be physically and psychologically ready for the flight, since the final crew selection will not be made until 2 or 3 days before the launch. Gagarin, Belyayev, and Khrunov are at the cosmodrome, where they are showing the Vykhod spacecraft to Khrushchev. Later Kamanin discusses the crew selection with the military leadership. The top brass have no interest in space and seem to be ready to give in to Korolev. This invalidates everything Kamanin was worked for in terms of establishing a systematic method of cosmonaut selection, training, and crew selection.
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. Additional Details: here....
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.
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....
From 1963-1965 Ustinov was both head of the Soviet for the National Economy and the First Secretary of the Presidium of Soviet Ministers. He supported civilian space projects and instructed the military to co-operate in them. But after Khrushchev was ousted, Ustinov had less influence with the Ministry of Defence.
After the death of Korolev in January, a letter was sent to the Central Committee requesting that Mishin be appointed director of OKB-1. Ustinov tried to line up support for Mishin, but by the time of the first first Saturn IB orbital flight on 26 February 1966, no decision had been made. America was progressing on the path to the moon, but Russia was stalled. An alternate that had been considered was Sergei Okhapkin, another Deputy Chief Designer at TsKBEM. But Okhapkin knew only spacecraft, he had never developed complete launch-booster-spacecraft systems. By the time Mishin was appointed, it was clear that the race was lost. The American's planned their first Saturn V launch in September 1967 and their first manned flight in 1968. Mishin could not expect trials of the LK lunar lander until 1969 at the earliest. There were insufficient funds allocated, and the schedule had no allowance for test flight failures. Ustinov, Morozhin, and Keldysh pointed fingers as to who had presented such unrealistic schedules to the Politburo. Keldysh now supported unmanned robot lunar landers in development by Babakin. Even these would not land until 1970, allowing three years of flight trials to achieve reliability. Khrushchev, it seemed, was to blame for such enormous unaffordable projects. This in turn put Ustinov in danger, as Khrushchev's point man for space.
Apollo 8 has been launched. Kamanin recalls that he first saw a model of the Saturn V during his visit to Washington DC with Titov in 1962. At that time the Soviet Union planned to fly the N1 in four years, but the only manned spacecraft on the drawing boards after Voskhod was the Sever. Khrushchev didn't give a go-ahead for the lunar program until 1964. In the gap between Voskhod and Soyuz flights, when the American Gemini program seized the lead, the USSR could have achieved a record by flying Volynov for 18 days in Voskhod 3. But this was cancelled at the last minute by the leadership because the Voskhod had 'no development potential'. Ustinov, Smirnov, Pashkov were responsible for this decision, which put the USSR permanently behind in the space race.
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.