Born: 1916-12-26. Died: 2000-03-05.
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.
Korolev dies at age 59 during what was expected to be routine colon surgery in Moscow. The day began for Kamanin with firm plans finally in place for the next three Voskhod and first three Soyuz flights. Volynov and Shonin will be the crew for the first Voskhod flight, with Beregovoi and Shatalov as their back-ups. That will be followed by a female flight of 15-20 days, with the crew begin Ponomaryova and Solovyova, with their back-ups Sergeychik (nee Yerkina) and Pitskhelaura (nee Kuznetsova). Tereshkova will command the female training group. Training is to be completed by March 15. After this Kamanin goes to his dacha, only to be called by General Kuznetsov around 19:00, informing him that Korolev has died during surgery.
Kamanin does not minimise Korolev's key role in creating the Soviet space program, but believes the collectives can continue the program without him. In truth, Kamanin feels Korolev has made many errors of judgment in the last three years that have hurt the program. Mishin, Korolev's first deputy, will take over management of Korolev's projects. Kamanin feels that Mishin is a clever and cultured engineer, but he is no Korolev. Over the next three days the cosmonauts console Korolev's widow.
Korolev's surgery was done personally by Petrovskiy, the Minister of Health. Korolev was told the surgery would take only a few minutes, but after five hours on the operating table, his body could no longer endure the insult, and he passed away.
Ustinov calls Gagarin, Komarov, and Leonov to his office to discuss their long-unanswered letter to Brezhnev. He asks about cosmonaut training for Soyuz flights, and surprisingly, Voskhod 3 (long buried by Mishin, though no resolution or decision ever cancelled the mission). He urges the cosmonauts to stop quarrelling and work more closely with OKB-1. Kamanin judges from the report of this strange conversation that Ustinov has a completely distorted view of affairs, as a result of falsehoods fed to him by Mishin and Smirnov. Shortly after this debriefing General Kuznetsov calls with the surprising news that Mishin has issued orders for work to resume in preparing Voskhod 3 for flight. But this is the last that is ever heard of the Voskhod 3 mission...
Attending are Kuznetsov, Gagarin, Khlebnikov. There are three training groups: Soyuz, L1, and L3. Mishin and the MOM are holding up further training of cosmonauts until the VVS agrees to accept Mishin's candidates from TsKBEM. In any case, Mishin's attitude is that 'automation in space is everything. Humans in space are only supposed to monitor the operation of automated systems'. L3 cosmonauts selected by the VVS are: Leonov, Bykovsky, Nikolayev, Popovich, Voronov, Khrunov, Gorbatko, Artyukhin, Kubasov, Makarov, and Rukavishnikov. The official requirements: balanced composition of a crew according to mass requirements (no more than 70 kg weight per cosmonaut), and the ability to monitor fully automated function of the L3. According to official documents, the crew's primary function is to guide the flight, but now Mishin intends that their primary role will be as subjects of psychological and physical observations to establish the adaptation of the human organism to space flight).
Holidays - in the first ten days of May, the civilians work only two days, while the military must work four. Kamanin assigns cosmonauts to the State Commission that will select the design for the Gagarin memorial obelisk. He then reviews cosmonaut pilot aircraft type qualifications. Titov is current on the Su-7, MiG-21, and several other high-performance aircraft. Nikolayev and Leonov are still certified to fly two or three MiG fighter types. Belyayev, Bykovsky, Popovich, Kutachov, and the others are only current on the L-29 trainer. The L-29 is 20 times more reliable than the MiG-21 or Su-7, and the MiG-15 trainer is 4x to 5x more reliable than the high performance types. In general the cosmonauts are against plans to move the air regiment to TsPK from Chkalovsky air field due to greater air space restrictions over Moscow.
The VPK confirms the Soyuz flight plan - a 0+1 mission to be followed by a 1+3 mission with crew transfer. Chiefs of the cosmonaut detachments are confirmed and announced. Nikolayev will be Deputy Chief of TsPK; Bykovsky, Commander of the First Detachment of Cosmonauts; Titov, Commander of the Second Detachment, and Popovich, Deputy Commander of the Second Detachment. Kuznetsov, Belyayev, and Leonov are not happy with these appointments. The General Staff also approves creation of a fourth training detachment at TsPK, charged with flight, engineering, and experiment development - requiring an additional 200 staff.
Meetings are held at the cosmonaut centre to plan for the big visit to the base by Marshal Grechko. N F Kuznetsov briefs plans for the centre with the general staff. Kamanin discusses the situation with Leonov. Leonov notes the saying from Lenin on a banner at the centre: "Know how to work!" Unfortunately, they have left out the second part: "Don't hurry!" Leonov states he is not assigning Volynov to any future flights.
However the board makes a big fuss over Kamanin having trained only four back-up cosmonauts to support eight prime-crew cosmonauts. A follow-up meeting is held with Smirnov and Afanasyev at 19:15, where Kamanin's training is denounced as a big failure. Nevertheless at 22:00 the word comes from the Kremlin to proceed with the missions. Kamanin points out that simultaneously with this mission he had cosmonauts in training for Soyuz s/n 17, 18, 19, 20 (Kontakt missions) and L1 circumlunar fights. Kuznetsov, Beregovoi, and several other cosmonauts are also enraged with Kamanin for bumping Nikolyaev from the Soyuz 8 crew. Kamanin maintains that in the circumstances he only had enough training resources for 8 prime + 4 back-up crew, especially for a mission scenario that would not be flown again in the future.
Pushkin and Kuznetsov brief Kamanin on the results of the N1/L3 expert commission. They found that the N1/L3 is unreliable and that the design needs to be fundamentally re-examined. Therefore the Soviet Ministers and Central Committee passed a decree that the commission must determine by 1 May 1971 what to do with the lunar project. Kamanin's opinion: abandon the N1-L3, modify Chelomei's UR-700 design to replace it, and design a new lunar landing spacecraft for missions in 1974-1975. Mishin is afraid of such a solution. Kamanin believes that the commission, headed by Keldysh, will finally recommend continued development and flight of Mishin's bad booster and even worse spacecraft. It is true that the N1 design has been substantially reworked in the last 18 months, but Kamanin believes it to be fundamentally flawed and that nothing can make it reliable.
After Mishin pushed his Indian Ocean recovery plan for the L3, the VVS insisted on sea trials of the capsule. These showed the cosmonauts had to get out within 30 to 35 minutes before the valves to the interior started leaking seawater. The L3 is also unsafe due to the EVA method of transfer to the LK of a single unassisted cosmonaut. The Krechet spacesuit is very bulky and unmanoeuvrable.
Prague wanted Gagarin's widow for International Women's Day.since Tereshkkova couldn't go, but she wants no part of public appearances.