Born: 1911-06-22. Died: 1980-08-13.
Rudnev chaired the meeting, which first heard the failure analysis for the failed Mars launches on 10 and 14 October and the R-16 catastrophe on 24 October. All of these had been accelerated to coincide with Khrushchev's visit to the United Nations in New York, in Kamanin's view a criminal rush that led to the death of 74 officers and men in the R-16 explosion. Future plans were then reviewed. Launches of probes toward Venus were planned for 20-23 January, 28-30 January, and 8-10 February. Four Vostok manned spacecraft were completed, with first launch scheduled for 5 February and the second for 15-20 February.
The cosmonauts practice donning the suits and adjusting the regulators. Kamanin muses on the need to convince the VVS leadership to support the TTZ for a new manned spacecraft, on the way to better organize the IP tracking stations, and how to obtain a leading role for the VVS in development of reconnaissance satellites. Otherwise, he believes the Russians will lose the space race to the Americans, who are launching 3 to 4 times more satellites. He notes that 22 Discoverers have been launched to develop an American reconnaissance satellite, and he comments on the Echo-1 passive communications balloon. The Americans are pushing to match the Soviet Union in launch vehicles and already surpass them in electronics, communications, and telemetry. Kamanin notes that communications with Venera 1 were lost when it was only 2 million kilometres from earth, while the US has already demonstrated communications with satellites out to 37 million kilometres. He admires the way the Americans have concentrated all of their efforts in one civilian space organization, with full-time managers for the effort. By comparison, the Soviets only have part-time managers, such as Ustinov, Rudnev, and so on. After the suit exercise the cosmonauts play chess and cards, but again Gagarin does not take part, and is deep in silent thought.
At 08:54 a meeting is held, where it is decided the bad performance of Voronin and Alekseyev in completing their capsule subsystems will be reported to Ustinov and Rudnev. At 13:00 the booster is rolled out to the pad. At 18:00 Gagarin and Titov donn their space suits and practice riding the elevator up to the spacecraft, and entering the hatch. This is to give them a practical feel for the time it will actually take them to get aboard and complete checkout of the spacecraft and suit.
Rudnev arrives at the cosmondrome, and the first state commission meeting is held with Korolev and the technicians at 11:30. The oxygen regenerator is still not ready, and it is decided to fly with the old dehumidifier on the first flight, since only a 90 minute mission is planned anyway. The suit and all recovery systems worked perfectly on the 9 and 25 March mannequin flights, so the NAZ system is deemed ready for flight. After the meeting Rudnev and Makarov of the KGB go to work on the written orders that will be binding on the cosmonauts in case of accidental landing on foreign territory. Kamanin, Keldysh, and Korolev draw up the final draft of the announcements to be issued in case of normal orbital insertion and after successful landing. In the evening Gagarin and Titov try on their individual suits and Alekseyev checks the parachute systems. The cosmonauts return to the hotel at 11 pm.
At Area 2 the cosmonauts conduct three hours of training on manual landing, and activities after landing. All three accomplish the manual landing well. Then they have three hours of badminton for physical conditioning. Both Gagarin and Titov like the game, and they are filmed for posterity. In the evening Rudnev discusses adding a night shift in order to achieve launch on 11 to 12 April. Afterwards Vershinin is briefed, and told all is normal, heading for an 11/12 April launch. Vershinin replies that the Americans are planning to launch their first man into space on 28 April. Kamanin is confident, there will be no difficulty in beating them. He notes the Americans launched a Mercury capsule on 24 March, but there was an abort and the capsule sank in the Atlantic. In the evening the movies are 'Careful, Babushka' and 'Vostok-1'. Kamanin finds the film on the mission good. General Moskalenko calls - he wants a meeting with the cosmonauts on launch day. Kamanin is not opposed, but he needs to know a specific time - it will be a busy morning before the launch
It is a pleasant spring day at Area 10. The cosmonauts play sports, games, and chess. Rudnev and Moskalaneko think the launch will not realistically happen until 14-15 April. Kamanin informs Gagarin and Titov of the selection of Gagarin to be the first man in space.
Kamanin plays badminton with Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov, winning 16 to 5. At 12:00 a meeting is held with the cosmonauts at the Syr Darya River. Rudnev, Moskalenko, and Korolev informally discuss plans with Gagarin, Titov, Nelyubov, Popovich, Nikolayev, and Bykovsky. Korolev addresses the group, saying that it is only four years since the Soviet Union put the first satellite into orbit, and here they are about to put a man into space. The six cosmonauts here are all ready and qualified for the first flight. Although Gagarin has been selected for this flight, the others will follow soon - in this year production of ten Vostok spacecraft will be completed, and in future years it will be replaced by the two or three-place Sever spacecraft. The place of these cosmonauts here does not indicate the completion of our work, says Korolev, but rather the beginning of a long line of Soviet spacecraft. Korolev predicts that the flight will be completed safely, and he wishes Yuri Alekseyevich success. Kamanin and Moskalenko follow with their speeches. In the evening the final State Commission meeting is held. Launch is set for 12 April and the selection of Gagarin for the flight is ratified. The proceedings are recorded for posterity on film and tape.
First manned spaceflight, one orbit of the earth. Three press releases were prepared, one for success, two for failures. It was only known ten minutes after burnout, 25 minutes after launch, if a stable orbit had been achieved.
The payload included life-support equipment and radio and television to relay information on the condition of the pilot. The flight was automated; Gagarin's controls were locked to prevent him from taking control of the ship. The combination to unlock the controls was available in a sealed envelope in case it became necessary to take control in an emergency. After retrofire, the service module remained attached to the Sharik reentry sphere by a wire bundle. The joined craft went through wild gyrations at the beginning of re-entry, before the wires burned through. The Sharik, as it was designed to do, then naturally reached aerodynamic equilibrium with the heat shield positioned correctly.
Gagarin ejected after re-entry and descended under his own parachute, as was planned. However for many years the Soviet Union denied this, because the flight would not have been recognized for various FAI world records unless the pilot had accompanied his craft to a landing. Recovered April 12, 1961 8:05 GMT. Landed Southwest of Engels Smelovka, Saratov. Additional Details: here....
The government has decided to decrease rather than increase the authority of the Chairman of the State Commission for Manned Flights. Kerimov will be appointed to the post. He is now only Chief for the MOM Third Main Administration. His predecessors were Ministers or Deputy Ministers (Rudnev, Smirnov, Tyulin). Kerimov will not have the rank or authority to stand up to dozens of chief designers, deputy ministers, Marshals, Generals, or the President of the Academy of Sciences. Kamanin observes that Soviet space affairs continue to roll downhill under the "valiant" management of Ustinov and Smirnov.