Soko Space Suite
Vostok Soko Space Suit
Credit: © Mark Wade
AKA: SK-1. Status: operational 1961.
Zvezda developed the KP-V-3A pilot seat, which provided for an emergency escape in the ascent phase and normal ejection of the cosmonaut before landing (there was no soft landing system on Vostok). The SK-1 full-pressure space suit, equipped with an auxiliary life support system and survival features, provided for cosmonaut safety under all expected environmental conditions of flight and after landing.
|Vostok Ejection Seat
|Vostok Sokol Suit
Credit: © Mark Wade
A A Kobzanev heads the review. The decision is made that the first launch of Vostok-3 will not have to be contingent on full ground test of each and every system. The gas analyser and antenna deployment unit of the NAZ still have not completed tests. However for the second mannequin flight, all systems must be operative. Other essential tests needed to clear the spacecraft for manned flight include: several ejection seat tower tests; one ejection seat test from the capsule, a test of the emergency abort system at the launch pad, sea trials of the spacesuit and NAZ. After a thirteen-day endurance trial the humidity within the spacecraft should not exceed 60%. In the tests so far, the humidity reached 80% and the temperature 35 deg C after only nine days. The first launch is now set for 2-3 March and the second for 20-25 March. Therefore the Soviet Union should be able to launch the first man into space by the end of March at best, with the first half of April being more likely.
Alekseyev's bureau continues to be the pacing organisation for the first manned flight. All trials of the suit and seat must be completed by 20 March. The second Vostok 3KA will not be allowed to fly until these tests are completed - which Alekseyev says won't be done until 21-25 April. Installation of unqualified systems in the capsule is seen as high-risk. In the evening the State Commission reviews the matter. The tests must be completed as follows: Alekseyev's tests of ejection of a mannequin from a capsule must be completed no later than 10 March; the LII test centre must complete two ejections into the wind stream from the Il-28 bomber testbed; sea trials of the NAZ ejection seat much be conducted by 10-20 March; and a ten-day test will be conducted from 2 to 12 March of the environmental control system.
Chief of Staff F A Agaltsov visits the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine (IAKM) to review the six cosmonauts' training for flight. An 11-day trial is underway of the hot mock-up of the Vostok capsule's environmental control system. He also sees the dogs that have flown in space: Belka, Strelka, and Chernushka. Strelka has six 3-month-old puppies. Vershinin delivers a speech asking the cosmonauts to be morally prepared for spaceflight. The cosmonauts complain about the performance of Alekseyev's design bureau - of six spacesuits ordered, only three have been delivered (for Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov), and they haven't been able to train in parachute jumping in the suits yet.
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.
It is a beautiful day. The cosmonauts discuss contingencies in case of a water landing. In fact their chances are slim. There are only two Soviet ships equipped with HF and UHF direction-finding equipment that could locate them. The NAZ ejection seat is not designed to float, and the spherical re-entry capsule is no better. Therefore the only option is a landing on the territory of the Soviet Union. In the evening Gagarin, Titov, and Nelyubov practice at the MIK - donning their suits, landing in the spacecraft cabin if that is necessary, getting out of the suit, communications operations, and so on. They are able to get the suit on in 20 minutes, and get it off in 15 minutes. Many space centre workers come to watch the exercises.
Six cosmonauts are certified as ready for flight. Trials of a new parachute and spacesuit design are not going well. The Vostok ECS has also not yet been perfected. The temperature in the cabin of Vostok 2 went down to 10 deg C due to what turned out to be an installation error (both the primary and back-up circulation fans were operating). Before finding the true nature of the problem, other modifications were made to the system, which resulted in the cabin being at 35 to 40 deg C in tests. The Mikron system, which is supposed to control the physiological function of the cosmonaut for ejection and landing, has never worked correctly.
Kamanin meets with Alekseyev on the design of a space suit for the female cosmonauts. He advises the designer of the absolute need to have them finished by the end of the year and provides the measurements of the five ladies. Alekseyev advises he cannot possibly complete the suits earlier than the first quarter of 1963. He won't be pressured in the absence of an official government decree -- at the same time that Korolev and Smirnov are pressing the Central Committee for permission to make a female flight in September 1962!!
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.
Victory Day Holiday in the Soviet Union. The cosmonauts toured Glushko's engine factory. Glushko has 11,000 employees at four locations. The resentment between Glushko and Korolev, going back to their time in the Gulag, is apparent. Korolev calls during the tour but Glushko does not return his call. Later Alekseyev contacts Kamanin and proposes that Komarov be the back-up cosmonaut for Vostok 5 rather than Khrunov - because he hasn't finished the suit yet for Khrunov!
The VVS wants to send 55 staff to Tyuratam for the launches, but Korolev wants no more than 25. This is just possible - 11 cosmonauts, 8 engineers, and vital support staff only. Bykovskiy was to start a two day run in the hot mock-up, but it was called off due to defects with his suits - the biosensors were wired to his helmet microphone! The suit seems not even to have been tested before delivery. Alekseyev was supposed to have it ready by 9 May, now it will only be ready for use by 14 May. Gordon Cooper is scheduled for a 34 hour Mercury flight tomorrow....
Problems with Titov again. While on a road trip with a journalist, he left a satchel with sensitive and classified papers unattended in his car - documents from Korolev, secret state decrees by the Supreme Soviet, etc. At 12:30 Volynov took Bykovskiy's place in the hot mock-up. Examination of Bykovskiy's suit showed that it had been incorrectly assembled.
A meeting of Generals Kholodkov (VVS) and Yuryshev (General Staff) reviews military space plans - launch centres, anti-satellite forces, command and control systems. Kamanin looks forward to the VVS taking control of military cosmonautics. Later a meeting with Korolev and Bushuyev reviews Voskhod crew plans. It is agreed that the commanders will be selected from among the four flight-ready unflown cosmonauts (Volynov, Komarov, Leonov, Khrunov). Korolev describes in detail for the first time the inflatable airlock that is to be fitted to four Voskhods to allow one cosmonaut to exit into space. Korolev believes it will be possible to use the existing Vostok spacesuit for this operation, but Kamanin severely doubts this.