Credit: © Mark Wade
Launched: 1965 April. Number crew: 1 .
In the flight series originally planned in January-March 1963 this would have been flown by the end of 1963 and would have been an unmanned thirty day biosat flight. In the late 1963 - early 1964 series it was changed to a high altitude manned Vostok flight for extended scientific studies. Spacecraft would have been allowed to naturally decay to a re-entry after ten days. Purposes of these flights were to be: geophysical and astronomical research; photography of the solar corona; solar x-ray imagery; medical-biological research; detailed study of the effects of weightlessness on the human organism; dosimetry; and engineering tests of ion flow sensors to be used for orientation of later Soyuz spacecraft. All follow-on Vostok missions cancelled in Spring 1964.
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....
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.
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.
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.
Kamanin prepared recommendations for General Staff discussions on future Vostok military flights. His plan involved construction of ten additional spacecraft including new versions to test military equipment for reconnaisance, interception, and combat objectives. Flights would begin in 1963: manned flights of ten days duration; flights with biological payloads of 30 days duration; flights with biological payloads in high orbits to test the effects of Van Allen radiation belt exposure; flights that would conduct a range of technology experiments, including manual landing; landing with the cosmonaut within the capsule; depressurisation of the capsule to vacuum test equipment and suits for future spacewalks; etc). The plan was killed by his superiors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Another meeting is held with Korolev on future manned space flight plans. The same plans are presented as have been discussed for over a year - one animal flight, three manned flights for 10 days / to 1000 km. This issue must be resolved. Soyuz will not fly before 1965 - therefore Vostok must be flown or there will no Soviet manned spaceflights in 1964. In reality Soyuz is likely to be delayed, and 6 to 8 Vostoks are needed, not just 4. Equipment to be tested on the flights included soft landing equipment, a back-up retrofire engine, long-range communications systems, and scientific experiments. The physicians are too conservative - zero-G is obviously not as big an issue as thought. There should be nothing to prevent flight of non-pilot passengers. Korolev points out that if the cosmonaut is consumed by fear, or if any serious problem arises, as long as you can survive for an hour an emergency return to earth can be made. Within an hour the passenger will be in Cuba or Vladivostok. Kamanin would like Gagarin to be appointed next head of the cosmonaut centre, but this is opposed by Rudnev and Vershinin. Tereshkova has talked to Khrushchev - he's now supporting award of a Hero of the Soviet Union medal to Nikitin.
Kamanin picks up a new Volga automobile. It cost him 5513 roubles, but one door doesn't fit and the trunk is scarred with excess hardened resin. Sukarno has asked for Tereshkova and Bykovskiy to visit Indonesia for two weeks in August, but this is impossible.
In a three hour meeting Korolev goes over his future flight plans for Vostok. The first flight will be unmanned, with a biological payload, in February or March 1964. The flight is to last 10 or 11 days and take the specimens up to 600 to 1000 km altitude, into the lower reaches of the Van Allen radiation belts. This will be followed by three cosmonaut flights of ten days with significant military and scientific experiments. A new ground control system will be installed and tested to handle all in-flight emergencies. A new autonomous on-board navigation system will be flight tested. Korolev wants the military to take over conduct of future Vostok flights - they are taking up to much of his time and nerves. He has told this repeated to Khrushchev and Brezhnev without result. Meanwhile Kamanin lobbies within the military hierarchy for the removal of Odintsev. It is decided that the matter will be taken up at the next meeting of the Military Soviet.
News reaches Moscow that Kennedy has been assassinated. Kamanin talks with Rudenko, who is not interested in Kamanin's plans for a wider VVS role in space. Rudenko believes Korolev's promises that Soyuz will start test flights in 1964 and that no further Vostok flights are necessary. Kamanin pleads that without such flights the American Gemini program will fly unopposed and give the Americans a decisive lead in the space race. The Soviet Union could launch a modified Vostok - a three place spacecraft - to upstage Gemini but the decision has to made now. Rudenko is unmoved.
Kamanin is to put together a cosmonaut training plan for additional Vostok and new Soyuz flights by 1 February. Due to a lack of completed spacecraft, the next Vostok flight will not be possible until June 1964 at the earliest. The travel plans for the cosmonauts during the first half of 1964 are also to be drawn up. Tereshkova, Nikolayev, and Bykovsky are to tour India, Indonesia, Burma, Nepal, and Sri Lanka later in the year. Tereshkova will go to Ghana and Lebanon on 20 January, then to England on 31 January.
The General Staff of the VVS considers future cosmonaut assignments. The acceptance of Beregovoi into the active cosmonaut corps is hotly contested. He has passed all the tests, but is 43 years old, and the official maximum age for a cosmonaut is 35. Finally it is decided that on 25 January six cosmonauts will begin training for Vostok flights (Volynov, Khrunov, Belyayev, Leonov, Komarov, and Beregovoi). On 1 February four crews will begin training for Soyuz flights: Crew 1: Nikolayev, Shonin, Demin, Kugno; Crew 2: Bykovsky, Zaikin, Artyukhin, Gulyayev; Crew 3: Popovich, Gorbatko, Ponomaryova, Kolodin; Crew 4: Titov, Shatalov, Solovyova, Zholobov.
The cosmonauts are resisting the VVS leadership's changes to training plans, particularly the pushing of Beregovoi and the downgrading of Volynov's assignment. Kamanin vows to vigorously fight flying Beregovoi until he has completed the full course of cosmonaut training and has proven himself worthy of a flight assignment.
Kamanin prepares schedules for Tereshkova's visit to England on 4-10 February. Leonov's Vostok training group travels to Kirzhach to complete parachute training. Kamanin tries to pressure Korolev, Zverev, and Ivanovskiy to accelerate work on further Vostok flights.
Korolev is supporting establishment of a new institute, the IMBP, for study of biological reactions to spaceflight. He plans to complete 8 additional Vostok capsules, of which two or three will be used for unmanned life sciences missions. There is continued controversy over the next few days about the acceleration of Beregovoi's training to qualify him for an early spaceflight, and Volynov's movement from the Vostok to Soyuz training groups.
The cosmonauts visit Korolev at OKB-1 for the first viewing of the mock-up of the Soyuz spacecraft. Korolev announces that single-place Vostoks will fly no more, and that instead four of the spacecraft will be completed during 1964 to take three crew members. This decision has been taken since it was now certain that Soyuz will not be ready to fly in 1964, and the impending first flights of American Gemini and Apollo spacecraft will give the USA a lead in manned spaceflight before Soyuz missions can be flown.
Kamanin is disturbed by the decision. He recalls that in 1961 flight of the Vostok with two or three crew was discussed, with flights to occur in 1962-1963. But at that time Korolev cancelled the plans, saying the Soyuz would be used for such missions. Now Soyuz will not fly until 1965, and he has changed his tune. Furthermore, the modified Vostok is inherently risky, with no way to save the crew in case of a launch vehicle malfunction in the first 40 seconds of flight. Unlike Vostok, the three crew will not have individual ejection seats or parachutes to give them a chance of escape in the event of an abort. The crew will be subject to 10 to 25 G's during an abort. There is no assurance the environmental control system can be modified to handle three crew. It all seems very unsafe, and Kamanin believes the six consecutive successful Vostok flights have given Korolev's engineers a false sense of the safety of the Vostok system. Kamanin is perplexed. How does he plan to convert a single-place spacecraft to a three-place spacecraft in a few months? Korolev has no clear answers, but asks for the cosmonauts' support of the scheme.
Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 59 'On approval of work to convert Vostok to Voskhod and use it for three-person space missions' is issued. The resolution instructs GKOT to complete four Vostok spacecraft to the multi-passenger Voskhod configuration. The first is to be completed by 15 June 1964; the second by 30 June; the third and fourth, in July. The crew for the first mission will consist of a pilot-cosmonaut, a scientist, and a physician. Launch is set for the first half of August 1965.
Kamanin receives the directive issued by Biryuzov to implement the Voskhod Party resolutions. Four spacecraft will be completed, two in a three-man configuration, to be flown in the second half of 1964, and two in a configuration that will provide an airlock and allow one cosmonaut to exit into open space. Less than a year is allowed to develop the new spacecraft version for the spacewalk, as well as develop the space suit. This will be a crash priority program, and allow Korolev no resources to complete and launch five Vostok spacecraft on manned and life sciences missions beginning in May.