Vostok 3K in ground trolley
Credit: RKK Energia
AKA: Sokol (Falcon). Launched: 1962-08-11. Returned: 1962-08-15. Number crew: 1 . Duration: 3.93 days.
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 color motion pictures of the earth and the cabin interior. Recovered August 15, 1962 6:52 GMT. Landed 48:02N 75:45 E.
|Vostok 3 Poster
Nikolayev before entering spacecraft
Credit: RKK Energia
Korolev proposes to Kamanin the launch of three manned Vostok spacecraft at one-day intervals: the first on a three-day flight, and the second and third on two- or three-day flights. Three Soviet manned spacecraft would be in orbit at once. Kamanin has no problem in principle, but does not believe any such flight could take place until 1962, rather than the November 1961 schedule proposed by Korolev. Kamanin goes so far as to write a letter from the VVS saying they would not agree to such a schedule. Due to problems on Titov's one-day flight, Kamanin believed the next flight should not exceed two days, which implied a maximum of only two spacecraft could be in space at one time. Korolev is furious -- and his relationship with the VVS and Kamanin are poor thereafter.
The leadership has approved Kamanin's plan for the selection in the next year of 60 new cosmonaut trainees, including five women. Kamanin expects to see some of the women in orbit by the second half of 1962. DOSAAF has submitted 40 to 50 potential female candidates, selected from their files. Meanwhile, Titov is set to tour Indonesia in January. The Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 group flight is planned for March 1962.
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.
Ustinov wants launch of two cosmonauts within a month to answer the American Glenn flight. Of seven candidates, Nikolayev and Popovich are most likely to be selected. Meanwhile Titov has more incidents. He has driven his Volga into a bus. This is his third accident within a year.
Kamanin selects the cosmonauts for the dual flight ordered by Ustinov: Nikolayev and Popovich, with Nelyubov and Bykovsky as back-ups. Ustinov has ordered launch by 10-12 March. - such is the Soviet's lousy leadership, Kamanin notes. They don't do anything for months, then suddenly want a manned launch within 10 days. Korolev wants a three-day flight, but the VVS wants no more than two days, and only then if the cosmonauts are in excellent condition after the first day.
Kamanin's plan for a limitation of two days has been blocked by Korolev. Korolev sees Kamanin as a brake on his adventures. Kamanin is also ordered to have the female cosmonauts selected by 1 March, and ready for flight by the end of August. Nine women have passed the hospital tests; from these four or five will be selected for cosmonaut training, and one of these will become the first woman in space.
Due to technical problems and the launch failure of a Zenit spy satellite, the launch of the dual Vostoks is pushed back to April. Therefore a trip to New York by the cosmonauts in March will not be possible. In any case the Presidium has decided against allowing them to address the United Nations.
Kamanin notes an American/West German experiment where five men spent five days confined to a fallout shelter. The result was bad, with the men showing deterioration physically and mentally. Titov says that this shows how dangerous it will be to extend space flight durations too quickly.
Smirnov approves Korolev's flight plan. Vostok 3 is to fly three days; Vostok 4, launched a day later, for two days; they will land simultaneously. Kamanin feels the rush is crazy. For seven to eight months there was no authority from the leadership to fly. Then, suddenly, after Glenn's flight, come orders to launch into space within ten days.
Area survey photo reconnaissance satellite. Program partially completed. Failure of primary spacecraft orientation system. It was to spend four days in space, to be followed by another mission during 5-10 May. This meant that Vostok 3/4 could not be launched before 20-30 May. The cosmonaut prime crew returned from their in-suit parachute training at Fedosiya.
A briefing by engineer V A Smirnov predicts that the Americans will make a 17-18 revolution flight of the earth by the end of 1962. Kamanin disagrees, believing they will not achieve this until the second half of 1963. Another Zenit-2 spy satellite has failed to achieve orbit. The first had failed due to a third stage problem, and now the third attempt failed due to a first stage problem. It blew up 300 m from the pad, and did enough damage to put the launch complex out of operation for a month. Therefore the Vostok 3/4 launches cannot now take place until the end of July at the earliest.
Kamanin has continued arguments over the reorganisation of VVS space units and the role of IAKM. Korolev has never supported a leading role for the VVS or Kamanin in the Soviet space program. He is complaining about the 'offences' of the VVS, Kamanin, and the cosmonauts. Korolev cites Gagarin's trauma and Titov's motor accidents. He believes cosmonauts should be selected only from OKB-1 engineers. He also believes the cosmonauts are wasting too much time on publicity tours. Vershinin and Keldysh are hearing all of these complaints.
Meeting at OKB-1 between the cosmonaut commander and spacecraft engineers. It is decided that experiments conducted during the flight will be observations of: the third stage of the Vostok booster after separation of the spacecraft; the launch of Vostok 4, as seen from Vostok 3; and preselected ground objects. These will require two to three hours of manual orientation of the spacecraft, with pointing accurate to within 7 degrees of the expected position of the objects to be observed.
The VVS contingent flies to the cosmodrome in three Il-14's. Due to the very hot conditions, they land on the 2 km dirt strip - the paved runway is only 1200 m long. Kamanin notices a lot of new construction since he was last at the cosmodrome, 16 months earlier, for Gagarin's launch.
Kamanin learns that Ponomaryova and Kuznetsova spent all night in TItov's apartment at TsPK. 'Dumb girls' he intones. Kamanin travels in a Lvov bus from Area 10 to Area 2, a distance of 40 km. Driving a Volga automobile, the stretch can now be done in only thirty minutes on the newly paved road. Korolev and his engineers are hard at work. Spacecraft number 5 is already in final tests, with Spacecraft 6 one to two days behind it in the processing flow. The launches will be observed by all of the female cosmonauts and 4 to 8 of the new engineer-cosmonauts.
Kamanin is at the Syr Darya River at 06:50, and arrives at Area 2 at 09:00. Suit communications tests are underway. From 11:00 to 13:00 there is a discussion on how the cosmonauts will observe the third stage of their booster, and how the spacecraft will be oriented. To stay pointed, they will need to put the spacecraft in a very slow maneuver of 0.06 deg/sec, or one revolution in 1.8 hours. Once they have achieved this, they have to put the spacecraft in a roll of 0.5 deg/sec, or one revolution in 12 minutes, in order to maintain the spacecraft's thermal balance due to solar heating. Kamanin does not understand why this is necessary - the Cosmos 4 spy satellite, of the same design, spent all four days of its mission in stabilised flight, using infrared horizon trackers, and maintained a stable internal temperature of 17 deg C. Korolev mentions that Cosmos 4 could distinguish types of aircraft on airfields, and the form and tonnage of ships at sea.
Smirnov, Rudenko, Gagarin attend. Go-ahead is given for launch on 10/11 August. Nikolayev wants to spend one hour in his spacecraft before launch, but Korolev is against this, not wanting the spacecraft disturbed after it has passed all of its tests. Finally a compromise is reached, whereby Nikolayev will get his hour, but without wearing his spacesuit.
Kamanin gets up at 05:00. A Yangel missile was to have been launched in the morning, but it has been postponed to the evening. Vostok 4 completed its third series of functional tests, but did not pass the visual inspection. The ejection seat, which was taken out of the capsule last night at 23:00, was not back into the capsule until 09:00 this morning, which meant that Popovich could not complete his training in the seat in his suit as planned. The cosmonauts start preparing the ship's flight plans/logs. The Tyuratam airfield is discussed. The 1200 m paved runway is insufficient, it needs to be extended to 3000 m for future requirements. From 15:00 to 20:30 the cosmonauts and the press go on a photo opportunity - fishing on the Syr Darya River.
Kamanin discusses with Rudenko the need for construction and flight of ten additional Vostok spacecraft. Korolev still plans to have the first Soyuz spacecraft completed and flying by May 1963, but Kamanin finds this completely unrealistic. The satellite is still only on paper; he doesn't believe it will fly until 1964. If the Vostoks are not built, Kamanin believes the Americans will surpass the Russians in manned spaceflight in 1963-1964. From 13:00 to 14:00 Nikolayev spends an hour in his spacesuit in the ejection seat. Kamanin finds many mistakes in the design of the ejection seat. There is no room for error in disconnect of the ECS, in release of the seat, and so on. At 17:00 the State Commission holds a rally to fete Gagarin and Titov in the square in front of headquarters. Kamanin finds the event very warm but poorly organised. At 19:00 Smirnov chairs the meeting of the State Commission in the conference hall of the MIK. Korolev declares the spacecraft and launch vehicle ready; Kamanin declares the cosmonauts ready. Nikolayev is formally named the commanding officer of Vostok 3, and Popovich of Vostok 4. Rudenko gets Popovich's name wrong - his second serious mistake. He had earlier called the meeting for the wrong time.
At the MIK Popovich finally trains in his suit in the seat 'as planned'. At 11:30 Smirnov, Korolev, and Keldysh inspect the new space food prepared for the flight, then meet with the cosmonauts. The Soyuz spacecraft is discussed - the cosmonauts want to have a mock-up commission. Afterwards the pilots conduct more training in their flight suits. At 21:00 Vostok 3 is rolled out from Area 10 to the pad. There was a two hour delay due to the need to reinspect the fasteners on the ejection seat - use of unauthorised substitutes was detected on other seats.
At 12:00 the first press conference was held with reporters from Tass, Pravda, Izvestia, and Krasnaya Zvezda. At 13:15 the launch team holds a meeting at the pad, confirming all is ready. Afterwards Korolev, Smirnov, and the cosmonauts went up in the lift to the capsule. Nikolayev sat in the spacecraft while Korolev quizzed him for thirty minutes on changes made to standard configuration. Then they go to the 'Gagarin' cottage (actually that of Marshal Nedelin) for the night. From 17:00 to 19:00 Feoktistov briefs the cosmonauts on the final flight and contingency plans. Korolev comes in, and discusses the future Soyuz spacecraft, and his planned 16 tonne and 75 tonne manned spacecraft. Then Korolev goes out to the pad again to check on the booster. Kamanin notes that Korolev seems to be made of granite - aside from the Zenit-2 and Vostok launches, Korolev is preparing for three launches of probes to Venus in September, and more probes to Mars and the moon in October. Korolev yens to be allowed to travel abroad, at least to Czechoslovakia. But the State will not allow even this, let alone revealing his central role in their space program. At 22:00 it is agreed that the flight could be prolonged to a fourth day if the spacecraft and cosmonaut were holding up. There were some problems in the three-day test of the Tral telemetry system, but only actual use will show if the problem exists in operational conditions.
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....
The dual flights proeceed normally. At the 07:30 communications session Nikolayev is on his 31st orbit, and Popovich on his 16th. Nikolayev reports having awoken from his sleep period at 04:30 and Popovich at 04:53. At 22:30 there is a stormy meeting of the State Commission. Nikolayev's cabin temperature has dropped from 27 deg C at lift-off, to 13 deg C on the 29th orbit, and still 13 deg C on the 36th orbit. However the cosmonaut reports he has no trouble with this temperature in his suit. Problem existed with the Tral telemetry system, but these have now been solved. Nearly everyone wants to prolong Nikolayev's flight to a fourth day, except Kamanin, who is worried about the unknown physical condition of the cosmonaut after such a long flight. Furthermore the change will move the landing to a rocky area with higher winds expected. After heated discussion it is decided to review the matter again in the morning and decide then.
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.
Nikolayev and Popovich finally arrive in Kuibyshev aboard an Il-18 aircraft that originated from from Sary Shagan. Now come the medical check-ups and interviews by the State Commission, The State Commission finds that both missions have outstanding results. The cosmonauts present believe that in the future men, not machines, should pilot the spacecraft. The way was clear for 5 to 10 Vostok flights in the next year.
Nikolayev's post-flight debriefing: The rocket vibration was not great initially, but very forceful at the end of operation of the second stage. There was quite a shock on separation of the spacecraft from the third stage. 15 minutes before the launch of Popovich's spacecraft I oriented the Vostok and at 11:03 the spacecraft was at the correct 73 degree pitch attitude. However I was unable to see either Popovich's spacecraft or his booster rocket. I had bad communications with Zarya on the first day. On the fourth revolution, during the communications session with Khrushchev, I could not hear, but then during the second, third, and fourth day of the flight communications were clear. The Globus instrument was valuable. Zero-G was not unpleasant, and on the fourth day I sharply turned by head to the left and right but could not force any bad reactions. I felt fully trained in use of the equipment. Over Turkey I could see airfields, cities, paved roads, and ships at sea. The TDU retrorocket operated for 42 seconds. The re-entry capsule revolved randomly on reaching the denser atmosphere and I pulled 8 to 9 G's on re-entry. There were many boulders in the landing area, but I was able to guide my parachute to land in a 2 x 2 m clear area.
Popovich debriefing: I could easily see the earth flowing below. Manual orientation using this by day or the stars by night was possible. There was lots of static on the UHF band on space-ground communications. Space-to-space communications with Sokol were very good, especially over the equator. Moving my head caused no motion sickness problems. After ejection, I secured my reserve parachute (as had Nikolayev). I saw a search aircraft twenty minutes after landing. The NAZ antenna did not deploy (as with Nikolyaev).
After the debriefing, a celebration is held with the cosmonauts, State Commission, and local officials. Everyone gets pretty drunk. Kamanin is finally instructed to take Nikolayev and Popovich to bed at midnight. The rest continue until 2 in the morning.
The cosmonauts continue their post-flight medical examinations, but everyone is suffering from hangovers from the celebration the night before. There was a stupid incident, with some of the leaders blaming Nikolayev of bad behaviour. Most of the commission leaves in the evening. In the afternoon the new heroes of the cosmos - Gagarin, Titov, Nikolayev, and Popovich - are taken boating, to the acclaim of crowds on the shore.
In the morning, the cosmonauts rehearse the speeches sent to them from Moscow for the celebrations. Then they depart Kuibyshev. A fighter escort intercepts the cosmonauts' aircraft at 13:00, and the aircraft lands at Moscow at 14:00 sharp. Enormous celebrations follow.
The cosmonauts need to be trained for press conferences. Nikolayev is to receive special training, as well as Popovich who is being criticised for mistakes made during his Cuba tour. He told reporters 'We will assist Cuba not just on the earth, but from space', and 'The world will soon learn the names of all of the first cosmonaut team', neither of which are state policy.
On the last five days it has been 25 deg C during the days and 15 deg C at night. In the evening the classified film on Nikolayev and Popovich's flights is screened. Kamanin regrets that it cannot be made public. What the Soviet state considers secrets - the configuration of the rocket and spacecraft, the identity of the managers and launch teams - are public knowledge in the US program. A VVS Li-2 (DC-3) transport arrives at Tyuratam with three tonnes of fruit. A real treat for the launch teams. The cosmonauts spend their final night in the cottages. These are equipped with good-quality Italian air conditioners that keep the cosmonauts comfortable on their last night on earth.