Russian space agency Roscosmos started to publish declassified documents from the Space Race, a 20th-century arm-wrestling to achieve firsts in spaceflight capability between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US).

Here is the announcement by Roscosmos:

“Roscosmos State Corporation continues publishing declassified documents dedicated to space exploration and crewed cosmonautics. Today we publish documents that will help reconstruct the first multiseat Voskhod spacecraft development details and its first flight.”

“55 years ago, on October 12, 1964, the Soviet Voskhod-1 spacecraft was launched from the launch pad No.1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft crew included Commander Vladimir Komarov, research officer cosmonaut Konstantin Feoktistov and physician-cosmonaut Boris Yegorov. During the flight, the spacecraft made 16 circuits around the Earth with a flight distance of about 700,000 kilometers (435,000 miles). For the first time in the history of the nation’s spaceflights, the crew returned to Earth in a reentry vehicle.”

“After the Voskhod-1 multiseat flight another task was set – to perform the first extravehicular activity. A few months later, on March 18, 1965, another spacecraft of the same type was launched from Baikonur. This time the crew included two cosmonauts: Pavel Belyaev and Alexey Leonov. This mission was the first-ever human spacewalking activity. Leonov’s extravehicular activity lasted 23 minutes and 41 seconds with 12 minutes and 9 seconds outside the spacecraft itself.”

Yuri Gagarin
Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from the Space Race: Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Russian pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961. After being the first human in the space, Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash: on 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square in Moscow.

“Voskhod-type spacecraft was substantially different from Vostok spacecraft, its predecessors. Besides the three-seat cabin, Voskhod vehicles featured new equipment and revolutionary systems. For the first time, the cosmonauts performed a spaceflight without spacesuits and ejection systems. The spacecraft was equipped with a soft landing system and marked the beginning of a new stage in direct space exploration by humans.”

“Roscosmos State Corporation expresses gratitude to the state archives: Russian State Archive of Contemporary History and personally to its Director Natalya Tomilina, Russian State Archive for Scientific-Technical Documentation and its director Marina Vlasova, as well as to RSC Energia and TsNIIMash for the documents provided.”

You can access today’s published declassified documents on the Roscosmos website (the website is in Russian but the auto-translate works well).

Published Document examples by Roscosmos

October 12, 1964: “RISE” at the dawn of the space age – the first multi-seat ship

Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from Space Race: Voskhod spacecraft announcement on Russian Soviet era newspaper
Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from the Space Race: Voskhod spacecraft announcement on Soviet-era newspaper

The first Soviet cosmonauts, Yuri A. Gagarin, G. S. Titov, A. G. Nikolaev, P. R. Popovich, V. F. Bykovsky, and V. V. Tereshkova, flying in 1961-63 on the single-seat spaceships “Vostok”, they carried out an extensive program of scientific, technical, and biomedical research in orbit.

However, the expansion of the range of scientific tasks and the logic of the further development of manned space exploration dictated the need for further improvement of spacecraft and the creation of more complex lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. To solve the problems of docking and orbital assembly, OKB-1, under the guidance of SP Korolev, designed the first Soyuz space complex.

Simultaneously with a great lead in the United States, Gemini two-seater spaceships (Gemini) were being developed. In order not to lag behind, SP Korolev proposed modifying the Vostok ship, whose systems have demonstrated their reliability.

The preliminary design of the ship, in which three people could work during the day, was called “Sunrise” and was approved on February 12, 1964. And already on October 12 of the same year, a crew consisting of pilot-cosmonaut V.M. Komarova (commander of the ship), scientist K.P. Feoktistov and doctor BB Egorova.

The manned flight of the American two-seater “Gemini” took place almost six months later – on March 23, 1965.

Multi-seat spacecraft “Voskhod” (English: Sunrise)

A document signed by the chief designer of OKB-1 S.P. Korolev on February 12, 1964, indicates that on the basis of the single-seat spacecraft “Vostok” can be created multi-seat ship “Sunrise” while maintaining the basic concept and circuit design of the original product.

“To ensure the flight of three people in the Voskhod ship, it is necessary (in comparison with the Vostok ships) to reconfigure the equipment in the descent vehicle, install three pilot seats, having removed the ejection seat and spacesuit, modify a number of on-board systems and install additional equipment “.

Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from Space Race: Voskhod-1
Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from the Space Race: Voskhod 1 (Russian for Sunrise) was the seventh crewed Soviet space flight. In October 1964 it achieved a number of “firsts” in the history of crewed spaceflight, being the first space flight to carry more than one crewman into orbit, the first flight without the use of spacesuits, and the first to carry either an engineer or a physician into outer space. It also set a crewed spacecraft altitude record of 336 km (209 mi) with 408 km (253 mi). Image: Roscosmos

Album of drawings and illustrations for the technical description and operating instructions for the display, alarm and manual control system SIS-3-3KV of the Voskhod spacecraft

Photos, descriptions, and operation diagrams of indicator devices and controls in the cockpit of the Voskhod ship designed for OKB-1 at the Special Design Bureau of the Flight Research Institute (SKB LII) under the supervision of Chief Designer S. G. Darevsky.

Letters S. P. Korolev about the need for system improvements for the Voskhod ship

Letters sent by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev February 2, 1964, to the heads of the enterprises of cooperation, as well as to the General Staff of the Navy with a request for the necessary modifications of communication systems, telemetry transmission, and search for Vostok ships for use on Voskhod ships, taking into account the fact that Voskhod flights “It is supposed to be held in June-July of this [1964].”

Sergei Korolev
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, 12 January 1907 (OS 30 December 1906) – 14 January 1966, was a lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He is regarded by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was involved in the development of the R-7 Rocket, Sputnik 1, and launching Laika and the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, into space. Image: Wikipedia

The private work program of the astronaut – research assistant in flight on the Voskhod-3KV spacecraft

The document, approved by the chief designer of OKB-1 academician S. P. Korolev on June 9, 1964, defines the special tasks, contents, and schedule of the work of the astronaut – a scientific employee, as one of the members of the Voskhod crew. It is emphasized that the general tasks (the duty of the watch, medical experiments, and tests, etc.) are determined by the “flight mission of the crew of the ship.”

The protocol of the meeting of the technical management on the facilities “3KV” and “3KD” dated July 8, 1964

Document signed by S. P. Korolev contains reports of responsible executives on the preparation of trials of the 3KV (triple ship Voskhod) and 3KD (double ship Vykhod – Voskhod 2) and the main milestones, and also contains an exchange of views, during which the main OKB-1 designer answers questions of responsible executors of works. Among other things, S.P. Korolev notes: “I think, to solve the issue of [on-board] film and photography of astronauts … it is necessary to attract specialized institutions and highly qualified specialists.”

Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR “On the launch of the Voskhod spacecraft”

The document, signed on August 19, 1964, approves the proposal to launch “in August-September 1964 the launch of one or two Voskhod ships with mannequins for testing the systems and equipment of ships and carriers, and in September-October – the manned … Voskhod spacecraft with three astronauts on board, ” and also entrusts the leadership of the preparation and launches with a commission whose composition is specified in the document. A draft TASS message on the launch of the Voskhod manned spacecraft with the attached text is also approved.

The logbook of the spacecraft Voskhod “Sunrise” 1964

The commander of the world’s first three-seater ship “Voskhod” V.M. Komarov controlled the spacecraft, conducted radio communication sessions with the Earth, controlled the stages of flight and the operation of onboard systems, and led the actions of crew members.

By changing the handwriting in the logbook, it is clearly visible which entries were made before and which were made during the flight. For developers, comments on the ease of use of cab systems were especially valuable.

During the flight, the researcher (in modern terminology – flight engineer) of the Voskhod ship K.P. Feoktistov monitored the execution of the flight mission, constantly observing various points related to the operation of the ship’s systems and the execution of various experiments, “carried out photographing and filming of space, ground objects, auroras, horizon lines, and luminous particles through the porthole, trying to identify the characteristics of objects shooting.”

The journal of the physician of the spacecraft Voskhod 1964

Doctor B.B. Egorov in flight took blood samples from the crew, measured blood pressure, conducted medical self-monitoring, biological experiments, and tests. He wrote: “10:45 … Everyone has mild hyperhidrosis. They included a dehumidifier. After the first minutes of acclimatization, they zealously set to work. Everyone is trying to move as smoothly as possible … “

Report on the results of the experimental development of the head fairing discharge system

Document signed by S.P. Korolev July 31, 1965, summarizes the result of experimental testing of the discharge of the head fairing of the launch vehicle of the Voskhod vehicle at the ground stand. It is noted that “the methodology for preparing and conducting tests, the composition of the experimental setup allows … to obtain during the experiment, the necessary data on which … you can judge the operation of the test system in flight conditions …”

Voskhod 1

Roscosmos publishes declassified documents from the Space Race: On October 12, 1964, the Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1, a 24-hour crewed mission that achieved several “firsts” for human spaceflight. This was the first time that a spacecraft carried more than one person into orbit, with three cosmonauts packed inside the spacecraft. Only two cosmonauts were originally supposed to fly on this mission, but Soviet politicians pressured the space program to add one more. This left no room for spacesuits on board, so this also became the first spaceflight without spacesuits. Two of the crew members, an engineer, and a doctor, became the first civilians to go to space.

The world’s first multi-seat spaceship Voskhod was launched into orbit on October 12, 1964.

The crew included the commander – Colonel Engineer Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov, research scientist-cosmonaut – Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, and cosmonaut – Boris Borisovich Yegorov.

During the day in space, the ship circled the globe 16 times and, having completed the flight program, successfully landed on Soviet territory.

In the conditions of a daily space flight, a new multi-seat manned spacecraft was tested, extensive biomedical research was performed, the working capacity and interaction of specialized astronauts in various fields of science and technology were checked, scientific physical and technical studies were carried out, the study of the influence of various space flight factors was continued. on the human body.

The Voskhod crew set four world records in its class:

  • maximum space flight altitude (408 km – 53 mi);
  • maximum mass (5,320 kg – 11,729 lbs) raised to such a height;
  • range (669,784.027 km – 416,184 mi);
  • flight duration (24 hours 17 minutes 03 seconds).

The flight of Voskhod marked the beginning of a new stage in the development of space technology: multi-seat ships made it possible to complicate the targets of flights and perform complex scientific, technical, and biomedical research.


M. Özgür Nevres
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