This was Flight Director Chris Kraft’s first major problem at the new Mission Control Center in Houston. He knew the spacecraft had enough battery power for reentry even if the fuel cells failed completely, but he needed to know if there would be time enough to reach a good reentry zone, such as the mid-Pacific near Hawaii on the sixth orbit…
Vostok 5’s orbit turned out to be lower than the expected 181 by 235 km. The actual orbit was 175 by 222 km. Initial calculations indicated the orbit of Vostok 5 would not decay for 10 or 11 days, however more conservative estimates, taking into account the increased solar activity and the resulting expanding of the upper atmosphere showed that the orbit could decay after only 8 days. With no way of predicting where Vostok 5 might land, the planned eight-day mission was now in question…
In June of 1963, the Soviet Union performed an encore of the Vostok 3 and 4 missions with two manned spaceships orbiting the Earth simultaneously. However, Vostok 5 and 6 was more than a simple repetition. Vostok 5’s objective was to beat the flight-duration record. But Vostok-6 would carrying the first woman into space. The 26 year old Valentina Tereshkova….
In February of 1962, the United States put John Glenn into orbit. This prompted Soviet leadership to suddenly asked Chief Designer Korolev to launch the next space spectacular promptly. To make this mission truly spectacular the Soviets decided to launch a group flight of two Vostoks lasting up to four days in orbit.
Vostok 4 on Pad
Popovich in Orbit
Nikolaev & Popovich
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