After 1957, the Soviets became accustomed to achieving “world firsts” in space accomplishments. Nevertheless, 10 years later they were not confident that they could pull off the world’s first fully automatic rendezvous and docking of two un-piloted Soyuz spacecraft. At the time the chance for success was estimated at only 50/50.
“It’s a terrible scene. Komarov burned up. All the instruments burned. We must quickly find out what prevented the main parachute from unlatching.” Chief Designer Mishin after he arrived at the Soyuz 1 crash site.
“I was the last one to see him alive and I told him ‘See you soon!’” Yuri Gagarin, recalls bidding farewell to his friend Kamarov in Soyuz 1.
With the success of Kosmos 146 and in spite of the failures of the first three 7K-Ok’s it was now time to plan for a Soyuz manned mission. The planned involved the launch and docking of two piloted Soyuzes. Soyuz 7K-OK production model number 4 was assigned the role of the active vehicle. The active vehicle was supposed to carry one cosmonaut into earth orbit. Twenty-four hours later, vehicle No. 5 (the passive vehicle) carrying three cosmonauts would be inserted in orbit. After rendezvouing, two cosmonauts from vehicle No. 5 would transfer through open space to vehicle No. 4.
After many delays in launching the first Soyuz due to design complications, equipment deliveries, the learning curve for testing new designs, unreasonable launch dates, persecution from the communist party, and the death of Chief Designer Korolev. The first unmanned test flight is nearing launch. Two Soyuz 7k-OK’s have made it through testing. Both Soyuz have been attached to their carrier rocket and are nearly ready to launch. The plan is to launch both vehicles 24 hours apart in order to perform a rendezvous.
Leonov opened the airlocks outer hatch He was positioned on his “back” and this orientation revealed the beauty of earth in its entirety. His heart began to race as he pushed his upper body outside and saw the deep blue vista of the Mediterranean Sea, fringed by the easily recognizable shapes of Greece and Italy and, farther east, the Crimea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Volga River…
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.