The Space Age had barely begun when Soviet engineers started planning ways to destroy enemy satellites. Some Western analysts have speculated that a design for an anti-satellite weapon system was started at Korolev’s OKB-1 bureau as early as 1956…
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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Following the successful suborbital missions of Allan Shepard and Gus Grissom, NASA believed the Mercury capsule was ready for an orbital mission. But, there was a problem, the Redstone booster did not have the power to place the Mercury capsule into orbit. The Atlas booster had the power to put the capsule in orbit but not the confidence of NASA. By September of 1961 Four launches of the mercury-atlas had been made with only a 50 percent success rate…
“Dear friends, you who are close to me, and you whom I do not know, fellow Russians, and people of all countries and all continents: in a few minutes a powerful space vehicle will carry me into the distant realm of space. What can I tell you in these last minutes before the launch? My whole life appears to me as one beautiful moment. All that I previously lived through and did, was lived through and done for the sake of this moment.” Yuri Gagarin prior to launch of Vostok 1.