“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.
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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The launch vehicle for the Luna E-1 series was a modified R7 named Vostok. The Vostok had three stages. The first and second stage were the standard R-7 which we covered in Episode 9. A 5.1 meter long by 2.4 meter diameter third stage was added to the top of the R-7. The third stage weighed 1472 kg and was capable of delivering 54.5 kiloNewtons or 12,252 lbs of thrust. This was the probes booster stage that gave it enough speed to escape Earth’s gravity.