Voskhod 2 (3KD) Series
By Marcia S. Smith*
THE VOSKHOD PROGRAMVoskhod 2
Still another variant of the original Vostok hardware was provided by this flight which was launched on March 18, 1965 . Again the A-2 vehicle was used, and the payload weight was raised to 5,682 kilograms. Although no pictures of the actual payload have been released, the shroud view in the assembly building showed a large bulge well forward. This flight carried only two seats, and added instead an extendable air lock to permit egress into space without evacuating the main cabin of air. An obscure Soviet photograph recently became available showing a Voskhod training exercise using a Vostok-shaped cabin.
The ship was commanded by Colonel Pavel Belyayev, the first cosmonaut with a naval air force background, accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Aleksey Leonov. Leonov won a place in history by becoming the first man to perform extra-vehicular activity (EVA). During flight he donned a completely self-contained life support system back pack. Having switched to a supply of air enriched with oxygen in order to purge much of the nitrogen from his blood, he then entered the extendable air lock, sealing the hatch behind him, and then after depressurization opened the second hatch to look out into space. Finally he pushed free to float at the end of a tether line in the weightless, airless medium of space, with his eyes shielded from the Sun by a special visor. Beneath him in a few minutes passed a good part of the Soviet Union .
The event was recorded by a preplaced external television camera, and he also took along a hand-held motion picture camera. As might be expected, his physiological indicators showed he was under considerable stress. In general, his suit was so cumbersome that he could do little more than float awkwardly at the end of his tether and wave for the cameras. The whole event amounted to about 20 minutes exposure to the vacuum conditions, of which about 10 were outside the ship on the tether. Leonov explained later that he had some difficulties in his big suit getting back in without losing his camera, and Colonel Belyayev had to repeat the orders to get him to come in, as he not only experienced the tension of being the first to go out, but the same euphoria several American EVA astronauts displayed.
As had happened after previous Soviet flights, the claims of Leonov's EVA came under some dispute in the West. Complaints centered around analyses of the Soviet-released pictures which included not only blurred views, and the better motion pictures, but a number of sequences to fill in with simulation what would have been harder to provide during the real event. This explains the question "Who was holding the camera for the clear shots of his emergence from the air lock?" and also some process shots taken either in a water tank or with guide wires in another view. One can dispute particular pictures, but the total evidence that EVA occurred is reasonably compelling.
While preparing for reentry after 16 orbits, the crew discovered that the automatic orientation devices necessary for retrofire were malfunctioning, so they were authorized to orbit one more time and then make a manually controlled reentry. This moved the landing site into European Russia instead of Kazakhstan , and for some reason reentry was delayed long enough to carry the ship hundreds of kilometers north into Taiga where they landed amidst pine forest. It took several hours for the recovery team to locate the ship, and about a day for ground parties to cut through the forest to reach the cosmonauts and bring them home. As wolves howled nearby, the crew kept close to their capsule for protection.
(A) SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,
•Ms. Smith Is an analyst in science and technology. Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress.
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