Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flight of The Voskhod Three - the first multi-manned spacecraft
Poster celebrating the flight of the Voskhod spacecraft 1964

On October 12, 1964, the spacecraft Voskhod (Sunrise) was launched into low Earth orbit. The crew on board consisted of the commander, pilot, and cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, the researcher and cosmonaut Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, and the physician and cosmonaut Boris Borisovich Yegorov. This was the first launch of a multi-manned spacecraft in the history of space exploration, and the first time that a team of researchers went into orbit.

The flight of Voskhod marked the beginning of a new phase in the direct, in-person study of outer space.

The World’s First Three-Manned Spacecraft, Voskhod, Is Now in Orbit

Today, October 12, 1964, at 10:30 a.m. Moscow time, in the Soviet Union, a three-man spacecraft, Voskhod, was launched for the first time into orbit around Earth by a powerful new carrier rocket. On board the spacecraft is a crew consisting of citizens of the Soviet Union: the ship’s commander, pilot and cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov and the crew members: the researcher, cosmonaut, and candidate of technical sciences Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, and the physician and cosmonaut Boris Borisovich Yegorov. 

The objectives of the new space flight are: - testing of the new multi-manned spacecraft - research of the performance and interaction in flight of a group of cosmonauts, consisting of specialists in various fields of science and technology - conducting physical and technical scientific research in the conditions of space flight - continuing the study of the influence of various factors of space flight on the human body - conducting extended biomedical research in the conditions of a long fligh.  All the systems on board the spacecraft are functioning normally. Further reports on the progress of the flight will be transmitted on all of the radio stations of the Soviet Union. Pravda, October 12, 1964 (special edition)

Pre-Flight Preparation

When the record-breaking flights of the spacecrafts Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 were successfully completed in 1963, the question of the future prospects of manned space flight was raised. At this time the United States was developing the two- man spacecraft Gemini, and it was important for the Soviet Union not to lose its lead.

Spacecraft, cosmonauts V. M. Komarov, B. B. Yegorov, and K. P. Feoktistov, before a regular training session.
In fitness classes, training on a Rhönrad (gymnastic wheel).
During a training session in a laboratory airplane.

The chief designer of rocket and space systems, S. P. Korovlyov, proposed that the single-man spacecraft Vostok, which had already proven itself, be made into a new spacecraft for three people. According to Korovlyov’s calculations, the flight of the new ship could be planned for the end of 1964, but many design solutions required experimental confirmation.

Soviet cosmonaut V. M. Komarov studying in the Star City Cosmonaut Training Center.

Voskhod was approved in a resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the and the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union regarding the construction of manned spacecraft on April 13, 1964. It was also decided to prepare a crew of three people. The Vostoks only seated one person, which by common agreement was a military pilot, but for a three-manned ship a crew of only pilots would be irrational. Korolyov proposed a crew consisting of a military pilot in command and two civilians—a doctor and an engineer.

Soviet cosmonaut V. M. Komarov in a class on radio equipment.

The chosen crew consisted of the commander, pilot, and cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, the researcher and cosmonaut Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov, and the physician and cosmonaut Boris Borisovich Yegorov. The alternates were B. V. Bolynov as commander, P. Katys as researcher, and A. V. Sorokin as physician.

 K. P. Feoktistov during a training session on the ejection seat.
Soviet cosmonaut B. B. Yegorov during a test ofvestibular stabilityStar City, Moscow region. 1964

October 12, 1964

Following a decision of the State Commission, it was decided to launch Voskhod on October 12 at 10:30 AM

Moscow time. On October 11 the complex was prepared.

The crew schedule on October 12:

6:30 — wake-up

6:40 — thermometry

6:40–7:20 — washing up, medical examination

7:20–7:50 — breakfast of in-flight ratios

8:00 — arrival at the assembly and testing building

8:00–8:45 — putting on undergarments with sensors and equipment

8:45–9:00 — registration of physiological functions using the “Vega” apparatus

9:00–9:30 — check of special equipment

9:30 — departure for the launch pad

The multi-manned spacecraft Voskhod weighed 5320 kg, 595 kg more than the Vostok. It also differed from the Vostok in that it was equipped with a system for soft landing (in order to fit three people, ejection seats had to be abandoned, so the three had to land in a descent module); it also had a backup retrorocket and new instrumentation.

Chief designer S. P. Korovlyov speaking at a meeting before the launch of the Voskhod spacecraft, 1964
List of principal test pilots of the spacecraft Voskhod.
The chief designer S. P. Korovlyov with the crew of the Voskhod spacecraft before flight. Baykonur Cosmodrome. 1964
in the cabin the Voskhod spacecraft.1964
Comsonaut’s flight uniform, PK-1

The landing system allowed the crew to land with almost no vertical velocity. To maintain main cabin conditions within near-normal limits, an air-conditioning system was used to ensure the absorption of carbon dioxide and moisture and provide the necessary quantity of oxygen for the crew to breathe.

This was especially important in the Voskhod, as in contrast to all previous flights, the crew was flying for the first time without spacesuits. An autopilot mechanism for the flight and descent, following a predetermined program, could orient the ship in space and carry out its landing in a specific region.

Comsonaut’s flight uniform, PK-1
Radio receiver for the Voskhod spacecraft

A manual flight control mechanism allowed the crew to orient the spacecraft and conduct a landing in the chosen region. Upon returning to Earth, the equipment module separated from the ship and burned up in the atmosphere, and the lander with the crew and the equipment returned to Earth.

24 hours in orbit

On October 12, 1964, at 10:30:01 Moscow time (12:30 local time), a rocket carrying the first three- man spacecraft Voskhod began its ascent. During the ascent Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, maintained communication with the crew. The crew’s call sign was “Ruby.” 

1st orbit: Yegorov conducted a medical examination of the crew, and then they all had breakfast. The crew’s rations were 2800 calories, including various foods that were customized for the individual tastes of the cosmonauts. 2nd orbit: the cosmonauts transmitted their greetings to the participants in the Tokyo Olympics. 

3rd and 4th orbits: the crew conducted physiological studies: they measured blood pressure and pulmonary ventilation, and took blood smears. Using special tables, the performance of the cosmonauts in the early hours of the flights was measured. 4th orbit: the cosmonauts had dinner and then, according to the flight plan, Komarov attempted to sleep. Feoktistov and Yegorov were on watch, communicating with the Earth and performing experiments. 

Feoktisov observed the clouds and with various instruments determined their brightness and contrast, and recorded their transparency at different angles. Yegorov investigated his own cardiovascular system and then that of Feoktistov. 6th orbit: Vladimir Komarov manually oriented the ship for landing, and Feoktistov recorded the process. Yegorov rested at this time.

7th and 8th orbits: a televised communication session was held. People on Earth saw the faces of the cosmonauts for the first time, and the members of the State Commission were able to communicate with them. 

9th–13th orbits: the ship was outside the zone of radio visibility from the territory of the Soviet Union. Despite this, the astronauts worked on individual programs, resting alternately. 

14th orbit: the cosmonauts transmitted parameters for all the ship’s systems and took recommendations for manual operation in case of failure of the autopilot mechanism. 

15th orbit: Komarov tested the manual control system again. Feoktistov photographed the horizon and recorded his performance on specific test tables. Yegorov rested. 16th orbit: at 09:55:39 Moscow time, the orientation system was automatically activated; at 10:18:58, the brake propulsion was activated over the Gulf of Guinea.

Poster celebrating the flight of the Voskhod spacecraft 1964

As the crew of the Voskhod spacecraft consisted of specialists in different fields, they could not only dramatically expand the range of scientific observations and experiments carried out in space, but also conduct them at a higher scientific level. 

During the flight, their work never stopped for a minute, and they were able to collect a considerable amount of scientific data. During the flight the crew had to perform a diverse program: test out a new multi-seat ship, study the performance of each crew member, carry out medical, biological, psychological, and technical research, and study the effect of flight conditions on the human body.

Crew

The commander of the Voskhod, V. M. Komarov, monitored the functioning of all the instruments and systems, manually oriented the ship, determined the times for orienting and resting the ship after maneuvers, and kept track of fuel use. In addition, he kept up radio contact with Earth, observed the earth's surface at different degrees of light, determined the light sensitivity of the eyes and the possibility of visual orientation, and also kept a record in the logbook and on a tape recorder.

V. M. Komarov

The physician and cosmonaut B. B. Yegorov studied the functioning of the nervous system and the performance of each individual crew member at various stages of space flight and investigated the effect of space flight factors on the functioning of the cardiovascular system. 

He also studied external respiration, gas exchange, and energy under conditions of weightlessness and controlled the life support systems. Yegorov took blood samples from his colleagues with a Frank’s needle, measured their blood pressure, investigated the functioning of the vestibular system, and recorded bio-currents and electrical potentials of voluntary and involuntary eye movements. Throughout the flight Yegorov did not have to act as a doctor, as all of the crew members felt well.

B. B. Yegorov

Researcher K. P. Feoktistov, kept radio contact with ground control along with the ship’s commander, and controlled the operation of on-board equipment. 

He also carried out the astronomical orientation and steering of the ship using the ion sensor, conducted visual observation, filmed the horizon the halo of the Earth's atmosphere, measured the brightness of the stars, and conducted experiments with liquids.

K. P. Feoktistov

Homecoming

On October 13, 1964, the Voskhod spacecraft concluded its flight. The total duration of the flight was 24 hours, 17 minutes, and 3 seconds. The crew of the “Voskhod” set two absolute world records: maximum height of a space flight (408 km) and maximum mass/weight (5320 kg) ever raised to that height, as well as two records in the category of multi-manned spacecraft: flight range (669,784.027 km) and duration of flight (24 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds). At 10:47:04 the Voskhod ship and its crew carried out a soft landing at 312 to the northeast of Kustanay. The cosmonauts were brought on helicopters from the landing site to Kustanay, and from there on an airplane to Baykonur, and after five days they were greeted with a celebration in Moscow.

Crew members of the Voskhod spacecraft before flying out to Kustanay. October 13, 1964

"For the first time we conducted a flight without spacesuits, which created much better opportunities to work in the ship and provided much more comfort. This was possible because of the extremely reliable design of the Voskhod spacecraft, created by the wonderful hands of our workers, technicians, engineers, and designers. The soft-landing system worked excellently. Landing a multi-manned spacecraft in this way has many advantages and is fully justified.”

V. M. Komarov
Meeting the crew of the Voskhod after they returned from their flight. Baykonur Cosmodrome 13 October 1964

“We were all most impressed by the aurora that we observed in the region of Antarctica for a few minutes before we emerged from the shadows. The picture was as follows: the horizon, then the dark sky, and then the top layer of brightness, illuminated by the moon, and above that, beams perpendicular to the horizon, at a height of six to eight degrees at intervals of about two degrees. On the horizon, the aurora occupied the entire field of view. ”

K. P. Feoktistov
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin speaking at a meetingwelcoming the crew of the Voskhod spacecraft after their return from the flight. Baykonur Cosmodrome. 1964

"According to a pre-arranged program, and depending on the situation, I was able to record my own and my colleagues’ bio-currents and electrical potentials arising from voluntary and involuntary eye movements, parameters that characterize the brain’s coordination of movements when drawing figures and writing, as well as a curve representing the muscular efficiency in the performance of rhythmical movements of the hand.”

B. B. Yegorov

Letter from the crew of the spacecraft Voskhod to the Komsomol rocketeers of the Baykonur Cosmodrome who participated in the preparation and launch of Voskhod, thanking them for their excellent preparation for the flight. Baykonur Cosmodrome 13 October 1964

Letter from the crew of the spacecraft Voskhod to the Komsomol rocketeers of the Baykonur Cosmodrome, 1964
Meeting the crew of the Voskhod at the Vnukovo Aerodrome October 19, 1964
Diploma of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, awarding the K. E. Tsiolkovsky gold medal to the cosmonauts V. M. Komarov, K. P. Feoktistov, adn B. B. Yegorov for their completion of a space flight on the multi-manned spacecraft Voskhod. Moscow October 21, 1964

After the flight, B. B. Yegorov continued his scientific research, from 1964 to 1984 he worked at the Institute of Biomedical Problems, in 1967 he defended his thesis for the degree of candidate of medical sciences, and from 1984 to 1992 he was director of the Institute of Biomedical Technology. 

K. P. Feoktistov was a cosmonaut until 1987, but no longer made flights. He continued to work until 1990 as Deputy General Designer of the Energia Scientific Association, taught at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, and was a corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics. 

V. M. Komarov was included in 1965 in the group preparation for the flight program Soyuz, and on April 24, 1967, he died during the crash landing of the Soyuz-1.

Visiting Kaluga

The crew members of the Voskhod spacecraft visited Kaluga at various times. V. M. Komarov visited Kaluga twice in 1966 for the celebration of the Day of Cosmonautics and during the filming of a documentary about Tsiolkovsky, Vperedi veka. 

K. P. Feoktistov was in Kaluga in 1966 and 1977 for the celebration of the Day of Cosmonautics. B. B. Yegorov took part in 1969, 1975, and 1982 in the All-Union Conference on Aerospace Medicine.

Kaluga City Executive Committee decision to award the cosmonaut V. M. Komarov the title of honorary citizen of Kaluga. October 1964
Kaluga City Executive Committee decision to award the cosmonaut F. P. Feoktisov the title of honorary citizen of Kaluga. October 1964
Kaluga City Executive Committee decision to award the cosmonaut B. B. Yegorov the title of honorary citizen of Kaluga. October 1964
Credits: Story

Curator — Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics

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