Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy 50th, Vostok 3!

The above image shows Soviet cosmonaut Adrian Nikolaiev, pilot of the Vostok 3. Image Credit: The image was provided by Wikipedia contributor "MachoCarioca" and is in the Public Domain

August 11th marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the third successful mission in Soviet spaceflight, Vostok 3. The mission launched from Gagarin's Start at Baikonur Cosmodrome at on August 11, 1962 at 08:24 UTC atop a Vostok 8K72K rocket.

The Vostok 3 flight was intended to determine the ability of the human body to function in conditions of weightlessness and test the endurance of the Vostok 3KA spacecraft over longer flights. Cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev orbited the Earth 64 times over nearly four days in space, August 11 to 15, 1962. His feat would not be matched by NASA until the Gemini program (1965–1966).

Not known at the time, Gherman Titov had suffered space sickness during his record-breaking one-day mission aboard Vostok 2. This led Soviet scientists to devote efforts to study the effect of spaceflight on the human body. This goal was added to an already-planned spacecraft rendezvous mission.

Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 were launched a day apart on trajectories that brought the spacecraft within approximately 6.5 km (4.0 mi) of one another. The cosmonauts aboard the two capsules also communicated with each other via radio, the first ship-to-ship communications in space. These missions marked the first time that more than one manned spacecraft was in orbit at the same time, giving Soviet mission controllers the opportunity to learn to manage this scenario.

To learn more about the Soviet Vostok 3 spacecraft, visit the page provided by NASA's National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), Goddard Space Flight Center, nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1962-036A

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