Tag Archives: Gagarin’s Start

12–13 October 1964

Voskhod-1 lifts of from Launch Compexx 1 at Baikonur Cosmodrome, “Gagarin’s Start,” 07:30:01 UTC, 12 October 1964.

At 07:30:01 UTC, 12 October 1964, Voskhod-1 (Восход-1) is launched from Gagarin’s Start at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. On board the spacecraft are the command pilot, Colonel Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, with Konstantin Petrovich Feoktisov, an engineer, and Boris Borisovich Yegorov, a medical doctor.

The purpose of the mission was to investigate technical and physiological research.

Voskhod-1 flight crew. Left to right, Konstantin Petrovich Feoktisov, Colonel Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, and Boris Borisovich Yegorov. (spacefacts.de)

After 16 orbits, Voskhod-1 returned to Earth at 07:48:03, 13 October 1964, landing approximately 65 miles (105 kilometers) southwest of Petropavl, capital of the North Kazakhstan Region, at N. 54° 02′ 00″, E. 68° 08′ 00″. Slowed by parachutes, the spacecraft’s landing was cushioned by solid rocket engines.

This was the first spaceflight to carry more than one human passenger.

Voskhod-1 was a specially modified Voskhod 3KV spacecraft. Designed to carry two cosmonauts, it was modified to carry three for this flight. As a result, there was no room for the cosmonauts to wear spacesuits. The spacecraft was 5.040 meters (16 feet, 6.4 inches) long, 2.500 meters (8 feet, 0.2 inches) in diameter, and had a mass of 5,320 kilograms (11,728.6 pounds).

The Voskhod-1 spacecraft is at the RRK Energia Museum, Korolev, Russia.

Diagram of Voskhod 3KA spacecraft. (RKK Energia/Drew ExMachina)

Voskhod-1 was launched by a Voskhod 11A57, number R15000-04. This was a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket with four “strap-on” boosters. The 11A57 was 30.84 meters (101 feet, 2.2 inches) tall with a diameter of 2.99 meters (9 feet, 9.7 inches), and had a gross mass of 298,400 kilograms (657,859 pounds). The first stage was powered by one RD-108-8D75K engine, producing 941.000 kilonewtons (211,545 pounds) of thrust, burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. It burned for 5 minutes, 1 second. The four RD-107-8D74K boosters each produced 995.300 kilonewtons (223,752 pounds) of thrust with kerosene and liquid oxygen. They burned for 1 minute, 59 seconds and were jettisoned. The second stage was powered by a single RD-108 engine, producing 294.000 kilonewtons (66,094 pounds) of thrust. It also burned kerosene and liquid oxygen. Its burn time was 4 minutes.

During this flight, the crew set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI world records: maximum altitude in orbit, 408 kilometers (253.5 miles);¹ greatest mass to altitude, 5320 kilograms (11,728.6 pounds);² and duration, 24 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds.³

The Voskhod-1 spacecraft is at the RRK Energia Museum, Korolev, Russia.

Voskhod-1 capsule on display at the Science Museum, London. Image cropped. (Andrew Gray/Wikipedia)

¹ FAI Record File Number 9354,

² FAI Record File Number 9355

³ FAI Record File Number 9356

© 2023 Bryan R. Swopes

16 June 1963, 09:29:52 UTC

Valentia Vladimirovna Tereshkova. (RIA Novosti)
Major Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, Hero of the Soviet Union, photographed in 1969. (RIA Novosti)

16 June 1963, 09:29:52 UTC: Cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва) was launched aboard Vostok 6 from Gagarin’s Start, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The spacecraft was a Vostok 3KA and the launch vehicle was a Vostok 8K72K rocket. She was the first human female in space.

Vostok 6 just prior to engine start, Gagarin's Start, Baikonur Cosmodrome, 16 June 1963.
Vostok 6 engine start, Gagarin’s Start, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, 09:29:52 UTC,16 June 1963. (Space Facts)

Prior to her acceptance in the cosmonaut corps, Tereshkova had been a textile worker. She was also an amateur parachutist. The qualifications for the Soviet space program were that the women be parachutists under the age of 30 years, less than 170 centimeters (5 feet, 7 inches) tall and weigh less than 70 kilograms (154.3 pounds). After an extensive training program with included pilot training in the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 15UTI fighter and 120 parachute jumps, Tereshkova and three other women were commissioned as Junior Lieutenants in the Soviet Air Force.

Vostok 5 with Cosmonaut Valery Fyodorovich Bykovsky had been launched two days earlier on the same orbital path. During their flights they came within approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of each other.

Valentina Tereshkova completed 48 orbits of the Earth, reaching a maximum altitude of 212 kilometers (131.7 miles). Vostok 6 re-entered the atmosphere and Tereshkova parachuted from the capsule near the Pavinskiy Collective Farms, Altai Krai (approximately 150 miles/240 kilometers southwest of Novosibirsk), landing at 08:20 UTC, 19 June 1963. The total duration of her flight was 2 days, 22 hours, 50  minutes.

Cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tershkova before launch, 16 June 1963.
Cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova before launch, 16 June 1963. 

For her support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in 2022, the United States of America placed Tereshkova on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Her assets were frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with her.

The Vostok 3KA spacecraft consisted of a spherical crew module and a service module. It could support one person in a full-pressure suit for a maximum of 10 days. There were two view ports. The Vostok used pressurized gas jets for attitude control while in orbit, but was not capable of changing its orbit. The vehicle had a total height of 4.40 meters (14 feet, 5¼ inches) and total mass of 4,730 kilograms (10,428 pounds). The descent module diameter was 2.3 meters (7 feet, 6½ inches) and had a mass of 2,460 kilograms (5,423 pounds).

On descent, the cosmonaut used an ejection seat to leave the capsule prior to Earth landing, and parachuted to the ground.

Tershkova (center, with back toward camera) with the Vostok descent module, (Space Facts)
Valentina Tereshkova (center, with back toward camera) with the Vostok descent module, 19 June 1963. (Space Facts)

The Korolev Design Bureau Vostok 8K72K launch vehicle was a three-stage liquid-fueled rocket developed from the Soviet R-7 “Semyorka” intercontinental ballistic missile, using RP-1, a highly refined form of kerosene, and liquid oxygen as propellant. It was 38.36 meters (125 feet, 10 inches) tall and had a maximum diameter of 10.3 meters (33 feet, 9 inches). Total mass at liftoff was 287,375 kilograms (633,553 pounds).

The first stage consisted of four boosters surrounding a central core. Each was powered by one Glushko Design Bureau RD-108 (8D75) engine with four combustion chambers and exhaust nozzles. The RD-108 was rated at 713.600 kilonewtons of thrust (160,424 pounds-force) at Sea Level. Burn time was 118 seconds. The second stage used one RD-108 engine fired for 301 seconds. The third stage had one Kosberg Design Bureau RD-0109 engine rated at 54.520 kilonewtons (12,257 pounds-force) of thrust, with a burn time of 365 seconds.

Valentina Tereshkova Monument at the site of Vostok 6 landing.
Valentina Tereshkova Monument at the site of Vostok 6 landing.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes