X hits on this document

PDF document

Historical aspects of the early Soviet/Russian manned space program - page 11 / 12





11 / 12



struggle to get back into the airlock so that he could close the outer hatch. His oxygen supply was nearly exhausted; only by depressurizing the suit to some extent with a hand-operated valve was he able to reduce its volume and eventually make his way back into the safety of the capsule itself. The stress that Leonov was subjected to can be realized by the res- piration rate and heart rate, which were both moni- tored. The respiration rate reached 26–30 breaths/ min (vs. 10–15 under ordinary conditions on Earth), and the heart rate was 152 to 162 beats/min (6). Again, we have to marvel at the bravery and enter- prise of these early cosmonauts.

Some people at the time thought that the EVA was something of a circus act with little practical value in space exploration. Of course, we now know that EVA plays a critical role in maintaining a space station such as Mir; in addition, the construction of the Interna- tional Space Station, which is in progress at the present time, relies heavily on EVA. In fact, there will be more EVAs in the next 4 yr than in all previous years of the manned space program, although they carry an appreciable physiological risk, for example, from decompression sickness.

The resourcefulness of the Soviet space engineers in developing the collapsible airlock for the first EVA is further highlighted by a particularly colorful anecdote told to Harford by Arkady Ostashov, an engineer (Ref. 5, p. 118)

In 1961 we had the first test of the R-9 ICBM. The test pad had two parts—a movable part attached to the missile, and a fixed part on the pad itself. The two parts were mated on the pad. When the engine was ready to start we detected a small leak of liquid oxygen between the two parts. You could see a small cloud of oxygen vapor. Voskresensky said, “Let’s go to the rocket.”

He and I and another guy approached to make sure that the leak was small. Fortunately nobody was watching. Voskresensky pissed on the leaky joint, the liquid froze, and the joint held until ignition.

the Soviet space program. The Soviet program to put a human on the Moon, which was strongly supported by Korolev, foundered in part because of the enor- mous cost of developing a suitable booster. This was the N-1 rocket, which was approximately the same size as the Saturn V that allowed the American astronauts to reach the Moon, but its construction was plagued with difficulties, and at least one blew up on the launch pad. Although the Soviets mar- shaled enormous resources toward their Moon pro- gram, they could not compete with the great range of private aerospace companies in the United States. Nonetheless, the extraordinary enterprise of Ko- rolev, in particular, and many others in the early Soviet manned space program will never be forgot- ten.


Sources of Material

Of course, a historical account like this must be derivative. However, the three television documentaries contain inter- views with many of the principal people concerned, including Wernher von Braun, Krafft Ehricke, Lt. General Victor Fa- vorsky, Konstantin Feoktistov, Lt. General Kevim Kerimov, Sergei Khrushchev, Natalya Korolev (daughter of Sergei Korolev), Sergei Kryukov, Alexei Leonov, and Vassily Mishin. The three documentaries are 1) Red Files: Race to the Moon, including interviews with Leonov, Mishin, Khrush- chev, Feoktistov, Natalya Korolev, etc. (13); there is a Web page with additional information at http://www.pbs.org/ redfiles/; 2) Russian Right Stuff in the NOVA series (11) introduced by Alexei Leonov; and 3) Spaceflight by PBS (12), including interviews with Wernher von Braun and Krafft Ehricke.

In addition, the Korolev book by James Harford (5) is well-researched and contains many verbatim quotations from some of the most important Soviet people involved.


Perhaps this anecdote is too good to be true.











The Soviet/Russian manned space program contin- ued its successes with the launch of Salyut 1 in April 1971, which became the world’s first space station. Even more impressive was the launch of the first components of the Mir space station in February 1986. This was the first permanently inhabited space station and remained in orbit for some 15 yr, far beyond its design lifetime of about 5 yr. However, these projects will not be considered in detail here because they do not belong to the early Soviet/Rus- sian manned space program. In fact, by the mid- 1960s, the Soviet program was running into difficul- ties for various reasons. Korolev died in 1966, and, according to the documentaries, the loss of this char- ismatic leader resulted in political infighting within

  • 1.

    Clark P. The Soviet Manned Space Program: An Illustrated History of the Men, the Missions, and the Spacecraft. New York: Orion Books, 1988.

  • 2.

    Gazenko OG. Milestones of space medicine development in Russia (establishment and evolution of the Institute of Biomed- ical Problems). J Grav Physiol 43: 1–4, 1997.

  • 3.

    Goddard RH. A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes. Wash- ington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1919.

  • 4.

    Gray RF and Webb MG. High G protection. Aerospace Med 32: 425–430, 1961.

  • 5.

    Harford J. Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon. New York: Wiley, 1997.

  • 6.

    Kas’yan II and Makarov GF. External respiration, gas ex- change and energy expenditures of man in weightlessness [in Rus- sian]. Kosmicheskaya Biologiya I Aviakosmicheskaya Meditsina 18:

4–9, 1984. 7. Kosmodemiansky

. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1857–1935. Mos-

cow: General Editorial Board for Foreign Publications, Nauka,

1985. 8. Leonov 1965.

. My first steps in space. UNESCO Courier 18: 4–11,

9. McHenry R. (Ed.). Exploration. In: The New Encyclopedia Bri- tannica. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993, p. 44–58.

J Appl Physiol VOL 91

OCTOBER 2001 www.jap.org

Downloaded from on February 14, 2015

Document info
Document views43
Page views43
Page last viewedFri Jan 20 15:03:53 UTC 2017