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State Commission starts its work
On May 10, 1963, from 4 until 8:30 p.m. the State Commission met under the chairmanship of its recently appointed head Georgy Tyulin. Top engineers reported on various issues, counting a total of 28 failed components including a fastener found in a power distributor supplied by a contractor from Kharkov.
After the official conclusion of the meeting, Korolev, Mrykin, Kerimov, Skuridin, Alekseev and Air Force officials gathered at Tyulin's office. Following a detailed discussion, it was decided to plan the departure of cosmonauts to the launch site on May 27 or 28 and plan the launch between June 3 and June 5. Bykovsky was approved as a primary pilot and, somehow, Volynov as his backup, despite his previous "weight" problem. Tereshkova was confirmed as a primary pilot with Solovyova and Ponomareva as backups, however the issue of the female pilot would remain open, as Keldysh and Rudenko were still favoring Ponomareva. (574)
On May 13, Tereshkova and Solovyova returned from Feodosiya on the Black Sea, where they had made seven parachute jumps each, including jumps in their flight suits and landing into the water. Ponomareva and Yerkina completed the same exercise two days later. According to Kamanin, Tereshkova behaved like she already knew that she had been chosen to go in orbit.
Bykovsky started his thermal test on May 14, while Volynov was undergoing vestibular tests. Originally, Bykovsky was to start his tests on May 13, however when he was preparing to enter the capsule, it was discovered that his headgear was one size larger than needed, preventing normal function of sensors monitoring his physiological functions. To make it worse, after the test had finally started, his microphone and headphones failed forcing him to communicate through a telephone and telegraph.
To complicate things further, Yazdovsky sent Kamanin a document signed by two dozen other medical specialists demanding to keep cosmonauts in the thermal simulator longer than the actual flight. In case of Bykovsky, they wanted him to sit in the simulator for at least five or even seven days, the demand that Kamanin called "just stupid" given the inevitable exhaustion of the pilot just before the flight.
On May 16, Kamanin showed up at TsVNIIAG and after a "conference" with specialists and a conversation with Bykovsky, who was inside the simulator, all finally agreed that the two previous days of tests had been enough and that it was the time to end the experiment. The next day, at 12:30, Volynov started a similar exercise scheduled for three days.
On May 20, the State Commission postponed launch dates for Vostoks to a period between June 5 and 10. Also, the Air Force submitted to the commission official statements which cosmonauts were expected to make before launch and from orbit.
On the morning of May 21, Korolev, Keldysh and other officials arrived to TsPK and met with the cosmonauts and their Air Force superiors. The candidacies of Bykovsky and Tereshkova were reconfirmed again, as well as mission durations of eight and three days respectively for Vostok-5 and Vostok-6.
On May 25, the State Commission met again confirming launches between June 5 and 10. Kamanin asked engineers to consider taking onboard the spacecraft a 1.5-kilogram optical telescope for Earth observations. (574)
To the launch site
In the last days of May 1963, numerous officials and specialists headed to the launch site near Tyuratam. Inside the assembly building at Site 2, Korolev personally led the final two weeks of preparation for launch. Engineers found glitches in the telemetry systems of both spacecraft.
Another potential issue included a concern about the release of air and oxygen from the spacecraft during the five-day readiness for the flight. Kamanin went to life-support specialists, who assured him that such a possibility was very low. At that point, Korolev appeared and Alekseev, Voronin and Tkachev, all reported good status of their systems. "Really, there is nothing for me to grumble about? -- Korolev joked at himself, "I came here with an intention to yell." A moment later the group bumped into Yazdovsky and Korolev readily, even though jokingly, went onto the attack: "When will your medics finally allow old men like us to fly? Why do you turn cosmonauts into guinea pigs? When do you intend to lower requirements for future cosmonauts?" (574)
On May 30, after consultations with Korolev, Kamanin ordered his staff at TsPK, along with the cosmonauts to arrive at the launch site on June 2. Despite his objections, Air Force superiors chartered a single An-10 transport plane to bring all the cosmonauts to Tyuratam, instead of the pair of passenger Il-14s that Kamanin had demanded.
On May 31, Kamanin, Frolov and Korolev gathered by the entrance into Vostok-6, trying to see whether it would be possible to fasten a small telescope inside the capsule. Frolov ardently fought this (Kamanin's) idea, while Korolev reluctantly crawled into the cabin and tried to get comfortable with the telescope. Convinced that the spacecraft was already cramped, Kamanin finally gave up.
At 5 p.m., Korolev chaired a technical meeting of around 60 top engineers and most of them reported smooth preparation for launch, which was then expected between June 7 and June 10.
On June 1, at 10 a.m., a group of 35 Air Force representatives including already flown cosmonauts and future Vostok pilots landed in Tyuratam in front of pre-approved cameras and officials. Yet another technical meeting considered open issues from 5 to 7 p.m.
After a Sunday off, on June 3, at 9 a.m., Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomareva tried on their spacesuits and sat in the ejection seat. In the meantime, Bykovsky and Volynov sat inside Vostok-5 for their fit checks. Korolev reviewed and approved a set of military observation tasks proposed at the last minute by the Air Force. They included observations of a fire, smoke, explosions and lights, which were to be set up in the steppe near Volgograd, probably not far from the Kapustin Yar test range.
Another technical meeting during the day confirmed the readiness of launch vehicles for the mission.
Vostok-6 flight plan (672):
*In the flight journal, not crossed out by Tereshkova.
Code words for the Vostok-5 and Vostok-6 missions (672):
Next chapter: Vostok-5 launch delays
Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: November 27, 2013
Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: June 29, 2013
All rights reserved
Gagarin and Tereshkova during radio training.
Training inside the simulator of the Vostok spacecraft.
Landing training probably in Feodosiya on the Crimean Peninsula
Cosmonaut training also included parachute jumping in the flight suit.
Tereshkova's flight journal served as a reference on key aspects of the flight plan and for record keeping during the mission. it was made public in 2013. Credit: RKK Energia