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Previous chapter: Landing of Vostok-6

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Vostok-5 return

Following the touchdown of Vostok-6, Vostok-5 also initiated its landing routine. As Bykovsky later remembered, initially, he started getting rather confusing messages from the ground, possibly caused by the uncertainty with Tereshkova. Finally, Gagarin called saying, "Chaika landed, it is now your turn."

At the predicted time, Bykovsky confirmed the solar orientation onboard the spacecraft, while tracking vessels in the ocean then received telemetry that a TDU braking engine was firing. Vostok-5 was successfully pushed off its orbit, but as soon as the engine was cutoff, Bykovsky experienced a chaotic tumbling of his spacecraft.

Fortunately, the reentry was proceeding smoothly and Bykovsky later said he had not experienced much deceleration. The cabin hatch then popped open with a loud bang, and two seconds later Bykovsky softly ejected out of the capsule at an altitude of around seven kilometers. He landed normally in grasslands between two villages. (574)

Both landing sites ended up being two degrees north of their projected landing points. As a result, again, officials at ground stations had to agonize over the fate of the pilot, while local people provided first aid to the cosmonauts.

Bykovsky, who landed around 540 kilometers northwest of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, first met a lone horseman, then few more people showed up with a car. By the time he removed his bulky spacesuit as many as 100 people gathered to greet him. Bykovsky saw An-2 and Il-14 search and rescue planes but could not communicate with them through the crowd. He then rode a Volga car to his capsule, which Bykovsky estimated had touched down around 1.5-2 kilometers away. From there he made it to the city of Kustanai. (231)

Only by 5 p.m. in the evening, did Korolev, Chertok, Kamanin and other top officials finally confirm without doubt that both missions had ended successfully and that both cosmonauts were in good shape. (466) The dual flight lasted 70 hours 40 minutes 48 seconds. (2)

Khrushchev made a telephone call to Bykovsky at the landing site and congratulated him telling that he was now the first to become a communist in space!

With the evening approaching, it was decided to leave Tereshkova to spend the night in Karaganda, while Bykovsky remained overnight in Kustanai. An Il-14 was sent to pick up Bykovsky and a larger Il-18 was dispatched to Tereshkova.

Post-flight events

According to some reports, on the morning of June 20, Tereshkova revisited her landing site, where she took part in a re-enactment of her landing and its footage was to be released to the world.

On the same day, Bykovsky and Tereshkova met near Kuibyshev at a country retreat overlooking the Volga River, a scenic site usually reserved for local party bosses. As their predecessors, they went through post-flight medical checkups, while Tereshkova could have some time for her bruises to heal.

On the same day, at 7:30 in the morning Korolev, Tyulin and Rudenko boarded an An-12 transport plane in Tyuratam and flew to Kuibyshev. By 11:30 a.m., up to seven Air Force planes loaded with officials arrived to meet the cosmonauts and Kamanin made a special effort to weed out "unneeded" personnel and send them back to Moscow.

At 1 p.m. the cosmonauts met with the members of the State Commission, whom they delivered their first post-flight reports, which were recorded on tape.

Bykovsky's account

In addition to recalling the most memorable episodes of the mission, Bykovsky described his impressions from observing the Earth surface, given its potential importance for future military missions.

He said that he could perfectly see forests and the square shapes of fields, rivers, dry beds and islands. He saw Leningrad, Cairo and the Nile. At sea, he could distinguish waves and the wakes of ships. Over Norway, he saw fjords and snow-covered mountains. At night, he saw flashes of lightning through the Vzor periscope window. As he unbuckled during the flight on the night side of the Earth, he saw city lights in South America and the trail left by an aircraft over France.

Bykovsky filmed with a black and white movie camera, and despite problems with reloading and jamming, he captured a horizon, the Moon and the Earth's surface.

He tried to use binoculars for observations, but found it too difficult to focus and preferred using the viewfinder of the movie camera.

Focusing on the atmosphere, he tested different filters discerning layers of clouds at different altitudes. However his attempt to see the corona of the Sun was not successful. He also failed to see polar light or the atmospheric glow.

Along with observations, Bykovsky conducted simple scientific experiments. He shook a vial with a liquid containing an air bubble and confirmed that it remained intact. He also watched a pea grow and made different movements around the spacecraft trying to register any reaction of his vestibular system, but he did not notice any adverse effects. (574) He started doing physical exercise, (including the use of a rubber strip (651)) and checked his eyesight.

Once a day, Bykovsky conducted a synchronization of his "globus," a navigation aid that indicated his position over the globe. The device worked accurately, Bykovsky said. His spacesuit was well ventilated and he was turning off ventilation for the night (probably to reduce noise). However, like Tereshkova, he experienced irritation and pressure from the helmet on the right side.

Bykovsky generally approved the food onboard, however recommended against eating it before the launch (as it was a routine since Gagarin's mission). Bykovsky possibly hinted about the effect this food had on his stomach. He also struggled a bit with all the empty food tubes and packages.

He had a generally positive impression about the spacecraft, however he did note that the clock was inconveniently placed and it was difficult to read instrument indicators. He also said that it was totally impossible to reach the first aid compartment without unfastening from the seat! (574) According to Golovanov, the petals closing his toilet did not work perfectly, apparently allowing bad odor in the cabin. (18)

Bykovsky made a total of four 1.5-hour free-floating exercises in the cabin of the spacecraft during his 18th, 34th, 50th and 66th orbits. (505)

Tereshkova's account

Tereshkova echoed Bykovsky's criticism of the spacecraft, when she said that many instruments including the "globus" had been too far away and she had had to partially unfasten from her seat in order to reach them. She documented cities, clouds and the Moon, but noted that it was very difficult to do filming and taking notes of what she was filming at the same time. (Both of her pencils broke and she had to give up further records). She did not perform biological experiments, because of the trouble reaching samples. Like on Vostok-5, radiation dosage sensors in Tereshkova's cabin remained at zero during the mission.

She said that her hygiene towels had been too small and did not contain enough moisture and recommended to include means to brush teeth during flights.

Like Bykovsky, she saw lightning and city lights on the ground, but could not see the Sun's corona. Temperature onboard her spacecraft fluctuated in a similar pattern to Vostok-5's: around 30 degrees at launch, 23 degrees by the end of the first day and then falling to 12 degrees by the beginning of the second day and remaining there for the rest of the flight. (574)

Next chapter: Aftermath of Tereshkova's mission

Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: October 7, 2014

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: June 30, 2013

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Gagarin greets Tereshkova after the flight. The photo could be taken at the landing site of Vostok-6 on June 20.


Bykovsky and Tereshkova reunited in Kuibyshev around 24 hours after their landing on June 19, 1963.




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