10 dangerous situations Gagarin: the first cosmonaut carried in flight

10 dangerous situations Gagarin: the first cosmonaut carried in flight

TASS talks about emergency situations that could lead to the death of Yuri Gagarin during his mission on orbit.


12 April 1961, the young pilot Yuri Gagarin made his 108-minute historic flight around the Earth on a space ship “Vostok”.

TASS first reported: “on April 12, 1961 the Soviet Union launched into orbit around Earth the world’s first spaceship-satellite “Vostok” with a man on Board. Pilot-astronaut spacecraft-satellite “Vostok” is the citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics pilot major Yuri A. Gagarin”.

The heroic flight of Gagarin was accompanied by various technical problems, almost all of them could lead to tragedy. TASS talks about the 10 emergency situations.

1. Problems with the hatch

The morning of 12 April 1961, Baikonur cosmodrome. Prelaunch. After landing of Yuri Gagarin in the Vostok spacecraft and closing the hatch of the landing it was discovered that one of the three contacts “door is closed” not closed.

The status of this contact was particularly important: by its operation on the descent after ejection hatch had to run the timer bailout of the astronaut. At the direction of chief designer Sergei Korolev, the hatch was open, fixed contact and the door is closed again.

“I heard it closed, the sound of keys. Then start the hatch to reopen. Look, the hatch was removed. Realized something wrong. I Sergey Pavlovich (Korolev. — Approx. TASS) said: “do not worry, one contact is for some reason not pressed. Everything will be fine”. The calculation was soon swapped charges on which the established limit switches. All corrected and closed the hatch” — reported on the state Commission after the flight Gagarin.

2. Too high

At 09:07 Moscow time the carrier rocket “Vostok” with the same spacecraft was launched from site No. 1, called this day “Gagarin’s start”. Excretion was normal, but one of the devices broke down and the team turns off the motor the Central unit of the rocket has not passed from the Earth. Off went to the backup option with a delay of half a second and exceeding the design speed of 22 m/s.

As a result, when he finished the third stage, the ship turned into an unplanned orbit with an apogee (highest point of orbit) about 85 km higher than planned. The rocket was put “East” on the orbit parameters 182,5 km in the perigee of 217 miles at apogee, but the options amounted to 175 to 302 km.

Regular orbit was designed so that the ship could return to Earth due to friction of the atmosphere approximately four days, if it doesn’t work retropropulsion. The achieved orbit, the spacecraft could be up to months, while the life support systems of the “East” was for up to 10 days.

If not worked retropropulsion, the first cosmonaut to be killed.

3. The brakes were flawed

Brake motor, as expected, worked on the 67th minute orbital flight, and the Vostok with Gagarin began the descent. However and here has not done without surprises: retropropulsion was not given full impulse due to the loss of the fuel.

The reason was the incomplete closure of the check valve of the pressurization tank of fuel. The engine was off at the time limit (44 seconds), but the orbital speed of the “East” has been reduced to only 132 m/s instead of the estimated 136 m/s. the Ship went down on a less steep trajectory. Also not you and subsequent operations.

4. “A chorus line”

The result of the abnormal operation of the brake engines were broken logic of stabilization of the ship, and it unwound to a significant angular velocity.

“The speed of rotation was about 30 degrees per second, no less. “Corps de ballet” head-feet head-feet with a very high speed of rotation. Everything was spinning. I see Africa, then the horizon, then the sky. Just managed to close from the Sun to light falls in the eye. I put my feet to the window, but did not close the blinds. I was wondering myself what was going on. I waited division”, — said Gagarin.

5. Instrument compartment

Separation was not because of incomplete results the braking impulse it is blocked by the control system: the separation is acceptable where there are guarantees of a speedy entrance into the atmosphere, if there is a risk to remain in orbit, to separate instrument compartment with its powerful battery and system orientation is tantamount to death. So the lander with an astronaut entered the atmosphere in conjunction with the instrument compartment.

“I know, that calculation is (to be separated into compartments. — Approx. TASS) would occur in 10-12 seconds after switching off the brake propulsion. When you turn off TDU all Windows pkrs (device control mode of descent. — Approx. TASS) went out. I feel more time has passed, but division is not. On the device “Descent” goes out, “prepare to bailout” — will not illuminate. The separation does not occur. Then again begin to light up the Windows on pkrs: first window of the third team, then the second and then the first team. The movable index is zero. Separation no no. “A chorus line” continues. I decided that it is not all right. Clocked by the clock time. Two minutes passed, and there’s no separation. Reported for KV channel (short-wave. — Approx. TASS), TDU worked fine. Figured that after all will get normal, as thousands have six to the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union thousand eight kilometers, then to the Far East somewhere to sit down. The “noise” did not raise. On the phone reported that the division did not happen,” — said Gagarin later.

Only 10 minutes after braking, at an altitude of about 110 km, as a result of heating up to 150 degrees Celsius by the friction of the atmosphere worked the backup sensors division and was released by the team on the separation of the instrument compartment. Lander started his own descent.

6. Overload

At this point, remembers Gagarin, he survived the maximum overload, apparently, to 12g, which almost ended in his loss of consciousness.

“My feeling is the overload was for 10g. There was a moment, about 2-3 seconds when I started to “spread out” indications on the instruments. In the eyes became a little grey,” said the astronaut.

Focus loss of vision and darkening of the eyes, a clear sign that it is going to loss of consciousness. Usually this happens when 10-12g, but Gagarin was able to face this challenge.

7. Undershoot to the landing place

The estimated landing point of the “East” was in Hvalynsk district of the Saratov region.

As the ship went into a higher orbit with greater period of revolution, the brake pulse was issued at a greater distance from the target site, leading to undershoot. But to compensate undershoot worked part time results the braking impulse and higher orbit, where the extra-atmospheric part of the descent was about a minute longer. On the other hand, the speed and angle of entry was slightly above the estimated, increasing undershoot. All these factors partly offset each other, and the lander with Gagarin has not reached the estimated landing area of just 180 km.

When the chair with Gagarin ejected from the lander, the eyes of the astronaut opened up a view of the Volga. “I immediately saw the big river. And thought it was a Volga. More other such rivers are not in this area”, — said Gagarin.

He told me that the ejection occurred above the shore, and the astronaut was afraid that the wind is carrying it to the river and will have to splash down. Meanwhile, forces search and rescue waited almost 200 km from this place.

8. Two parachutes

After the bailout on Gagarin consistently revealed brake and main parachutes, and then from the chest pack came out and a spare parachute. It was stipulated in the scheme of descent, though it presented some danger. First reserve parachute fell down, do not open.

“I began to descend on the main parachute. Again I was launched to the Volga. Undergoing parachute training, we jumped as many times here on this site. A lot of flying there. I learned the railway, the railway bridge across the river and a long braid, which is far juts out into the Volga. I thought that is probably Saratov. Land at Saratov. Then deploy the reserve parachute opened and hung. So he did not open. There was only the opening of the container,” — said Gagarin.

After some time, “the cloud blew a little, and opened the second parachute”. “Then I went down on two parachutes”, — stated in the report of the first cosmonaut. Because of this, he could not effectively control the flight.

“At the request of Yuri Gagarin to fly on parachutes, he failed almost to the Ground he went down to face the wind,” — said in the report of OKB-1, the results of the launch of the spacecraft with the pilot on Board. Only at the height of about 30 meters of the astronaut deployed the face of demolition, which allowed to land confidently and gently.

9. Without air

Gagarin came down in a pressurized suit. After disclosure of the main parachute, the astronaut had to open a valve to breathe atmospheric air, but opening the lock is lost in the folds of the clothing.

“It was difficult with the opening of the valve of breath in the air. It so happened that the ball valve, when dressed, has come under unmasking shell. The suspension system was so far-fetched that I’m six minutes could not get it out. Then undid unmasks shell and with the mirror pulled the cord and opened the flap normal,” he recalled Gagarin.

10. Without a boat and a gun

During the descent Gagarin fell wearable emergency reserve (NAE). 30-pound styling with the necessities for survival was to go down under the feet of the astronaut, attached a long sling to suit. Inside was an inflatable boat, it would be useful in the event of a landing on the Volga, food, medicines, radio and gun.

“Opened, CALLED and flew down. Through the harness I felt a strong jerk and all. I understand, NAZ went down on their own. Down I could not see where it falls, as in the suit it can be done — firmly tied to the back,” — said Gagarin.

However, the loss of these 30 kg astronaut made easier, and they carried him even farther from shore.

Approximately 108 minutes after launch from Baikonur, Yuri Gagarin, returned to his native land. He landed in a field near Engels in the Saratov region. Local residents who could take him for a downed American pilot, Gagarin said: “I am a Soviet man, came from outer space”.

Dmitry Strugovets. TASS thanks for the advice columnist for the magazine “news of cosmonautics” Igor Lisova.

HelpHow to become an astronaut?”Roscosmos” has announced an open competition in the cosmonaut detachment. Read more