Vostok 2 (Russian: Восток-2, Orient 2 or East 2) was a Soviet space mission which carried cosmonaut Gherman Titov into orbit for a full day in order to study the effects of a more prolonged period of weightlessness on the human body. Titov orbited the earth over 17 times, exceeding the single orbit of Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1 − as well as the suborbital spaceflights of American astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom aboard their respective Mercury-Redstone 3 and 4 missions.
The flight was an almost complete success, marred only by a malfunctioning heater that allowed the inside temperature to drop to 6.1 °C (43.0 °F), a bout of space sickness, and a troublesome re-entry when the reentry module failed to separate cleanly from its service module.
Unlike Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1, Titov took manual control of the spacecraft for a short while. Another change came when the Soviets admitted that Titov did not land with his spacecraft. Titov would claim in an interview that he ejected from his capsule as a test of an alternative landing system; it is now known that all Vostok program landings were performed this way.
The re-entry capsule was destroyed during development of the Voskhod spacecraft.
As of 2008, Titov remains the youngest person to reach space. He was a month short of 26 years old at launch.
Gherman Titov launched from Gagarin's Start at Baikonur Cosmodrome on 6 August 1961 at 0600 UTC aboard the Vostok 2 spacecraft. Radio personality Yuri Levitan interrupted Radio Moscow programming with an announcement of the flight at 0745 UTC.
Nausea set in as Titov escaped Earth's gravity, which would cause him to vomit when he tried to eat one of his planned meals. Soviet space program officials suspected disturbance of Titov's vestibular system was to blame, leading them to begin early investigations into what is now known as space adaptation syndrome, or space sickness. Titov is believed to be the first spacefarer to experience the condition.
Titov took manual control of the spacecraft's attitude for a time as he passed over Africa on his first orbit and would again at the end of the seventh orbit; the controls were reported to function well. Titov exchanged greetings with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as he passed over the Soviet Union at the end of his first orbit, replicating Gagarin's feat.
A camera aboard the spacecraft transmitted smiling pictures of Titov to the ground as he passed over Soviet territory on the fifth orbit. Titov settled down to sleep during the seventh orbit; he awoke over eight hours later, 37 minutes after the scheduled end of his sleep period.
Detailed information about the radio frequencies used by the spacecraft were made public before Titov's flight; listening posts around the world picked up voice and telemetry signals from Vostok 2, allaying suspicions that the spaceflight might have been faked.
As on Vostok 1, the Vostok 2 service module failed to detach from the reentry module when commanded and reentry began with the former still attached; the conjoined modules gyrated violently until aerodynamic heating burned through the straps still holding them together. Titov ejected from the capsule as planned and parachuted separately to land at 0718 UTC on 7 August 1961, near Krasny Kut, Saratov Oblast.
Published - July 2009
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