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Voskhod 2 (Russian: Восход-2, lit. 'Sunrise-2') was a Soviet crewed space mission in March 1965. The Vostok-based Voskhod 3KD spacecraft with two crew members on board, Pavel Belyayev and Alexei Leonov, was equipped with an inflatable airlock. It established another milestone in space exploration when Alexei Leonov became the first person to leave the spacecraft in a specialized spacesuit to conduct a 12-minute spacewalk.[2][3]

Voskhod 2
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1965-022A
SATCAT no.1274
Mission duration1 day, 2 hours, 2 minutes, 17 seconds
Orbits completed17
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftVoskhod-3KD No.4
ManufacturerExperimental Design Bureau OKB-1
Launch mass5,682 kilograms (12,527 lb)
Crew size2
MembersPavel Belyayev
Alexei Leonov
CallsignАлмаз (Almaz – "Diamond")
EVA duration12 minutes, 9 seconds
Start of mission
Launch dateMarch 18, 1965, 07:00:00 (1965-03-18UTC07Z) UTC
RocketVoskhod 11A57
Launch siteBaikonur 1/5[1]
End of mission
Landing dateMarch 19, 1965, 09:02:17 (1965-03-19UTC09:02:18Z) UTC
Landing site59°34′N 55°28′E / 59.567°N 55.467°E / 59.567; 55.467
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude167 kilometres (104 mi)
Apogee altitude475 kilometres (295 mi)
Inclination64.8 degrees
Period90.9 min


Position Cosmonaut
Commander Pavel Belyayev
Only spaceflight
Pilot Alexei Leonov
First spaceflight

Backup crewEdit

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Dmitri Zaikin
Pilot Yevgeny Khrunov

Reserve crewEdit

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Viktor Gorbatko
Pilot Pyotr Kolodin

Mission parametersEdit

Space walkEdit

  • Leonov – EVA 1 – March 18, 1965
    • 08:28:13 UTC: The Voskhod 2 airlock is depressurized by Leonov.
    • 08:32:54 UTC: Leonov opens the Voskhod 2 airlock hatch.
    • 08:34:51 UTC: EVA 1 start – Leonov leaves airlock.
    • 08:47:00 UTC: EVA 1 end – Leonov reenters airlock.
    • 08:48:40 UTC: Hatch on the airlock is closed and secured by Leonov.
    • 08:51:54 UTC: Leonov begins to repressurize the airlock.
    • Duration: 12 minutes

Mission highlightsEdit

Interactive 3D model of the Voskhod 2 spacecraft, with inflatable airlock deployed

Liftoff took place at 11:00 AM on the morning of 18 March. As with Voskhod 1, a launch abort was not possible during the first few minutes, until the payload shroud jettisoned around the 2-1/2 minute mark.

Voskhod 2 spacecraft, with inflatable airlock deployed

The Voskhod 3KD spacecraft had an inflatable airlock extended in orbit.[4] Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov donned a space suit and left the spacecraft while the other cosmonaut of the two-man crew, Pavel Belyayev, remained inside. Leonov began his spacewalk 90 minutes into the mission at the end of the first orbit. Cosmonaut Leonov's spacewalk lasted 12 minutes and 9 seconds (08:34:51–08:47:00 UTC), beginning over north-central Africa (northern Sudan/southern Egypt), and ending over eastern Siberia.

The Voskhod 2 spacecraft was a Vostok spacecraft with a backup, solid fuel retrorocket, attached atop the descent module. The ejection seat was removed and two seats were added, (at a 90-degree angle relative to the Vostok crew seats position). An inflatable exterior airlock was also added to the descent module opposite the entry hatch. After use, the airlock was jettisoned. There was no provision for crew escape in the event of a launch or landing emergency. A solid fuel braking rocket was also added to the parachute lines to provide for a softer landing at touchdown. This was necessary because, unlike the Vostok, the crew landed with the Voskhod descent module.[4] Though Leonov was able to complete his spacewalk successfully, both that task and the overall mission were plagued with problems. Leonov's only tasks were to attach a camera to the end of the airlock to record his spacewalk and to photograph the spacecraft. He managed to attach the camera without any problem. However, when he tried to use the still camera on his chest, the suit had ballooned and he was unable to reach down to the shutter switch on his leg.[5] After his 12 minutes and 9 seconds outside the Voskhod, Leonov found that his suit had stiffened, due to ballooning out, to the point where he could not re-enter the airlock. He was forced to bleed off some of his suit's pressure, in order to be able to bend the joints, eventually going below safety limits.[6]:456 Leonov did not report his action on the radio to avoid alarming others, but Soviet state radio and television had earlier stopped their live broadcasts from the spacecraft when the mission experienced difficulties. The two crew members subsequently experienced difficulty in sealing the hatch properly due to thermal distortion caused by Leonov's lengthy troubles returning to the craft, followed by a troublesome re-entry in which malfunction of the automatic landing system forced the use of its manual backup.[7] The spacecraft was so cramped that the two cosmonauts, both wearing spacesuits, could not return to their seats to restore the ship's center of mass for 46 seconds after orienting the ship for reentry[6]:457–459 and a landing in Perm Krai. The orbital module did not properly disconnect from the landing module, not unlike Vostok 1, causing the spherical return vehicle to spin wildly until the modules disconnected at 100 km.[7]

Triple-barreled TP-82 Cosmonaut survival pistol in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum

The delay of 46 seconds caused the spacecraft to land 386 km (240 mi) from the intended landing zone, in the inhospitable forests of Upper Kama Upland, somewhere west of Solikamsk. Although flight controllers had no idea where the spacecraft had landed or whether Leonov and Belyayev had survived, the cosmonauts' families were told that they were resting after having been recovered. The two men were both familiar with the harsh climate and knew that bears and wolves, made aggressive by mating season, lived in the taiga; the spacecraft carried a pistol and "plenty of ammunition", but the incident later drove the development of a dedicated TP-82 Cosmonaut survival pistol. Although aircraft quickly located the cosmonauts, the area was so heavily forested that helicopters could not land. Night arrived,[when?] the temperature dropped to −5 °C (23 °F), and the spacecraft's hatch had been blown open by explosive bolts. Warm clothes and supplies were dropped and the cosmonauts spent a freezing night in the capsule or Sharik in Russian. Even worse, the electrical system completely malfunctioned so that the heater would not work, but the fans ran at full blast. A rescue party arrived on skis the next day as it was too risky to try an airlift from the site.[8][9] The advance party chopped wood and built a small log cabin and an enormous fire. After a more comfortable second night in the forest the cosmonauts skied to a waiting helicopter several kilometers away and flew first to Perm, then to Baikonur for their mission debriefing.[6]:457–459[7]

General Nikolai Kamanin's diary later gave the landing location of the Voskhod 2, about 75 kilometres (47 miles) from Perm in the Ural mountains in heavy forest at 59°34′N 55°28′E / 59.567°N 55.467°E / 59.567; 55.467 on March 19, 1965 9:02 GMT. Initially there was some confusion and it was believed that Voskhod 2 landed not far from Shchuchin (about 30 kilometres or 19 miles south-west of Bereznikov, north of Perm), but no indication was received from the spacecraft.[10] Apparently a commander of one of the search helicopters reported finding Voskhod 2, "On the forest road between the villages of Sorokovaya and Shchuchino, about 30 kilometers southwest of the town of Berezniki, I see the red parachute and the two cosmonauts. There is deep snow all around ..."[8]

The capsule is currently[when?] on display at the museum of RKK Energiya in Korolev, near Moscow.


Alexei Leonov performs the first spacewalk during Voskhod 2

On reaching orbit in Voskhod 2, Leonov and Belyayev attached the EVA backpack to Leonov's Berkut (“Golden Eagle”) space suit, a modified Vostok Sokol-1 intravehicular (IV) suit. The white metal EVA backpack provided 45 minutes of oxygen for breathing and cooling. Oxygen vented through a relief valve into space, carrying away heat, moisture, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The space suit pressure could be set at either 40.6 kPa (5.89 psi) or 27.40 kPa (3.974 psi).[11]

Belyayev then deployed and pressurized the Volga inflatable airlock. The airlock was necessary for two reasons: first, the capsule's avionics used vacuum tubes, which required a constant atmosphere for air cooling. Also, supplies of nitrogen and oxygen sufficient to replenish the atmosphere after EVA could not be carried due to the spacecraft's weight limit. By contrast, the American Gemini capsule used solid state avionics, and an atmosphere of oxygen only, at a pressure of 69 kPa (10.0 psi), which could easily be replenished after EVA.[12] The Volga airlock was designed, built, and tested in nine months in mid-1964. At launch, Volga fitted over Voskhod 2's hatch, extending 74 cm (29 in) beyond the spacecraft's hull. The airlock comprised a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide metal ring fitted over Voskhod 2's inward-opening hatch, a double-walled fabric airlock tube with a deployed length of 2.50 m (8.2 ft), and a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide metal upper ring around the 65 cm (26 in) wide inward-opening airlock hatch. Volga's deployed internal volume was 2.50 m3 (88 cu ft).

The fabric airlock tube was made rigid by about 40 airbooms, clustered as three, independent groups. Two groups sufficed for deployment. The airbooms needed seven minutes to fully inflate. Four spherical tanks held sufficient oxygen to inflate the airbooms and pressurize the airlock. Two lights lit the airlock interior, and three 16mm cameras—two in the airlock, one outside on a boom mounted to the upper ring—recorded the historic first spacewalk.[13]

Belyayev controlled the airlock from inside Voskhod 2, but a set of backup controls for Leonov was suspended on bungee cords inside the airlock. Leonov entered Volga, then Belyayev sealed Voskhod 2 behind him and depressurized the airlock. Leonov opened Volga's outer hatch and pushed out to the end of his 5.35 m (17.6 ft) umbilicus. He later said the umbilicus gave him tight control of his movements—an observation purportedly belied by subsequent American spacewalk experience. Leonov reported looking down and seeing from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Caspian Sea.

After Leonov returned to his couch, Belyayev fired pyrotechnic bolts to discard the Volga. Sergei Korolev, Chief Designer at OKB-1 Design Bureau (now RKK Energia), stated after the EVA that Leonov could have remained outside for much longer than he did, while Mstislav Keldysh, “chief theoretician” of the Soviet space program and President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, said that the EVA showed that future cosmonauts would find work in space easy.

The government news agency, TASS, reported that, "outside the ship and after returning, Leonov feels well"; however, post-Cold War Russian documents reveal a different story—that Leonov's Berkut space suit ballooned, making bending difficult. Because of this, Leonov was unable to reach the shutter switch on his thigh for his chest-mounted camera. He could not take pictures of Voskhod 2, but was able to recover the camera mounted on Volga which recorded his EVA for posterity but only after it stuck and he had to exert considerable effort to push it down in front of him.[14] After 12 minutes walking in space Leonov re-entered Volga.

Later accounts report Cosmonaut Leonov violated procedure by entering the airlock head-first, then became stuck sideways when he turned to close the outer hatch, forcing him to flirt with decompression sickness (the “bends”) by lowering the suit pressure so he could bend to free himself. Leonov said that he had a suicide pill to swallow had he been unable to re-enter the Voskhod 2, and Belyayev been forced to abandon him in orbit.[11]

Doctors reported that Leonov nearly suffered heatstroke—his core body temperature increased by 1.8 °C (3.2 °F) in 20 minutes; Leonov said he was up to his knees in sweat, which sloshed in the suit. In an interview published in the Soviet Military Review in 1980, Leonov downplayed his difficulties, saying that "building manned orbital stations and exploring the Universe are inseparably linked with man's activity in open space. There is no end of work in this field."

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  2. ^ Burgess, Colin; Hall, Rex (2009). The first Soviet cosmonaut team their lives, legacy, and historical impact (Online-Ausg. ed.). Berlin: Springer. p. 252. ISBN 038784824X.
  3. ^ Grayzeck, Dr. Edwin J. "Voskhod 2". National Space Science Data Center. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Spaceflight mission report: Voskhod 2". Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  5. ^ Hall, Rex; Shayler, David J. (2001). The rocket men : Vostok & Voskhod, the first Soviet manned spaceflights. London [u.a.]: Springer [u.a.] p. 246. ISBN 978-1852333911.
  6. ^ a b c Siddiqi, Asif A. Challenge To Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945–1974. NASA.
  7. ^ a b c Leonov, Alexei (2005-01-01). "The Nightmare of Voskhod 2". Air & Space. p. 5. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Hall, Rex; Shayler, David J. (2001). The rocket men : Vostok & Voskhod, the first Soviet manned spaceflights. London [u.a.]: Springer [u.a.] p. 250. ISBN 978-1852333911.
  9. ^ Grahn, Sven. "The Voskhod 2 mission revisited". Sven Grahn. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  10. ^ Wade, Mark. "Kamanin Diaries - 1965 March 19 - Landing of Voskhod 2". Mark Wade Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b Portree, David S. F.; Robert C. Treviño (October 1997). "Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology" (PDF). Monographs in Aerospace History Series #7. NASA History Office. pp. 15–16. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  12. ^ Hall, Rex; Shayler, David J. (2001). The Rocket Men: Vostok & Voskhod, the First Soviet Manned Spaceflights. London [u.a.]: Springer [u.a.] p. 236. ISBN 978-1852333911.
  13. ^ Hall, Rex; Shayler, David J. (2001). The rocket men : Vostok & Voskhod, the first Soviet manned spaceflights. London [u.a.]: Springer [u.a.] p. 240. ISBN 978-1852333911.
  14. ^ Hall, Rex; Shayler, David J. (2001). The rocket men : Vostok & Voskhod, the first Soviet manned spaceflights. London [u.a.]: Springer [u.a.] p. 247. ISBN 978-1852333911. Retrieved 20 July 2014.

External linksEdit