Vostok:

In the spring of 1957 the Soviets organized project section 9 to design new spacecraft. Simultaneous with this they were building the first earth satellites - the PS-1, PS-2 and Object D (which would be Sputniks 1, 2, and 3). By April they had completed a research plan to build a piloted spacecraft and an unmanned lunar probe, using the R-7 as the basis for the launch vehicle. Studies indicated that the R-7 with a third stage could lift 5 tons into low earth orbit.

The manned spacecraft work led them into new fields of research in re-entry, thermal protection, and hypersonic aerodynamics. The initial study material was reviewed by mathematicians at the Academy of Science. It was found that a maximum of 10 G's would result in a ballistic re-entry from earth obit. From September 1957 to January 1958 section 9 examined heating conditions, surface temperatures, heat shield materials, and obtainable maximum payloads for a wide range of aerodynamic forms with hypersonic lift to drag ratios ranging from zero to a few points. Parametric trajectory calculations were made using successive approximations on the BESM-1 electromechanical computer.

It was found that the equilibrium temperatures for winged spacecraft with the highest L/D ratios (lift-to-drag) exceeded the capability of available heat resistant alloy construction methods. These designs also had the lowest net payloads. The final conclusion was:

The necessity to refine and qualify the lifting design seemed a major impediment to meeting a quick program schedule. Then in April 1958 aviation medicine research using human subjects in a centrifuge showed that pilots could endure up to 10 G's without ill effects. This allowed a pure ballistic design, removing a major stumbling block, and allowing the study to move quickly to the advanced project stage. Detailed design of the spacecraft layout, structures, equipment, and materials were all done in parallel. This required everything to be redesigned 2 to 3 times, but resulted in a quick final design. The advance project was completed by the middle of August 1958.

After selection of the ballistic concept, the shape of the re-entry vehicle had to be symmetrical. A sphere was the simplest such form, having the same aerodynamic characteristics at all angles of attack and all velocities. By putting the center of mass aft of the center of the sphere, the re-entry vehicle would naturally assume the correct orientation for re-entry.

Redundancy of all systems became a new strategic design principle for this first manned spacecraft. The final report 'Material on the research question of a manned Sputnik' (OD-2) gave the following flight characteristics:

Development program:

On 10 December 1959 a decree setting forth the work on the first manned spacecraft was issued. In April 1960 the draft project was completed. This defined the various versions of the spacecraft to be produced:

The Vostok crew accommodation was for one cosmonaut, in a spacesuit, equipped with an ejection seat for launch aborts and for landing on the earth. The spacecraft had two windows: one above the cosmonaut's head in the entry hatch, one at his feet, equipped with the Vzor optical device for orientation of the spacecraft. Attitude control was by cold gas thrusters for on-orbit orientation; passive control for the capsule during re-entry. A single parachute allowed recovery of the capsule. There was no soft-landing system; the pilot ejected for a separate landing under his own parachute. Instrumentation on the Vostoks was rudimentary in the extreme. There were no gyros and no eight-ball for maneuvering as on Mercury or Gemini. To decide when to re-enter, the cosmonaut had a little clockwork globe that showed current position over the earth. By pushing a button to the right of the globe, it would be advanced to the landing position assuming a standard re-entry at that moment.

The spherical design itself was ingenious - it has no maneuvering engines to orient it, since it is like a ball with the heavy weight concentrated at one end - if you throw it in the air (or re-enter the atmosphere with it ) it will automatically swing around with the heavy end downward. The only problem is that it is only capable of a purely ballistic re-entry, which means 8 G's for the occupant from earth orbit and 20 G's from the moon. Mercury was ballistic, but Gemini, Apollo, and Soyuz all had the center of gravity offset, so they could produce lift, lower the G forces, and maneuver somewhat to vary the landing point. This reduced G's to 3 G for earth orbit returns and 8 G's for lunar returns. First manned spacecraft. Derivatives were still in use over thirty years later, for military photo-reconnaissance, earth resources, mapping, and biological missions.

Construction drawings were issued beginning in the fall of 1958. The official decree to begin development was issued only on 22 May 1959. From the end of 1960 six unmanned Vostok variants were launched. The military developed the recovery forces and techniques, including appropriate aircraft, helicopters, and handling equipment. At that time it was felt that there was a 60% chance on each launch of an abort requiring rescue operations for the cosmonaut.

The Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft, like the US Mercury, could not perform orbital maneuvers - they could only be translated around their axes. The main engine was not restartable and was used only at the end of the mission for the re-entry braking maneuver. Instrumentation on the Vostoks was rudimentary in the extreme. There was no gyro platform and no eight-ball for maneuvering as on Gemini. The re-entry maneuver was normally handled automatically by radio command. The spacecraft was oriented horizontally using infrared sensors. Alignment along the orbital axis was made using sun and star sensors.

In the event of failure of the automatic systems, the cosmonaut could take manual control of the spacecraft. This was done by using the ingenious Vzor periscope device mounted on the floor of the cabin. This had a central view and eight ports arranged in a circle around the center. When the spacecraft was perfectly centered in respect to the horizon, all eight of the ports would be lit up. Alignment along the orbit was judged by getting lines on the main scope to be aligned with the landscape flowing by below. In this way, the spacecraft could be oriented correctly for the re-entry maneuver.

The Soviet Union launched a Vostok 1KP prototype manned spacecraft (without heat shield; not recoverable) into near-earth orbit. Called Sputnik IV by the Western press. On May 19, at 15:52 Moscow time, the spacecraft was commanded to retrofire. However the guidance system had oriented the spacecraft incorrectly and the TDU engine instead put the spacecraft into a higher orbit. Soviet scientists said that conditions in the cabin, which had separated from the remainder of the spacecraft, were normal.

The Soviet Union launched its second unmanned test of the Vostok spacecraft, the Korabl Sputnik II, or Sputnik V. The spacecraft carried two dogs, Strelka and Belka, in addition to a gray rabbit, rats, mice, flies, plants, fungi, microscopic water plants, and seeds. Electrodes attached to the dogs and linked with the spacecraft communications system, which included a television camera, enabled Soviet scientists to check the animals' hearts, blood pressure, breathing, and actions during the trip. After the spacecraft reentered and landed safely the next day, the animals and biological specimens were reported to be in good condition.

The Soviet Union launched its third spaceship satellite, Korabl Sputnik III, or Sputnik VI. The spacecraft, similar to those launched on May 15 and August 19, carried the dogs Pcheka and Mushka in addition to other animals, insects, and plants. Deorbited December 2, 1960 7:15 GMT. Burned up on reentry due to steep entry angle (retrofire engine did not shut off on schedule and burned to fuel depletion).

Cosmonaut candidates began training in March 1960, and the original group of official cosmonauts was selected in May. The group included Anatoly Kartashov, Yuri Gagarin, Andriyan Nikolayev, Pavel Popovich, Gherman Titov and Valentin Varlamov. A lot of regrouping went on before the final Vostok missions.

The Soviet Union accomplished the feat of placing the first human in space with the launch of Yuri Gagarin on April 13, 1961 in the Vostok 1 spacecraft. Three press releases were prepared, one for success, two for failures. It was only known ten minutes after burnout, 25 minutes after launch, if a stable orbit had been achieved. The payload included life-support equipment and radio and television to relay information on the condition of the pilot. The flight was automated; Gagarin's controls were locked to prevent him from taking control of the ship. A key was available in a sealed envelope in case it became necessary to take control in an emergency. After retrofire, the service module remained attached to the Sharik reentry sphere by a wire bundle. The joined craft went through wild gyrations at the beginning of reentry, before the wires burned through. The Sharik, as it was designed to do, then naturally reached aerodynamic equilibrium with the reentry shield positioned correctly.

Gagarin's 1-orbit flight was the first of six Vostok missions that gave the Soviets a commanding lead in the new frontier of space exploration. While the United States' Mercury program was limited to orbital flights of less than one day, Vostok flights lasted as long as five days. Also, on two occasions the Soviets were able to launch two Vostok spacecraft within days of each other, achieving another space first of having two men in space simultaneously. As with the American Mercury program, Vostok was used by the Soviet Union to learn about the space environment and man's adaptability to weightlessness.


                                 # of Flt.
  Date       Spacecraft Name     Crew Days      Mission/Payload
-------- ----------------------- ---- ----  ------------------------
05/15/60 Vostok (Korabl 1)         -     -  Test flight
07/23/60 Vostok                    -     -  Launch failure
08/19/60 Vostok (Korabl 2)         -     -  Test - 2 dogs
12/01/60 Vostok (Korabl 3)         -     -  Test - 2 dogs
12/22/60 Vostok                    -     -  Launch failure - 2 dogs
03/09/61 Vostok (Korabl 4)         -     -  Test - 1 dog
03/25/61 Vostok (Korabl 5)         -     -  Test - 1 dog
04/13/61 Vostok 1                  1     0  Earth orbit
08/06/61 Vostok 2                  1     1  Earth orbit
08/11/62 Vostok 3                  1     4  Earth orbit
08/12/62 Vostok 4                  1     3  Earth orbit
06/14/63 Vostok 5                  1     5  Earth orbit
06/16/63 Vostok 6                  1     3  Earth orbit
The Vostok class of space capsule incorporated many features that would be used by all the major spacefaring countries for the next 20 years or so. The capsule consisted of two sections, a crew section and a service module. The crew section was a spherical compartment that was designed to separate from the service module for reentry. Once in the atmosphere, the crew module would deploy a set of parachutes to slow its decent. Most Russian built space vehicles of the time were designed to touch down on land after their missions. Although his landing was rough, Major Gagarin suffered no injuries upon reentry.

Vostok 1 Specifications:

Vostok 1

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 04/13/61 
*	Flight Time: 000d 01h 48m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0001 orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Yuri A. Gagarin 

Mission Highlights:
The Soviets were the first to place a man in orbit. Gagarin was launched
with an A-1 booster from the Baikanour Cosmodrome and completed one orbit
of the Earth. The Vostok spacecraft was allowed to drift while in orbit.
Gagarin's craft parachuted to Earth, landing in the Kazakhstan area of the
Soviet Union.

Vostok 2

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 08/06/61 
*	Flight Time: 001d 01h 18m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0017 orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Gherman S. Titov 

Mission Highlights:
The Soviets took an even bigger lead over the United States by keeping
Titov in orbit for a full day. He completed 17 orbits of the Earth. His
recovery set the pattern for future Vostok missions. At an altitude of
23,000 feet, he ejected from the spacecraft and descended to the ground
with a personal parachute.

Vostok 3

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 08/11/62 
*	Flight Time: 003d 22h 22m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0064 orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Andrian G. Nikolayev 

Mission Highlights:
This 4-day flight was conducted after an unmanned Cosmos test of similar
duration. This and all future Vostok flights were sent into orbits that
would decay within 10 days. The spacecrafts also carried enough
consumables for up to 10 days.

Vostok 4

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 08/12/62 
*	Flight Time: 002d 22h 57m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0048orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Pavel R. Popovich 

Mission Highlights:
This flight was launched the day after Vostok 3. This was, therefore, the
first time any country had more than one manned mission in progress at the
same time. Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 were in similar orbits and passed within
4 miles of each other. However, this could not be considered a true
rendezvous, because of the large relative speed between the two
spacecraft.

Vostok 5

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 06/14/63 
*	Flight Time: 004d 23h 06m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0081 orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Valeri F. Bykovsky 

Mission Highlights:
The flight of Vostok 5 followed a similar flight by an unmanned Cosmos.
The duration of almost 5 days was to be the longest Soviet flight until
Soyuz 9 in 1970.

Vostok 6

Mission Statistics:
*	Date: 06/16/63 
*	Flight Time: 002d 22h 50m 
*	Number of Orbits: 0048 orbits 

Cosmonaut Crew:
*	Valentina V. Tereshkova 

Mission Highlights:
The Soviets achieved another space first by sending the first woman into
space. Although Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 passed within 3 miles of each other,
they were not in similar orbits and could not perform a rendezvous.


Mercury Program:

In a 25 May 1961 address to joint session of the U.S. Congress, President John F. Kennedy establishes the goal "of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth" before the decade is out. Specific studies and tests conducted by government and industry culminating in 1958 indicated the feasibility of manned space flight. Implementation was initiated to establish a national manned space-flight project, later named Project Mercury, on October 7, 1958.

The United States' first manned space flight project was successfully accomplished in a 4 2/3 year period of dynamic activity which saw more than 2,000,000 people from many major government agencies and much of the aerospace industry combine their skills. initiative, and experience into a national effort. In this period, six manned space flights were accomplished as part of a 25-flight program. These manned space flights were accomplished with complete pilot safety and without change to the basic Mercury concepts. It was shown that man can function ably as a pilot-engineer-experimenter without undesirable reactions or deteriorations of normal body functions for periods up to 34 hours of weightless flight.

The objectives of the Mercury Project, as stated at the time of project go-ahead, were as follows:

After the objectives were established for the project, a number of guidelines were established to insure that the most expedient and safest approach for attainment of the objectives was followed. The basic guidelines that were established are as follows:

More detailed requirements for the spacecraft were established as follows:

There are three primary types of tests included in these, one type being the research-and-development tests, another being primarily flight qualification of the production spacecraft, and the third being the manned orbital flight tests. In addition, the tests with the Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle provided some early ballistic flights for pilot training. Involved in the planned flight-test program were four basic types of launch vehicles, the Little Joe, the Mercury-Redstone, the Mercury-Jupiter, and the Mercury-Atlas.

Little Joe 1. The flight test program was initiated with the Little Joe 1 research-and-development mission that was scheduled for July of 1959. The actual launch attempt came in the following month, on August 21, at the NASA launch site, Wallops Station, Va. A nearly catastrophic failure occurred at a time late in the launch countdown as the vehicle battery-power supply was being charged. At this time,the escape-rocket sequence was unintentionally initiated and the spacecraft was separated from the launch vehicle and propelled into the air as in a pad-abort sequence. The escape sequence was accomplished correctly, though initiated by a fault. The tower was jettisoned properly, the drogue parachute was deployed as it should have been, but the main parachute deployment circuitry was not activated because of a lack of sufficient electrical power. The spacecraft was destroyed on impact with the water. The cause of the failure was determined by detailed analysis to be a "backdoor" circuit which permitted the launch-escape system to be activated when a given potential had been supplied to the battery by ground charging equipment. The launch vehicle, though fully loaded with six solid-propellant rocket motors, was left undamaged on the launcher.

Big Joe 1. Spacecraft checkout for the launch of Big Joe 1 was accomplished at the Cape Canaveral launch site starting in June of 1959. The primary purpose of the flight was to investigate the performance of the ablation heat shield during reentry, as well as to investigate spacecraft reentry dynamics with an instrumented boilerplate spacecraft. Other items that were planned for investigation on this flight were afterbody heating for both the exit and reentry phases of flight, drogue and main parachute deployment, dynamics of the spacecraft system with an automatic control system in operation, flight loads, and water-landing loads. Recovery aids, such as SOFAR bombs, radio beacons, flashing light, and dye markers, had been incorporated. This spacecraft was not equipped with all escape system. The mission was accomplished on September 9, 1959. Because of the failure of the Atlas booster engines to separate, the planned trajectory was not followed exactly, but the conditions which were achieved provided a satisfactory fulfillment of the test objectives. The landing point of the spacecraft was about 1,300 nautical miles from the lift-off point, which was about 500 nautical miles short of the intended landing point. Even so, the recovery team retrieved the spacecraft about 7 hours after landing.

Little Joe 2. The Little Joe 2 mission, which was intended to validate the proper operation of the spacecraft for a high altitude abort, was accomplished on December 4, 1959, from the Wallops Stationlaunch site. The abort sequence was initiated at an altitude of almost 100,000 feet and approximated a possible set of abort conditions that could be encountered during a Mercury-Atlas exit flight to orbit. In addition to the first-order objectives, the spacecraft reentry dynamics behavior without a control system was found to be satisfactory. The spacecraft dynamic stability on descent through the atmosphere was found to be as expected. Additional information was obtained on the operation of the Mercury parachute, the Mercury spacecraft flotation characteristics, and the operational requirements of spacecraft recovery by surface vessels. A monkey was a passenger on this mission; both the monkey and the spacecraft were recovered in satisfactory condition at the end of the mission.

Mercury-Atlas 1. The Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) vehicle was launched from the Cape Canaveral test site on July 29, 1960. The primary purpose of the MA-1 flight was to test the structural integrity of n production Mercury spacecraft and its heat-protection elements during reentry from an exit abort condition that would provide the maximum heating rate on the afterbody of the spacecraft. The spacecraft involved was production item 4 and was equipped with only those systems which were necessary for the mission. An escape system was not provided for this spacecraft.

The mission failed about 60 seconds after lift-off. The spacecraft and launch vehicle impacted in the water east of the launch complex. Because of this failure, an intensive investigation into the probable causes was undertaken. As a result of this investigation modifications were made to the interface area between the launch vehicle and the spacecraft to increase the structural stiffness. This inflight failure and subsequent intensive investigation resulted in a considerable delay in the launch schedule and the next Mercury-Atlas launch was not accomplished until almost 7 months later.

Mercury/Redstone 1 and 1A. The Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1), which was to provide qualification of a nearly complete production spacecraft number 2, in flight with a Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle, was attempted on November 21, 1960, at the Cape Canaveral launch site. The mission was not successful. At lift-off, the launch-vehicle engine was shut down and the launch vehicle settled back on the launcher after vertical motion of only a few inches. The spacecraft also received the shutdown signal and its systems reacted accordingly. The escape-rocket system was jettisoned and the entire spacecraft landing system operated as it had been designed. Analysis of the cause of malfunction showed the problem to have been caused by failure of two ground umbilicals to separate from the launch vehicle in the proper sequence. In the wrong sequence, one umbilical provided an electrical path from launch-vehicle power through blockhouse ground and the launch-vehicle engine cut-off relay coil to launch-vehicle ground that initiated the cut-off signal. Except for loss of expendable items on the spacecraft, such as the escape system and the parachutes and the peroxide, the spacecraft was in flight condition. The launch vehicle was slightly damaged in the aft section by recontact with the launcher The spacecraft and launch vehicle were demated. The launch vehicle was replaced by another Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle, and the spacecraft was again prepared for its mission. Modifications included a long ground strap that was placed between the launch vehicle and the launcher to maintain electrical ground until umbilicals had been separated. The refurbished spacecraft and new Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle were launched successfully as mission MR-1A on December 19,1960. At this time, all test objectives were met. All major spacecraft systems performed well [8] throughout the flight. The launch-vehicle performance was normal except for a higher shall nominal cut-off velocity. The only effects of this anomaly were to increase the range, maximum altitude, and maximum acceleration during reentry. The spacecraft was picked up by a helicopter 15 minutes after landing and was delivered back to the launch site on the morning after the launch.

Mercury-Redstone 2. The MR-2 mission was accomplished on January 31, 1961 from the Cape Canaveral test site with a chimpanzee as a passenger. Production spacecraft 5 was used. The mission was successful and the majority of the test objectives were met. Analysis of launch-vehicle data obtained during the flight revealed that launch-vehicle propellant depletion occurred before the velocity cut-off system was armed and before the thrust chamber abort switch was disarmed. This combination of events resulted in an abort signal being transmitted to the spacecraft from the launch vehicle. The spacecraft reacted correctly to the abort signal and an abort sequence was properly made. The greater than normal launch-vehicle velocity combined with the velocity increment obtained unexpectedly from the escape-rocket motor produced a flight path that resulted in a landing point about 110 nautical miles farther downrange than the planned landing point. This extra range, of course, was the prime factor in the 2 hours and 56 minutes that it took to locate and recover the spacecraft.

The chimpanzee was recovered in good condition, even though the flight had been more severe than planned. By the time the spacecraft was recovered, it had nearly filled with water. Some small holes had been punctured in the lower pressure bulkhead at landing. Also, the heat-shield retaining system was fatigued by the action of the water and resulted in loss of the heat shield. Another anomaly that occurred during the flight was the opening of the spacecraft cabin inflow valve during ascent, which prevented the environmental control system from maintaining pressure at the design level. Because the pressure dropped below the design level, the emergency environmental system was exercised, and it performed satisfactorily. From the experiences of this flight, a number of modifications were made to the spacecraft systems to avoid recurrence of the malfunctioning items.

Flight A members for the Mercury program were selected based on the following criteria:

Seven astronauts were selected for Project Mercury after a series of the most rigorous physical and mental tests ever given to U.S. test pilots. Chosen from a field of 110 candidates, the finalists were all qualified test pilots: Capts. Leroy G. Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Donald K. Slayton, (USAF); Lt. Malcolm S. Carpenter, Lt. Comdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Lt. Comdr. Watler M. Schirra, Jr. (USN); and Lt. Col. John H. Glenn (USMC).

Food kit used by Mercury astronauts. Some is dehydrated and needs water, other packets are ready to eat. Size is measured relative to a ruler. Included are packets of mushroom soup, orange-grapefruit juice, cocoa beverage, pineapple juice, chicken with gravy, pears, strawberries, beef and vegetables and other assorted food containers; mechanism for connecting water dispensor to dehydrated food containers to facilitate rehydration; Group packets of ready to eat space food, with size being measured by a ruler.

Mercury-Redstone 3. The Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) mission, the first manned space flight by the United States, was successfully accomplished on May 5, 1961, from the Cape Canaveral launch site. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard was the pilot. The space vehicle was composed of production spacecraft 7 and a Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle, which was essentially identical to the one used for the MRBD launch-vehicle qualification mission. Analysis of the results of the mission showed that Astronaut Shepard satisfactorily performed his assigned tasks during all phases of the flight. Likewise, launch vehicle and spacecraft systems performed as planned. The spacecraft achieved an altitude of about 101 nautical miles and was in weightless flight for slightly over 5 minutes. Postflight examination of Astronaut Shepard and inspection of the spacecraft showed both to be in excellent condition. A helicopter pickup was made of the spacecraft after the pilot had made his egress from the side hatch of the spacecraft and had been hoisted aboard the helicopter. The pilot and the spacecraft were landed aboard an aircraft carrier 11 minutes after spacecraft landing, and the spacecraft was brought back to the launching site the morning after the flight.

Mercury-Redstone 4. The Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) flight was successfully made on July 21,1961, from the Cape Canaveral launch site. Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom was the pilot. The space vehicle was made up of the 11th production spacecraft and a Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle essentially identical to the one used for MR-3 mission. The spacecraft on this mission was somewhat different from spacecraft 7, in that, for the first time, a manned spacecraft had a large top window, a side hatch to be opened by an explosive charge, and a modified instrument panel. The spacecraft achieved a maximum altitude of about 103 nautical miles, with a period of weightlessness of about 5 minutes. The flight was successful. After landing, premature and unexplained actuation of the spacecraft explosive side hatch resulted in an emergency situation in which the space craft was lost but the pilot was rescued from the surface of the water. Analysis of the data from the flight and debriefing by the astronaut indicated that, in general, the spacecraft systems performed as planned, except for the action of the spacecraft hatch. An intensive investigation of the hatch actuation resulted in a change inoperational procedures. No fault was found in the explosive device.

Mercury-Atlas 6. Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6), the first manned orbital space flight made from the United States, was successfully made on February 20, 1962, from the Cape Canaveral test site. Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., was the pilot. The flight was planned for three orbital passes to evaluate the performance of the manned spacecraft systems and to evaluate the effects of space flight on the astronaut and to obtain the astronaut's evaluation of the operational suitability of his spacecraft and supporting systems. All mission objectives for this flight were accomplished. The astronaut's performance during all phases of the mission was excellent, and no deleterious effects of weightlessness were noted.. In general, the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and network system functioned well during the mission. The main anomaly in spacecraft operation was the loss of thrust of two of the 1-pound thrusters which required the astronaut to control the spacecraft for a large part of the mission manually. The orbit was approximately as planned, with perigee at 86.9 nautical miles and apogee at 140.9 nautical miles. During the second and third passes, a false indication from a sensor indicated that the spacecraft heat shield might be unlocked. This indication caused considerable concern and real-time analysis resulted in the recommendation that the expended retropackage be retained on the spacecraft during reentry at the end of the third pass to hold the heat shield in place in the event it was unlatched. The presence of the retropackage during reentry had no detrimental effect on the motions of the spacecraft. Network operation, including telemetry reception, radar tracking, communications, command control, and computing, were excellent and permitted effective flight control during the mission. The spacecraft for this mission was production unit number 13 which was essentially the same as spacecraft 9 used in the MA-5 mission except for those differences required to accommodate the pilot such as the couch, a personal equipment container, filters for the window, and some minor instrumentation and equipment modifications. The launch vehicle was Atlas 109-D. It differed from the MA-a launch vehicle in only one major respect. For this launch vehicle, the insulation and its retaining bulkhead between the lox and fuel tank dome was removed when it was discovered that fuel had leaked into this insulation prior to launch. The spacecraft landed in the planned recovery area, close to one of the recovery ships. The spacecraft, with the astronaut inside, was recovered approximately 17 minutes after landing. The astronaut was in excellent shape.

An examination of the history of the major flight tests will show that the basic objectives of the Mercury Project were achieved 3 1/3 years after official project approval, with the completion of Astronaut John Glenn's successful orbital flight on February 20, 1962. Subsequently, Astronaut Carpenter completed a similar mission. Then, Astronauts Schirra and Cooper completed orbital missions of increased duration to provide additional information about man's performance capabilities and functional characteristics in the space environment. In addition, increasing numbers of special experiments, observations, and evaluations performed during these missions by the pilots as their capabilities were utilized have provided our scientific and technical communities with much new information. It is emphasized that goals beyond those originally established were achieved in a period of 4 2/3 years after the beginning of the project with complete pilot safety and without change to the basic concepts that were used to establish the feasibility of the Mercury Project.

Summary of the Mercury Program


Questions:

  • What are the difficulties to maned space flight that had to be overcome?
  • What was the Vostok program?
  • Compare the Mercury program to the Vostok program in terms of goals, materials, technology and operational differences.
  • How were animals used in the early stages of a program?