Friday, August 12, 2011

50 YA - Vostok-2 leads manned spaceflight

Gherman Titov.

Fifty years ago, Americans were still feeling the pressure from the Soviet lead in manned spaceflight. The Russians were making full use of their propaganda, proclaiming the superiority of the Communist Man over their Western counterparts. On August 6, 1961 cosmonaut Gherman Titov ascended into Earth orbit aboard Vostok 2.

Vostok 1 in a museum. Vostok 2 would have been very similar.

Titov remained in space for a shocking 17 orbits. He was the fourth man to fly in space, after Gagarin, Shepard, and Grissom. His flight was noted for many firsts: First to spend a day in space, first to sleep in space and get space sick (!), first to pilot a spacecraft personally, and first to manually take pictures from space. Amazingly, he was only 25 years old at the time.

Vostok-2 mission patch.

For his feat, Titov was named a Hero of the Soviet Union (and awarded other medals as well). Perhaps more lasting than that, his name was given to a very large crater discovered on the far side of the Moon!

Titov Crater in false color imaging.

Soviet postcard commemorating Gagarin and Titov, Russia's first two cosmonauts.

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