Voskhod 1: three men in space

Voskhod 1The Soviet Union launches the first of its next-generation manned spacecraft, the roomier Voskhod 1 capsule. Cosmonauts Dr. Boris Yegorov, Dr. Konstantin Feoktistov and Vladimir Komarov become the first three-man crew in space, though they find that the larger vehicle is still cramped for a crew of that size; the tight fit makes no allowances for spacesuits, which also makes the Voskhod 1 crew the first “shirtsleeves” space flight. Voskhod 1 spends just over one day in orbit before reentering the atmosphere; for the first time, the crew lands inside the capsule, rather than ejecting and parachuting down after reentry.

Voskhod 2: the first spacewalk

Voskhod 2Voskhod 2 is launched by the Soviet Union, this time with only a two-man crew for a very specific mission. Cosmonauts Pavel Belyaev and Alexei Leonov orbit Earth for 28 hours, but during one orbit an airlock is extended from the side of their Voskhod capsule and Leonov squeezes through the airlock tunnel in a spacesuit, becoming the first human being to exit his spacecraft in flight. He spends 10 minutes walking in space, but this Soviet space first nearly ends badly; Leonov’s suit “inflates” as a result of pressurization, making it extremely difficult to enter the vehicle again (and nearly overexerting him in the process of getting back inside). A guidance system malfunction forces Belyaev to manually control the vehicle during reentry and descent, but Voskhod 2’s crew capsule lands over 700 miles away from Moscow in a remote wilderness in the dead of winter, and the cosmonauts wait hours for a recovery team to rescue them via helicopter.