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VOSTOK-5 & 6

Vostok-5/6 joint spaceship flight was as triumphant as almost a failure. Another 1st space run for USSR this time – 1st woman – Valentina Tereshkova in Vostok-6 and the longest ever single spaceflight done by a 1 man crew – Valery Bykovsky spent almost 5 days in Vostok-5.

Tereshkova was a worker in a textile factory attending skydiving section in Yaroslavl aviation club. The fact that she was from a working family and her father was killed during a Winter war with Finland played a major role in the selection of Tereshkova for this flight although she was the least preferable candidate in terms of physical readiness. Another major decision factor was her desire and ability to perform social activities that were considered paramount as a part of Soviet propaganda.

During the flight she experienced sickness and discomfort; she could not properly sleep or eat. She managed to complete the flight as planned though failed to fulfil most of the planned tasks. Due to some technical glitches of the spaceship construction she did not succeed in manual orientation practice and left no room for automation error – which put her in even more stress as well as ground personal. The ship missed Kazakhstan landing zone and deorbited over Altai region. While landing, she had to jump out of the capsule and use her parachute that was too heavy and cumbersome to manage considering her exhausted condition.  Fortunately she near missed the lake and touched down besides the village of Baevo.  After the landing she spent some time with the locals giving them all the food stock from the spaceship. When the rescue party arrived she was immediately sent to the hospital, while all the propaganda pictures of her “healthy” landing were fabricated.

Korolev was very disappointed by her performance and promised not to send a woman to space ever again. Tereshkova remained in the cosmonaut detachment until 1997 and was even appointed to be a commander of a first all-women crew but this flight had not came to happen. She continued the count of firsts and married a cosmonaut Andrian Nikolaev making it first ever “space” wedding and then giving a birth to the first “space” child. As planned she was very active and still performs well in social and political life.

Bykovsky was a commander of Soyuz-2 that was cancelled due to Soyuz-1 malfunctions and delays (that eventually ended up with Komarov death). Bykovsky was a chief cosmonaut in the soviet lunar program and was named to command a Zond-7 spacecraft for Moon orbiting a couple of weeks before Apollo-8. This flight was cancelled due to rocket launch vehicle malfunctions. He went to space for two more times commanding Soyuz-22 that served as a reserved spaceship for ASTP and Soyuz-31 with Sigmund Jähn in 1978. The later was very much publicized marking the 1st German in space.  

In astrophilately Vostok-5 and Vostok-6 joined flight got a good credit mostly because of 1st woman in space. Many club covers were issued to commemorate the event on the date of the flight and a couple of years later. Stamps and special cancellations were issued on various anniversaries – the latest was in 2014 celebrating 50 years of the flight. I have a very small collection of covers devoted to this flight.

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