Vostok Spacecraft


The Vostok spacecraft was used to launch Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space and was lauched on Vostok 6. All launches were from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Vostok Spacecraft

The Vostok spacecraft consisted of a  re-entry spacecraft and the service module. It weighted about 4700 kg. The nickname of the re-entry / descent capsule was Sharik.

In comparison to the later developed Soyuz Spacecraft, Vostok had no maneuvering capabilities and required cosmonauts to parachute to safety at the end of a flight.


Crew Size: 1
Diameter of Spherical Descent Module: 2.3 m

Vostok Missions

There were 6 Vostok missions from 1961 to 1963. They were as follows:

Vostok 1 – Yuri Gagarin

Launch date: April 12, 1961.
Flight duration: 1 hour, 48 minutes.
Landing site: Kazakhstan, near Engels.

Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space. He was not allowed to operate the controls because the effects of weightlessness had only been tested on dogs so far and scientists were concerned about how space would have affected his to work. The mission was instead controlled by ground crews, and an override key was provided in case of emergency.

the first man in space - Yuri Gagarin

Gagarin’s mission lasted one hour, 48 minutes, and ended with a landing in Kazakhstan, approximately 26 kilometers southwest of Engels. Yuri completed one Earth orbit, and did so 25 days prior to the first U.S. suborbital manned flight by Alan Sheperd.

Vostok 2 – Gherman Titov 

Launch date: August 6, 1961.
Flight duration: 1 day, 1 hour, 18 minutes.
Landing site: Saratov region.

Vostok 3 – Andrian Nikolayev

Launch date: August 11, 1962.
Flight duration: 3 days, 22 hours, 22 minutes.
Landing site: Karaganda region.

Vostok 3 and 4 launched within one day of each other. 

Vostok 4 – Pavel Popovich 

Launch date: August 12, 1962.
Flight duration: 2 days, 22 hours, 56 minutes.
Landing site: Karaganda region.

Vostok 5 – Valery Bykovsky 

Launch date: June 14, 1963. Flight duration: 4 days, 23 hours, 7 minutes.
Landing site: Karaganda region.

Vostok 5 and 6 launched within two days of each other. The spacecraft flew in similar orbits, but did not have the ability to rendezvous and dock.

Vostok 6 – Valentina Tereshkova

Launch date: June 16, 1963. Flight duration: 2 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes.
Landing site: Karaganda region. 

In total 6 missions were completed. In 1964 the rest of the Vostok missions were cancelled. The Soviet space programe changed its goal and its aim was to launch 3 astronauts in one spacecraft and to perform the first space walk. A modified design was used for the Voskhod programme.

Spacecraft Design Uses

Derivatives of the Vostok spacecraft were used in the following programs:

1. Voskhod programme – successor to Vostok program.

2. Zenit military photoreconnaissance satellites series. They were launched by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1994.

3. Foton robotic spacecraft used to conduct research in the microgravity environment of Earth orbit.

4. Bion program used an animal-carrying space capsule for biological experiments in space.

Did You know?

The first cosmonauts did not land in their spacecraft. This was hidden because it was required in order to be eligible for a world space records.

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