The Rocket Men: Vostok & Voskhod. The First Soviet Manned Spaceflights (Springer Praxis Books) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2001/4/10
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This book is the first known work in the west dedicated to revealing the full story of the Vostok space missions, and the first fledgling steps off our planet. In Leaving the Planet authors Rex Hall and Dave Shayler review this Soviet demonstration of technological progress. The text examines both the developmental and operational aspects of the missions, which at the time were clouded in secrecy. This fascinating and important text features a significant amount of new material on the spacecraft, as well as the history, design and development of the launch vehicle. It also includes the full story of the men and women who trained for these missions, some of whom never flew.
The book is divided into four main sections. The first section deals with the early Russian space pioneers, like Tsiolkovsky, and the development of the ballooning programs. The next section, which is the largest section, focuses on the Korolyov (The Chief Designer) and the development of the early Russian space program. The third section covers the early human space flight missions and the final section examines the unmanned vehicles that followed. Occasionally a few paragraphs about the US program are presented, to allow the reader to better gauge the Russian progress.
The first section of the book examines the early space flight theories of Tsiolkovsky and the early Russian pioneering efforts in stratospheric ballooning with the goal of trying to set a new manned altitude record. Two important benefits that came about due to these efforts were the development of pressurized suits for low altitudes and the understanding of parachuting fundamentals and parachutes clubs, which were ultimately applied, to the Russian space program.
The next section covers the Russian space program after World War II and the use captured German hardware to begin a space program. From these initial test flights, the Russian were able to begin development their ballistic missiles. The books presents the progression of the Russian missile program from the German V-2 through the Russian R-7, and it is easy to see that the Russian launch vehicles are direct descendants of the German launch vehicles.
The main section of the book focuses on the development of the early Russian space program, both manned and unmanned and contains a lot of information about the chief designer, Sergie Korolyov. The section of the books cover the construction of the Baikonur launch facility, the artificial satellite program, the development of the Vostok capsule, crew training, crew selection and loads of other stuff. I found the parts about the selection and construction of the Baikonur launch facility extremely fascinating. While it was in part chosen for its remoteness, it was also chosen that in the event of an abort, the launch vehicle could come down Russia and in relatively unpopulated areas of Russia. The construction crews faced a lot of hardships and death, but eventually after several years of hardships, the facility was completed. Also included in this section are detailed descriptions of the crew selection and training and ultimately their flights into Earth orbit. It is impressive to see than the Russian cosmonaut program paralleled the US effort and in many cases surpassed NASA. Specifically, the choice of women and civilians for spaceflight happened years before NASA even considered doing so. While some of the motivation behind these efforts may have political, these efforts were nevertheless carried on with success.
The final section of the book covers the unmanned flight since the Vostok and Voskhod missions. It was extremely interesting to note that many of the unmanned Earth orbiting Russian satellites even up to the most recent launches are based significantly on these early designs.
This is one of the best books I've read on the early Russian space effort with the only possible exception being Jim Oberg's Red Star in Orbit. It covers all the aspects of the development of the Russian space program and present a lot new information. Highly recommended!!!!!
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