Photographer Vladimir Orlov recalled in his blog what actually experienced Yuri Gagarin during his flight and how he reacted to this:
This is a photograph of Yuri Gagarin a few hours after landing. Here we do not see his famous "Gagarin's smile". There is a man who finally realized what happened and by what a miracle he survived.
"Few know that during the flight there were 11 contingencies of varying degrees of complexity.
For example, on the day before the launch vehicle was taken to the launch pad, when Gagarin was weighed, an excess of 14 kilograms was found in a spacesuit with an armchair. Then, within one night, work was urgently developed and carried out to facilitate the spacecraft, which, in particular, included cutting a number of cables, which subsequently led to a number of emergency situations during the flight, "recalls Boris Chertok. According to him According to him, along with the cables necessary for unmanned flights, important pressure and temperature sensors were cut off. "For some reason, we considered that there would be enough sensors inside the ship," Chertok noted.
The morning of April 12, 1961, the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Prelaunch preparation. After landing Yuri Gagarin in the ship "Vostok" and closing the landing hatch, it was found that one of the three contacts "The hatch is closed" did not close.
The state of this contact was fundamentally important: due to its operation on the descent after the hatch cover was shot, the astronaut’s ejection timer was to start. At the direction of General Designer Sergey Korolev, the hatch was opened, the contact was corrected, and the hatch was closed again.
“I heard how they close it, how they knock with keys. Then they begin to open the hatch again. I look, the hatch was removed. I realized that something was wrong. Sergei Pavlovich says to me:“ You don’t worry, for some reason the contact does not press. Everything will be fine. "Calculation soon replaced the boards on which the limit switches are installed. They all corrected and closed the manhole cover," Gagarin reported to the State Commission after the flight.
The leading designer of Vostok-1 Oleg Ivanovsky and the workers demonstrated fantastic skills, envy of the current Formula 1 mechanics, turning off 30 nuts in a matter of minutes, checking and adjusting the sensor, and closing the hatch again.
At the very beginning of the ascent of the rocket, Gagarin exclaimed: “Let's go!” The Vostok launch vehicle worked without comment, but at the final stage the radio control system did not work, which was supposed to turn off the 3rd stage engines. The engine turned off only after the backup mechanism (timer) was triggered, but the ship had already entered orbit, the highest point of which (apogee) was 100 km higher than the calculated one: the declassified orbit parameters were 327 × 180 km. The descent from such an orbit with the help of "aerodynamic drag" could take, according to various estimates, from 20 to 50 days.
In orbit, Gagarin reported on his sensations, the condition of the ship and observations. He watched the Earth through the porthole with its clouds, mountains, forests, rivers, seas, saw the sky and the Sun, other stars during a flight in the shadow of the Earth. He liked the view of the Earth from space, so, in particular, he recorded the following words on the on-board tape recorder:
"I observe clouds above the Earth, small cumulus, and shadows from them. Beautiful, beauty! ... Attention. I see the horizon of the Earth. Very beautiful halo. First, a rainbow from the very surface of the Earth and down. Such a rainbow passes. Very beautiful!"
Everyone was waiting for the moment if the braking engine would work. The brake engine, as expected, worked on the 67th minute of the orbital flight, and the “East” with Gagarin began the descent. However, here there were some unpleasant surprises: the braking propulsion system did not give a full impulse due to the loss of part of the fuel.
The reason was the incomplete closing of the fuel tank boost valve. The engine turned off at the maximum operating time (44 seconds), but the orbital speed of the "East" was only reduced by 132 m / s instead of the estimated 136 m / s. The ship went down a more gentle trajectory. Subsequent operations also didn’t go according to plan.
As a result of abnormal operation of the brake engines, the logic of stabilization of the ship was violated, and it was untwisted to a significant angular speed.
"The rotation speed was about 30 degrees per second, no less. The result was a corps de ballet: head-legs, head-legs with a very high speed of rotation. Everything was spinning. I see Africa, then the horizon, then the sky. I just had time to close myself from the Sun, so that the light does not fall into my eyes. I put my legs to the window, but did not close the curtains. I was interested in what was happening. I was waiting for separation, "Gagarin later said.
When the ship entered the denser layers of the atmosphere, the command to separate the descent vehicle and the instrument-engine compartment was also received abnormally.
There was no separation, because it was blocked by the control system when the brake pulse was not fully issued: separation is permissible when there is a guarantee of fast entry into the atmosphere, if there is a risk of remaining in orbit, separating the instrument compartment with its powerful batteries and orientation system is tantamount to death. Therefore, the descent vehicle with the astronaut entered the atmosphere in conjunction with the instrument compartment.
“I knew that by calculation this (separation of the ship into compartments. Should have happened 10-12 seconds after turning off the braking propulsion system. When the TDU was turned off, all the windows on the anti-ship missile system (descent control device) went out. I felt more time passed, but there’s no separation. On the Descent device it doesn’t go out, “prepare for ejection” doesn’t light up. Separation doesn’t happen. Then the windows on PCRS start to light up again: first the window of the third team, then the second and then the first command. The moving index is to zero There is no separation. The corps de ballet continues. I decided that everything is not in order. I checked the time by the clock. Two minutes passed and there was no separation. I reported on the short-wave short-wave channel that the TDU worked fine. I figured that nevertheless, I’ll sit normally, since there are six thousand to the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union eight thousand kilometers, which means I’ll sit somewhere in the Far East. I didn’t make a noise. I reported on the phone that the separation didn’t happen, " Gagarin subsequently reported.
Only 10 minutes after braking, at an altitude of about 110 km, as a result of heating to 150 degrees Celsius from friction against the atmosphere, the temperature sensors of the backup separation system tripped and the command to separate the instrument compartment was unlocked. The descent vehicle began independent descent.
The descent took place along a ballistic trajectory (as with other spacecraft of the Vostok and Voskhod series), that is, with 10-fold overloads, for which Gagarin was ready.
At this moment, Gagarin recalls, he experienced maximum overloads, apparently up to 12g, which almost ended with a loss of consciousness for him.
“According to my feelings, the overload was over 10g. There was such a moment, about 2-3 seconds, when the readings on the instruments began to“ blur ”. My eyes started to turn a little gray,” the astronaut recalled.
Loss of focus and darkening in the eyes is a clear sign that it is a loss of consciousness. Usually this happens at 10-12g, but Gagarin was able to withstand this test.
It was more difficult to survive the psychological stress - after the capsule entered the atmosphere, the ship's casing caught fire (the temperature outside during descent reaches 3-5 thousand ° C), trickles of liquid metal flowed on the windows of the windows, and the cabin itself began to crackle.
"I'm burning! Goodbye!" Gagarin did not speak about these words for a long time, but that is exactly what he said when he saw flames and brooks of molten metal in the porthole. He thought it was death. But it burned the skin and, thanks to the high temperature, the release capsule finally disconnected and the regular decline began.
At an altitude of 7 km, in accordance with the flight plan, Gagarin ejected, after which the capsule and the astronaut began to parachute separately (the other five ships from the Vostok series were also landed in the same way). (The Vostok spacecraft did not provide for the landing of astronauts inside the descent vehicle: this was due to the fact that the Vostoks did not have soft landing engines that ensure safe landing. In addition, experts were afraid of “brewing” the hatch under the influence of high temperatures in the atmosphere.)
When the chair with Gagarin ejected from the descent vehicle, the astronaut gazed a view of the Volga. “I immediately saw a big river. And I thought it was the Volga. There are no other rivers like this in the area,” Gagarin recalled.
He said that the bailout took place over the shore, and the astronaut was afraid that the wind would carry him to the river and would have to splash down. Meanwhile, search and rescue forces were waiting almost 200 km from this place.
After the bailout over Gagarin, the braking and main parachutes gradually opened, and then a reserve parachute came out of the chest pack. This was provided for by the descent scheme, although it represented some danger. At first, the emergency parachute fell down without opening.
"I began to descend on the main parachute. Again I turned to the Volga. After parachuting, we jumped a lot just above this place. We flew a lot there. I recognized the railway, the railway bridge over the river and a long spit that protrudes far into the Volga "I thought that it was probably Saratov. I landed in Saratov. Then the emergency parachute opened, opened and hung. So it didn’t open. There was only the opening of a satchel," said Gagarin.
After some time, "a little blew in the cloud, and a second parachute opened." “Then I went down in two parachutes,” the first astronaut said in a report. Because of this, he could not effectively control the flight.
"According to the statement of Yu.A. Gagarin, he was unable to control the flight by parachute, he almost went down to the Earth to the wind," the OKB-1 report says after launching a satellite ship with a pilot on board. Only at an altitude of about 30 meters, the astronaut turned his face around the demolition, which allowed him to land confidently and gently.
Gagarin went down in an airtight suit. After opening the main parachute, the astronaut had to open the valve in order to breathe atmospheric air, but the opening cable was lost in the folds of clothes.
"It was difficult with the opening of the breathing valve in the air. It so happened that the ball of the valve, when put on, fell under the damask shell. The suspension system was so tight that I couldn’t get it for about six minutes. Then I unzipped the damask shell and using a mirror pulled out the cable and opened the valve normally, "Gagarin himself recalled.
During the descent, Gagarin had a wearable emergency reserve (NAZ). A 30-kilogram stack with the most necessary for survival was to go down under the astronaut's feet, attached with a long sling to the spacesuit. Inside was an inflatable boat, it would come in handy in the event of a splashdown on the Volga, food, medicine, a radio station and a gun.
"NAZ opened and flew down. Through the suspension system, I felt a strong jerk and that's it. I understood that NAZ went down independently. I couldn’t see where it falls, since it cannot be done in a spacesuit - it’s tightly attached to the back," Gagarin said.
However, the loss of these 30 kg made the astronaut easier, and he was carried even further from the coast.
About 108 minutes after starting from Baikonur, Yuri Gagarin returned to his native land. He landed in a field near Engels in the Saratov region. To the locals who could have mistaken him for the downed American pilot, Gagarin said: "I am a Soviet man, flew from space."
Two days before the flight into space, Yuri Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife in case a catastrophe occurs. In 1961, this letter was not required. This letter will be given to Gagarin's wife Valentina Ivanovna after the plane crash on March 27, 1968, in which the first cosmonaut of the Earth died.
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