Another First for the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union launched Voshkod 1 on 12 October 1964 to upstage the Americans who were getting ready to launch their second generation of manned spacecraft, the Gemini series, which would have a crew of two.
Voshkod (which can be translated as ‘sunrise’) had a crew of three. The three cosmonauts were Vladimir Komarov, the commander of the spacecraft, Boris Yegorov, a doctor and Konstantin Feoktistov, an engineer.
Voshkod 1 was a modified version of Vostok. The bulky ejector seat had been removed from Vostok to create just enough room for three cosmonauts. It was such a tight fit that the cosmonauts could not wear their bulky spacesuits, so they flew without them. It was the first ever spaceflight without spacesuits.
Voshkod was scheduled to orbit for at least five days but for some unexplained reason, it returned in a day, after 16 orbits of Earth.
A few months later, in March 1965, the Soviet Union launched the second spacecraft in the Voshkod series.
Voshkod 2 carried two cosmonauts, Pavel Belyayev and Alexei Leonov. While in orbit, Leonov entered a small chamber between the capsule and the outside, called an airlock. Once he was inside he sealed the hatch behind him so that the air from the capsule would not escape. Then he opened the hatch to the outside.
He was to go down in history as the first man to walk in space.