ISS-66 mission


ISS crew:

Commander -
Tomas Pesquet

Flight engineers:
Petr Dubrov
Mark Vande Hei
Robert Shane Kimbrough
Megan McArthur
Akihiko Hoshide
Anton Shkaplerov



60 years of the flight of Zvezdochka

March 25, 2021

On March 25, 1961, a three-stage launch vehicle Vostok was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, carrying the second flight model of satellite-spaceship 3KA Vostok. The automatic flight of the spacecraft with the dog called Zvezdochka onboard became the final spacecraft check before the first human space flight.

Development of our countrys manned spacecraft began in OKB-1 (now known as RSC Energia) located near Moscow under direction of Chief Designer S.P.Korolev in accordance with the Government Resolution dated May 22, 1959. The preliminary stage of the program called for conducting during 1960 a series of experimental flights of unmanned spacecraft 1K to test the spacecraft equipment and radio controls, to verify the life support system performance and study effects of space environment on living things. Based on the successful completion of the flight tests of the spacecraft and the launch vehicle, specialists of OKB-1 embarked on preparations for the worlds first space mission with a human onboard.

To assure safety of a cosmonaut, S.P.Korolev made a decision to perform a manned mission only after successful completion of two consecutive launches of spacecraft carrying biological payloads. In early March 1961, satellite-spaceship 3KA No.1 carrying the dog called Chernushka accomplished a successful flight. The second test mission of spacecraft 3K No.2 under a similar flight program occurred on March 25, 1961. This time in the spacecraft pressurized cabin accommodated was test subject Zvezdochka which was recruited from the corps of four-legged alumni of the Institute for Space Medicine (current Institute for Biomedical Problems). Also placed in the descent vehicle was an ejection seat with an anthropomorphic dummy of cosmonaut wearing a pressure suit -1 Ivan Ivanovich. As in the previous flight, placed inside the dummy were containers with mice, guinea pigs, and other biological test subjects for studying effects of space radiation.

According to telemetry data and trajectory measurements, spacecraft 3K No.2 was injected into orbit and completed a one-orbit flight in full compliance with the specified program. After nominal de-orbit Ivan Ivanovich was ejected from the descent vehicle and performed a parachute landing, while the descent vehicle carrying Zvezdochka successfully landed on the territory of the Perm Region 50 km north east from the town of Sarapul. Being in an excellent physical shape the dog-cosmonaut was immediately found and on the following day was evacuated by the arrived search and rescue team. The results of the mission of 3KA No.2 re-qualified the reliability of the entire onboard systems of the spacecraft required for safe execution of the upcoming manned space mission.