56 votes
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What led Yuri Gagarin to believe his hatch was not properly sealed?

Gagarin learned about the problems with the hatch when the hatch was reopened. From Roscosmos: В 7.30 С.П. Королев поинтересовался о самочувствии у Ю.А. Гагарина. Казалось, что все идет согласно ...
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  • 7,675
42 votes
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Why were there two cosmonauts shown in the movie "Gagarin"?

As was common for spaceflight, there was a primary crew for the mission (Gagarin) and a backup. Gagarin was the primary crew, and his backup was Gherman Titov (who would fly Vostok 2 four months later)...
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  • 7,396
41 votes
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Gagarin not ejecting from capsule

Initially, the USSR insisted that Gagarin had landed with the spacecraft, because of requirements for FAI certification of spaceflight records: One of the stipulations for spaceflight requires that ...
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33 votes
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How was the "female" SK-2 different from the "male" SK-1 spacesuit?

The SK-2 suit differed from the SK-1 suit mainly in the enclosure cut-out that took into account the specific features of a female body. The enclosure featured a decreased shoulder breadth, an ...
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  • 1,913
33 votes
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How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

The Answer is on a page by Sven Grahn. No ocean going tracking ships were used. Only ground stations on the territory of the USSR. In the other answers some russian sources about the use of tracking ...
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  • 46k
27 votes

How did the Vostok ejection seat safely eject an astronaut from a sealed space capsule?

According to this NASA page someone was killed when his space suit was ripped during a test of the ejection system. Korolyovs [Korolevs] reaction to Dolgov's death was to take a number of urgent ...
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  • 46k
18 votes
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Has USSR/Russia launched humans on any rocket not derived from R-7?

No, it never happened. However besides the failed N1 program and cancelled Buran missions the Soviet Union also made several successful (or partially successful) test launches of spacecrafts that ...
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  • 1,674
17 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

Ships were used to receive telemetry. Work in the ocean took place on February 12, 1961. At this time, preparations for the launch of the world's first manned spacecraft Vostok were completed. ...
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  • 7,675
16 votes
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What was the globe instrument in Vostok 1?

From russian wikipedia: Another instrument helped to the pilot to decide when to start manual operation to return to Earth - it was a small globe with a clock mechanism, which shows the (calculated, ...
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16 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

I've found that language barrier problem exists. There are many info in Russian that have no proper translations in English. There were space tracking ships too. Information that USSR had not them ...
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  • 8,446
15 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

According to this source (in Russian; includes communication log and post-flight debriefing) the only ground stations that are listed as those that were communicating with Gagarin were located in USSR....
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15 votes

How did the Vostok ejection seat safely eject an astronaut from a sealed space capsule?

The hatch blew off and the pilot was ejected in a seat. He then separated from the seat and descended on a parachute. This was all kept quiet because of the contemporary FAI rules about manned ...
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13 votes

Was the SK-1 spacesuit tested in flight prior to Gagarin's historic mission?

Прототипом первого космического скафандра СК-1 был высотный костюм «Воркута», разработанный для летчиков истребителя-перехватчика Су-9. Важнейшей отличительной чертой стал шлем, который при падении ...
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  • 7,675
13 votes
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Did Yuri Gagarin really telephone officials in Moscow to come pick him up?

This article sheds light on some details. There was an air defense base nearby. They raised the alarm before Gagarin landed. An officer announced "We are working on space now!" which made ...
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  • 3,057
12 votes
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Have any Soviet-era astronauts reported seeing Earth's aurora or related luminescent atmospheric effects?

The earliest mention of the northern lights that I was able to find is the memories of the Voskhod-1 crew. «Наибольшее впечатление на всех нас произвело полярное сияние, которое нам удалось наблюдать ...
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  • 7,675
11 votes

Highest apogee of a Soviet/Russian crewed spacecraft?

As a complementary answer, there's one example of a Soviet spacecraft build for manned spaceflight, but without an actual crew onboard during high altitude flights. Soyuz 7K-L1 "Zond" was a ...
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11 votes
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Highest apogee of a Soviet/Russian crewed spacecraft?

Voskhod 2 was I think the highest altitude crewed Soviet flight, reaching 475 km (295 mi) apogee. This was Leonov's spacewalk flight; I don't know if the high apogee was related to that. The Mir-bound ...
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11 votes
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How did the pilot lockout on Vostok 1 work?

For Vostok, the controls were really not all that impressive by today's standards. The picture below shows the control and information panels on Vostok spacecraft. Here, 1 is the information display (...
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  • 653
10 votes

How did the Vostok ejection seat safely eject an astronaut from a sealed space capsule?

In addition to previous answers: This source (in Russian) http://epizodsspace.airbase.ru/bibl/i_tsk/zv-reis.html contains Gagarin's post-flight debriefing. His exact words regarding ejection were: ...
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7 votes

Did the heat shield of the Vostok 1 capsule ablate during reentry?

The heat protection material on the Vostok spacecraft is a resin-drenched asbestos fabric. https://habr.com/ru/post/230445/ Heat protection was mainly asbestos fabric, impregnated with ...
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  • 7,675
6 votes
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What kept Vostok/Voskhod from tipping or rolling upon landing?

To summarise information already provided in the comments, there was nothing that prevented Vostok and Voskhod spherical reentry capsules from tipping or rolling after touchdown due to inertia of the ...
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6 votes
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Could Vostok 1 deorbit on its cold gas thrusters?

Not likely. For early manned missions, rendezvous wasn't a requirement, so thrusters provided only for rotation, not for translation. According to this reference: In each of the two [redundant] ...
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6 votes
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At what moment during his flight did Yuri Gagarin eat?

В полете Ю. А. Гагарин пообедал. Из контейнера питания он достал щавелевое пюре с мясом, мясной паштет и шоколадный соус. После еды с помощью мундштука попил консервированной воды. Акт глотания не ...
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  • 7,675
5 votes

What were the reasons the American space-race era rockets didn't use boosters?

There isn't that much of a difference after all. It's mostly a matter of perception because the R-7 family evolved into many different variants, so it feels like most Soviet launch systems use liquid ...
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  • 1,380
5 votes
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When did soviet capsules begin using retropropulsion immediately before landing?

According to Wikipedia, Voskhod's requirement to put multiple crew members in a sphere the same size as Vostok forced elimination of the earlier spacecraft's ejection seat (and in the case of Voskhod ...
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5 votes
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How do Russians enumerate old Soviet space missions?

Back in those early days of space exploration, the manned missions were formally Soviet missions, since Russia was only one of 15 socialistic republics of USSR. Korolev himself was born in Ukrainian ...
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4 votes
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How was the Vostok capsule stabilized for spin during descent, after the equipment/maneuvering module had detached?

The Vostok capsule wasn't stabilized during reentry. Friction from reentry was probably the major factor to not let it spin wildly. I couldn't find information about other flights, but the first one ...
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3 votes
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How did Gagarin's flight affect improvements to the Vostok capsule?

«Восток-2» имел некоторые отличия от первого «Востока». Была доработана радиосвязь, заменена телевизионная система. Телеметрию дополнила коротковолновая система «Сигнал», которая служила для ...
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  • 7,675
3 votes
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Urine collection for early russian astronauts

According to Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia: During Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz flights, urine and feces were entrained in an air stream and collected for disposal at the ...
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2 votes

What was the globe instrument in Vostok 1?

Two variants of the Globus retained in my collection - in the foreground from Voskhod, in the background installed in the Soyuz TM panel is the later version)
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