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How to rescue a Vostok?

Posted by: MandrakiBros - Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:25 am
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How to rescue a Vostok? 
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Post How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:25 am
Hello everyone,

we are two Italian screenwriters working on a feature film broadly inspired by the legend of the Lost Cosmonauts. Our main character is a radio-amateur who in the early Sixities manages to get in touch with Ludmila, a female cosmonaut orbiting around the Earth on board of her Vostok spacecraft. She can't properly operate the Vostok nor communicate with her base station and is doomed to either (1) crash somewhere far from USSR or (2) drift away in space. Of course, the radio-amateur attempts to communicate with the Russian Space Center, but complications occur in the story (KGB and CIA are involved) that prevent him to succeed. We want our radio-amateur to eventually save and rescue the cosmonaut in person by either

(1) giving her advice on when and where to drop herself with a parachute; or

(2) suggesting her how to change the Vostok course, so to drop on Earth instead of getting lost in space.

What idea the radio-amateur could come up with, so to save the cosmonaut? More specifically, we need to identify both the problem (wrong orbit? Defective retro-rockets? Computer failure? Fire on board? Lack of oxigen? Etc.) and the solution: what can he do to fix the problem and bring her down? (Tell her how to modify her orbit without retro rockets? Calculate an alternative reentry angle? Give her a reference point - visible form space - as to when to fire the last surviving retro rocket? Etc.)

Thank you in advance,

The Mandraki Bros


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:01 am
Well, your amateur radio operator probably wouldn't have the Vostok operations and emergency procedures manuals, and if she doesn't know where and what those are, she's probably SOL no matter what.

But assuming all she needs is general guidance, you can "dead stick" a reentry.
1) orient capsule retrograde. Basically align the nose with the trail-ward direction of flight.
2) fire translation maneuver thruster in fwd direction for as long as possible. Decelerate the capsule.

3) Pray its enough to decelerate into the atmosphere without bouncing back. And that she can remember where the parachute deployment lever is (if they don't auto deploy).

Oh. wait. Good communists don't pray so scratch that last bit. lol!


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:35 am
JamesG wrote:
assuming all she needs is general guidance, you can "dead stick" a reentry.

We did some research on the Vostok re-entry procedures. On a different forum, a very helpful user pointed out that

_a_lost_packet_ wrote:
As jimglenn said, Vostok had no maneuvering thrusters. There were even failed rendezvous attempts because of that, IIRC.
However, it's not clear how the Vostok was designed to be manuevered to rotate along its axis during the phase where the pilot could use the periscope to orient the spacecraft correctly. I assume this was done using the main thrusters. Yet, they were only fired on re-entry. Perhaps this is the time that the pilot would have the chance to guide the spacecraft?


Given all the above considerations, we decided that it would be simpler to imagine a fault in the on-board systems that would require that information come from the ground radio operator in order for the cosmonaut to perform re-entry.

Now, what information could it be? Numbers related to speed, location, etc. of the spacecraft?

Or, to put it even simpler: what if the only information she needs to know is "when" to initiate the braking and re-entry procedures? Would it make sense?


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:50 pm
That would be more realistic. Perhaps the error could be in the ground controller system where they need to use our amature's radio to relay instructions to the space craft.


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:01 pm
JamesG wrote:
That would be more realistic. Perhaps the error could be in the ground controller system where they need to use our amature's radio to relay instructions to the space craft.


Great. Now, the last question is: What did such instruction look like? Were they just spoken numbers? Taped CW signals? Else? How did a cosmonaut like Tereshkova manually enter the data into the descent program of the Vostok? I mean, in practical terms.

Or, to put it in other words, what would you *see* if you were in the Vostok with our cosmonaut Ludmila, while she performed the same procedure? The control panel of the Vostok is the most different thing from any computer keyboard we've ever seen!

(http://www.astronautix.com/craft/vostok.htm)


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:18 pm
Nice web page. I have no ideas about the specifics about Vostok operation, and you are unlikely to get accurate info from the interwebs like this site.

Your best bet would be to contact the Russian museums (field trip!). They might have the general information you are asking for. Might even be able to give you leads or arrange a meeting with some of the old timers who worked with the system, maybe even one of the Vostok cosmonauts if they are still around.


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:19 pm
Do it Apollo 13 style with a wristwatch and thumb on red button ;)

[added]

Here are some more pictures of (among others) Vostok controls
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2010/09 ... anels.html


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:24 am
The "Lost Cosmonauts" theories (whether urban legend or real) have always intrigued me. I would love to see a film made about this! Good luck!


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:27 am
Hi All,

This is my first posting here...I found this thread on a google search, and I couldn't leave any cosmonaut stranded, so I'll do my best to answer how you could bring down a Vostok.

A few things first on how this was done. Normal procedure was to send a command from the ground which initiated a series of onboard sequences. This was called a Command Radio Link and it communicated with an onboard device called the Program Timer Unit. There are two onboard Program Timer Units and Two Command Radio Links onboard each which have about 50 commands that could be sent. Due to the importance of the retrofire command , it likely was not one command but two to ensure reliability.

The Vostok could not in any way change its orbit outside of firing the retrocket (TDU), which was a one time event that lasted 42 seconds. If this retrorocket failed for any reason there was no backup. However, there was a backup plan....wait until the orbit decayed. The Vostok Orbits were calculated to allow the spacecraft to reenter within 10 days of launch.

A typical orbit was about 185 by 230 km. I have tried to find the atmospheric density models the Soviets used at this time, but so far no luck.....

Now there are two scenarios for the stranded cosmonaut. Either they attempted to send a command to bring her back and the command interpreter failed (or maybe the Timer Unit) or the TDU failed entirely.

The first useful question to ask her is if what commands have passed in the Working Control of the Regime of Descent (1,2, and 3). If it is 3 you'd want to immediately go to Descent 3 - Manual so the Auto system does not misfire the TDU.

so here is a sequence:
Open Logical lock (three digit code in envelope) (ie. 145)
Descent 3 (Spusk Tri) - Manual (Ruchnaya)
Orientation (Orientatsiya) - Manual
On right hand panel near attitude controller turn on axis control for pitch and yaw.
Orient Spacecraft with the VZOR (optical window with graticle) so that the Earth path is moving away from you, and the ship is roughly paralell to the horizon.
Change the Globe setting to Mesto Posadki (place of landing) to see where an estimated landing will occur.
Meanwhile hold attitude as necessary, until the landing point is on dry land on the globe.
Press the TDU Fire button on the left side of the panel.
Hold it down for several seconds. (It should fire for 42 seconds)
The Spacecraft should separate from the PO (service module) after 10 seconds, if not don't worry too much, hopefully the thermal sensors will initiate this....
Check your harness, secure any loose items (eg cameras)
Arm the Catapult toggle switch (looks like a circuit breaker) on top of the panel with the attitude control handle.
Be prepared for a 10g deceleration.
The rest of the sequence is controlled by barometric switches...at 21000 ft the hatch will pneumatically jettison and 2 seconds later the catapult and armchair will fire.


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:18 am
For more detail here's my website:
http://vostoksupersite.weebly.com/

If anyone out there knows any friendly and helpful person near Moscow that could go to the Central Armed Forces Museum, I could solve all the remaining mysteries of how the Vostok was controlled at least from the cosmonaut's standpoint. The pictures taken so far of the instrument panel are all in horrible lighting, and I need the remaining transparents' labels from the signal table. Bring a flashlight, a pencil, and good eyesight as well as a digital camera :)

The other automated schemes are at Energia and State Archives (RGANTD)...but good luck getting access to those. Possibly with April 2011 coming up some new info will be relesed. The Command Radio Link info exists at NIITP, but they have never acknowledged my questions, either. The listing of commands in the day was considered Top Secret. (Sov. Sekretno)Supposedly everything related to Vostok was declassified in 1991, but the archives hang on to the information. In a way this acts as a way to keep the info classified.

I spoke to Alexei Leonov and Valentina Tereshkova in 2005. Mr. Leonov said "Awwww, its been 40 years! If you show me the panels I could tell you what the controls were for, but I don't remember the signal table right now".
Valentina Terseshkova just said "Equipment ?!, Where is this from?" I told her the Vostok Spacecraft. She didn't seem to remember anything.

Of other cosmonauts Valentina Ponomareva, Irina Solovyova, Valeriy Bykovskiy, and Boris Volynov still are with us and might recall more.

A great source of information once released would be the "Bortovoj Zhurnals" or Onboard Journals and the "Instructions to Cosmonuts" that are alluded to in Nikolai Kamanin's Diaries.

For example, with the Onboard Journal of Vostok 6, a copy of it has been on display at Star City and even toured Europe, but behind a glass case and closed. I doubt a network news program could get a photocopy of it! Vostok-2's journal is on display at the Memorial Museum of cosmonautics, but this could be a copy....for all we know the inside pages could be blank.


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:40 am
I think this story could be interesting, especially if she (the main character) is forced to make an EVA, the first EVA ever at the time. Just a tought! ^^

Gygantar

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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:28 pm
That would require her suit to be EVA capable which I think it wasn't.


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:30 am
Quote:
The "Lost Cosmonauts" theories (whether urban legend or real) have always intrigued me. I would love to see a film made about this! Good luck!



At Space Access 2009 in Phoenix,Az. A chap there showed a short movie they had done on this, it was a re-enactment and as true to fact as they could be. Was a good watch, can't remember the guys name or even find the program from that year. Their are a few others on this forum who were there, who might remember.


Iain


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:16 pm
Mchl wrote:
That would require her suit to be EVA capable which I think it wasn't.


If its life or death, that won't really make much difference. Or are you saying it was a basic pressure suit without any thermal protection?


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Post Re: How to rescue a Vostok?   Posted on: Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:47 am
JamesG wrote:
If its life or death, that won't really make much difference. Or are you saying it was a basic pressure suit without any thermal protection?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SK-1_spacesuit

It had no internal life support systems for one. Also in vacuum it would probably 'swell' (if not rupture) and render all movement close to impossible. They had this problem with their first EVA suit - Berkut

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkut_spacesuit


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