Thinking of how you might make a grand entrance at this years Yuri’s Night party? Could go for the Ivan Ivanisovich drop from above. Yuri and his fellow cosmonauts took to dropping down elevator shafts onto cushions in an attempt to replicate zero gravity. Best not try this at home, or the party! www.yuri-gagarin.com
TRUE STORY – in March 1961 a mannequin called ‘Ivan Ivanovich’ was used to test Vostok and its ejection seat before the manned flights began. Witnesses on the ground thought that ‘Ivan’ was a real cosmonaut after he/it landed.
Mission planners avoided splashdowns at sea, in case US Navy ships were in the recovery area with surveillance cameras at the ready. Instead the Vostok crew modules were brought down on land, safely within Soviet territory. The favoured touchdown site was in the Saratov region, near the Volga river. Soviet propaganda claimed that the Vostok crews returned to Earth inside their craft. This was not strictly true. They could not have survived the heavy capsule’s impact with the ground, but had to eject 23,000 feet before touchdown and descend under a separate parachute. Continue reading
Vostok was navigated mainly from the ground, via radio. The command signals were received by these large aerials. The first cosmonauts were discouraged from interfering with their flights, and there was even a coded keypad in the cabin to prevent them from operating the controls without permission from the ground. However, Gagarin had the confidence of his engineers. Code 325 was leaked to him unofficially!