25. DETAILED UNDERSTANDING

After the quiet reflective moments of the night before, there is a lot to explain in the tense and busy preparations for launch. Gherman already foresees what Yuri is only just beginning to realise: that the flight is going to change his life forever. Gherman Titov’s recorded testimony about his own state of mind as the man who came second, is moving and impressive. It helps to build the tension in the bus ride to the pad.Gherman Titov_Yuri Gagarin_vostok_boctok

It is Gherman too, who, in his memoirs, provides the touch of humour in the clash of helmets as the two cosmonauts try to give each other a Russian-style send-off.

The business with the access code for manual control is the last remnant of the medics’ worries over zero-gravity and its potential effect on the brain. Some have criticised Yuri and the other Soviet space pioneers as being little better than passengers in what were automatically controlled flights. This is unfair. Yuri had to have a detailed understanding of every stage of the flight in order to be able to take over immediately if the automatic guidance systems failed, or if a situation developed that was outside their designed limits. Just as Gherman was ‘understudying’ Yuri, in case of last minute health issues, Yuri was ‘understudying’ the Vostok itself.

In fact, as it turned out, Yuri did have to take over, and, like a trained dancer, he had to know exactly when to come in and what moves to make, when it was suddenly time for him to face the music.

This entry was posted in Gherman Titov, The Space Race, Yuri Gagarin, YURI's DAY, Yuri's Flying Machines. Bookmark the permalink.

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