THE WORLD’S FIRST SPACESHIP

Vostok, the world’s first manned spacecraft, consisted of a ball-shaped crew module with room for one ‘cosmonaut’, and a conical rear equipment module with oxygen tanks, batteries, cooling radiators and braking rockets.
1961 Vostok spacecraft and nose shroud

The carrier vehicle for Vostok was a converted R-7 intercontinental missile designed by Sergei Korolev, Russia’s leading rocket engineer. The R-7’s main propulsion system was divided into a cluster of five boosters. As the rocket climbed into space, the  four boosters on the outside of the cluster burned out and fell away, leaving just the central block to carry Vostok into orbit.

The launch site was a top-secret complex near Baikonur in Kazakhstan, a southern republic of the Soviet Union. The R-7 rocket, with Vostok at the tip, was assembled horizontally in a huge hangar at Baikonur, then transported to the pad on a flatbed railway truck. The day before lift-off, hydraulic ramps pushed the R-7 into vertical position against the launch gantry.

VostockCapsule link to PDF drawing

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