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(vos -tok) A series of six Soviet piloted spacecraft that were able to carry one person into orbit. Vostok 1 was launched on Apr. 12 1961. Its crew member, Yuri Gagarin, became the first man in space, the flight lasting 1.8 hours. In subsequent Vostok missions the flight duration was extended up to 119 hours so that the effects of prolonged weightlessness could be studied. The double launching of Vostoks 3 and 4 in Aug. 1962 and their close approach in orbit led to an appreciation of rendezvous techniques.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



antarctic intracontinental scientific station of the USSR established Dec. 16, 1957, in connection with the International Geophysical Year. Vostok is situated in the center of eastern Antarctica in the vicinity of the south geomagnetic pole at 72°28’ S lat. and 106°48’ E long., at an altitude of 3,488 m. The area around the station experiences very low temperatures throughout the year. The lowest temperature on the surface of our planet, — 88.3° C, was recorded here on Aug. 24, 1960, and this region received the name of the earth’s pole of cold. Maximum temperatures in the summer do not exceed -21° C. The mean annual wind velocity is about 5 m per sec and the maximum 27 m per sec. Aerometeorological, actinometric, geophysical, and glaciological observations, as well as special medical research, are conducted at the station, which was named in honor of the sailing ship Vostok.




the name of the series of Soviet single-seat space-ships designed for near-earth orbit in which Soviet cosmonauts made their first flights.

Vostok was the spaceship used for the first manned space flight on Apr. 12, 1961. It was manned by lu. A. Gagarin. Launched from the Baikonur space launch area at 9:07 A.M. Moscow time, Vostok landed at 10:55 A.M., after completing one orbit, near the village of Smelovka, Saratov Oblast. The perigee was 181 km and the apogee, 327 km. Vostok had a spherical descent capsule, which also served as the cosmonaut’s cabin, and an instrument module with on-board equipment and a retrorocket. The spacecraft’s weight with the final stage of the launch vehicle was 6.17 tons and the length was 7.35 m. The weight of the final stage was 4.73 tons and of the descent capsule, which had a diameter of 2.3 m, 2.4 tons. The cosmonaut, wearing a pressure suit, was seated in an ejection seat. The life-support system was designed to function for ten days; continuous radio contact with earth was maintained during the flight. For landing, the spacecraft was fitted with a retrorocket which decreased the ship’s velocity so that it could transfer to the descent trajectory, after which the descent capsule was detached. After deceleration of the descent capsule in the atmosphere, the cosmonaut ejected from the cabin at an altitude of 7 km and landed by parachute. The possibility of the cosmonaut landing in the descent capsule was provided for.

Vostok 2 was placed in orbit on Aug. 6, 1961, manned by G. S. Titov. It completed 17 orbits for a total flight time of 25 hr, 11 min, and landed on August 7 near the settlement of Krasnyi Kut, Saratov Oblast. The orbital parameters were perigee, 178 km, and apogee, 244 km. Medical and biological experiments were performed during the flight, and the earth was filmed from the spacecraft.

Vostok 3 was placed in orbit on Aug. 11, 1962, manned by A. G. Nikolaev. It completed more than 64 orbits for a total flight time of 94 hr, 10 min, and landed on August 15 near the city of Karkaralinsk, Karaganda Oblast. The orbital parameters were perigee, 180.7 km, and apogee, 234.6 km. Vostok 3 made the world’s first joint space flight with the spaceship Vostok 4.

Vostok 4 was placed in orbit on Aug. 12, 1962, manned by P. R. Popovich. It completed 48 orbits for a total flight time of 70 hr, 42 min, and landed on August 15 near the settlement of Atasu, Karaganda Oblast. The orbital parameters were perigee, 179.8 km, and apogee, 236.7 km. As planned, Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 made the world’s first joint flight, lasting 70 hr, 28 min; the minimum distance between the two space-crafts was about 5 km. Radio contact between the spaceships and the earth was maintained during the flight. Television pictures of the cosmonauts were transmitted to the earth for the first time and relayed over the USSR television network and international television, thereby initiating television broadcasting from space. Scientific, medical, and biological experiments were carried out during the flight. The cosmonauts floated freely in their cabins in a state of weightlessness; their ability to work was not impaired.

Vostok 5 was placed in orbit on June 14, 1963, manned by V. F. Bykovskii. It completed 81 orbits for a total flight time of 119 hr and landed June 19, 540 km northwest of Karaganda. The orbital parameters were perigee, 181 km, and apogee, 222.1 km. Vostok 5 flew jointly with the space-ship Vostok 6 for approximately three days.

Vostok 6 was placed in orbit on June 16, 1963, manned by the world’s first female cosmonaut, V. V. Tereshkova. It made 48 orbits for a total flight time of 70 hr, 42 min, and landed on June 19, 620 km northeast of Karaganda. The orbital parameters were perigee, 183 km, and apogee, 231 km. The joint flight of Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 lasted almost three days, and two-way radio communication was maintained between the spacecrafts. There were regular periods of radio communication with earth and of transmission of television pictures of the cosmonauts to the earth. A comprehensive program of medical and biological research was carried out with the participation of the cosmonauts.



a sailing sloop built at the Okhta shipyard in St. Petersburg, with a displacement of 900 tons. In 1819 to 1821, under the command of F. F. Bellingshausen, the Vostok and the sloop Mirnyi completed the first Russian circumnavigation and exploration of Antarctica. An island discovered in 1820 in the southern part of the Line Islands (Polynesia) was named by F. F. Bellingshausen in honor of the sloop.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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