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  1. The Soviets did a lot of good things with their space program. The R-7 was the first and still is one of the best satellite launchers, the Venera probes were cool and got us a lot of data, the RD-180 gets high performance through weird metallurgic sorcery, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff they did was also crap. Stuff like the N-1 comes immediately to mind, but there were others. Let's take a look at Vostok, the first manned spacecraft. It is commonly compared to the American Mercury spacecraft. Both had similar purposes; to get a man into space, keep him there for a short time, and return him safely. It did this well. However, Vostok was a bit primitive compared to Merucry; http://www.astronautix.com/craft/vostok.htm In my opinion, this made Vostok less useful than Mercury for getting astronauts experience with maneuvering a spacecraft in zero-g, and building knowledge needed for more complex missions. Also, the Vostok's spherical shape meant that all reentries were purely ballistic, which subjected the cosmonauts to higher g-loads than their American counterparts. Still, on the whole, Vostok did its job. It's probably not fair to call it bad. Voshkod, on the other hand. Holy shit, motherfucking Voshkod. People often compare Voshkod to Gemini. Those people are wrong. Gemini was a completely new design, incorporating many advanced features. Voshkod was simply a Vostok with three people crammed inside of it. The cosmonauts were unable to wear spacesuits, leaving them no options in the event of atmosphere loss. There were no ejection seats or launch abort system (Gemini and Vostok had ejection seats) meaning that a failure of the launch vehicle would have been fatal. The capsule was poorly designed also, with the instruments being difficult to read. The American Gemini program of about the same time made many pioneering advances in spaceflight. Docking tests were conducted, at first with unmanned targets (Agena), and later with other capsules. Flights at high altitudes beyond low earth orbit were also done. In contrast, Voshkod flights did little to advance human knowledge of spaceflight (aside from Leonov's spacewalk). The best thing that can be said about Voshkod is that it didn't kill anyone, which is more due to luck than good design. The Soviet space program would not accomplish the goals that the Gemini program did until later in the 1960s with Soyuz. By this time the Americans were almost at the moon. In 2015, the Soyuz capsule has evolved to be an excellent and reliable space transportation system. However, it was not always this way. Let us look at Soyuz 1. Multiple unmanned tests flights of the Soyuz capsule experienced failures and showed unreliability in the system. http://www.astronautix.com/flights/soyuz1.htmDespite this, Vladimir Komarov launched in Soyuz 1 on April 23 1967. Immediately, he experienced numerous issues. Stuck solar panels, failed maneuvering systems, and other problems meant that the flight had to be terminated after only a day in space. Reentry was mostly successful; however, the main parachute sadly failed, and Komarov was killed on landing. Not only did the failure of Soyuz 1 cause the senseless death of a cosmonaut, but it also set the Soyuz program back by over a year. Had the Soviets waited a few more months to debug the capsule before launching it, it is possible that this could have been avoided.
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