First Dual-Spacecraft Flight, 50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago today — August 11, 1962 — the USSR launched Vostok 3 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The very next day, they launched Vostok 4, marking the first time two crewed space vehicles were in orbit at the same time.

Vostok 3 carried cosmonaut Andrian G. Nikolayev, and Vostok 4 carried cosmonaut Pavel R. Popovich. The closest approach between their two spacecraft was about 5 km. Both spacecraft de-orbited on August 15th.

The best online images of the Vostok 3 & 4 mission seem to be held closely by the web site owners, but: playing off the “Vostok” theme, and since we’ve been captivated by the Curiosity rover’s recent landing on Mars, the image below shows the track of one of Curiosity’s predecessor’s near Vostok Crater.

(Mars Rover Opportunity’s track near Vostok crater. NASA image.)

A 360-degree view extending from the above image can be seen in this panoramic view.

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