Skip to content

March 24, 1961

Report from D. Ustinov et al to the CPSU CC on Preparations to Launch the Vostok-3A

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)


March 14, 1961


Top Secret


Copy Nº 1




We report that in accordance with the CPSU Central Committee and USSR Council of Minister Decree Nº 1110-462of October 11, 1960[2] at the present time the second satellite-ship [korabl’-sputnik] of the Vostok-3A type intended to test all the equipment supporting manned spaceflight is ready for launch.


It is intended to conduct the launch in the second half of March 1961.


A transceiver and also a radiotelephone communications apparatus will be in the airtight cabin of the satellite to transmit taped music and songs with musical accompaniment from the satellite to Earth.


In addition, in the same cabin will be experimental animals (a dog, mice, guinea pigs) and also fruit flies, microbes, and others, with the goal of obtaining additional scientific data about the influence of cosmic radiation, weightlessness, and transient states from acceleration to weightlessness and back on living organisms.


Some of the same main circuit and design data which were checked in the first launch of the Vostok-3A satellite-ship[3] should be checked in the planned second launch of a satellite-ship.


The two-day radio communications between the satellite and the ground will be checked as well as during the first launch:


a) in the ultra-shortwave band (139.0-143.7 MHz), intended to maintain communications within the bounds of the satellite’s direct visibility with ground points located on Soviet territory;


b) in the shortwave band (9-10 and 20-22 MHz), intended to maintain communications in the entire time the satellite is in orbit.


A transmission from the satellite of taped music and songs with musical accompaniment can be received on this channel not only on Soviet territory but also by foreign stations.


It is intended to perform the transmission of scientific and measuring information from the satellite to Earth with the aid of television and telemetry systems.


An experiment to photograph the Earth’s surface with the aid of the AFA-39 camera will also be continued.


The program for the flight and descent of the craft is being set according to a timing device at the launch from a calculation of the landing on the second orbit. Based on this the landing region is planned to be on the Tuapse-Kuybyshev line.


In emergency situations the descent apparatus can land at any point between north and south latitudes 65o. In unmanned flights an emergency destruct device is installed which destroys the apparatus on its entry into the dense layers of the atmosphere.


Ground, air, and naval resources are being concentrated in the most probable regions of an emergency landing.


The launch program of the succeeding Vostok-3A satellite-ships will be drawn up and reported with consideration for the results of this launch.


Please permit the launch of the second Vostok-3A satellite-ship and approve the draft TASS report.[4]










Archival source: APRF, f. 3, op. 47, f. 278, ll. 88-89. Original. Autographs.





[1] The date of registration in the 1st sector of the CPSU Central Committee General Department is March 14, 1961. There is a notation in the top margin of the first sheet: “Protocol of the CC Presidium Nº 319 p. XXIV.”

[2] See Document No. 10.

[3] This refers to the March 9, 1961 launch of the Vostok-3A variant, the first time that this variant had been launched.

[4] On March 16, 1961 the CPSU CC Presidium approved Decree Nº P319/XXIV, “The Launch of a Satellite-Ship” with the following content:

“1. Approve the proposal of Cdes. Ustinov, Rudnev, Kalmykov, Dement’yev, Moskalenko, Keldysh, and Korolev on the launch of the second ‘Vostok-3A’ space satellite-ship.

2. Approve the text of a TASS report about the launch of a space ship into the orbit of an Earth satellite and give the commission the right for a launch [and] in case of need to make amendments about the results of the launch, but the Commission of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers for Military-Industrial Questions is to publish it” (see APRF, f. 3, op. 47, d. 278, l. 84).”

[5] S. I. Vetoshkin signed the document for D. F. Ustinov. Dmitriy Fedorovich Ustinov (1908-1984) was chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission.

[6] Konstantin Nikolayevich Rudnev (1911-1980) was chairman of the State Committee of Defense Technology.

[7] Valeriy Dmitriyevich Kalmykov (1908-1974) was chairman of the State Committee of Radio-Electronics.

[8] Pyotr Vasil’yevich Dement’yev (1907-1977) was chairman of the State Committee for Aviation Technology.

[9] Kirill Semenovich Moskalenko (1902-1985) was commander-in-chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces.

[10] Mstislav Vsevolodich Keldysh (1911-1978) was vice-president of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

[11] Sergey Pavlovich Korolev (1907-1966) was chief designer of OKB-1.

Report to Central Committee from industrial leaders, military leaders, scientists, and designers on preparations to launch a final automated test flight before actual piloted spaceflight.

Document Information


Selected, edited, and annotated by Asif Siddiqi. Translated by Gary Goldberg and Angela Greenfield.


The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.

To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].

Original Uploaded Date



Record ID



Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)