Korolevs gambit

During a visit to inspect work on the Soyuz capsule in February 1964, Korolev announced to the assembled cosmonauts that there would be no more lone Vostok flights - instead the capsules already under construction would be converted into new configurations. One variant would squeeze three people into the cramped space, while the other would carry two cosmonauts in spacesuits and incorporate an airlock system allowing them to leave the spacecraft and float free in space.

The trade-offs needed to meet these requirements would make the flights much more risky for the cosmonauts - the ejector seat would be replaced by couches, and a new retro-rocket would have to slow the re-entry module's descent as it neared the ground, enabling the cosmonauts to land safely inside. Most dangerous of all, cosmonauts in the three-man capsule would not have room to wear spacesuits. Dressed instead in jumpsuits, they would have no protection from the vacuum of space if the capsule lost pressure. Several of Korolev's colleagues voiced doubts about the plan, including

Kamanin. However, within a month the project had been given the go-ahead. Khrushchev was never told of the safety fears, but even if he had been, it is unlikely that a man with such an eye for the spectacular would have rejected the proposal.

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