Computing in the Soviet Space Program












Instrument Panels and Hand Controls of Vostok and Mercury Spacecraft: A Comparison




Instrument board and control panel from Vostok spacecraft

Instrument board and control panel from Vostok spacecraft,

from Specialized Experimental Design Bureau of Spacecraft Technology of the Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Equipment (SOKB KT NIIAO) and Its Role in Russian Cosmonautics by S.A. Borodin, A.F. Yeremin, S.T. Marchenko, and Yu.A. Tiapchenko.

The Vostok has 4 switches and 35 indicators, while the Mercury has 56 switches and 76 indicators.

Instrument panel from Mercury spacecraft

Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper Jr., checks over the instrument panel from Mercury Spacecraft #20 with Robert Graham, McDonnell Aircraft Corp. spacecraft  engineer. It contains the instruments necessary to monitor spacecraft systems  and sequencing, the controls required to initiate primary sequences manually, and flight control displays.

Date Taken: 02/01/63       NASA Photo ID: S63-03960

From Phillip Clark, The Soviet Manned Space Program (New York: Orion Books, 1988), p. 15.

1 - command control antenna

2 - communications antenna

3 - housing for the umbilical connectors

4 - entry/exit hatch

5 - food locker

6 - tensioning bands

7 - whip antennas

8 - TDU-1 retro-rocket

9 - communications antennas

10- access hatch to instrument module interior

11 - instrument module

12 - electrical harness

13 - oxygen and nitrogen gas containers

14 - ejector seat with cosmonaut

15 - radio antenna

16 - porthole with "Vzor" optical orientation device

17 - technological hatch

18 - TV camera

19 - ablative heat shield

20 - electronics package


Mercury spacecraft interior arrangement, from

James M. Grimwood, "Project Mercury: A Chronology," NASA, SP-4001 1963, figure 15


Hand controller on Vostok spacecraft


Three-axis hand controller on Vostok spacecraft,

from Yurii Tiapchenko, "Forty Years of Manned Flights"

The yaw control and the roll control are rearranged as compared to regular aircraft or to Mercury spacecraft

Hand controller on Mercury spacecraft

Three-axis hand controller on Mercury spacecraft, from

James M. Grimwood, "Project Mercury: A Chronology," NASA, SP-4001 1963, figure 26

site last updated 27 February 2003 by Slava Gerovitch