Zarya - Soviet, Russian and International Spaceflight
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The Kettering Group


Tyneside, UK
2017 Jul 26
Wednesday, Day 207

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Derek Slater

2010 was the 50th anniversary of the reception of the first signals at Kettering by Derek and Geoff. They were from the first Korabl-Sputnik and the date was May 16. When asked if he remembered events from 50 years earlier, Derek responded.......

Yes, I remember it well. It didn't seem such a big deal at the time, I had spent a year of my life as a wireless operator in the RAF, a lot of it on night shifts. Geoff was quite excited at the unusual thing of getting up at some ungodly hour to hear radio signals, whereas it was pretty routine to me.

Yes, it was a boost for both of us to hear it and it impressed me that Geoff had got the time and frequency right. I knew that if the signal was there at all, we'd hear it.

I don't think Geoff had such confidence in my equipment though.

Korabl Sputnik (Vostok-1KP)       1960 ε 1       34
1960 May 15, 00:00 UTC
Baikonur Cosmodrome
Vostok 8K72
1960 Jun 17:  292 x 665 km,  64.9 deg,  94.2 min
First launch of a Korabl Sputnik in preparation for piloted spaceflight, recovery of the cabin was not intended so it carried no heat shielding. 1960 May 19, 23:52 UTC, retrofire occurred. The guidance system had oriented the spacecraft 180 degrees away from the required attitude so the spacecraft ascended to a higher orbit (as listed above). Otherwise the flight went as expected. The original orbit was reported to have been approx 320 x 360 km. After the retro-rocket firing, the cabin separated and became catalogued as 1960 ε 3, NORAD 36. Catalogued by NORAD with alternate name Sputnik 4.
Re-entry Unsuccesful


Date Time (UTC) Event
1960 May 15 00:00 Korabl Sputnik 1 (1KP-1), English - "Spaceship-Satellite", a Vostok/Zenit prototype, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Vostok rocket into approx 320 x 360 kilometre orbit at 65.0 degrees inclination - the purpose of the flight is to verify spacecraft systems and onboard there is mass to simulate the presence of a cosmonaut, on this mission, there is no heat shield and the cabin is not intended to be recovered
1960 May 16 In the early hours of the morning, Geoff Perry and Derek Slater listen to the first signals to be received at Kettering Grammar school - from Korabl Sputnik 1
1960 May 18 23:52 Having aligned itself for retrofire, Korabl Sputnik 1 ignites its retro-rocket but an error means that it is pointing 180 degrees away from the correct direction and the spacecraft orbit is boosted to an orbit of 278 x 689 kilometres - its cabin section then separates from the instrument unit and remains in orbit for a further five years
1960 May 19 Geoff Perry and Derek Slater listen to signals from Korabl Sputnik on the third successive day - they come later than expected and Geoff notes in the log that it must have changed orbit - they are unaware of the retro-rocket problem
1965 Oct 15 12:40 Approx time - the cabin of Korabl Sputnik 1 (launched 1960) re-enters the Earth atmosphere and is destroyed by frictional heating
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