Recovery

Once the capsule touched down, crews had to arrive quickly to safely recover it and the occupant.

 

Gagarin's flown spacecraft on display outside Moscow.
Gagarin's flown spacecraft on display outside Moscow.

The Vostok and Gagarin landed on the ground inside the U.S.S.R. The Soviet government could therefore use its existing search and rescue forces and avoid revealing any failures, mishaps, or details about its space flight technology.

A Navy helicopter hoists Alan Shepard from the ocean after his flight.
A Navy helicopter hoists Alan Shepard from the ocean after his flight.

After landing in the ocean, Mercury astronauts usually left their capsules. U.S. military ships and aircraft in the landing zone recovered the capsules and astronauts.