After graduating from a forestry school as a technical forester, Nikolayev then joined the Soviet Air Force in 1950. He was
selected to join the cosmonaut team in 1960.
Nikolayev's first space flight was on Vostok 3, launched 11 August 1962.
This was a joint flight with Vostok 4. He set a new space endurance record of 3 days 22 hours and 22 minutes. Colour motion
pictures of Earth and the cabin interior were another highlight of his flight.
Nikolayev's second flight was in Soyuz
9 on 1 June 1970. This flight was a long duration flight to test the effects of prolonged weightlessness on man. Due to the
cramped conditions onboard, he had to be carried from the capsule. The flight lasted 17 days 16 hours and 59 minutes.
1963, Nikolayev married the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, but later divorced after having one daughter. He was
the First Deputy Head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.