Successes and Failures of the Soyuz Progam - Manned Missions

Successes and Failures of the Soyuz Progam - Manned Missions
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The Soyuz program has had both the successes and failures in its manned missions. Here are some significant Soyuz missions:

Soyuz 1

It was the first manned mission, launched in April 24, 1967. The launch was a success, but there were tribulations shortly afterward. A solar panel on Soyuz 1 failed to unfold. Because of this, the spacecraft’s systems experienced a shortage of power. Maneuvering the spacecraft also failed, because of problems in the orientation detectors.

A second Soyuz vehicle was scheduled to be launched the next day, to provide an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) for Soyuz 1. The crewmembers, Valery Fyodorovich Bykovsky, Yevgeny Vassilyevich Khrunov, and Aleksei Stanislavovich Yeliseye, planned to repair the solar panel of Soyuz 1. Unfortunately, heavy rain at Baikonur made the launch impossible, so the Soyuz 1 spacecraft was deorbited as soon as it orbited above the USSR again. It was possible for cosmonaut Komarov to land safely, but the main parachute did not open, due to problems with a pressure sensor. To make things worse, a manually deployed reserve parachute tangled, and the spacecraft fell into the earth at a speed of about 40 meters per second (145km/h). The impact resulted in a huge explosion, and the capsule was engulfed by fire. Cosmonaut Komarov died on impact.

Soyuz 10

Soyuz 10 was launched in April 23, 1971. It was the first planned manned mission to the world’s first space station, the Salyut. The crew members were: Aleksei Yeliseyev, Nikolai Rukavishnikov, and Vladimir Shatalov. The mission was unsuccessful, as the Soyuz 10 was physically locked onto the station and had trouble detaching itself. The mission was abandoned.

Soyuz 11

On June 6, 1971, Soyuz 11 completed the failed mission of Soyuz 10 and successfully carried its crew to the Salyut.

The crewmembers (cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev, and Vladislav Volkov) spent three weeks conducting biomedical and other scientific experiments at Salyut space station. They also tested the Salyut’s systems but faced a number of difficulties in doing so. One of station’s main scientific instruments, the telescope, failed to operate. This was due to a protective cover that failed to detach after launch. This and many other technological difficulties interrupted the mission’s schedule, and the crew departed early.

Fate struck once again, though. After the spacecraft undocked, a valve was jolted which allowed the spacecraft’s oxygen to leak away in space. The crew members died of asphyxiation.

Apollo-Soyuz Mission

The Apollo Soyuz Mission was a success both technologically and as a public-relations exercise for the Soviet Union and the United States. It involved the docking of the Soviet Soyuz 19 spacecraft to the US Apollo spacecraft. The launch took place during the second half of July. The Apollo had three crew members on board – Vance Brand, Tom Stafford and Deke Slayton. The Soviet 19 had two crew members – Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov.

The two crews spent forty-four hours conducting joint scientific experiments; they also spent some great moments in each other’s craft. The two ships separated after forty-four hours. The crew of the Soviet spacecraft also took some images of the solar corona. The two ships went their separate ways after another brief docking. This mission was a successful and memorable one.

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This post is part of the series: The Soyuz Program

This series of articles gives a description of the Soyuz program, including spacecrafts and notable manned missions.

  1. The Soyuz Program (Part 1): Soyuz Spacecrafts
  2. The Soyuz Program (Part 2): Notable Manned Missions