Carried Vladimir Shatalov; docked with Soyuz 5; returned with Yevgeni Khrunov, Alexsei Yeliseyev from Soyuz 5. Scientific, technical and medico-biological research, checking and testing of onboard systems and design elements of space craft, docking of piloted space craft and construction of an experimental space station, transfer of cosmonauts from one craft to another in orbit. Recovered January 17, 1969 06:51 GMT. This mission finally successfully completed the simulated lunar orbit docking and crew transfer mission attempted by Soyuz 1 in April 1967. In making the transfer Khrunov and Yeliseyev avoided the most spectacular survivable incident of the space age - the nose-first reentry of Soyuz 5, still attached to its service module.
Soyuz 4 successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 31 the next day. 24 hours later it was followed by Soyuz 5 from Launch Complex 1. After the problems with Soyuz 3, a first-revolution docking was not planned. Instead the automatic rendezvous began on 16 January at 13:37 GMT on the 34th revolution of Soyuz 4 and the 18th revolution of Soyuz 5. At 100 m distance Shatalov took over manual control of Soyuz 4 and guided the spacecraft to an accurate docking on the first attempt at 14:20 GMT.
Khrunov and Yeliseyev aboard Soyuz 5 immediately began preparing for their EVA. Volynov filmed them donning their Yastreb space suits. On the 35th revolution of the earth Khrunov exited into free space and began moving toward Soyuz 4. But one of his lines became tangled and he accidentally closed the tumbler of his suit ventilator. He quickly untied this, but the incident distracted Yeliseyev, who forgot to mount a movie camera on the divan of the orbital module before exiting the spacecraft. This deprived the world of the planned film of the spacewalk. A poor quality video transmission was the only record of the one hour EVA.
The two spacewalkers entered Soyuz 4 without incident and after pressurisation of the orbital module were greeted by Shatalov. Soyuz 4 and 5 separated after 4 hours and 35 minutes docked together. Soyuz 4 prepared to land and the three crew successfully landed 100 km SW of Karaganda.
The crew was to be feted at a state ceremony at the Kremlin, but this was ruined by an attempted assassination of Soviet leader Brezhnev. A man from Leningrad armed with two pistols shot eight times at the second car of the motorcade, in which was not Brezhnev but rather cosmonauts Beregovoi, Leonov, Nikolayev, and Tereshkova. They were not injured but Brezhnev's vehicle accelerated and sped past the waiting Soyuz 4/5 crews on the podium on Red Square and into the safety of the Kremlin.
Soyuz 4 and 5 achieved the manned docking mission that was to have been accomplished by the third and fourth Soyuz spacecraft. It had taken 13 flights to accomplish what had been planned for 4.