|Soyuz 4 and 5|
Soyuz 4 and 5 in docked configuration
Credit: © Mark Wade. 13,599 bytes. 539 x 137 pixels.
The Soyuz spacecraft was initially designed for rendezvous and docking operations in near earth orbit, leading to piloted circumlunar flight. In the definitive December 1962 Soyuz draft project, the Soyuz-A appeared as a two-place spacecraft. The Soyuz would have been launched on a lunar flyby after successive launches of 11K tanker spacecraft with a 9K translunar injection stage.
To Korolevís frustration, while Filial 3 received budget to develop the military Soyuz versions, his own Soyuz-A did not receive the support of the leadership for inclusion in the space program of the USSR. The 7K-9K-11K plan would have required five successful automatic dockings to succeed. This seemed impossible at the time. Instead Chelomeiís LK-1 single-manned spacecraft, to be placed on a translunar trajectory in a single launch of his UR-500K rocket, was the preferred approach. According to the historic decree of 3 August 1964 that set forth the Soviet plan to beat the Americans to the moon, Chelomei was to develop the LK-1 for the manned lunar flyby while Korolev was to develop the N1-L3 for the manned lunar landing. The Soyuz-A was cancelled.
|Soyuz OK panel - Detail of left command panel of Soyuz OK|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 23,713 bytes. 294 x 456 pixels.
On 14 October 1964 Khrushchev was ousted from power, and Chelomei lost his patron. Soon thereafter, Korolev quietly reanimated his Soyuz-A project - not the circumlunar version, but a 7K-OK orbital spacecraft. Korolevís stated plan was for two of these spacecraft to demonstrate rendezvous and docking in earth orbit - but this was really a cover for in preparation for wresting the circumlunar program back from Chelomei.
|Soyuz OM panel - Detail of orbital module command panel of Soyuz OK|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 35,169 bytes. 573 x 391 pixels.
|Soyuz escape tower - Soyuz launch escape system - air tunnel test model|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 26,778 bytes. 316 x 420 pixels.
On the second launch attempt on 14 December, the Soyuz incorrectly detected a failure of the launch vehicle at 27 minutes after an aborted launch attempt. The launch escape system activated while the vehicle was still fuelled on the pad, pulling the capsule away from the vehicle but exploding the launch vehicle and killing and injuring several people. Analysis of the failure indicated numerous problems in the escape system.
The 7K-OK, after sinking to the bottom of the Aral Sea after a trouble-ridden third flight, was taken into space by cosmonaut Komarov in April 1967. This disastrous flight ended in the cosmonaut being killed. The 7K-OK was redesigned to the extent possible and went on to accomplish 13 relatively successful manned and unmanned earth orbital flights. The 7K-OK was later modified to the space station ferry configuration 7K-OKS with the addition of a docking tunnel. This configuration killed three cosmonauts aboard Soyuz 11 in 1971. Thereafter the spacecraft underwent a complete redesign, resulting in the substantially safer 7K-T, which flew dozens of times to Salyut and Almaz space stations until replaced by the Soyuz T in 1981. Major Events: .
|Soyuz 7K-OK Top|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 14,866 bytes. 700 x 700 pixels.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 3,949 bytes. 333 x 213 pixels.
Second attempted flight of Soyuz 7K-OK (the spacecraft planned for the linkup with Ksomos 133). An analogue to Mercury Redstone's 'day we launched the tower' but with more disastorous consequences. The core stage ignited, but the strap-ons did not. A booster shutdown was commanded. The service towers were brought back around the booster, and ground crew began work to defuel the launch vehicle. At 27 minutes after the original launch attempt, the Soyuz launch escape system, having received the signal that liftoff had occurred, detected that the booster was not on course (either because a tower arm nudged the booster or because the earth's rotation as detected by the gyros had moved the spacecraft out of limits relative to its original inertial position). The launch escape system ignited, pulling the Soyuz away from the booster, igniting the third stage fuel tanks, leading to an explosion that severely damaged the pad and killed at least one person (the Soviet Rocket Forces major supervising the launch team) and injured many others.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 751 bytes. 120 x 72 pixels.
After the self-destruction of the first Soyuz 7K-OK on re-entry, and the loss of the second one on the pad fire in December, the state commission ruled that the third 7K-OK model would be flown unpiloted on a solo mission. If this was successful then the fourth and fifth Soyuz would be flown on a manned docking mission. Once in orbit Cosmos 140 experienced attitude control problems due to a faulty star sensor resulting in excessive fuel consumption. The spacecraft couldn't keep the required orientation towards the sun to keep the solar panels illuminated, and the batteries discharged. Despite all of these problems the spacecraft remained controllable. An attempted manoeuvre on the 22nd revolution still showed problems with the control system. It malfunctioned yet again during retrofire, leading to a steeper than planned uncontrolled ballistic re-entry. The re-entry capsule itself had depressurised on separation from the service module due to a fault in the base of the capsule. A 300 mm hole burned through in the heat shield during re-entry. Although such events would have been lethal to any human occupants, the capsule's recovery systems operated and the capsule crashed through the ice of the frozen Aral Sea, 3 km from shore and 500 kilometres short of the intended landing zone. The spacecraft finally sank in 10 meters of water and had to be retrieved by divers. Still, the mission was deemed 'good enough' for the next mission to be a manned two-craft docking and crew transfer space spectacular. Mishin and Kamanin felt that a human crew could have sorted out the problems. They were also under intense pressure to achieve a manned circumlunar flight before the 50th Anniversary of the Soviet Revolution in October.
|Soyuz 7K-OK probe - Soyuz 7K-OK docking probe|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 41,498 bytes. 387 x 486 pixels.
Space disaster that put back Soviet lunar program 18 months. Soyuz 1 as active spacecraft was launched first. Soyuz 2, with a 3 man crew would launch the following day, with 2 cosmonauts spacewalking to Soyuz 1. However immediately after orbital insertion Komarov's problems started. One of the solar panels failed to deploy, staying wrapped around the service module. Although only receiving half of the planned solar power, an attempt was made to manoeuvre the spacecraft. This failed because of interference of the reaction control system exhaust with the ion flow sensors that were one of the Soyuz' main methods of orientation. The decision was then made to bring Komarov back. Re-entry was successful and the drag chute deployed. However due to a failure of a pressure sensor, the main parachute would not deploy. Komarov released the reserve chute, but it became tangled with the drag chute. The descent module crashed into a field near Orenburg at 7 am.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 7,001 bytes. 540 x 289 pixels.
The first manned Soyuz flights were an attempt at an 'all up' manned rendezvous, docking, and crew transfer spectacular (eventually accomplished by Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5). Komarov was the pilot for the Soyuz 1 active spacecraft, which would be launched first. Soyuz 2, with the crew of Bykovsky, Khrunov, and Yeliseyev would launch the following day, with Khrunov and Yeliseyev space-walking to Soyuz 1 and returning to earth with Komarov. Komarov's spacecraft developed serious problems after launch, including the failure of one of the spacecraft's solar panels to deploy. The Soyuz 2 crew were given the order to rendezvous with Soyuz 1 and to try during the planned EVA to unfold the undeployed solar panel. But the launch of Soyuz 2 was cancelled due to heavy rain at the cosmodrome. Low on power and battery reserves, Komarov made an attempt to land the following day. Parachute failure led to the crash of Soyuz 1 and the death of Komarov. After the disaster the Soyuz 2 spacecraft was checked, and the parachute system had the same technical failure. If Soyuz 2 had launched, the docking may have been successful, but then both spacecraft would have crashed on landing, killing four cosmonauts instead of one.
|Gas dynamic tunnel - Gas dynamic tunnel tests|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 32,862 bytes. 568 x 324 pixels.
Docked with Cosmos 188; First automated docking. Recovered October 31, 1967 08:20 GMT. Achieved automatic rendezvous on second attempt. Capture achieved but hard docking and electric connections unsuccessful due to misallignment of spacecraft. Star tracker failed and had to make a high-G ballistic re-entry.
|LOK Descent Module - LOK Descent Module and Orbital Module. Note the cupola at the left top of the Orbital Module.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 48,259 bytes. 358 x 574 pixels.
|Soyuz 7K-OK Icon|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,064 bytes. 170 x 131 pixels.
Target for Cosmos 212 docking. Recovered April 20, 1968 10:11 GMT. Successful test of Soyuz 7K-OK systems. Both spacecraft recovered, but one was dragged by heavy wind across the steppes when the parachute line didn't jettison.
Officially: Investigation of outer space, development of new systems and elements to be used in the construction of space devices.
|Soyuz 7K-OK Side|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 7,187 bytes. 379 x 679 pixels.
Recovered September 1, 1968 9:03 GMT. Final test of redesigned Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft for Soyuz 3 manned mission.
|LOK Descent Module - LOK Descent Module detail. The ablative material is far thicker than on the standard Soyuz descent module for the reentry from lunar distances at twice the energy as that from earth orbit.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 49,816 bytes. 394 x 580 pixels.
Second manned Soyuz flight. Rendezvoused with the unmanned Soyuz 2 but failed to dock. Complex testing of spaceship systems; development, in joint flight with space ship Soyuz 2 of processes of space ship manoeuvring and docking in artificial earth satellite orbit; development of elements of celestial navigation; conduct of research under space flight conditions. The failed docking was blamed on manual control of the Soyuz by Beregovoi, who repeatedly put the spacecraft in an orientation that nulled the automatic docking system. Beregovoi used nearly all of his orientation fuel in his first attempt to dock - of 80 kg allocated, only 8 to 10 kg was remaining. Recovered October 30, 1968 7:25 GMT.
|LOK Descent Module - LOK Descent Module and Orbital Module|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 52,944 bytes. 353 x 582 pixels.
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 7K-OK Bottom|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 12,341 bytes. 718 x 685 pixels.
Commander Volynov shuttled the EVA crew of Yeliseyev and Khrunov into earth orbit. A day later Soyuz 4 docked with Soyuz 5. The Soyuz 4 active spacecraft was equipped with a long docking probe, designated 'Shtir'. The Soyuz 5 target spacecraft was equipped with the 'Konus' receptacle. The symbology lead Volynov to joke that he 'was being raped' when the hard docking was accomplished. Khrunov and Yeliseyev transferred to and returned in Soyuz 4, the feat they had hoped to accomplish in the cancelled Soyuz 2 flight almost two years earlier. Officially the flight conducted 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.
|Soyuz 7K-OK Icon - Soyuz 7K-OK|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,114 bytes. 173 x 136 pixels.
|Panel Soyuz 7K-OK - Control panel of the initial earth orbit version of Soyuz.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 11,752 bytes. 723 x 288 pixels.
Transfer of crew between two docked spacecraft; test of technique needed for Soviet lunar landing.
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Carried Vulkan welding furnace for vacuum welding experiments in depressurized orbital module. Was to have taken spectacular motion pictures of Soyuz 7 - Soyuz 8 docking but failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to new helium pressurization integrity test prior to mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Recovered October 16, 1969 9:52 GMT.
|Background Soyuz - Background Soyuz 7K-OK|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 8,893 bytes. 679 x 379 pixels.
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Was to have docked with Soyuz 8 and transferred crew while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby. However failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to a new helium pressurization integrity test prior to the mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Recovered October 17, 1969 9:26 GMT.
|Soyuz OPS - Soyuz escape tower (as used on early Soyuz launches)|
Credit: Andy Salmon. 20,050 bytes. 259 x 424 pixels.
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Was to have docked with Soyuz 7 and transferred crew while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby. However failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to a new helium pressurization integrity test prior to the mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Recovered October 18, 1969 10:19 GMT.
|Soyuz orbital module - Soyuz 7K-OKS passive docking orbital module|
Credit: Andy Salmon. 29,403 bytes. 340 x 487 pixels.
Manned flight endurance test. Medico-biological, scientific and technical studies and experiments in prolonged orbital flight. Inconclusive results due to slow sun-oriented rotation of spacecraft to conserve fuel producing motion sickness in cosmonauts. Recovered June 19, 1970 11:59 GMT.
|Soyuz OM interior - Interior view of Soyuz 4 orbital module (through open side hatch)|
Credit: Andy Salmon. 31,169 bytes. 346 x 487 pixels.