Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Soyuz 11

Soyuz 11

Ask a question about 'Soyuz 11'
Start a new discussion about 'Soyuz 11'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Soyuz 11 was the first manned mission to arrive at the world's first space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

, Salyut 1
Salyut 1
Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days...

. The mission arrived at the space station on June 7, 1971 and departed on June 30, 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew. This accident resulted in the only human deaths to occur in space (as opposed to high atmosphere). The crew members aboard Soyuz 11 were Vladislav Volkov
Vladislav Volkov
Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 11 missions. The second mission terminated fatally.-Biography:...

, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev
Viktor Patsayev
Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 11 mission and had the unfortunate distinction of being part of the second crew to die during a space flight...



Backup crew

Original crew

Crew notes

The original prime crew for Soyuz 11 consisted of Alexei Leonov, Valeri Kubasov
Valeri Kubasov
Valeri Nikolayevich Kubasov was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on two missions in the Soyuz programme as a flight engineer: Soyuz 6 and Soyuz 19 , and commanded Soyuz 36 in the Intercosmos programme. On 21 July 1975, Soviet Soyuz module landed in Kazakhstan at-5:51pm and Valeriy Kubasov was the first...

 and Pyotr Kolodin
Pyotr Kolodin
Pyotr Ivanovich Kolodin is a former Soviet cosmonaut. Although he retired in 1983 without flying in space, Kolodin served non-flying assignments on several spaceflights.-Biography:...

. A medical X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 examination four days before launch suggested that Kubasov might have tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, and according to the mission rules, the prime crew was replaced with the back-up crew. For Dobrovolski and Patsayev, this was to be their first space mission. After the failure of Salyut 2
Salyut 2
Salyut 2 was a Soviet space station which was launched in 1973 as part of the Salyut programme. It was the first Almaz military space station to fly. Within two weeks of launch the station had lost attitude control and depressurised, leaving it unusable...

 to orbit, Kubasov and Leonov were reassigned to Soyuz 19 for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
-Backup crew:-Crew notes:Jack Swigert had originally been assigned as the command module pilot for the ASTP prime crew, but prior to the official announcement he was removed as punishment for his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp scandal.-Soyuz crew:...

 in 1975.

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6790 kg (14,969.4 lb)
  • Perigee: 163 km (101.3 mi)
  • Apogee: 237 km (147.3 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.5°
  • Period: 88.4 min

Mission highlights

The Soyuz 7K-OKS
Soyuz 7K-OKS
Soyuz 7K-OKS version of the Soyuz spacecraft was designed for space station flights and had a docking port that allowed internal transfer between spacecraft. It flew only twice manned in 1971...

 spacecraft was launched on June 7, 1971, from Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 in central Kazakh SSR
Kazakh SSR
The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Kazakh SSR for short, was one of republics that made up the Soviet Union.At in area, it was the second largest constituent republic in the USSR, after the Russian SFSR. Its capital was Alma-Ata . Today it is the independent state of...

. Several months earlier, the first mission to the Salyut, Soyuz 10
Soyuz 10
Soyuz 10 was a 1971 Soviet manned mission to the world's first space station, Salyut 1. The docking was not successful and the crew returned to Earth without having entered the station.-Mission highlights:Soyuz 10 was launched 23 April 1971...

, had failed to successfully dock with the station. Soyuz 11, however, successfully docked with Salyut 1 on June 7 and the cosmonauts remained on-board for 22 days, setting space endurance records that would hold until the American Skylab 2
Skylab 2
-Backup crew:-Support crew:*Robert L. Crippen*Richard H. Truly*Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr*William E. Thornton-Mission parameters:*Mass: 19,979 kg*Maximum Altitude: 440 km*Distance: 18,536,730.9 km...

 mission in May–June 1973.

Upon first entering the station, the crew encountered smoky and burnt atmosphere and after replacing part of the ventilation system spent the next day back in their Soyuz until the air cleared. Their stay in Salyut was productive, including live television broadcasts. However, a fire broke out on day 11 of their stay causing mission planners to consider abandoning the station. The planned highlight of the mission was to have been the observation of an N-1 booster launch, but the launch was postponed. The crew also found that using the exercise treadmill as they were required to do twice a day caused the whole station to vibrate. Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

released news of the mission and regular updates while it was in progress.

Death of crew

On June 30, 1971, after an apparently normal re-entry
"Re-Entry" was the second album released by UK R&B / Hip Hop collective Big Brovaz. After the album was delayed in May 2006, the band finally release the follow-up to "Nu Flow" on 9 April 2007...

 of the capsule of the Soyuz 11 mission, the recovery team opened the capsule to find the crew dead. It quickly became apparent that they had been asphyxia
Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which primarily affects the tissues and organs...

ted. The fault was traced to a breathing ventilation valve
A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically pipe fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category...

, located between the orbital module and the descent module
Reentry capsule
A reentry capsule is the portion of a spacecraft which returns to Earth following a space flight. The shape is determined partly by aerodynamics; a capsule is aerodynamically stable falling blunt end first, which allows only the blunt end to require a heat shield for atmospheric reentry. Its shape...

, that had been jolted open as the descent module separated from the service module
Service module
A service module is a spacecraft compartment containing a variety of support systems used for spacecraft operations. Usually located in the uninhabited area of the spacecraft, the service module is jettisoned upon the completion of the mission, and usually burns up during atmospheric reentry...

, 723 seconds after retrofire. The two were held together by explosive bolts designed to fire sequentially; in fact, they fired simultaneously. The force of this caused the internal mechanism of the pressure equalization valve to loosen a seal that was usually discarded later and normally allowed automatic adjustment of the cabin pressure. The valve opened at an altitude of 168 kilometres (104.4 mi), and the gradual loss of pressure was fatal
Space exposure
Space exposure is the subjection of a human to the conditions of outer space, without protective clothing and beyond the Earth’s atmosphere in a vacuum.-Explanation and history:...

 within seconds. The valve was located beneath the seats and was impossible to locate and block before the air was lost. Flight recorder data from the single cosmonaut outfitted with biomedical sensors showed cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest, is the cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively...

 occurred within 40 seconds of pressure loss. By 935 seconds after the retrofire, the cabin pressure was zero, and remained there until the capsule hit the Earth's atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...


Film later declassified showed support crews attempting CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest. It is indicated in those who are unresponsive...

 on the cosmonauts. It was not known until an autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 that they had died because of a capsule depressurization. The ground crew had lost audio contact with the crew before re-entry began and had already begun preparations for contingencies in case the crew had been lost.

The cosmonauts were given a large state funeral
State funeral
A state funeral is a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honor heads of state or other important people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition...

 and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Burials in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow began in November 1917, when 240 pro-Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried in mass graves on Red Square. It is centered on both sides of Lenin's Mausoleum, initially built in wood in 1924 and rebuilt in granite in 1929–1930...

 at Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

, Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 near the remains of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

. U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

 Tom Stafford
Thomas Patten Stafford
Thomas Patten Stafford is a retired American Air Force lieutenant general and former NASA astronaut. He flew aboard two Gemini space flights; and in 1969 was the commander of Apollo 10, the second manned mission to orbit the Moon and the first to fly a lunar module there.In 1975, Stafford was...

 was one of the pallbearer
A pall-bearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which carries the coffin....

s. They were also each posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

 medal. Crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

s on the Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 were named
Lunar craters named for space explorers
Fourteen craters on the Moon have been named after astronauts and cosmonauts who have died as part of a space mission. Most craters are on the far side of the moon....

 after the three cosmonauts.

The Soyuz 11 landing coordinates are 47.35663°N 70.12142°E which is 90 km south-west of Karazhal, Karagandy, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and about 550 km north-east of Baikonur
Baikonur , formerly known as Leninsk, is a city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.The shape of the...

. At the site is a memorial monument in the form of a three-sided metallic column. Near the top of the column, on each of the three sides, is the engraved image of the face of each crew member set into a stylized triangle. The memorial is in open, flat country, far from any populated area. It is within a small, circular, fenced area.

The Soyuz spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 was extensively redesigned after this incident to carry only two cosmonauts. The extra room meant that the crew could wear space suit
Space suit
A space suit is a garment worn to keep an astronaut alive in the harsh environment of outer space. Space suits are often worn inside spacecraft as a safety precaution in case of loss of cabin pressure, and are necessary for extra-vehicular activity , work done outside spacecraft...

s during launch and landing. A Soyuz capsule would not hold three crew members again until the Soyuz-T
The Soyuz-T spacecraft was the third generation Soyuz spacecraft, in service for seven years from 1979 to 1986. The T stood for transport...

 redesign in 1980, which freed enough space for three people in lightweight pressure suits to travel in the capsule.

External links

  • Mir Hardware Heritage - 1.7.3 (wikisource)