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Soyuz 4 & 5: The First Crew Exchange in Space

17 Jan 2019, 14:48 UTC
Soyuz 4 & 5: The First Crew Exchange in Space
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Rendezvous and docking of spacecraft followed by the transfer of crews are among the basic skills required for the maintenance of orbiting facilities such as today’s International Space Station (ISS). While today it is routine for the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to perform these functions in support of ISS operations, a half a century ago manned spacecraft had yet to dock and transfer crews. This was accomplished for the first time in January 1969 during the largely forgotten flights of Soyuz 4 and 5 as part of the testing program of this then-new spacecraft.

The Soyuz
The origins of the Soyuz spacecraft, including today’s updated Soyuz MS which ferries crews to the ISS, can be traced back to a series of design studies for a manned circum-lunar mission performed at OKB-1 (the Russian acronym for “Experimental Design Bureau – 1”) starting in December 1961 under the direction of the pioneering Soviet aerospace engineer, Chief Designer Sergei Korolev. While the original circumlunar mission was scrapped in 1964 in favor of simpler lunar mission architectures, these studies did lead to the development of a whole family of manned spacecraft based on the Soyuz 7K design for missions in Earth orbit as ...

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