Sojus 11 Soyuz 11 Союз 11

06/06/1971 04:55:09
06/29/1971 23:16:52
23 d 18 h 21 m 43 s
(570 h 21 m 43 s)


Georgy Dobrovolsky


Cosmonaut No. 35

Cosmonaut of the USSR No. 13

Dobrovolsky: 1st flight

Cumulative time: 23 d 18 h 21 m 43 s
(570 h 21 m 43 s)


Vladislav Volkov


Cosmonaut No. 43

Cosmonaut of the USSR No. 20

Volkov: 2nd flight

Cumulative time: 28 d 17 h 2 m 6 s
(689 h 2 m 6 s)


Viktor Patsaev


Cosmonaut No. 51

Cosmonaut of the USSR No. 23

Patsaev: 1st flight

Cumulative time: 23 d 18 h 21 m 43 s
(570 h 21 m 43 s)

The tenth manned flight of the Soyuz. Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev are the long-term crew of the Salyut-1 station. The astronauts Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev perished on their return to Earth.

On the morning of June 30, 1971, shortly before the sunrise in the steppes of Kazakhstan, the rescue team was preparing to meet the spaceship's crew of the Soyuz-11 , which completed a 24-day flight to the world's first space station Salyut-1. Everyone was waiting for a meeting with the cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky , Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsaev after they broke the world record for a flight duration of 18 days set a year earlier by cosmonauts Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastianov on the spaceship Soyuz-9 .

The parachute system of the Soyuz-11 descent vehicle began to unfold, as planned, at an altitude of about 10 kilometers, and the main parachute was deployed nominally. There has been no communication with the crew since deorbiting, and the rescue team on the ground prepared for what they expected to be a normal return from orbit.

The descent module of the ship made a nominal landing at the site east of Dzhezkazgan, which is still used for landing of the Soyuz spaceships. The spacecraft collapsed on its side on a beautiful day with a clear sky, and a group of rescuers were not far away and ready to meet the crew. When the rescuers opened the spacecraft's hatch, they found that three cosmonauts from the Soyuz-11 crew had died.

The project to launch the world's first orbiting space station Salyut, which crews could visit, live and conduct research, was approved by the Soviet leadership after landing on the moon astronauts of the Apollo 11 . Since the USSR lost the race to land people on the moon and they had serious problems with their heavy N-1 rocket, necessary for their own mission to land on the moon, they decided to focus on another area of ​​space research, in which they could get ahead of the Americans, namely, the creation of manned orbital stations.

Flights under the new program began in June 1970 with the flight of the Soyuz-9 spacecraft. Cosmonauts Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastianov flew on a new generation spacecraft Soyuz 7K-OK for 18 days, conducting biomedical experiments, observations of the Earth and experiments in star navigation, which confirmed the possibility of longer flights.

On the morning of April 19, 1971, a Proton-K rocket with the Salyut-1 space station was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, which was created on the basis of a station called Almaz, which was created in the design bureau Vladimir Chelomey as a military response to the US Air Force Manned Orbital Laboratory project. The Salyut station was launched into orbit with parameters 200 x 222 km above the Earth.

Flight of the spaceship Soyuz-10 under the command of Vladimir Shatalov with flight engineer Alexey Yeliseyev and research engineer Nikolai Rukavishnikov became the first flight of the new Soyuz 7K-T spacecraft - with the system docking and with the internal transition tunnel. This mission marked the first time humans were sent to an active space station 10 years after the first flight Yuri Gagarin .

The Soyuz-10 spacecraft was launched on April 22 and completed the rendezvous and soft docking with the Salyut-1 station. However, the problem with an on-board computer and an attitude control system on the Soyuz-10 spacecraft led to a failure of the hard docking process. As the crew encountered difficulties, they interrupted the docking process, departed from the station and descended from orbit to return to Earth on April 24.

After work to clarify and solve the problems of docking of the Soyuz-10 spacecraft, the following Soyuz-11 spacecraft with a crew was prepared for a flight to the Salyut-1 station. The crew of the Soyuz-11 spacecraft under the command of the cosmonaut Alexey Leonov with flight engineer Valery Kubasov and research engineer Peter Kolodin was finishing preparations and preparing for launch on June 4. The crew together with their backup crew Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsaev went to the Baikonur cosmodrome.

However, after a planned pre-flight medical examination, doctors in Moscow discovered a dark spot on Kubasov's right lung and was diagnosed with tuberculosis at an early stage. Kubasov was misdiagnosed and did not get sick. According to to the memoirs of Alexeey Leonov, Kubasov was allergic to an insecticide that was used to treat trees, and after that he recovered quickly. However, for the leadership of the Soviet space program, this did not matter, and on June 3 it was adopted the decision that a backup crew would go into flight, and the launch of the Soyuz-11 spacecraft was scheduled for June 6.

The commander of the new Soyuz-11 crew Georgy Dobrovolsky, a native of Odessa, Ukraine, was a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Force, is married, has two children, and was selected as an cosmonaut in 1963 along with other pilots of the Soviet Air Force in the so-called Group 2. After eight years in the cosmonaut corps, Dobrovolsky was going to make his first flight into space.

Flight engineer of the Soyuz-11 spacecraft Vladislav Volkov, a native Muscovite, married, has one child, worked as an engineer in projects Vostok and Voskhod at KB Korolev, before in 1966 he was appointed cosmonaut under the company's Cosmonaut Engineer program Energy. Volkov had experience in space as a member of the crew of the Soyuz-7 spacecraft, which flew in October 1969.

Research engineer Viktor Patsaev was also a civilian who worked at the Korolev Design Bureau. Patsaev was born in Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan, married, with two children. He was an engineer selected in 1968 for the Civilian Group of 3. The flight on the Soyuz-11 spacecraft was the first space flight for Patsaev.

On the morning of June 6, 1971, the Soyuz-11 spacecraft took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, from the Gagarin launch and successfully went into orbit. 24 hours later Soyuz-11 with the crew on board, which received the call sign "Yantar", successfully docked with station Salyut-1 and overcame the hard docking problems that plagued Soyuz-10, although not without some anxiety due to docking occurring without connection to the ground. The crew moved to the station to begin their planned 30-day stay at Salyut station.

The Salyut-1 station had 99 cubic meters of pressurized volume, which is much more than nine cubic meters Soyuz spacecraft, and was by far the most spacious manned spacecraft that flew until that time. The station had a docking module with a tunnel and a device for the Orion stellar ultraviolet telescope, wider front working compartment with seats, control panels, video and cameras, and more wide and long rear working compartment with biological experiments, attachments for more experiments, a treadmill, a sleeping compartment and a refrigerator for food.

The Salyut-1 station also had a leaky compartment in the stern with systems taken directly from the Soyuz project, including attitude control systems and a deorbiting engine, as well as solar panels. Attached to the docking station were two additional solar panels, and rendezvous antennas were also installed on this docking module using a system that has been developed over the years and is still in use.

The crew of the Soyuz-11 spacecraft began work on biological experiments and entered the usual routine of life and work in space. The crew was shown on Soviet television. Over time, the cosmonauts grew beards. They trained on a treadmill to stay fit to return to the ground.

During the flight, Viktor Patsaev celebrated his 38th birthday in space, becoming the first person to celebrate his birthday in space.

Patsaev also became the first person to control an astronomical telescope in space when he used the Orion telescope to obtain ultraviolet spectra of stars, observing the stars Vega and Beta Centauri. Such observations were impossible from the surface of the Earth.

The crew also photographed the Earth from space, conducted military experiments, and obtained medical data about themselves and even grew flaxseed plants in a small greenhouse called Oasis - the first of many experiments on growing crops in space.

June 29, at 21:25 Moscow time, after some problems with sealing the hatch of the Soyuz spacecraft, which were solved with the help of cosmonaut Alexey Yeliseyev, who contacted Dobrovolsky and his crew from the flight control center, Soyuz-11 undocked from Salyut-1 and moved away from the space station.

Dobrovolsky and his crew, dressed in cloth flight suits similar to those worn by pilots, took the spaceship away from Salyut-1 and took photographs to document the state of the station. Dobrovolsky reported to the flight control center: “The landing sequence is going well, everything is in order, the crew is fine". On June 30, 1971, at 01:35 Moscow time, the engine of the Soyuz-11 spacecraft was switched on for deceleration for 187 seconds. Everything went according to plan, although no messages from the crew have been received since that moment.

While the ship was at an altitude of 116 kilometers, at 01:47 Moscow time, the orbital and propulsion compartments separated from the descent compartment. However, on board the descent vehicle, the crew was in mortal danger.

Pressure equalization valve behind the control panel, designed to operate directly at an altitude of 4 km before landing, triggered prematurely due to shaking in the separation of the orbital and service compartments, because the firebolts connecting them with the launching compartment fired simultaneously, not sequentially. Since the cosmic the ship quickly depressurized, the three astronauts had only 13 seconds to try to rectify the situation.

Dobrovolsky and Patsaev tried to understand the situation. Patsaev was closest to the opened valve, and research, later showed that he may have tried to close the valve, but without success.

Post-accident tests have shown that it would take 52 seconds to manually close the valve. Only 110 seconds after the separation of the modules, all three were killed.

However, in the flight control center, despite some fears due to lack of communication, a radar in Crimea, Ukraine fixed Soyuz 11 on its normal reentry path, so the flight control center believed that everything was in order.

Rescuers in the Kazakh steppe were the first to discover what happened when the Soyuz-11 hatch was opened. Doctors have tried administer artificial respiration and resuscitation for several minutes, but it was too late.

The Soviet public and the world first learned about the disaster from the TASS bulletin, which began with the words “TASS informs about the death of the crew of the Soyuz-11”. An investigation was organized into the disaster and the causes of the death of the crew.

The cosmonauts of the Soyuz-11 crew were posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

NASA astronaut Tom Stafford went to Moscow to present United States at the state funeral of cosmonauts.

Following the completion of the investigation, the pressure equalization valves and other elements of the Soyuz spacecraft were improved. After the tragedy, the space flight program was stopped for more than two years.

The uncrewed flight of the Soyuz spacecraft in 1972 confirmed the correctness of the improvements in the spacecraft, and the number of the crew was limited to two people to accommodate astronauts in spacesuits called Sokol-K. Starting out from the spacecraft flight Soyuz-12 in September 1973, the cosmonauts wore spacesuits at launch and landing.

Although Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsaev died 50 years ago. Their tragic death occurred at the end of their mission. Work at the Salyut-1 station paved the way for subsequent space flights, which we today largely take for granted. Ultimately, every astronaut who goes into space since that fateful June morning in 1971 should be grateful to the crew of Soyuz 11.


Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsaev.


Viktor Patsaev, Georgy Dobrovolsky and Vladislav Volkov.

The longest flight:
06/06/1971 23 d 18 h 21 m 43 s (570 h 21 m 43 s) Georgy Dobrovolsky Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsaev

The largest number of flights: 4 Lovell

The most cumulative time in space: 29 d 22 h 4 m 55 s (718 h 4 m 55 s) James Lovell

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