Soyuz spacecraft

Sergei Korolev's lasting legacy to Russian spaceflight, the Soyuz entered service in 1967 and is still operating, in upgraded form, 40 years later. The multipurpose vehicle was the first Soviet spacecraft capable of docking with other craft in orbit, but the first version, model 7K-OK, did not allow the crew to move between craft. This ability arrived with the 7K-OKS (Soyuz 11), but after the loss of that mission's crew, the spacecraft was given an extensive redesign, producing the two-man 7K-T, which operated through the 1970s.

First Spacecraft Soviet Union


The Soy uz rocket (model 11A511) was a further development of Korolev's original R-7 Semyorka. It used the some lower stages as the Vostok and Sputnik rockets but had a new Block 1 upper stage, some 6.7m (22ft) long, shown here.


The different elements of Soyuz are stacked vertically for launch and then enclosed in an aerodynamic fairing.

heat shield connectors box solar array /


Horizontal Soyuz rockets are transferred to the launch pad along rail tracks and then pushed upright by a hydraulic ram on the transporter. Retractable gantries around the pod then swing across to lock the launch vehicle into place.

exit hatch


The second manned flight of the Soyuz spacecraft blasts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in October 1968, on its way to attempt the first Soviet rendezvous and docking in space.

attitude-control thruster propulsion unit fuel tank

Descent Module parachute cover retrorocket housing

Service Module ablative shielding


The Descent Module is the only section that returns to Earth. As it approaches the ground on its parachute, retrorockets fire at the lost moment to ensure a soft landing.

18 May 1967

The crew for Apollo 7 is officially named.

7 August 1968

George Low, Apollo Program Manager, suggests sending Apollo

8 around the Moon.

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