Kosmos 140

Kosmos 140 was the code name for an unmanned test flight of the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft.


After the first copy of the Soyuz spacecraft ( Cosmos 133) had to be blown up in the erroneous re-entry in November 1966 and the second copy had exploded in December on the launch pad, decided the leadership of the Soviet space program that the next Soyuz launch an unmanned single flight should be. If successful, it would follow with rendezvous and docking of manned a double flight.

History of the flight

The launch took place on February 7, 1967 at 03:20 UT from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft reached orbit without problems, but there could not be stabilized due to a faulty star sensor. It was not possible to constantly align the solar panels to the sun, and so the batteries were discharged. In addition, much fuel was consumed by the attitude control jets.

Since the spacecraft was not aligned correctly with the brake ignition on the second day, the flight path was much steeper than planned. Even in space, the air escaped from the return capsule when it separated from the orbital module. When entering a hole of 30 cm is burned by the heat shield.

Finally, the spaceship crashed from the shore through the ice in the frozen Aral Sea, 3 km. Divers had to recover the landing capsule from 10 meters depth.

Impact on the Soyuz program

A manned orbit of the moon as part of the program Zond ( UR-500K/L1 ) was still planned for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution in nine months. There were the result of unsuccessful Soyuz Test Flights only two Soyuz spacecraft for a planned rendezvous available. In another unmanned test flight this was, after the disaster of Apollo 1 spectacular and recyclable propaganda mission to be canceled. Despite the mishaps that occurred the line of the Soviet space program therefore decided that no further unmanned test flight is necessary because a crew would have solved all the problems you encountered. Next, therefore the rendezvous of Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 2 was provided at All for April. Two major shortcomings that led to the crash of the next few manned Soyuz spacecraft 1, were not encountered during this test flight. There was no contamination of the main parachute container in the autoclave by penetrating binder. In addition, the decompression of the cabin led to the elimination of the otherwise occurring significant pressure difference between the cabin and the outside atmosphere. The main parachute unfolded, inter alia, because of the deadly for a possible occupation decompression. The irresponsible decision of those responsible for manned continue the program, so that led directly to the disastrous running mission of Soyuz -1.

Comparison with the U.S. space program

A few days before the launch of Cosmos 140, on 27 January 1967, NASA had suffered a severe setback. Three astronauts were killed in a fire in the Apollo 1 spacecraft lost their lives, making the program initially came to a standstill. As before, was the goal of NASA to perform a manned lunar landing by the end of 1969. Whether this could be achieved at this stage was unclear. Not only the Apollo spacecraft had to be revised, and the development of the Lunar Module was slower than planned.

So it was totally unclear whether the first flight to the Moon by the Soviet Union or the United States would be done.

For the Soviet Union was possible, nor in 1967 to perform the first coupling of two spacecraft and the first team exchange in the Earth's orbit and thus made ​​further firsts.