Soyuz 10

Soyuz 10 mission is the designation for the flight of a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft to the Soviet space station Salyut 1 It was the first visit by a Soyuz spacecraft at a space station and the 18th flight in the Soviet Sojusprogramm. However, any failure of permanent coupling and no migration into the station.


Home team

  • Vladimir Aleksandrovich Shatalov ( third space flight), Commander
  • Alexei Stanislavovich Jelissejew ( third space flight), flight engineer
  • Nikolai Nikolayevich Rukavishnikov ( first space flight ), test engineer

Shatalov and Eliseev were already at the first Soyuz - 4 and Soyuz Soyuz Coupling of 5 involved, they also formed the crew of Soyuz 8 in the group flight with Soyuz 6 and Soyuz 7 had by all cosmonauts the largest rendezvous of experience and were the first cosmonauts who came into a third space flight. Rukavishnikov had no experience in space and was not previously scheduled for a replacement team.

Originally Georgi Shonin was assigned as commander. Because of his alcohol problem, he was replaced by Shatalov in February 1971.

Backup crew

  • Alexei Leonov, commander
  • Valeri Nikolayevich Kubasov, Flight Engineer
  • Pyotr Ivanovich Kolodin

Support team

  • Georgi Dobrovolsky Timofejewitsch
  • Viktor Ivanovich Pazajew
  • Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov


After the USSR had lost the race to the moon, the Soviet space program focused on to couple a Soyuz spacecraft to a previously started space station. In February 1970, had decided to use instead of the Almaz military - civilian DOS station, which was more readily available. The public was however denied that there were two different series, all Soviet space stations were launched under the name Salyut.

For the next flights of four teams should be trained to three cosmonauts. When selecting it came back as at several occasions before, to controversies between Nikolai Kamanin, head of cosmonaut training, and Vasily Mishin, Head of the Design Office OKB -1.

Among other things, Mishin, the designer Feoktistow, who was already with Voskhod 1 in space trying to get in one of the teams. While it was thanks to his efforts that the DOS station was built, but his health did not meet the requirements. Kamanin contrast, Alexei Leonov and favored Georgi Dobrovolsky as commander of the first Salyut crews.

Finally, teams were formed under the command of Shatalov, Leonov and Dobrowolski for the next three flights, the main, replacement and support crew of Soyuz 10 were at the same time.

There were differing opinions also about the duration of the space flight. Kamanin referred to the poor state of health of the Soyuz -9 crew, who had returned after the last record-breaking flight of 17 days exhausted to the ground. He advocated a maximum of 22 days. Mishin, however, claimed 30 days, although this meant that either the start or the landing would take place at night.

For the first time the new Soyuz 10 Soyuz 7K- T type was used. It featured a equipped with an internal hatch coupling mechanism. From now on, the cosmonauts were able to switch from one spacecraft to the other without having to put it spacesuits, as was the case in previous flights.

Another improvement was the communications ship Kosmonawt Yuri Gagarin, which enabled longer radio links with the team, because in contrast to NASA used the Soviet space agencies only earth stations in their own country.

It actually succeeded in the design office to develop the DOS station within a very short time and produce. On April 19, 1971, the first space station was launched into orbit by a Proton rocket. However, found the ground station that a cover had not been resolved as provided so that various scientific equipment on the exterior, including a solar telescope, could not be used.

Mission overview

Despite the bad weather started Soyuz 10 on April 22, 1971 at 23:54 UTC with the cosmonauts Shatalov, Jelissejew and Rukavishnikov on board. As with Soyuz 9, it was a night launch, about an hour before sunrise.

For the rendezvous Soyuz 10 was not as usual placed into a lower orbit behind the target object, but began the approach from a higher orbit. In the 18th mission in orbit, the automatic approach system Igla took over the control and decreased the distance between spacecraft and space station 16 km to 180 m, then the crew had to take manual control again. Soyuz 10 docked on April 24 at 01:47 UTC with about 20 to 30 cm / s on the space station.

Although both spacecraft were fixed to each other, the pairing was unsuccessful, and telemetry data still showed a distance of 9 cm after. An electrical connection between Soyuz and Salyut was not achieved. The complete coupling failed because after contacting the mandrel coupling of the active partner ( Soyuz 10) with the passive partner ( Salyut ) the automatic control of Soyuz 10 turned on the stock control thrusters for about 30 seconds. Thus, the spacecraft swung by about 30 degrees to the left and right of the horizontal line at the point of coupling mandrel. This unwanted movement led to a massive damage to the part of the coupling adapter which should realize the strength and hermetic locking of the two spaceships.

So could not open the hatch between Soyuz and Salyut. An exit on the free space was also not possible because the crew had no space suits on board. Finally, the decision was made to abort the mission and return to Earth. The uncoupling but also did not succeed, because the flow of control did not provide procedure for solving the coupling mandrel without prior successful coupling. The cosmonauts now found themselves in the situation that they could not enter or the space station to break away from her. There was a general average procedure, after which the coupling adapter of Soyuz 10 would have blown off and can remain in the passive adapter the station Salyut. Then, however, a repeated pairing with a new spacecraft would be impossible and have been lost the station. However, after several attempts, succeeded at 07:17 UTC, the spacecraft from the space station by means of an undocumented command to the passive coupling partners decouple (the station Salyut ). Overall, the two missile was 5 hours and 30 minutes connected.

Due to the early return of a landing was not possible in daylight on Soviet territory. The landing Commission decided against a landing in daylight on a different continent and for a night landing in the Soviet Union. Shatalov had earlier assured that the alignment of the spaceship to the brake ignition still be possible.

During the re-entry of toxic fumes penetrated into the interior of the landing capsule and Rukavishnikov temporarily lost consciousness. The landing of Soyuz 10 was carried out on April 24 at 23:40 UT. At the landing point, 120 km northwest of the city of Karaganda in Kazakh SSR, it was already April 25th, just before sunrise.


On May 3, Shatalov, Jelissejew and Rukaschikow were honored in the Kremlin. Rukaschnikow was declared for his first space flight to the Heroes of the Soviet Union, an honor that had already received both his teammates.

The public opinion on the view was expressed that it was not planned to enter the space station that Soyuz 10 rather only the coupling procedure should test. The Soviet Union put emphasis on safe and systematic progress in the exploration of the universe.

Internally, however, the causes of errors were looking for because of four coupling experiments with manned Soyuz spaceships had only one success, namely the first, as Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 two years earlier conducted the first space switch of the story.

During the investigation, it turned out that the cosmonauts apparently had no opportunity during the approach to determine the distance and angle. Series of tests confirmed the suspicion that might have deformed by the collision in an unfavorable angle part of the docking system of the Soyuz. The coupling adapter of the Salyut seemed for photo and film shoots, however, still to be intact, so that a second attempt with Soyuz 11 should be as soon as possible carried out.

Intended was the flight of Soyuz 11 in June 1971 with the backup crew of Soyuz 10: Alexei Leonov as commander, and Pyotr Kolodin and Valeri Kubasov. It was also contemplated that the Soyuz -11 team should perform a spacewalk, on the one hand to investigate the docking port of the Salyut, on the other hand to remove the cover of scientific devices on the outside of the space station. For this purpose, however, would have to start only two cosmonauts, for three people in space suits the Command Module was too tight. This plan, however, was dismissed due to time constraints. Until spacesuits made ​​and the cosmonauts were trained, the Salyut was already at the end of their useful life.

Thus, in the coupling mechanism 11 Sojus was increased in order to avoid a re- defect. It was also incorporated into the process control, that the position -control propulsion units are blocked immediately after contact with the station. After the return of Soyuz 11, the crew of Soyuz 12 Dobrowolski should take another flight to the Salyut 1.

In addition to the space station already in all were a second DOS station, as well as a military station of the type Almaz already under construction. After the race was lost to the moon for the Soviets, they now had the opportunity to reach a large lead over NASA in space stations. The launch of the U.S. space station Skylab was not scheduled until 1973.

For Shatalov and Eliseev, this was always the third flight, and the. Within two years In Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 they were launched separately and landed together, and the flight of Soyuz 8 they had performed together. The Soviet space program had a much larger selection of astronauts, and so it was rare that multiple cosmonauts were used. Only in 1978 was another cosmonaut Pyotr Klimuk come with the third space flight.