Soyuz 23

Soyuz 23 mission is the designation for the flight of a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft to the Soviet space station Salyut 5 ( ALMAZ 3). But it did not come for coupling the Soyuz spaceship on this space station for technical reasons. It was the 40th flight in the Soviet Sojusprogramm.


Home team

  • Vyacheslav Dmitrievich Sudow ( first space flight), Commander
  • Valery Ilyich Rozhdestvensky ( first space flight ), flight engineer

Sudow and Rozhdestvensky were previously support crew of Soyuz 14 and Soyuz 15, and Soyuz 21 backup crew of

Backup crew

  • Viktor Vasilyevich Gorbatko, Commander
  • Yuri Nikolayevich Glaskow, Flight Engineer

The support team consisted of Anatoli Beresowoi and Mikhail Lisun.

Mission overview

Although the flight to the military space station Salyut 5 reached the space station, but an error on the coupling mechanism prevented the firm connection. The error was the extent comparable with the problems that had existed in Soyuz 15. Once again, the automatic system had failed and the fuel was not enough for a manual docking.

The ship had to return to Earth after two days. This led to a serious incident. The landing took place in the partly frozen Tengizsee during a snow storm. The landing capsule was swimming in the water, but because the parachutes had not been dropped, the exit hatch a valve which should provide for the supply of fresh air and had already been automatically opened was under water, as well. A radio link to the rescue was not possible. Sudow Rozhdestvensky and switched off the heating and air regeneration system used the sparsely.

Various attempts by rescue crews to reach the landing capsule with amphibious vehicles hit, miss (the lake is about three times as large as Lake Constance ). Diver could attach a rope to the landing capsule, where she could be towed by helicopter to the shore after a long time. Only eleven hours after landing with hatch open. To the surprise of the rescue team, the cosmonauts were alive.


Valeri Rozhdestvensky one of the few cosmonauts who were not trained pilots. Since he was a commander of a deep sea diver unit of the Baltic naval fleet was joking after landing that he nowhere else than naturally calculated in a lake would be able to land.