Soyuz 3

Soyuz 3 was the second manned flight of the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft and the first since the accident that killed cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov on board Soyuz 1. Overall, it was the eleventh flight of Soviet Sojusprogramm.


  • Georgi Timofejewitsch Beregowoi ( first space flight), Commander

Backup crew

  • Vladimir Aleksandrovich Shatalov, Commander

Unmanned test flights

After the crash of Soyuz 1 in April 1967, in which among other things, failed parachutes, various design changes on the Soyuz spacecraft have been made.

Two unmanned Soyuz spaceships led under the Tarnbezeichnungen Cosmos 186 and 188 on 30 October 1967, the first automatic coupling in orbit by. However, this mission was not a complete success: first, too much fuel was consumed, secondly, canted the coupling mechanism and thirdly there were problems with the attitude control during re-entry, with at Kosmos occurred 186 very high delays and Cosmos 188 strayed so far off course that it had to be blown up.

The leadership of the Soviet space decided to conduct a further double unmanned mission in March or April 1968, before a manned mission would have dared in May or June.

Kosmos 212 and 213 led on 15 April 1968 with the error-free automatic link, the landing worked out great. However, problems were preparing the parachutes that did not dissolve after the landing of the return capsule.

One last unmanned test of the Soyuz spacecraft was performed with Cosmos 238. This flight of 28 August 1968 to September 1, 1968 went smoothly.

Preparation of manned flight

As with the planned double flight of Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 2 should be the next manned space flight two Soyuz spacecraft in Earth orbit coupling and two cosmonauts transfer from one to the other spacecraft. This would have the Soviet Union finally brought a Erstleistung in space again.

As a cosmonaut for the spacewalk were provided as with Soyuz 2 Yevgeny Khrunov and Alexei Eliseev. Khrunov was a member of the first cosmonaut group Jelissejew was formerly an engineer in the design office and came only in 1966 at the urging of the designer Sergei Korolev to the cosmonauts.

It was unclear, however, who should control the two spaceships. For this purpose came primarily Boris Wolynow and Georgi Beregowoi in question. Wolynow was a member of the first cosmonaut group, but the Central Committee it was set because of his Jewish ancestry against him. Beregowoi had been received through the intercession of Korolev in the cosmonaut team, where he was very unpopular.

In the spring of 1968, after the successful test flight of Cosmos 212 and 213 was not even clear how they would take off and land a lot of crew members in the spaceships. A landing with three cosmonauts on board could be fatal to the reserve parachutes because of problems. Therefore, it was proposed to start two crew members, but to make change for a coupling anybody.

As another possibility came this week that Jelissejew could start with Wolynow and change in orbit to Khrunov. Khrunov but had no training as a starship commander.

Also a start with only one cosmonaut and a coupling to an unmanned spaceship was proposed. Thus, the exit would be shifted in space later on. Vasily Mishin, the head of Soviet design offices, demanded that the designer Konstantin Feoktistow, who was already a science cosmonaut in space with Voskhod 1, should control the spaceship. However, contrast, saying the Feoktistow Although for some time for spacewalks trained, but had no training as a pilot. In addition, his health was questionable, he suffered from stomach ulcers.

In the theoretical examination cosmonauts on September 28, 1968 Beregowoi fared the best and was therefore nominated for the next manned flight. Replacements were the other two candidates Shatalov and Wolynow.

History of the flight

The unmanned Soyuz 2 was launched on October 25, 1968 at 09:00 UT. Soyuz with three Beregowoi on board took place on October 26 at 08:34 UT. Upon reaching orbit, the distance was too Soyuz 2 is only 11 km.

The approach of Soyuz 3 on Soyuz 2 was initially done automatically by the Igla approach system. When the distance was 200 meters, as planned Beregowoi switched to manual control. At a distance of 30 to 40 meters, he broke off the approach, because the position lights from Soyuz 2 pointed to a misalignment of the spaceships.

Soyuz 2 had two permanent lights above and two blinking lights below. Either these were incorrectly installed, adjusted or Beregowoi she had mistaken. Since the approach on the night side of the earth took place, Beregowoi wanted to wait until the ships came back from the Earth's shadow.

When they were back lit by the sun, they had twisted against each other. Beregowoi did not make it, Soyuz 3 align correctly with the remaining fuel, so that the coupling experiment had to be aborted.

Later it turned out that 30 kg of fuel was consumed in 20 minutes during the automatic control. Then spent Beregowoi with the hand control 40 kg in 2 minutes.

Beregowoi remained several days in orbit. Among other things, he tested the attitude control system, which was based on a star. For this switched Beregowoi the system off temporarily, turned the spacecraft to the sun and the system turned on again. The automatic tried to bring the spacecraft back to the previous position, but it failed because the system could not find the star.

The landing of Soyuz 3 was made on October 30, 1968 at 07:25 UT, while the target was missed by only 10 km.

Soyuz 2 was previously already landed on October 28th at 07:51 UT.

Effect on Sojusprogramm

In the run had been controversially discussed whether the approach and the coupling should be performed automatically or manually. The positive experience of Cosmos 212 and 213 as well as the failure of Soyuz 2 and 3 clearly showed that the IGLA - automatic was superior to a pilot.

However, the attitude control system was not yet fully developed and had to be improved.

The next Soyuz double flight should then carry out the planned already for April 1967 coupling of two manned spacecraft in the two cosmonauts from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4 should change.

With Beregowois performance you were not satisfied. He was nominated for no further flight.

The American Apollo program had recently performed the first manned Apollo 7 flight of the new Apollo spacecraft. Shortly thereafter, NASA announced that in December 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned lunar flight should follow.