Soyuz 7

Soyuz 7 is the mission name for a flight of a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. It was the 15th flight in the Soviet Sojusprogramm.

  • 3.1 Start
  • 3.2 Unsuccessful docking
  • 3.3 Further experiments
  • 3.4 landing


Start crew

  • Anatoly Vasilyevich Filipchenko ( first space flight), Commander
  • Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov ( first space flight), flight engineer
  • Viktor Vasilyevich Gorbatko ( first space flight), flight engineer

Gorbatko came from the first cosmonaut group of the Soviet Union, Filipchenko from the second group of pilots. This was the first time that a member of the first group had to submit to a commander who had been selected later. Volkov was only in 1968 joined the cosmonaut corps. In contrast to the other cosmonauts of Soyuz 6, 7 and 8 he had been previously allocated to any replacement team.

The team began their training on 10 April 1969.

Backup crew

  • Vladimir Aleksandrovich Shatalov
  • Alexei Stanislavovich Jelissejew
  • Pyotr Ivanovich Kolodin

As substitutes for Soyuz 6, Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 Kuklin, Grechko, Khrunov and Kolodin were originally nominated. In the summer of 1969, however, there were significant changes. Kuklin was classified as not airworthy after a centrifuge test, and put Khrunov because of a car accident with a hit and run out of the team. After Shatalov and Eliseev nachrückten as crew for Soyuz 8, they were divided as backup crew for Soyuz 7.


After the successful double flight of Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 now a triple flight with Soyuz 6, Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 was scheduled for the first time. As in the previous mission, a transition from a spaceship in the other was provided. New here was that this maneuver should be filmed by a third spaceship. As an approximation system, the contact device was first envisaged. However, since this was not done, recourse was had to the existing system Igla.

While preparing for this flight, the USA managed with Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in three flights astronauts had switched from the Apollo spacecraft through a tunnel into the lunar module.

Never before had been the same in all three spaceships. With regard to tracking and radio communications introduced the new demands on the Soviet ground stations. As usual, was the radio traffic on VHF during the spaceships on the Soviet Union, otherwise via shortwave. In addition to the radio stations on Soviet territory the communication ship Kosmonawt Vladimir Komarov was used.

In September there was a dysentery epidemic in Baikonur. The cosmonauts were maintained at in isolated areas and only people who showed no symptoms were allowed to approach them.

Mission History


Soyuz 7 launched on October 12, 1969, one day after Soyuz 6, but of another launch pad at Baikonur. This was only the second Soyuz launch with three crew members on board. In orbit, the three cosmonauts various earth and star observations conducted.

After the next day started Soyuz 8, three spaceships and seven astronauts were the first time simultaneously in space. Due to exchange rate corrections, the orbits of the three spacecraft were aligned to each other.

Unsuccessful docking

When rendezvous with Soyuz 8 on October 14, Soyuz 7 played the passive role first, the maneuver went smoothly, but when the ships were only 1 km apart, failed the Igla approach system.

While the cosmonauts were waiting for the release of the flight line to fly the approach manually, the ships drifted too far. Then they were outside the radio range of the ground stations, so that the day been missed.

The next day, the distance had unexpectedly increased to 40 km, so that more time elapsed until the orbits precisely determined and the necessary course corrections could be calculated. As Soyuz 8 was only 1700 m away from the Soyuz 7, Soyuz 8 Shatalov began in the rendezvous by hand control. However, since no evidence existed over distance and movement of spaceships, could not be precisely controlled. Also Soyuz 6 approached Soyuz 7 to 800 m.

Soyuz 6, finally landed on 16 October, after two further overtures between Soyuz 8, and Soyuz 7 have been made, but that also fell through.

Further experiments

During the rendezvous maneuvers with the other two Soyuz ships, the three cosmonauts led with cameras and film cameras through experiments to the visibility of space ships, as well as methods were investigated for optical communication.

In addition to medical investigations were devoted to the cosmonauts and the Earth observations. One of the experiments was synchronized with aerial photographs by an aircraft of the type Li -2.


The State Commission continued to the return of the three cosmonauts for October 17. Headaches prepared a display on the landing module, which stated that the automatic landing program was active. Actually, this light should be lit only at an altitude of 11 km above the ground, not in orbit, during orbital and lander are still connected. There seemed to be a bug in the system. After an intensive investigation of schematics the ground station decided that it was a harmless error, but it was for fear that it could be the effect of a larger, as yet undiscovered error. The brake ignition, re-entry and landing took place, however, without difficulty, almost exactly 24 hours after the Soyuz 6


Officially, the triple flight was considered a success. However Internally it was clear that the mission was a failure. As a weakness of the approach system Igla had done. In the event of a malfunction, there were no reliable way, the ships safely control by hand and to be coupled.

The next goal of the Soviets was now a long-duration flight on Soyuz 9 and the launch of a space station, where there were two competing types of Alma and DOS.


The photographs that were taken during the mission have not yet been published.