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Soyuz 1
Mission insignia
Soyuz-1-patch.png
Mission statistics
Mission name Soyuz 1
Spacecraft type Soyuz 7K-OK
Spacecraft mass 6,450 kg (14,200 lb)
Crew size 1
Call sign Рубин (Rubin - "Ruby")
Booster Soyuz
Launch pad Gagarin's Start, Baikonur Cosmodrome[1]
Launch date April 23, 1967 00:35:00 (1967-04-23T00:35) UTC
Landing site 51°08′N 57°14′E / 51.13°N 57.24°E / 51.13; 57.24
Landing April 24, 1967 03:22:52 (1967-04-24T03:22:53) UTC
Mission duration 1d/02:47:52
Number of orbits 18
Apogee 223 km (139 mi)
Perigee 197 km (122 mi)
Orbital altitude 88.7 minutes
Orbital inclination 50.8°
Crew photo
Soviet Union-1964-stamp-Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov.jpg
Vladimir Komarov
Related missions
Previous mission Next mission
Voskhod2 patch.jpg Voskhod 2 Soyuz 2

Soyuz 1 (Russian: Союз 1, Union 1) was a manned spaceflight of the Soviet space program. Launched into orbit on April 23, 1967 carrying cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Komarov, Soyuz 1 was the first flight of the Soyuz spacecraft. Komarov was killed when the spacecraft crashed during its return to Earth after a mission beset with mechanical problems. This was the first confirmed in-flight fatality in the history of spaceflight.

Contents

Crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Vladimir Komarov
Second spaceflight
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Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Yuri Gagarin

Mission Parameters

Background

Soyuz 1 was the first manned flight of the first-generation Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft and Soyuz rocket, designed as part of the Soviet lunar program. It was the first Soviet manned spaceflight in over two years, and the first Soviet manned flight following the death of the Chief Designer of the space program Sergey Korolyov. Komarov was launched on Soyuz 1 despite failures of the previous unmanned tests of the 7K-OK, Cosmos 133 and Cosmos 140. A third attempted test flight was a launch failure; a launch abort triggered a malfunction of the launch escape system, causing the rocket to explode on the pad. The escape system successfully pulled the spacecraft to safety.[2]

Prior to launch, Soyuz 1 engineers are said to have reported 200 design faults to party leaders, but their concerns "were overruled by political pressures for a series of space feats to mark the anniversary of Lenin's birthday." It is not clear how much of this pressure resulted from the need to continue beating the United States in the Space Race and have Soviets first on the Moon, or to take advantage of the recent setbacks in the U.S. space program with the Apollo 1 disaster.

Yuri Gagarin was the backup pilot for Soyuz 1, and was aware of the design problems and the pressures from the Politburo to proceed with the flight. He attempted to "bump" Komarov from the mission, knowing that the Soviet leadership would not risk a national hero on the flight.

Mission planners intended to launch a second Soyuz flight the next day carrying cosmonauts Valery Bykovsky, Yevgeny Khrunov, and Aleksei Yeliseyev, with Khrunov and Yeliseyev scheduled to do an EVA over to Soyuz 1.

Mission details

Soyuz 1 was launched on April 23, 1967 at 00:32 UTC from Baikonur Cosmodrome, making Komarov the first Soviet cosmonaut to fly in space twice.

Problems began aboard Soyuz 1 shortly after launch when one solar panel failed to unfold, leading to a shortage of power for the spacecraft's systems. Further problems with the orientation detectors complicated maneuvering the craft. By orbit 13, the automatic stabilization system was completely dead, and the manual system was only partially effective.

The crew of the second Soyuz modified their mission goals, preparing themselves for a launch that would include fixing the solar panel of Soyuz 1. Heavy rain at Baikonur Cosmodrome is reported to have made the launch impossible. It is speculated that, in reality, Soyuz 2 was never launched because of the severity of problems with Soyuz 1.

As a result of Komarov's report during the 13th orbit, the flight control director decided to abort the mission. After 18 orbits, Soyuz 1 fired retrorockets and reentered the earth's atmosphere. Despite the technical difficulties up to that point, Komarov might still have landed safely. To slow the descent, first the drogue parachute was deployed, followed by the main one. The main parachute did not unfold due to a faulty pressure sensor which had not been detected during manufacture. Komarov then activated the manually deployed reserve chute, but it became tangled with the drogue chute, which did not release as intended. As a result, the Soyuz reentry module fell to Earth in Orenburg Oblast nearly unbraked, at about 40 m/s (140 km/h; 89 mph). At impact there was an explosion and an intense fire that engulfed the capsule. Local farmers rushed to try to put it out, but Komarov died on impact.

A popular story has circulated that Komarov cursed the engineers and flight staff as he descended[3], but this has never been proven. It is reported that ground controllers lost hope that he would survive to landing as the mission was ongoing, and brought his wife to the control center to say goodbye to him. An inspection of the spacecraft prepared for the unlaunched Soyuz 2 revealed the same problem with the parachute, which might have doomed all four cosmonauts if the launch had proceeded.

Komarov was posthumously awarded a second Gold Star. He was given a state funeral, and his ashes were interred in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis at Red Square, Moscow[4].

Legacy

The Soyuz 1 tragedy delayed the launch of Soyuz 2 and Soyuz 3 until October 25, 1968. This eighteen-month gap, with the addition of the explosion of an unmanned N-1 rocket on July 3, 1969 scuttled Soviet plans of landing a cosmonaut on the Moon. The original mission of Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 2 was ultimately completed by Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5.

A much improved Soyuz program emerged from this eighteen month delay, mirroring the improvements made in Project Apollo after the Apollo 1 tragedy. Although it failed to reach the Moon, the Soyuz would go on to be repurposed from the centerpiece of the Zond lunar program to the people-carrier of the Salyut space station program, the Mir space station, and the International Space Station. Although it would suffer another tragedy with the Soyuz 11 accident in 1971, and go through several incidents with non-fatal launch aborts and landing mishaps, it has become one of the longest-lived and most dependable manned launch vehicles yet designed.

Komarov is commemorated in two memorials left on the Lunar surface: one left at Tranquility Base by Apollo 11[5], and the Fallen Astronaut plaque left by Apollo 15.

References

  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. http://www.astronautix.com/sites/baiurlc1.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Part 1 - Soyuz in Mir Hardware Heritage by David S. F. Portree.
  3. ^ "Soyuz 1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. http://www.astronautix.com/flights/soyuz1.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  4. ^ "24 April 1967: Russian cosmonaut dies in space crash". On This Day. BBC. April 24, 1967. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/24/newsid_2523000/2523019.stm. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  5. ^ Aldrin, Buzz; Malcom McConnell (1989-07-01). Men from Earth. Bantam. ISBN 978-0553053746. 

External links


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