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Soyuz 4
Mission insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name Soyuz 4
Spacecraft mass 6,625 kg (14,610 lb)
Crew size 1 (at launch)
3 (at landing)
Call sign Амур
(Amur - "Amur River")
Launch pad Baikonur Site 31/6[1]
Launch date January 14 1969 07:30:00 (1969-01-14T07:30) UTC
Landing January 17 1969 06:50:47 (1969-01-17T06:50:48) UTC
100 km (62 mi) SW of Karaganda
Mission duration 2d/23:20:47
Number of orbits 48
Apogee 224 km (139 mi)
Perigee 213 km (132 mi)
Orbital period 88.8 min
Orbital inclination 51.7°
Related missions
Previous mission Next mission
Soyuz-3-patch.png Soyuz 3 Soyuz-5-patch.png Soyuz 5

Soyuz 4 (Russian: Союз 4, Union 4) was launched on January 14, 1969. On board was cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov on his first flight. The aim of the mission was to dock with Soyuz 5, transfer two crew members from that spacecraft, and return to Earth. The last three Soyuz flights had attempted this but all had failed for various reasons.

The radio call sign of the crew was Amur, while Soyuz 5 was Baikal. This referred to the trans-Siberian railway project called the Baikal-Amur Mainline, which was under construction at the time. The mission presumably served as encouragement to the workers on that project.



Position Launching Cosmonaut Landing Cosmonaut
Commander Vladimir Shatalov
First spaceflight
Flight Engineer None Aleksei Yeliseyev
First spaceflight
Research Engineer None Yevgeny Khrunov
First spaceflight

Backup Crew

Position Launching Cosmonaut Landing Cosmonaut
Commander Georgi Shonin
Flight Engineer None Viktor Gorbatko
Research Engineer None Valeri Kubasov

Reserve Crew

Position Launching Cosmonaut Landing Cosmonaut
Commander Georgiy Dobrovolskiy
Flight Engineer None Vladislav Volkov
Research Engineer None Pyotr Kolodin

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,625 kg (14,610 lb)
  • Perigee: 213 km (132 mi)
  • Apogee: 224 km (139 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.7°
  • Period: 88.8 min

Space walk

  • Yeliseyev and Khrunov - EVA 1
  • EVA 1 start: January 16, 1969, 12:43:00 UTC
  • EVA 1 end: January 16, 13:15 UTC
  • Duration: 37 minutes

Mission highlights

The two spacecraft docked on January 16, the first time two manned spacecraft had docked (Apollo 9 would do the same in March of the same year). The two craft possessed only a primitive probe (Soyuz 4) and drogue (Soyuz 5) docking assembly. A connecting tunnel for the docking mechanism had not yet been developed, which prevented a simple internal transfer between the craft. This required the two transferring cosmonauts to spacewalk from one vehicle to the other. Aboard Soyuz 5,Yevgeny Khrunov and Aleksei Yeliseyev immediately began preparing for their EVA. Boris Volynov, who would remain aboard Soyuz 5, filmed them donning their Yastreb space suits.

On their 35th revolution of Earth the two cosmonauts exited the spacecraft for the second Soviet spacewalk. One of Khrunov's lines became tangled and he accidentally closed the tumbler of his suit ventilator. This distracted Yeliseyev who did not set up the movie camera on the orbital module before exiting the spacecraft. As such there is no film of the historic EVA, only a poor video transmission.

One hour later the two were greeted by Shatalov after the repressurisation of the Soyuz 4 orbital module, which also acted as an airlock. Soyuz 4 and 5 separated after 4 hours and 35 minutes docked together. Soyuz 4 re-entered the atmosphere and landed 100 kilometres (62 mi) southwest of Karaganda on January 17, 1969.

The mission proved it was possible to perform the activities that would be needed on a Soviet lunar landing. The Russian plan called for a lone cosmonaut to land on the moon, return to lunar orbit, then make a spacewalk back from the landing craft to orbiting spacecraft after docking. This was because there was no internal tunnel between the two craft as found on the American Apollo CSM and LM.

The crew were to meet Leonid Brezhnev during a lavish ceremony at the Kremlin, but this was ruined by an attempted assassination of the Soviet leader. A man shot eight times at the motorcade but aimed at the car containing Georgi Beregovoi, Alexei Leonov, Andrian Nikolayev, and Valentina Tereshkova. They were unharmed but Brezhnev's car was forced to speed away past the waiting Soyuz 4/5 crews on the podium.

EVA details

The docking mission had EVA objectives similar to those planned for Apollo 9. Soyuz 4 launched first, and was the active vehicle in the docking with Soyuz 5. The news agency TASS stated that: "there was a mutual mechanical coupling of the ships . . . and their electrical circuits were connected. Thus, the world’s first experimental cosmic station with four compartments for the crew was assembled and began functioning." The mission rehearsed elements of the Soviet piloted lunar mission plan. Moscow TV carried the cosmonauts’ EVA preparations live. Khrunov and Yeliseyev put on their Yastreb ("hawk") suits in the Soyuz 5 orbital module with aid from Commander Boris Volynov.

Yastreb suit design commenced in 1965, shortly after Alexei Leonov’s difficult EVA. Leonov served as consultant for the design process, which was completed during 1966. Suit fabrication and testing occurred in 1967, but the fatal Soyuz 1 accident in April of that year and docking difficulties on the joint Soyuz 2-Soyuz 3 mission delayed its use in space until Soyuz 4-Soyuz 5.

To prevent the suit ballooning, Yastreb featured a pulley-and-cable articulation system. Wide metal rings around the gray nylon canvas undersuit's upper arms served as anchors for the upper body articulation system. Yastreb had a regenerative life support system in a rectangular white metal box placed on the chest and abdomen to facilitate movement through Soyuz hatchways.

Volynov checked out Khrunov and Yeliseyev’s life support and communications systems before returning to the descent module, sealing the hatch, and depressurizing the orbital module. Khrunov went out first, transferring to the Soyuz 4 orbital module while the docked spacecraft were out of radio contact with the Soviet Union over South America. Yeliseyev transferred while the spacecraft were over the Soviet Union. They closed the Soyuz 4 orbital module hatch behind them, then Soyuz 4 Commander Vladimir Shatalov repressurized the orbital module and entered to help Khrunov and Yeliseyev get out of their suits. The spacewalkers delivered newspapers, letters, and telegrams printed after Shatalov lifted off to help prove that the transfer took place.

See also


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC31". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-03-04.  


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