Jan 07

Space Rocket History #143 – The First Soyuz Automatic Docking and the Secret Plan

After 1957, the Soviets became accustomed to achieving “world firsts” in space accomplishments. Nevertheless, 10 years later they were not confident that they could pull off the world’s first fully automatic rendezvous and docking of two un-piloted Soyuz spacecraft.  At the time the chance for success was estimated at only 50/50.

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Igla docking system antennas.

Igla docking system antennas.

Dec 17

Space Rocket History #141 – Soyuz 1: The Crash

“It’s a terrible scene. Komarov burned up. All the instruments burned. We must quickly find out what prevented the main parachute from unlatching.” Chief Designer Mishin after he arrived at the Soyuz 1 crash site.

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Validmir Komarov by Joe G.

Vlaidmir Komarov by Joe G.

Dec 10

Space Rocket History #140 – Soyuz 1: The Flight

“I was the last one to see him alive and I told him ‘See you soon!’” Yuri Gagarin, recalls bidding farewell to his friend Kamarov in Soyuz 1.

Kamarov with Gagarin

Kamarov with Gagarin

Soyuz 1 on the Pad

Soyuz 1 on the Pad

Soyuz 1 shown with both panels extended

Soyuz 1 shown with both panels extended

Dec 03

Space Rocket History #139 – Soyuz 1: Preparation

With the success of Kosmos 146 and in spite of the failures of the first three 7K-Ok’s it was now time to plan for a Soyuz manned mission. The planned involved the launch and docking of two piloted Soyuzes. Soyuz 7K-OK production model number 4 was assigned the role of the active vehicle. The active vehicle was supposed to carry one cosmonaut into earth orbit. Twenty-four hours later, vehicle No. 5 (the passive vehicle) carrying three cosmonauts would be inserted in orbit. After rendezvouing, two cosmonauts from vehicle No. 5 would transfer through open space to vehicle No. 4.

Kosmos 146. A 7K-L1 model.

Kosmos 146. A 7K-L1 model.

7K-OK and 7K-L1 Rendezvous Concept

7K-OK and 7K-L1 Rendezvous Concept. Credit Mark Wade

Sketch of Vladimir Komarov by Joe G.

Sketch of Vladimir Komarov by Joe G.

Nov 19

Space Rocket History #138 – Soyuz Test Flight No. 3 – Kosmos 140

Chief Designer Mishin proposed a two-launch “stopover” scenario for the piloted flight to the moon. This was similar to one of NASA’s earth orbit rendezvous modes to reach the moon. The gist of the plan was, the UR-500K would insert the 7K-L1 into orbit with no crew. Then the R7 derivative Semyorka would launch the 7K-OK carrying two cosmonauts. If everything went well on the two vehicles, they would dock, and the cosmonauts would transfer from the 7K-OK to the 7K-L1 via spacewalk. Then they would set out for the Moon, and, after flying around it, they would return to Earth.

Vladimir Chelomey Responsible for the Proton Rocket

Vladimir Chelomey Responsible for the Proton Rocket

Proton and 7K-L1 Launch Vehicle

Proton and 7K-L1 Launch Vehicle

Soyuz Test Flight 3, Orbit 5

Soyuz Test Flight 3, Orbit 5

Jan 22

Space Rocket History #97 – Soyuz Test Flight No. 2

The first Soyuz test flight was a catastrophic failure.   Due to negligence, the attitude control system malfunctioned and used all of its fuel before a rendezvous could be attempted or even the second Soyuz rocket could be launched.  When the Soviets attempted to return the first Soyuz to earth, the vehicle’s self-destruct system activated because it was unable to make a landing in the Soviet Union.  OKB-1 was disgraced.

Soyuz Interior

Soyuz Interior

R7 Derivatives

R7 Derivatives

Kerimov

Kerimov

Ustinov

Ustinov

By Dave

By Dave

Jan 15

Space Rocket History #96 – Soyuz Test Flight No. 1 – Kosmos-133

After many delays in launching the first Soyuz due to design complications, equipment deliveries, the learning curve for testing new designs, unreasonable launch dates, persecution from the communist party, and the death of Chief Designer Korolev.  The first unmanned test flight is nearing launch.  Two Soyuz 7k-OK’s have made it through testing.  Both Soyuz have been attached to their carrier rocket and are nearly ready to launch.  The plan is to launch both vehicles 24 hours apart in order to perform a rendezvous.

By Dave

By Dave

7K-OK Diagram

7K-OK Diagram

7K-OK Interior

7K-OK Interior

Jan 08

Space Rocket History #95 – Soyuz Development – Part 4 – Politics and Testing

“In those days, the Party organizations in industry were not only involved with policy, ideology, and the “struggle against nonconformist thought,” but tried to get involved in technology and production engineering. Wielding real authority over people who were Party members, they had the opportunity to affect the production process. With few exceptions, every chief designer was a Party member. It was far more dangerous to receive a Party reprimand than a reprimand ordered by the head of an enterprise or even a minister.

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a party of power. This was a party that actively meddled in the production process not only from the top—through the Central Committee or Politburo—but also from the bottom. Things did not always turn out as planned, but as a rule, they had the best of intentions. The Party attempted to encompass all aspects of a person’s life with its ideological influence. Any job was supposed to be a “thing of virtue, honor, and heroism,” not for the sake of personal prosperity, but to strengthen the power of the state. “So long as our motherland lives, there are no other cares”—these words succinctly and rather accurately reflected the spirit of a myriad of Party propaganda campaigns. Any deviation from the Party line was punished mercilessly. The Party allowed no liberalism within its ranks.“ Boris Chertok.

Soyuz 7k-Ok Assembly

Soyuz 7k-Ok Assembly

Docking Simulators

Docking Simulators

Soyuz Panel

Soyuz Panel