Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 50

Soyuz 15



early Salyut patch

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  26.08.1974
Launch time:  19:58:05 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  193,4 - 235,2 km
Inclination:  51.62°
Landing date:  28.08.1974
Landing time:  20:10:16 UTC
Landing site:  48 km SW of Tselinograd

walkout photo

Crew Soyuz 15

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alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Sarafanov  Gennadi Vasiliyevich  Commander 1 2d 00h 12m 11s  32 
2  Dyomin  Lev Stepanovich  Flight Engineer 1 2d 00h 12m 11s  32 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Sarafanov
2  Dyomin
Soyuz spacecraft
1  Sarafanov
2  Dyomin

1st Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Volynov  Boris Valentinovich  Commander
2  Zholobov  Vitali Mikhailovich  Flight Engineer
Crew Soyuz 15 (1st backup)

2nd Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Zudov  Vyacheslav Dmitriyevich  Commander
2  Rozhdestvensky  Valeri Iliych  Flight Engineer
Crew Soyuz 15 (2nd backup)

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Launch vehicle:  Soyuz (No. S15000-30)
Spacecraft:  Soyuz 15 (7K-T No. 63)


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and landing 48 km southwest of Tselinograd.

Soyuz 15 was to conduct the second phase of manned operations aboard the Salyut 3 military space station.

The spacecraft arrived at the Salyut 3 space station successfully, but the cosmonauts were unable to dock, because of a fault in the automated docking-system (Igla). The Soyuz spacecraft had no reserves or backup systems for repeated manual docking attempts, so the mission had to be abandoned. Later on, the state commission discovered that the Igla docking system of the Soyuz needed serious modification. This could not be completed before Salyut 3 decayed.

The Soyuz spacecraft is composed of three elements attached end-to-end - the Orbital Module, the Descent Module and the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module. The crew occupied the central element, the Descent Module. The other two modules are jettisoned prior to re-entry. They burn up in the atmosphere, so only the Descent Module returned to Earth.
The deorbit burn lasted 188 seconds. Having shed two-thirds of its mass, the Soyuz reached Entry Interface - a point 400,000 feet (121.9 kilometers) above the Earth, where friction due to the thickening atmosphere began to heat its outer surfaces. With only 23 minutes left before it lands on the grassy plains of central Asia, attention in the module turned to slowing its rate of descent.
Eight minutes later, the spacecraft was streaking through the sky at a rate of 755 feet (230 meters) per second. Before it touched down, its speed slowed to only 5 feet (1.5 meter) per second, and it lands at an even lower speed than that. Several onboard features ensure that the vehicle and crew land safely and in relative comfort.
Four parachutes, deployed 15 minutes before landing, dramatically slowed the vehicle's rate of descent. Two pilot parachutes were the first to be released, and a drogue chute attached to the second one followed immediately after. The drogue, measuring 24 square meters (258 square feet) in area, slowed the rate of descent from 755 feet (230 meters) per second to 262 feet (80 meters) per second.
The main parachute was the last to emerge. It is the largest chute, with a surface area of 10,764 square feet (1,000 square meters). Its harnesses shifted the vehicle's attitude to a 30-degree angle relative to the ground, dissipating heat, and then shifted it again to a straight vertical descent prior to landing.
The main chute slowed the Soyuz to a descent rate of only 24 feet (7.3 meters) per second, which is still too fast for a comfortable landing. One second before touchdown, two sets of three small engines on the bottom of the vehicle fired, slowing the vehicle to soften the landing.


crew in training Soyuz 15 rollout
Soyuz 15 on the launch pad Soyuz 15 on the launch pad
Soyuz 15 launch  


Last update on May 11, 2021.