Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing
300 km north of Dzheskasgan / 30 km southwest of Arkalyk.
The Soyuz 16
mission was the final rehearsal and first manned mission in a program which
culminated in the Apollo-Soyuz (ASTP
mission seven months later.
Main goals of the mission were check-out of the
Soyuz space craft's on-board systems which had been modernized to meet the
requirements of the 1975 joint flight in accordance with the programme of the
Soviet-United States experiment; conduct of scientific and technical
Early concepts for a joint flight included docking a
Soyuz craft to the American Skylab space station, or an Apollo vehicle docking
with a Salyut space station. Once the Americans abandoned their Skylab station
in 1974, the Apollo-Salyut concept seemed to be the logical choice, but since
the Soviets had started to develop a universal docking adapter for the mission
and feared having to publicly reveal details of their military-focused Salyut
missions, the two powers opted to link a Soyuz spacecraft with an Apollo
During the flight, cosmonauts Anatoli
tested the androgynous docking system to be
used for the
mission by retracting and extending a simulated 20 kg American docking
The crew also tested modified environmental systems, new solar
panels and improved control systems, as well as a new radar docking system. The
air pressure was reduced from 760 mm to 540 mm and oxygen raised from 20% to
40% to test reducing the planned transfer time to Apollo from two to one hour.
On December 07, 1974, the docking ring was jettisoned with explosive bolts to
test emergency measures if the capture latches got stuck during the
From launch to landing the flight of Soyuz was nearly perfect,
and the results of the test of life support, docking, antenna deployment, and
ground control systems were excellent.