Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 73

Soyuz 38



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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  18.09.1980
Launch time:  19:11 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  199.7 - 273.5 km
Inclination:  51.61°
Docking Salyut 6:  19.09.1980, 20:49 UTC
Undocking Salyut 6:  26.09.1980, 12:35 UTC
Landing date:  26.09.1980
Landing time:  15:54 UTC
Landing site:  175 km SE of Dzheskasgan

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Romanenko  Yuri Viktorovich  Commander 2 7d 20h 43m  124 
2  Tamayo Méndez  Arnaldo "Guasso"  Research Cosmonaut 1 7d 20h 43m  124 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Romanenko
2  Tamayo Méndez
1  Romanenko
2  Tamayo Méndez

Animations: Soyuz

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Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Khrunov  Yevgeni Vasiliyevich  Commander
2  López Falcón  José Armando  Research Cosmonaut

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 175 km southeast of Dzheskasgan.

This spaceflight was the seventh Interkosmos mission (with Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, the first cosmonaut from Cuba). Following a one day solo flight Soyuz 38 docked with the Salyut 6 space station on September 19, 1980. The fourth resident crew recorded the ignition and operation of the transport's main engine. As the spacecraft approached Salyut 6, the resident crew could see only its “headlights”. Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez of Cuba and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko docked without incident.

Scientific work to find reasons of the space adaptation syndrome of the crew together with the fourth resident crew was done. Other goals were Earth observation, solar observation and plant growing experiments, crystal growing experiments.

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.
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.
The launch and landing occurred in darkness.

Photos / Drawings

crew in training crew in training
life onboard  


Last update on November 29, 2014.