Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 76

Soyuz 39



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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  22.03.1981
Launch time:  14:58 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  31
Altitude:  197.5 - 282.8 km
Inclination:  51.68°
Docking Salyut 6:  23.03.1981, 16:28 UTC
Undocking Salyut 6:  30.03.1981, 08:15 UTC
Landing date:  30.03.1981
Landing time:  11:40 UTC
Landing site:  170 km SE of Dzheskasgan

walkout photo

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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  Dzhanibekov  Vladimir Aleksandrovich  Commander 2 7d 20h 42m  124 
2  Gurragcha  Zhugderdemidiyn "Gurr"  Research Cosmonaut 1 7d 20h 42m  124 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Dzhanibekov
2  Gurragcha
1  Dzhanibekov
2  Gurragcha

Animations: Soyuz

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Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Lyakhov  Vladimir Afanasiyevich  Commander
2  Ganzorig  Maidarzhavyn  Research Cosmonaut


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 170 km southeast of Dzheskasgan.

The Mongolian contribution for this mission had begun in 1967, when the president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences Bazaryn Shirendev attended a conference of scientists from socialist countries in Moscow, where the Intercosmos project was announced.

Soyuz 39 marked the eighth Interkosmos mission (with Zhugderdemidiyn Gurragcha, the first cosmonaut from Mongolia). Following a one day solo flight Soyuz 39 docked with the Salyut 6 space station on March 23, 1981. During the next days the crew performed common scientific work with the fifth resident crew.

The cosmonauts installed cosmic ray detectors in the work and transfer compartments. They also performed the Illyuminator ("viewing port") experiment, which studied the degradation of the station's viewports. Vladimir Kovalyonok and Viktor Savinykh also used the Gologramma ("hologram") apparatus to image a viewing port damaged by micrometeoroids. They also collected samples of the station's air and microflora and removed the cosmic ray detectors for return to Earth. Experiments of Earth science were also performed, especially studies of Mongolia from space.

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.

Photos / Drawings



Last update on November 29, 2014.