Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 32

Soyuz 6

Antaeus

USSR

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  11.10.1969
Launch time:  11:10 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  31
Altitude:  186,2 - 222,8 km
Inclination:  51,68°
Landing date:  16.10.1969
Landing time:  09:53 UTC
Landing site:  180 km NW of Karaganda

Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Shonin  Georgi Stepanovich  Commander 1 4d 22h 42m  80 
2  Kubasov  Valeri Nikolayevich  Flight Engineer 1 4d 22h 42m  80 

Crew seating arrangement

Launch
1  Shonin
2  Kubasov
Landing
1  Shonin
2  Kubasov

Animations: Soyuz

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with friendly permission of www.marscenter.it

1st Double Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Shatalov  Vladimir Aleksandrovich  Commander
2  Yeliseyev  Aleksei Stanislavovich  Flight Engineer

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2nd Double Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Nikolayev  Andriyan Grigoriyevich  Commander
2  Grechko  Georgi Mikhailovich  Flight Engineer

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Flight

Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 180 km northwest of Karaganda.

The main goals of this mission in the official version were to test spacecraft systems and designs, maneuvering of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, and to conduct scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in a group flight.

The real main goal was the first simultaneous flight of three manned spacecraft and the first vacuum welding in space. It was to get the spacecraft rendezvoused with Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 and to have taken spectacular motion pictures of the Soyuz 7 - Soyuz 8 docking.

Soyuz 6 was launched on October 11, 1969. The cosmonauts tested the spacecraft systems and designs, maneuvering of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight.
On October 12, 1969 Soyuz 7 7 followed to orbit. As third spacecraft Soyuz 8 was launched on October 13, 1969.

It became a joint mission of three spacecraft with Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8. There were plans to get Soyuz 7 docked with Soyuz 8 and transferred the crew while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby.
Orbital maneuvers for the Soyuz 7-8 docking had proceeded normally. The automated rendezvous system was supposed to kick in when the spacecraft are 250 km apart. The plan was that Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 dock while Soyuz 6 observes from only 50 m away. However when Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 were only a kilometer apart, the Igla automated docking system failed. The crews could conduct a manual rendezvous, but this is not allowed by the technical flight controller.
Following an orbital correction during the night, Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8 were expected to be less than 1 km from each other when communications are regained at 9 am. Instead they are 40 km apart. It will require two more orbits over Soviet territory to refine the tracking of the spacecraft and recalculate the necessary rendezvous maneuvers. By 12:40 they are 1700 m apart and the crews began the manual rendezvous maneuver. Vladimir Shatalov fired his engines four times, but in the absence of any indication to the pilot of range to the target, he could not get into a position for a safe docking. He withdrawed to a safe distance.
After the landing of Soyuz 6 there are two further attempts to dock Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 8, but they fail due to large errors in the ballistic calculations of the maneuvers necessary to correct their orbits.
So no rendezvous, due to a failure in the rendezvous electronics in all three spacecraft was carried out. So there was only an approaching. It is still not known exactly what the actual problem was, but it is often quoted as being a helium pressurization integrity test. The version of Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft used for the missions carried a torus shaped docking electronics equipment housing surrounding the motor assembly on the back of the service module. This is thought to have been pressurized with helium to provide a benign environment for the electronics. It was then jettisoned after docking to lower the mass of the spacecraft for reentry. What went wrong with the electronics on all three spacecraft is still not known.

First vacuum welding in space by Valeri Kubasov using welding construction "VULKAN" was done. The crew tested three different methods of welding. The weld quality was said to be in no way inferior to that of Earth based welds. This involved the cosmonaut staying in the recovery capsule while the orbital module atmosphere was vented. The Vulkan was controlled from a panel in the descent module. The weld quality was said to be in no way inferior to that of Earth based welds.

Several scientific and technical experiments were also performed.

Soyuz 6 landed successfully at 09:53 UTC, coming to rest in a vertical position. A recovery helicopter landed 10 minutes later, finding the cosmonauts have already emerged from the capsule.

Photos

Soyuz 6 on the launch pad  

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Last update on April 06, 2014.