Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 34

Soyuz 8



Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  13.10.1969
Launch time:  10:19 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  31
Altitude:  204,5 - 223,7 km
Inclination:  51,68°
Landing date:  18.10.1969
Landing time:  09:09 UTC
Landing site:  145 km N of Karaganda

hi res version (324 KB)

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Shatalov  Vladimir Aleksandrovich  Commander 2 4d 22h 50m  80 
2  Yeliseyev  Aleksei Stanislavovich  Flight Engineer 2 4d 22h 50m  80 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Shatalov
2  Yeliseyev
1  Shatalov
2  Yeliseyev

Animations: Soyuz

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Double Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Nikolayev  Andriyan Grigoriyevich  Commander
2  Sevastiyanov  Vitali Ivanovich  Flight Engineer


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 145 km north of Karaganda.

The real main goal was the first simultaneous flight of three manned spacecraft. 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.

The real 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.

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 followed to orbit. As third spacecraft Soyuz 8 was launched on October 13, 1969.

It became a joint mission of three spacecraft of Soyuz 6, 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-Soyuz 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.

Several scientific and technical experiments were also performed.

The landing of Soyuz 8 proceeded normally. The 145 second long retrofire began at 11:29. It looked OK on the telemetry, but Vladimir Shatalov reported on UHF that the indication aboard the spacecraft was that there was a 4 second underburn.



Last update on November 22, 2013.