Д. Слейтон и А.А. Леонов на борту комплекса «Союз — Аполлон»

In 2014. marks 40 years since the beginning of the spacecraft flight under the ASTP program (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project) approved by the agreement of 24.05.1972 between the USSR and the USA about cooperation in the exploration and use of space for peaceful purposes.

On July 15, 1975 the main flight program ASTP began. For the first time in human history the USSR and the USA spacecraft: Soyuz-19 and Apollo implemented rendezvous and docking forming a single orbital complex. The envoys of the USSR and the USA A.A. Leonov, V.N. Kubasov, T. Stafford, V Brandi, D. Slayton made transfers from one spacecraft to the other and joined hands in a handshake symbolizing the cooperation of people from different countries in space and on the Earth. 

D. Slayton and A.A. Leonov onboard the Soyuz-Apollo complex

So that the historic handshake between the Soviet and the American astronauts was made at OKB-1 (now RSC Energia) a lot of work has been done including the launch of the manned spacecraft; on these days we celebrate the 40th anniversary of injecting this spacecraft into orbit.
Tests of the Soyuz spacecraft modified option included 3 flights, namely two unmanned and one manned Soyuz 16. All flights of this Soyuz modification are given in the Table.. 

SC name
SC index
SC designation SC launch date SC landing date SC crew
(at launch and landing)
Brief description of flight
Cosmos-638 11Ф615
7К-ТМ 03.04.1974 13.04.1974 Without crew The first test flight of unmanned spacecraft Soyuz under ASTP program
Cosmos-672 11Ф615
7К-ТМ 12.08.1974 18.08.1974 Without crew The test flight of unmanned spacecraft Soyuz under ASTP program
Soyuz-16 11Ф615
7К-ТМ 02.12.1974 08.12.1974 Filipchenko A.V.
Rukavishnikov N.N.
Test of the spacecraft modification for docking and working with Apollo
(preparation for the Apollo-Soyuz flight)
Soyuz-19 11Ф615
7К-ТМ 15.07.1975 21.07.1975 ЛLeonov A.A.
Kubasov V.N.
The first International spaceflight with U.S. spacecraft Apollo-18
2 dockings, mutual transfers of cosmonauts. Joint and autonomous experiments
Soyuz-22 11Ф615
7К-ТМ 15.09.1976 23.09.1976 Bykovskiy V.F.
Aksenov V.V.
Spacecraft modification for multispectral imagery of the Earth by GDR equipment MKF-6

The first crew of the international flight consisting of A.A. Leonov and V.N. Kubasov was trained purposefully and was not distracted by testing. This work was done by Anatoliy Filipchenko and Nikolai Rukavishnikov onboard the Soyuz-16 SC.

The Soyuz-16 SC crewmembers are presented in the Table.

Crew of the Soyuz-16 SC Spacecraft commander Flight engineer
Prime Filipchenko Anatoliy

Rukavishnikov Nikolai

Back-up Dzhanibekov Vladimir
Andreev Boris
Reserve Romanenko Yury
Ivanchenkov Aleksandr

Советские космонавты - участники программы  
Soviet cosmonauts – participants of the Apollo-Soyuz program (from left to right):
Dzhanibekov V.A., Andreev B.D., Romanenko Yu.V., Ivanchenkov A.S., Rukavishnikov N.N.,
Filipchenko A.V., Kubasov V.N. and Leonov A.A.

Brief information about the Soyuz-16 spacecraft

Soyuz-16 is the Soviet two-seat manned spacecraft (SC) of the Soyuz series which performed a manned flight in the scope of preparation of the joint test flight, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). A special modification of the Soyuz series spacecraft 7К-ТМ was used for this flight with newly developed androgynous peripheral docking assembly APDA-75 and the solar array panels which were not used in this spacecraft series in previous transport flights to orbital stations.

Manned SC Soyuz-16

Registration number 1974-096A / 07561
Date and time of launch (Universal Time) 09 h 40 min 02.12.1974
Launch site Baikonur, site 1
Launch Vehicle Soyuz-U
Spacecraft mass, t 6.8
Initial orbit parameters
        - orbit inclination, degrees 51.79
        - orbital period, minutes 89.27
        - Perigee altitude, km 191.7
        - Apogee altitude, km 314.8
Date and time of landing (Universal Time) 08 h 04 min 08.12.1974
Landing site 300 km to the north of Dzhezkazgan town
Flight duration 5 days 22 hours 24 minutes
Distance passed, M km 3.978
Number of revolutions around the Earth 96
Spacecraft crew (at launch and landing) Filipchenko Anatoliy Vasilievich
Rukavishnikov Nikolai Nikolaevich
Crew call sing Buran
Космический корабль «Союз-16» Экипаж КК «Союз-16». А. В. Филипченко (справа) и  Н. Н. Рукавишников во время занятий в ЦПК имени Ю. А. Гагарина
Spacecraft Soyuz-16  The Soyuz-16 SC crew: A.V. Filipchenko (on the right) and N.N. Rukavisnikov during the training at Yu.A. Gagarin CTC


Flight description

Кольцо-имитатор стыковочного шпангоута «Аполлона»
Apollo docking ring simulator
Стыковочные агрегаты

Almost immediately it was determined that Anatoliy Filipchenko and Nikolai Rukavishnikov (OKB-1 tests engineer) test in space a number of new systems installed onboard this spacecraft. Following the established tradition the modified spacecraft was always tested not only unmanned but with the crew onboard, who checked the modified systems in flight. This was related to the increased responsibility for the operation of all spacecraft systems which were more or less modified as the utter confidence in the system functionality can be given during the space tests only.
If the responsibility of the Soviet engineers was to manufacture an airlock for the crews transfer from one spacecraft to the other the airlock was tested in a space flight. That is why the number of crews who had to work under the ASTP project was different. The Russian party had twice as many crews than the American party.
The cosmonauts performed a large amount of work for verification and test of new systems, modes and units of the Soyuz spacecraft, modernized due to the ASTP program. The new androgynous peripheral docking assembly installed on Soyuz-16 was tested in the environment the most close to the upcoming docking with Apollo in manual and automatic control modes. An additional ring was put on the Soyuz docking assembly; this ring helped to simulate the connection with the other spacecraft, check in space the details of the docking mechanism, its different operation modes including some deviations from normal and ways of their removal. The Soyuz-16 spacecraft also carried out maneuvers in orbit, characteristic for the upcoming rendezvous and docking with Apollo, provided formation of the assembly orbit of an altitude of 225 km and others.
Besides, an experimental slow change of the spacecraft atmosphere was made; the change was required to facilitate the cosmonauts transfer from one spacecraft to the other. The fact was that the Apollo atmosphere was pure oxygen at a pressure of 260 mm Hg but the Soyuz atmosphere was close to the ground air, namely the pressure is about 760 mm Hg. For approximation of the atmosphere parameters the oxygen content in the Soyuz atmosphere was gradually increased to 40% but the pressure was relieved to 520 mm Hg.

The Soyuz-16 spacecraft tests were successful. The dress rehearsal in space verified the validity of technical decisions, high reliability of all systems of Soyuz and readiness of ground services to support the joint flight. The crew showed excellent knowledge of the spacecraft.


Экипаж КК «Союз-16». А. В. Филипченко (на дальнем плане)  и Н. Н. Рукавишников Many experiments including technical, physical biological, medical were planned in the flight program. The cosmonauts photographed different parts of the USSR territory, investigated the light effects in the atmosphere, tested the equipment for experiments on artificial solar eclipse (during the joint flight of two spacecraft, one of them can cover the Sun for observers in the second spacecraft. Over 30 thousand kilometers of flight route the cosmonauts photographed the day horizon panorama in polarized light, kept the onboard observations of the development of microorganisms in the culture medium and the growth of ozone-forming fungi. Observations of the seed germination of unpretentious plants began already after the spacecraft injection into orbit and were artificially interrupted in 48 hours not to overload the seeds during the descent. The experiment gave material for study of the possible chromosome rearrangements in weightlessness. The cosmonauts also made observations of Danio-rerio fish fry born in orbit from fertilized eggs. As a result of these observations it was verified that weightlessness does not affect the development of the fry vestibular apparatus. Moreover, the fry born in space, unlike those delivered into orbit from the Earth, do not lose the ability to orient (navigate) in space.
All experiments in space verified the perfection of the spacecraft systems, the results of numerous ground tests of the equipment.
Upon completion of the flight and a very short break the both cosmonauts continued their training for the joint flight as the prime backups of the Soyuz-19 spacecraft.
For the successful implementation of the orbital flight onboard the Soyuz-16 spacecraft and courage and heroism displayed in this flight pilot-cosmonauts of the USSR A.V. Filipchenko and N.N. Rukavishnickov were decorated with Orders of Lenin and the second medals Gold Star


The Soyuz-16 SC crew: A.V. Filipchenko (long shot)
and N.N. Rukovishnikov
Экипаж КК «Союз-16». А. В. Филипченко и Н. Н. Рукавишников

Космические корабли СССР и США в полёте (реконструкция)
The USSR and the USA spacecraft in flight

The Soyuz-19 and Apollo spacecraft flight was also successful. A long period of the international cooperation in space began. 






Международная космическая станция Автоматические космические системы logo fka eng baner rsc-eng "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт" "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт"