AKA: Buran (Snowstorm). Launched: 1969-10-12. Returned: 1969-10-17. Number crew: 3 . Duration: 4.94 days.
The spacecraft was to have docked with Soyuz 8 and exchanged one crew member from each spacecraft while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby. However failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to a new helium pressurization integrity test prior to the mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Officially the mission was 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. Recovered October 17, 1969 9:26 GMT.
202km X 227km orbit to 211km X 223km orbit. Delta V: 3 m/s
201km X 201km orbit to 201km X 201km orbit. Delta V: 1 m/s
211km X 223km orbit to 201km X 244km orbit. Delta V: 8 m/s
Total Delta V: 12 m/s.
Soyuz capsule assembly
Credit: RKK Energia
Meeting with TsKBEM Deputy Chief Designer Tregub on manned space flight plans. Soyuz s/n 14 is set for a solo seven day mission in April-May. 15 and 16 with 5 cosmonauts aboard will fly a 7 day mission in August-September, remaining docked for three days. Soyuz s/n 17 through 20 will not fly until after May 1970 - there are no definite plans for them at this time. Additional Details: here....
The commission considers plans for the rest of the Soyuz production. Spacecraft s/n 14, 15, and 16 are to fly in August 1969, 17 and 18 in November 1969, and 19 and 20 in February-March 1970. Crews selected for the August flights are: for spacecraft 14, Shonin and Kubasov; for 15, Filipchenko, Volkov, and Gorbatko; for 16, Nikolayev and Sevastyanov. Back-ups will be Kuklin, Grechko, and Kolodin. All of the spacecraft will fly 4 to 5 day missions. Spacecraft 15 and 16 will dock and remain together 2 or 3 days to form an 'orbital station'. Experiments planned for the flight are:
Spacecraft 17 through 20 will fly 15 to 16 day missions to demonstrate the new SZhO life support system for the L3, and conduct rendezvous and docking operations using the L3's Kontakt system. Additional Details: here....
Tests of the spacecraft at Baikonur showed 40 to 60 defects, requiring replacement of 17 to 25 equipment items. This demonstrates the poor quality of final assembly and test at TsKBEM and inadequate measures to protect the spacecraft during storage and transport to the launch site. Soyuz 6 is to launch on 4-6 October, followed by another spacecraft each day thereafter. Nixon has invited two cosmonauts to visit the USA in November -- this is seen by Kamanin as the work of Borman to reciprocate for his visit to the USSR in February.
Kamanin advises Nikolayev his chances of being named to fly Soyuz 8 are very low. Tereshkova arrives at Kamanin's office in the evening. She is infuriated that her husband is not to be allowed to fly the mission. She says she will take the matter to Ustinov and Polanskiy. Kamanin tells her that would be a mistake.
Smirnov recommended to the VPK Military-Industrial Commission that the flights go ahead in October. The triple Soyuz flight would make heavy demands on the Soviet tracking system. The problems were worked out in simulations and worldwide exercises conducted from the Baikonur cosmodrome.
However the board makes a big fuss over Kamanin having trained only four back-up cosmonauts to support eight prime-crew cosmonauts. A follow-up meeting is held with Smirnov and Afanasyev at 19:15, where Kamanin's training is denounced as a big failure. Nevertheless at 22:00 the word comes from the Kremlin to proceed with the missions. Kamanin points out that simultaneously with this mission he had cosmonauts in training for Soyuz s/n 17, 18, 19, 20 (Kontakt missions) and L1 circumlunar fights. Kuznetsov, Beregovoi, and several other cosmonauts are also enraged with Kamanin for bumping Nikolyaev from the Soyuz 8 crew. Kamanin maintains that in the circumstances he only had enough training resources for 8 prime + 4 back-up crew, especially for a mission scenario that would not be flown again in the future.
A second arrives 50 minutes later. They bring the 49-strong VVS contingent for the Soyuz 6-7-8 state commission. The other members of the commission arrive aboard an Il-18. 2 to 3 weeks earlier an epidemic of dysentery swept the cosmodrome. This was a danger to the space flight crews -- no one showing signs of carrying the disease were allowed near them. They were isolated in special areas and only cleared trainers were allowed access to them during the outbreak. In the evening the American film 'Good Arrangement' is shown, the story of a husband in the role of a nanny for three children.
To ensure the buses do not exceed 60 km/hour checkpoints are manned along the roads. The readiness review is conducted form 10:00 to 13:00. The crews, and spacecraft are ready. Mishin is away 'sick' again. General Pushkin and Beregovoi are at Area 81 to view the Ye-8-5 launch. Kamanin likes Chelomei's UR-500K rocket. He blames its series of failures on its engines and Block D upper stage, not on the fundamental booster design. If it had been more successful, the Russians would have beaten the Americans in a lunar flyby. The launch proceeds as planned at 15:00, but the Block D fails to restart in parking orbit, and is given the cover name 'Cosmos 300'.
The members do not believe the three spacecraft and crews are ready for flight. They rate the availability of the actual spacecraft for training before the flight at 20 to 30%, while the trainers are being used at 200% of their rated capacity. The result is the cosmonauts can only train on the technical systems of the actual spacecraft after they have been delivered to the cosmodrome. The situation is even worse with the experimental equipment for the flights, which in some cases they do not see until they are at the cosmodrome. Unwilling to commit themselves, the commission bumps the decision whether to proceed up to the Politburo. Ustinov and Smirnov badly guide the whole space program, in Kamanin's view. The Politburo won't meet until 29 September -- he hopes the Russian bureaucracy can complete all the steps to approve the flights before the scheduled launch day!
The cause of the Ye-8-5 failure is found to be a valve that was stuck open after the first stage burn, resulting in the oxidiser boiling away in the vacuum of space. Tyulin inquires about the possibility of commanding the Ye-8-5 to conduct a series of manoeuvres and testing re-entry of the soil return capsule in the earth's atmosphere. An interesting concept, but the engineers have not planned for such an eventuality.
NII-2 MO, represented by Lt General Korolev and Chief Designer Savin present plans for their Svinets experiment. It will observe ICBM rocket plumes from space in order to aid design of anti-ballistic missile systems. They had asked Smirnov to conduct a solid propellant rocket launch in order to test the device properly, but he could only schedule a liquid propellant rocket launch. Kamanin had wanted this experiment to be conducted aboard Voskhod 3, but Smirnov has cancelled that mission as well - delaying Soviet ABM development, in Kamanin's view.
They rule out 22 October as a start date, in order not to have the embarrassment of them being there during the Apollo 12 mission. They reject Belyayev and Shatalov as candidates for the trip; they want Beregovoi and Belyayev or Beregovoi and Feoktistov. Kamanin opposes Feoktistov, and doesn't' want Beregovoi diverted from his work as cosmonaut deputy-commander, where he feels he is doing well. He has started lots of good new initiatives. Meanwhile Nikolayev continues to make trouble for Kamanin in regard to being bumped from the Soyuz 8 crew.
V A Smirnov and other specialists again go over the near-disaster with Soyuz 5. The true cause of the failure of the re-entry capsule to separate has never been established, but the separation systems have been fully reworked (latches, pyrotechnics, etc) and fundamentally improved. The improved system was used on Zond 7, but no flights have yet been flown with the new system on a Soyuz.
A deadly spider is found at the sport hall. Many cosmonauts saw it for the first time, and it led to a discussion of the dangers of Central Asia. - poisonous spiders and scorpions. Kamanin also makes a pilgrimage to Area 2, visiting the Korolev cottage and Gagarin museum.
It is Sunday, but the cosmonauts are at work, training on the scientific equipment for the flight and preparing for the autonomous navigation experiment. Nikolayev is preparing the work plan for the launch of the first spacecraft. The cosmonauts have been working ten hours per day for weeks now without interruption. The use of a new anti-radiation vitamin preparation the cosmonauts will take during the flights is discussed.
Meeting with the crew commanders for the upcoming flights. The ship's logs/flight plans are reviewed. The draft flight plans provided by Anokhin at TsKBEM had many errors that had to be corrected. Shatalov proposes a method of making a more fuel-efficient docking on the flight - uncoupling the automatic system and accomplishing not just the final docking manoeuvres but the terminal rendezvous manoeuvres manually. The flight specialists agree to review the proposal.
It is agreed that future pre-flight reviews of spacecraft operations should not just be limited to standard procedures, but should cover back-up and emergency procedures as well, even though this will take 2 to 3 days longer to prepare. It is Sunday at the cosmodrome. Kamanin gives a speech on the Gagarin launch in 1961. There are chess, tennis, billiards, and ping-pong tournaments.
Meeting between the Soyuz 6/7/8 crews and engineers. Shatalov pushes his idea for a manually flown spacecraft rendezvous, provided that Soyuz 7 and 8 visually acquire each other immediately after Soyuz 8 is put into orbit. He believes this would not only save time and fuel, but also provide the chance to develop procedures for interception of non-cooperative enemy satellites. Mishin rejects the idea, seeing a doubling of risk of an unsuccessful flight. The fact is, the Soyuz is only equipped for automatic docking. There are no on-board indicators of range and range-rate to target - necessary inputs for any manual docking. The view through the periscope is the only forward-looking view available to the crew, and it is inadequate for manual docking. Additional Details: here....
Kamanin takes General Efimov to see the roll-out of the Soyuz 6 booster. Mishin calls during the tour to ask that Volkov be switched with TsKBEM engineer Grechko on the Soyuz 7 crew. Kamanin refuses at this late date, noting in disgust Mishin is always pushing his staff for flight regardless of how it might affect the mission. Efimov is then taken to see the N1 MIK assembly building, the largest building in Europe. They view the construction of the 104-m-long booster's three stages. Next they go out to the pad, surveying the facility from 120 m up in one of the gantries. Kamanin muses that unless the N1 can be made reliable, the Russians will be 7 to 8 years behind the Americans in planetary and lunar exploration. Later the State Commission meets and fixes the launch schedule for the upcoming flights. Mishin does not raise the issue of Grechko flying to the commission. Shatalov is named commander of the entire three-spacecraft group flight.
The ship's logs/flight plans are reviewed one more time. Tyuratam commander General Kurushin runs through the Svinets ABM experiment again with Shonin and Kubasov - they're ready. The Communist Party has selected Beregovoi and Feoktistov for the trip to the United States in November, ignoring Kamanin's recommendation of Belyayev and Shatalov. Kamanin is not so much against Beregovoi, but he firmly believes that Feoktistov is not worthy of the privilege - he's a degenerate, now on this third marriage..
Bad weather at the cosmodrome - rain and 12-15 m/s wind. The traditional meeting of the cosmonauts and their support teams takes place at 15:00 at Area 31. Afterwards Kamanin meets with VVS General I M Moroz and Efimov. The future policy is that a cosmonaut will receive the Hero of the Soviet Union award and a military promotion only on their first flight into space. On later flights they will receive a lesser decoration and a cash award. Exceptions would be made for exceptional missions. Mozzhorin disagrees, preferring to keep things as they are.
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Carried Vulkan welding furnace for vacuum welding experiments in depressurized orbital module. Was to have taken spectacular motion pictures of Soyuz 7 - Soyuz 8 docking but failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to new helium pressurization integrity test prior to mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Additional Details: here....
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Was to have docked with Soyuz 8 and transferred crew while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby. However failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to a new helium pressurization integrity test prior to the mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Additional Details: here....
Tested spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of space craft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight. Was to have docked with Soyuz 7 and transferred crew while Soyuz 6 took film from nearby. However failure of rendezvous electronics in all three craft due to a new helium pressurization integrity test prior to the mission did not permit successful rendezvous and dockings. Recovered October 18, 1969 10:19 GMT. Additional Details: here....
Orbital manoeuvres for the Soyuz 7-8 docking have proceeded normally. The automated rendezvous system is supposed to kick in when the spacecraft are 250 km apart. The plan is that Soyuz 7 and 8 will dock while Soyuz 6 observes from only 50 m away. However when Soyuz 7 and 8 are only a kilometre apart, the Igla automated docking system fails. The crews could conduct a manual rendezvous, but the this is not allowed by the technical flight controller. Additional Details: here....
Following an orbital correction during the night, Soyuz 7 and 8 are 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 manoeuvres. By 12:40 they are 1700 m apart and the crews begin the manual rendezvous manoeuvre. Shatalov fires 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 withdraws to a safe distance. Additional Details: here....
Soyuz 6 lands successfully at 09:52 GM, coming to rest in a vertical position. A recovery helicopter lands 10 minutes later, finding the cosmonauts have already emerged from the capsule. 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 manoeuvres necessary to correct their orbits.
The landing commission meets at the command post at 08:00. Soyuz 7 is to land on orbit 97, beginning a 95 m/s retrofire impulse at 11:44:11. The main parachute is to deploy at 12:12:34. All is reported normal aboard the spacecraft, except that the Soyuz 7 warning light panel shows 'ASP' - automatic landing sequence. Despite this, Soyuz 7 landed successfully at 09:26 GMT. Additional Details: here....
Kamanin's 61st birthday begins with a communications session with Soyuz 8. Yells come from the spacecraft. What's wrong? the ground nervously inquires. They reply they are only celebrating the successful closing of the hatch, and the glowing 'SA hermetic' indication on the panel. This ends fears they had all during the flight of not being able to get the hatch closed with the broken wheel spoke. The 145 second long retrofire begins at 11:29. It looks OK on the telemetry, but Shatalov reports on UHF that the indication aboard the spacecraft was that there was a 4 second underburn. Nevertheless the landing proceeds normally, and there is a loud 'Ura!' at the command point once word of a safe crew recovery is received - the mission is completed. Soyuz 8 landed at 09:10 GMT. At 16:40 the teams head back toward Moscow aboard an Il-18. Kamanin discusses the necessity to complete an extra 8 to 10 Soyuz spacecraft. He is supported by Afanasyev and Kerimov, but Mishin and Karas are opposed now. Kamanin thinks it is insane how Soviet space progress is blocked by these kinds of politics.
State commission meets to do a post mortem on the Soyuz 6-7-8 mission. Kamanin gives a 15-minute briefing on the readiness of the crews for flight. He pointed to the need for more information and training on manual flight and navigation of the spacecraft, and more active use of the pilots throughout the mission. Then the commission acts out a few scenes of their meting for the press, television, and a documentary filmmaker. The Soyuz crews are undergoing medical exams at Area 17 at Baikonur.
The medical reports show all the cosmonauts lost 1.5 to 3.5 kg during the flight (with Filipchenko having the greatest loss). However Kamanin plays tennis with Gorbatko, Shonin, and Volkov just two days after the flight. They show no apparent ill effects of zero-G.
The cosmonauts fly from Baikonur to Moscow, escorted by six MiG-21 fighters to Vnukovo airfield, where they receive honours all around, followed by meetings with reporters. Brezhnev was no there - he was on his way to Baikonur to observe the Tyulpan ICBM exercise.
Traditional meeting between the cosmonauts and the engineers and workers at TsKBEM. They are quizzed on the flight failures, followed by dinner and toasts. Kamanin tells Afanasyev that instead of messing about with the N1-L3, they should build 8 to 10 more Soyuz and fly, fly, fly -- it is the only way to develop reliable systems. The Ministry of Defence needs a long-range plan of sustained flights of 5 to 6 spacecraft per year. All 300 present applaud the speech, except Mishin, who is against a new series of Soyuz spacecraft.
Kamanin assigns cosmonauts to upcoming foreign propaganda tours. Beregovoi and Feoktistov are to go to the United States, Tereshkova to Hungary, Popovich to France, Khrunov to Odessa. Titov will not be given this privilege because of his numerous automobile accidents, run-ins with the militia, and motorcycle habit.
Major press conference. Keldysh dodges questions from American reporters on the Soviet lunar landing program. The cosmonauts perform all right, no mistakes. Kamanin views Keldysh as a braking force on the space programme. He attributes the loss of the moon race to bad managers like Keldysh and Mishin.