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Soyuz 11

By Marty McDowell

Cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolksy, Vladislav Volkov, Viktor Patsayev were launched in Soyuz 11 on June 6, 1971 and docked with the Salyut space station. Originally, they were the Soyuz 11 backup crew, but when Valery Kubasov from the original crew became ill, the crews were changed. They stayed 23 days in space, which was a new duration record at that time, but died on the flight back to Earth on June 30. Following the undocking sequence and retrorocket firing for reentry, communications with the descent capsule ended just prior to the usual blackout when a spacecraft enters the Earth's ionosphere.

A USSR government commission found that a faulty valve had allowed all of the air to escape from the capsule, killing them 30 minutes before landing. The design of the Soyuz reentry module at that time did not allow enough room for the three cosmonauts to wear spacesuits. The cosmonauts were found dead in the Soyuz 11 capsule when it was opened after landing. The Soviet Union did not return any crews to Salyut 1 and it was more than two years before they attempted another manned mission.

Source: NASA.


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Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.



Cosmonauts Patsayev, Dobrovolsky, and Volkov in the Soyuz simulator during mission training.

Courtesy of NASA

Launched: June 6, 1971

Destination: Salvut Space Station

Arrival: June 30, 1971


Nation: Soviet Union

Mission: Docking with Salvut

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