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Soyuz 5

Mission Statistics
Mission:Soyuz 5
Call sign:Baikal (Lake Baikal)
Launch:January 15, 1969 07:14 UTC
Baikonur LC1
Landing:January 18, 1969 08:08 UTC
49° North, 71° East
Duration:3 days 54 minutes

The Soyuz 5 was a Soyuz spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union on January 15, 1969 which docked with Soyuz 4 in orbit. It was piloted by Commander Boris Volynov and carried flight engineers Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov as crew to be transferred to the Soyuz 4 for reentry. The flight conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological research, checking and testing of onboard systems and design elements of space craft, docking of piloted space craft and construction of an experimental space station, transfer of cosmonauts from one craft to another in orbit.

Volynov remained behind on the Soyuz 5, and returned to Earth in a truly remarkable re-entry. The service module of the Soyuz failed to separate after retrofire, but by that point it was too late to abort. While this had occurred on various Vostok and Voskhod flights, and on one Mercury flight, it was a much more serious problem for Volynov, where the module was much larger than a small retropack. When the Soyuz started aerobraking in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, the combined spacecraft sought the most aerodynamically stable position - nose forward, with the heavy descent module facing directly into the air stream with only its light metal entry hatch at the front to protect it. The gaskets sealing the hatch began to burn, filling the air with dangerous fumes. The G forces, while normal for reentry, were pulling Volynov outward against his harness rather than against the padded seat.

Fortunately, as the thermal and aerodynamic stresses on the combined craft increased, struts between the descent and service modules broke off or burned through before the hatch failed. The descent module immediately righted itself once the service module was gone, with the heat shield forward to take the brunt of reentry. There was one final problem in store for Volynov when the parachute cables partially tangled and soft-landing rockets failed, resulting in a harder than usual impact which broke his teeth. The capsule had come down in the Ural Mountains 2 km SW of Kustani, near Orenburg, Russia[?], far short of its target landing site in Khazakstan. The local temperature was -38°C, and knowing that it would be many hours before rescue teams could reach him Volynov abandoned the capsule and walked for several kilometers to reach a local peasant's house to keep warm. It would be seven years until Volynov flew again, on Soyuz 21.

Previous Soyuz mission: Soyuz 4; Next Soyuz mission: Soyuz 6

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