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Soyuz 16 (Russian: Союз 16, Union 16) was a 1974 manned test flight for a joint Soviet-US space flight which culminated in the Apollo-Soyuz mission in July 1975. The two-man Soviet crew tested a docking ring and other systems to be used in the joint flight.

Soyuz 16
Mission typeTest flight
COSPAR ID1974-096A
SATCAT no.7561
Mission duration5 days, 22 hours, 23 minutes, 35 seconds
Orbits completed95
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeSoyuz 7K-TM
ManufacturerNPO Energia
Launch mass6,800 kilograms (15,000 lb)
Crew size2
MembersAnatoly Filipchenko
Nikolai Rukavishnikov
CallsignБуран (Buran - "Blizzard")
Start of mission
Launch dateDecember 2, 1974, 09:40:00 (1974-12-02UTC09:40Z) UTC
Launch siteBaikonur 1/5[1]
End of mission
Landing dateDecember 8, 1974, 08:03:35 (1974-12-08UTC08:03:36Z) UTC
Landing site30 kilometres (19 mi) NE of Arkalyk
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude184 kilometres (114 mi)
Apogee altitude291 kilometres (181 mi)
Inclination51.8 degrees
Period89.2 minutes
Soyuz 16Apollo-Soyuz.png
Soyuz programme
(Manned missions)


Position Cosmonaut
Commander Anatoly Filipchenko
Second and last spaceflight
Flight Engineer Nikolai Rukavishnikov
Second spaceflight

Backup crewEdit

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Vladimir Dzhanibekov
Flight Engineer Boris Andreyev

Reserve crewEdit

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Yuri Romanenko
Flight Engineer Aleksandr Ivanchenkov

Mission parametersEdit

  • Mass: 6,800 kg (15,000 lb)
  • Perigee: 184 km (114 mi)
  • Apogee: 291 km (181 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.8°
  • Period: 89.2 min


The Soyuz 16 mission was the final rehearsal and first manned mission in a program which culminated in the Apollo-Soyuz (ASTP) mission seven months later.[2] The Soviet Union and the United States of America, Cold War rivals, had signed several arms control treaties in the 1960s and 1970s, and had entered into a period of detente by the early 1970s. In 1972, a treaty was signed to participate in a joint manned space flight as a symbol of this detente.[3]

Early concepts for a joint flight included docking a Soyuz craft to the American Skylab space station, or an Apollo vehicle docking with a Salyut space station. Once the Americans abandoned their Skylab station in 1974, the Apollo-Salyut concept seemed to be the logical choice, but since the Soviets had started to develop a universal docking adapter for the mission and feared having to publicly reveal details of their military-focused Salyut missions, the two powers opted to link a Soyuz spacecraft with an Apollo spacecraft.[3]

Three test flights of an unmanned version of the ASTP spacecraft were flown: Cosmos 638, launched 3 April 1974; Cosmos 652, launched 15 May 1974; and Cosmos 672, launched 12 August 1974. These three flights, and Soyuz 16, were all launched with an improved version of a Soyuz booster.[3]

Mission highlightsEdit

In an unprecedented move, Soviet planners offered to inform their NASA counterparts of the time of the launch, as long as they did not reveal that time to the press. NASA officials refused to agree to that condition and, accordingly, were informed of the launch an hour after it occurred, on 2 December 1974.[2]

During the flight, Cosmonauts Anatoly Filipchenko and Nikolai Rukavishnikov tested the androgynous docking system to be used for the ASTP mission by retracting and extending a simulated 20 kg American docking ring.[2][3]

The crew also tested modified environmental systems, new solar panels and improved control systems, as well as a new radar docking system. Air pressure was reduced from 760 mm to 540 mm and oxygen raised from 20% to 40% to test reducing the planned transfer time to Apollo from two to one hour.[3] On 7 December, the docking ring was jettisoned with explosive bolts to test emergency measures if the capture latches got stuck during the ASTP flight.

The craft landed 8 December near Arkalyk and was hailed a complete success.[3] The mission duration, six days, matched the ASTP mission duration to within 10 minutes.[2]


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  2. ^ a b c d Clark, Phillip (1988). The Soviet Manned Space Program. New York: Orion Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-517-56954-X.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Newkirk, Dennis (1990). Almanac of Soviet Manned Space Flight. Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87201-848-2.

External linksEdit