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Soyuz-7 joins Soyuz-6 in orbit
On October 12, 1969, the Soyuz-7 spacecraft with Anatoly Filipchenko, Vladimir Volkov and Viktor Gorbatko onboard lifted off from Tyuratam. The successful launch brought for the first time the number of cosmonauts in orbit to five people when counting Georgy Shonin and Valery Kubasov who had reached space around 24 hours earlier aboard Soyuz-6.
Soyuz-7 mission at a glance:
At 10:30 on October 12, 1969, the State Commission convened at Site 2 and approved the launch of Soyuz-7 at 13:44:42 Moscow Time to make it possible for the fresh spacecraft to intercept its predecessor in orbit, as the Earth's rotation around its axis placed Tyuratam back into the orbital plane of the Soyuz-6 mission.
In parallel, all the testing of the Soyuz-8 spacecraft had been completed with flying colors at Site 31 by 08:00 on the same day.
Soyuz-7 lifted off as planned at 13:44:42.4 Moscow Time on October 12, 1969, with Anatoly Filipchenko, Vladimir Volkov and Valery Gorbatko onboard. The ascent went perfectly and the spacecraft separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle at 13:53:33.5 Moscow Time.
The orbital parameters of Soyuz-7 were mostly close to specifications, however Mishin noted some concerns about a deviation of the Soyuz-6 spacecraft from the planned apogee of 220 kilometers after its own orbit correction the previous day:
During the first orbit, the crew of Soyuz-7 was also able to organize a TV broadcast from orbit. (820)
Mishin recorded the following communications windows between the mission control and the two spacecraft throughout October 12 and the first half of October 13 (Moscow Time):
In the meantime, aboard Soyuz-6, Shonin and Kubasov watched the firing of a missile within the Svinets ("lead") experiment, which took place at 16:28 Moscow Time, (820) which coincided with the 19th orbit of their flight. According to Mishin, all sensors involved in the exercise were able to home in on the target, however, after lightning had interrupted the tracking, the crew overspent propellant, trying to re-acquire the target. According to Mishin's notes, the cosmonauts burned from six to eight kilograms of propellant, instead of the two kilograms allocated for the operation.
At the post-flight debriefing on October 19, Shonin remembered that all tracking attempts were quite straight forward and in addition to tracking plumes of the rocket engines, cosmonauts were also able to see floodlights.
At the end of October 12, measurements performed by ground stations before the ships went out of range for the rest of the day, showed the following orbital parameters for Soyuz-6 and Soyuz-7:
Launch of the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft.