From the publisher: Pace of our development depends primarily on the level of support from our readers!

Soyuz-6 opens floodgate of launches

The first of the three spacecraft participating in the planned joined mission lifted off on October 11, 1969. The Soyuz-6, carrying no docking port, entered orbit without problems and was in position to monitor the rendezvous of the two subsequent vehicles.

Soyuz-6 mission at a glance:

Spacecraft designation
Soyuz, 7K-OK-A 11F615 No. 14
Crew at launch
Georgy Shonin, Valery Kubasov
Call sign
Launch date and time
1969 Oct. 11, 14:10:00 Moscow Time
Launch site
Landing date
1969 October 16, 12:52:47 Moscow Time
Landing site
180 kilometers northwest of Karaganda
Rendezvous and formation flying with vehicles No. 15 and 16
Flight duration
4 days 22 hours 42 minutes 47 seconds


Valery Kubasov (left) and Georgy Shonin arrive at the launch pad before liftoff of the Soyuz-6 spacecraft
on October 11, 1969.

On October 11, 1969, the crew of Soyuz-6 was awaken at 7:30 local time (05:30 Moscow). The State Commission, overseeing launch preparations convened at 11:00. During the meeting, Vladimir Patrushev, a senior officer responsible for pad operations, reported some electrical problems, apparently caused by rain. Still, he assured everybody that the necessary measures were being taken to dry up the vehicle, so the commission gave the green light to the fueling of the rocket. (774)

Georgy Shonin and Valery Kubasov took their seats aboard the spacecraft two hours before the planned liftoff (12:00 Moscow, 10:00 local).

The Soyuz-6 spacecraft lifted off as scheduled at 14:10:10.22 Moscow Time. (820) The launch vehicle ascended to orbit according to the following timeline:

RK-I command (Stage I separation)
118.95 seconds
118.95 seconds
Payload fairing jettison
157.92 seconds
165.72 seconds
GKP-II command (Stage II separation)
288.46 seconds
288.46 seconds
Stage III tail section separation
297.71 seconds
301.16 seconds
GK-III-08 command (Stage III engine shutdown process begins?)
521.05 seconds
521.65 seconds
GK-III command (Stage III separation)
527.05 seconds
527.65 seconds

The nearly 10-minute ride to orbit was flawless and mission control quickly received confirmation that the solar panels and antennas of the spacecraft had deployed as planned. (774)

However, the pressurization of the DPO attitude control system aboard Soyuz did not take place immediately after the separation of the spacecraft from the launch vehicle. The initial attempt by the crew to start pressurization from an onboard console also failed. The problem threatened to severely limit the maneuvering capabilities of the spacecraft, but fortunately, during the third orbit, the pressurization was finally initiated, after Shonin was able to trigger a pyrotechnic device in the valve responsible for the operation. (820, 774)

According to ground tracking data cited by Vasily Mishin, Soyuz-6 had the following orbital parameters:

Actual, Orbit 1
Actual, Orbit 1 and 2
Orbital period
88.58 minutes
88.37 minutes
88.36 minutes
51.68 degrees
51.65 degrees
51.71 degrees
208.1 kilometers
186.6 kilometers
185.9 kilometers
224.9 kilometers
222.8 kilometers
222.9 kilometers


Mishin also recorded the periods for communications with Soyuz-6 on October 11, during its passes over the Soviet ground stations:

Start of communications
End of communications
Orbit 2
15:39 Moscow Time
16:02 Moscow Time
Orbit 3
17:11 Moscow Time
17:28 Moscow Time
Orbit 4
18:44 Moscow Time
18:58 Moscow Time
Orbit 5
20:16 Moscow Time
20:27 Moscow Time


During the 5th orbit of the mission, the cosmonauts aboard Soyuz-6 re-oriented their spacecraft for orbit correction and then manually activated the ship's SKDU propulsion system for 27 seconds. The maneuver added 11 meters per second to the ship's velocity and put it in position for the rendezvous operations in the coming days.

In the meantime, back in Tyuratam, the launch vehicle with the Soyuz-8 spacecraft was rolled out to the launch pad at Site 31 at 18:00 Moscow Time, or just four hours after Soyuz-6 blasted off from the same facility. (774)

Bookmark and Share

The article by Anatoly Zak; Last update: October 18, 2019

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: October 15, 2019

All rights reserved



insider content



Shonin and Kubasov bid farewell from the top of the launch gantry at Site 31 in Tyuratam before boarding Soyuz-6 on October 11, 1969.