Site map

Site update log

About this site

About the author




Searching for details:

The author of this page will appreciate comments, corrections and imagery related to the subject. Please contact Anatoly Zak.


Soyuz spacecraft conduct triple mission


With the Soviet lunar project stalled by the failures of the N1 rocket in 1969, leaders of the rocket industry were forced to invent more spectacular missions based on the available Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft. The success of the dual piloted Soyuz mission in January 1969, inspired the idea of repeating the docking of two spacecraft, but this time, in view of the third piloted vehicle flying in formation with the first two. The triple mission proceeded from October 11 to October 18, 1969.

Joint mission of Soyuz-6, -7 and -8 at a glance:

Spacecraft designation
Soyuz, 7K-OK-A 11F615 No. 14
Soyuz, 7K-OK-A 11F615 No. 15 "Passive"
Soyuz, 7K-OK-A 11F615 No. 16 "Active"
Crew at launch
Georgy Shonin, Valery Kubasov
Anatoly Filipchenko, Vladimir Volkov, Viktor Gorbatko
Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksei Yeliseev
Call sign
Launch date and time
1969 Oct. 11, 14:10:00 Moscow Time
1969 Oct. 12, 13:44:42 Moscow Time
1969 Oct. 13, 13:19:09 Moscow Time
Launch site
Landing date
1969 Oct. 16
12:52:47 Moscow Time
1969 Oct. 17
12:25:05 Moscow Time
1969 Oct. 18
12:09:58 Moscow Time
Landing site
180 kilometers northwest of Karaganda
155 kilometers southwest of Karaganda
145 kilometers north of Karaganda
Rendezvous and formation flying with vehicles No. 15 and 16
Rendezvous and docking with Vehicle No. 16
Rendezvous and docking with Vehicle No. 15
Flight duration
4 days 22 hours 42 minutes 47 seconds
4 days 22 hours 40 minutes 23 seconds
4 days 22 hours 50 minutes 49 seconds

*Yeliseev and Khrunov logged 1 day, 23 hours 50 seconds total during a flight aboard Soyuz-5 and Soyuz-4.


insider content

scenario Planning the triple Soyuz mission

The active planning for the triple Soyuz mission began immediately after the successful landing of the Soyuz-4 and Soyuz-5 spacecraft in January 1969. The lauchnes were originally scheduled for as early as August 1969 and the crew training started at the end of February, but the crew assignments to the mission had major changes throughout the year.


Three Soyuz vehicles prepare to fly

The final launch campaign for the triple Soyuz mission began in Tyuratam on September 22, 1969, with the arrival of the cosmonaut team and the support personnel. Despite the worsening fall weather bringing strong winds and rain to the steppes of Kazakhstan, all three Soyuz spacecraft were ready for launch by the end of the day on October 10, 1969.




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-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-8 completes orbital armada

On October 13, 1969, the Soyuz-8 spacecraft blasted into orbit with Vladimir Shatalov and Aleksei Yeliseev onboard bringing to seven the total number of Soviet cosmonauts in orbit and the number of piloted ships in space to three. The next day, Soyuz-8 was scheduled to dock with Soyuz-7 in view of Soyuz-6, but the last-minute problem interrupted the ambitious scenario.


Soyuz-6 returns to Earth

After failed attempts at docking, the crews aboard three Soyuz spacecraft focused on the individual flight programs filled with multiple experiments. The most ambitious and dangerous solo portion of the flight was assigned to the Soyuz-6 spacecraft.


Soyuz-7 returns to Earth

After the final and unsuccessful attempt to dock the Soyuz-7 and Soyuz-8 spacecraft on October 16, 1969, ground control guided Soyuz-7 to landing the next day. With only a minor glitch in the flight control system to worry about, the three cosmonauts reentered the atmosphere on October 17, 1969.


soyuz8 Soyuz-8 landing completes triple mission

The flawless landing of the Soyuz-8 spacecraft wrapped up the simultaneous flight of the three piloted spacecraft and gave the Soviet government plenty of cause for celebration. In the meantime, behind the scene, engineers and cosmonauts pondered many important lessons from the failed docking between Soyuz-7 and Soyuz-8.


All articles and illustrations inside this section by Anatoly Zak unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved

Last update: July 26, 2020