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Soyuz 23

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Title: Soyuz 23  
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Subject: 1976 in spaceflight, Splashdown, Soyuz 22, Soyuz 24, Valery Rozhdestvensky
Collection: 1976 in Spaceflight, 1976 in the Soviet Union, Manned Soyuz Missions, Spacecraft Launched in 1976
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Soyuz 23

Soyuz 23
Mission duration 2 days, 6 minutes, 35 seconds
Orbits completed 32
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Soyuz 7K-T/A9
Manufacturer NPO Energia
Launch mass 6,760 kilograms (14,900 lb)
Crew size 2
Members Vyacheslav Zudov
Valery Rozhdestvensky
Callsign Радон (Radon - "Radon")
Start of mission
Launch date October 14, 1976, 17:39:18 (1976-10-14T17:39:18Z) UTC
Rocket Soyuz
Launch site Baikonur 1/5[1]
End of mission
Landing date Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. UTC
Landing site Lake Tengiz
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 239 kilometres (149 mi)
Apogee 269 kilometres (167 mi)
Inclination 51.6 degrees
Period 89.5 minutes

Soyuz programme
(Manned missions)
← Soyuz 22 Soyuz 24

Soyuz 23 (Russian: Союз 23, Union 23) was a 1976 Soviet manned space flight, the second to the Salyut 5 space station. Cosmonauts Vyacheslav Zudov and Valery Rozhdestvensky arrived at the station, but an equipment malfunction did not allow docking and the mission had to be aborted.[2]

The crew returned to earth, but landed on partially frozen Lake Tengiz, the first splashdown in the Soviet space program. While there was no concern about any immediate threat to the crew, the capsule sunk under the surface of the frozen lake, and recovery took nine hours owing to fog and other adverse conditions. The landing marked the final splashdown of a manned spacecraft to date.


  • Crew 1
    • Backup crew 1.1
    • Reserve crew 1.2
  • Mission highlights 2
  • Mission parameters 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Position Cosmonaut
Commander Vyacheslav Zudov
First spaceflight
Flight Engineer Valery Rozhdestvensky
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Viktor Gorbatko
Flight Engineer Yuri Glazkov

Reserve crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Anatoli Berezovoy
Flight Engineer Mikhail Lisun

Mission highlights

Soyuz 23 was launched 14 October 1976 with an estimated 73- to 85-day mission planned aboard the orbiting Salyut 5 space station.[3] Others suggest a 17- to 24-day mission was a more likely intention.[4] It was the first visit to the station after the sudden termination of the Soyuz 21 mission in August. However, on 15 October, during the automatic approach phase, the automatic docking system malfunctioned before the craft was within 100 metres of the station. Crews were normally trained for a manual dock, but not for a manual approach.[3] The mission, accordingly, had to be abandoned.

The craft had only two days of battery power, so systems were powered off, including the radio, to conserve power.[3] The day's landing opportunity had already passed, so they had to wait for the next day's landing opportunity near the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

On 16 October, Soyuz 23 returned to earth and landed 8:45 p.m. local time, but weather conditions were poor and the cosmonauts experienced an unusual recovery. They landed on a freezing Lake Tengiz, 8 km from shore, in the middle of a blizzard, with fog and temperatures at −22 °C.[3] It was the first splashdown by a Soviet crew.[4] The capsule was designed to land in any conditions, even in a body of water, so the only concern was the increased difficulty in finding the capsule and crew.[3]

The parachute quickly filled with water and dragged the capsule and its crew beneath the surface. The capsule cooled in the freezing water, and the cosmonauts removed their pressure suits and donned their normal flight suits, expecting a quick rescue.

But the capsule's beacons could not be seen in the heavy fog, and rubber rafts used to try to reach them were blocked by ice and sludge. Amphibious vehicles were air-lifted to the vicinity, but could not reach the capsule owing to bogs surrounding the lake. Accordingly, the rescue was called off until dawn.[3] The cosmonauts were safe, but they were low on power, so they were forced to shut down everything but a small interior light.

The next morning, frogmen were dropped in by helicopters, attached flotation devices to the Soyuz craft and recovered the crew. The capsule was too heavy to be lifted by the helicopter, so it was dragged to shore. The recovery operation had taken nine hours.[3]

Press releases by Soviet news agency TASS announced that there had been a water landing and that the cosmonauts were recovered safely, but made no mention of the rescue operation involved and the details of it were not revealed until the era of glasnost a decade later.

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,760 kg (14,900 lb)
  • Perigee: 239 km (149 mi)
  • Apogee: 269 km (167 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 89.5 min

See also


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  2. ^ The mission report is available here:
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Newkirk, Dennis (1990). Almanac of Soviet Manned Space Flight. Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company.  
  4. ^ a b Clark, Phillip (1988). The Soviet Manned Space Program. New York: Orion Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc.  

External links

  • Drama on Tengiz Lake (in Russian) with photos
  • Rescue operation on Tengiz Lake (in Russian)
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