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Soyuz 31

Soyuz 31
Mission duration 67 days, 20 hours, 12 minutes, 47 seconds
Orbits completed 124
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Soyuz 7K-T
Manufacturer NPO Energia
Launch mass 6,800 kilograms (15,000 lb)
Crew size 2
Launching Valery Bykovsky
Sigmund Jähn
Landing Vladimir Kovalyonok
Aleksandr Ivanchenkov
Callsign Ястреб (Yastreb - "Hawk")
Start of mission
Launch date August 26, 1978, 14:51:30 (1978-08-26T14:51:30Z) UTC
Rocket Soyuz-U
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 140 kilometres (87 mi) SE of Dzhezkazgan
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 196.8 kilometres (122.3 mi)
Apogee 259.9 kilometres (161.5 mi)
Inclination 51.64 degrees
Period 88.81 minutes
Docking with Salyut 6

Soyuz programme
(Manned missions)
← Soyuz 30 Soyuz 32
Valery Bykovsky with Sigmund Jähn

Soyuz 31 (Russian: Союз 31, Union 31) was a 1978 Soviet manned space flight to the Salyut 6 space station.[2] It was the seventh mission to and sixth successful docking at the orbiting facility. The Soyuz 31 crew were the second to visit the long-duration Soyuz 29 resident crew.

Soyuz 31 carried Valery Bykovsky and Sigmund Jähn, the first German cosmonaut, into space. They swapped Soyuz craft with the long-duration crew and returned to earth in Soyuz 29, the resident crew returned to earth in Soyuz 31.


  • Crew 1
    • Backup crew 1.1
  • Mission parameters 2
  • Mission highlights 3
  • References 4


Position Launching crew Landing crew
Commander Valery Bykovsky
Third spaceflight
 Soviet Union
Vladimir Kovalyonok
Second spaceflight
 Soviet Union
Research Cosmonaut/Flight Engineer Sigmund Jähn
First spaceflight
 East Germany
Aleksandr Ivanchenkov
First spaceflight
 Soviet Union

Backup crew

Position Crew
Commander Viktor Gorbatko
 Soviet Union
Research Cosmonaut Eberhard Köllner
 East Germany

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,800 kg (15,000 lb)
  • Perigee: 196.8 km (122.3 mi)
  • Apogee: 259.9 km (161.5 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.64°
  • Period: 88.81 minutes

Mission highlights

Soyuz 31, the third Intercosmos flight, was launched 26 August 1978. Cosmonauts Bykovsky and Jahn were greeted by resident crew Vladimir Kovalyonok and Aleksandr Ivanchenkov when they docked at the aft port of the Salyut 6 space station the next day. The visitors brought with them fresh onions, garlic, lemons, apples and other food for the long-duration crew, then in space for more than two months.[3]

The presence of the East German cosmonaut was seen as significant because of the presence of the MKF-6M camera on the space station, built by the Carl Zeiss works at Jena.[4] Medical and biological experiments were carried out, including an audio experiment which tested sound and noise perception limits.[3] An experiment called Berolina used the Splav furnace to process an ampoule of bismuth and antimonide with the material between two plates in the ampoule. The tree structure which resulted was four to six times larger than what had been produced on the ground.[3] Another experiment tested using different photographic films on the station's interior.

The Soyuz 31 crew swapped craft with the Soyuz 29 crew so as to supply the long-duration crew with a fresh craft. On September 2, the engines of Soyuz 29 were tested, 25 experiment containers with 100 experimental results were transferred, along with exposed film, and seat liners and centering weights were exchanged. The Soyuz 31 crew left in Soyuz 29 the next day and landed 140 km southeast of Dzhezkazgan.[3]

The standard recovery procedure was changed with this flight, observers noted.[4] In the past, the recovery of a civilian Salyut crew had been made on the orbit following the one which provided a nominal launch opportunity to Salyut. With this and subsequent flights, the landing occurred during the orbit which provided the nominal launch opportunity. The effect of this change was to have a landing window open some two to three days earlier than otherwise.[4]

The crew on the station subsequently boarded the Soyuz 31 vehicle and redocked it to the forward port, thus freeing the aft port for a forthcoming Progress supply ship. They returned to earth 2 November in the craft after setting a new space-endurance record of 139 days.


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