Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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Soyuz Apollo Test Project

Tyneside, UK
2022 Sep 28
Wednesday, Day 271

Curated by:


The Partnership: A History of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project

Press Kit (PDF Download)
Soyuz 16 - The Final Rehearsal

Conducted seven months prior to the actual mission, Soyuz 16 was a complete dry-run for ASTP. Nikolai Rukavishnikov (nearest the camera) and Anatoly Filipchenko, both experienced cosmonauts, formed one of four crews which were put together to support the mission - the Soviet Union was taking no chances.

SoyuzThe US was not told in advance of the Soyuz 16 mission. although it was known that a dress rehearsal was to be flown. Only when the Soyuz reached orbit did mission managers inform their American colleagues. NASA was able to put the mission to some use through tracking it and, at the Soviet Union's request, conducting a simulated launch so that the Soyuz crew had something to 'aim' at.

Apart from the initial orbit which was a little higher than planned for ASTP itself, all of Soyuz 16's activities mimicked the flight which was to follow only eight months later. One major activity was raising and lowering the atmospheric pressure in Soyuz. A compromise had to be reached to allow the mission to take place as there was a fundamental difference between US and Soviet spaceraft design. Cosmonauts breathed air at normal atmospheric pressure - astronauts survived in a pure oxygen atmosphere at on-third normal pressure.

Some have suggested that the higher than expected initial orbit may have resulted from a trajectory error and others have suggested that the Soviet Union had chosen it deliberately in order to demonstrate flexibility in controlling a mission through recovering from such an error. Either way the chosen orbit matched that of Cosmos 672 another ASTP simulation mission flown about four months earlier.

Date Time (UTC) Event
1974 Dec 2 09:40 Soyuz 16 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Soyuz rocket into 184 x 291 kilometre orbit at 51.8 degrees inclination with Anatoli Filipchenko and Nikolai Rukavishnikov aboard - its mission is a 'dry-run' for ASTP, call sign - Buran
1974 Dec 2 18:08 Atmospheric pressure inside Soyuz 16 is now 10.4 psi/540 mm, rather than the 'normal' 14.7 psi/760 mm
1974 Dec 3 13:37 Atmospheric pressure inside Soyuz 16 is now 9.9 psi/510 mm - as will be used by ASTP during crew transfers
1974 Dec 5 Soyuz 16 orbit is now 225 x 226 kilometres
1974 Dec 6 16:01 Atmospheric pressure inside Soyuz 16 is now 16.0 psi/830mm
1974 Dec 7 09:00 Dummy docking unit (used to test connections with the Soyuz docking gear) jettisoned from Soyuz 16
1974 Dec 7 13:10 Soyuz 16 internal atmospheric pressure is now back to normal - 14.7 psi/760 mm
1974 Dec 8 The dummy docking unit from Soyuz 16 enters the Earth atmosphere as a result of natural decay of the orbit through air drag and is destroyed by frictional heating
1974 Dec 8 07:26 Soyuz 16 fires its manoeuvring engine to initiate re-entry
1974 Dec 8 08:04 Soyuz 16 lands - 300 kilometres north of Dzhezhkazgan
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