Saturday, January 29, 2011

USA – USSR Apollo/Soyuz Joint Mission 15.7.1975

This wonderful First Day Cover dated 15.7.1975 was issued in the USA. This cover is especially important as it is postmarked at the Kennedy Space Centre. It is a pity that I don’t have the fdc postmarked that day at the Baykonur Cosmodrome in the USSR.
Apollo Soyuz Goals. Apollo Soyuz was the first international manned spaceflight. It was designed to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft, to open the way for international space rescue as well as future joint manned flights.
The Spacecraft. The existing American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft were used. The Apollo spacecraft was nearly identical to the one that orbited the Moon and later carried astronauts to Skylab. The Soyuz craft was the primary Soviet spacecraft used for manned flight since its introduction in 1967. A docking module was designed and constructed by NASA to serve as an airlock and transfer corridor between the two craft.
The Flight of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project. July 15-24, 1975
Apollo Crew : Thomas P. Stafford, Vance D. Brand, Donald K. Slayton
Soyuz Crew: Valeriy Nikolayevich Kubasov, Alexei Arhipovich Leonov
09 days, 07 hours, 28 minutes
The Soyuz was launched just over seven hours prior to the launch of the Apollo CSM. Apollo then maneuvered to rendezvous and docking 52 hours after the Soyuz launch. The Apollo and Soyuz crews conducted a variety of experiments over a two-day period. After separation, Apollo remained in space an additional 06 days. Soyuz returned to Earth approximately 43 hours after separation.
All communications among the five crew members during the mission were made in the language of the listener, with the Americans speaking Russian to the Soviet crew and the Soviet crew speaking English to the Americans. Contact of the two spacecraft, 51 hr, 49 min, into the mission (12:09 pm July 17) was transmitted live on TV to the earth, and Stafford commented, "We have succeeded. Everything is excellent." "Soyuz and Apollo are shaking hands now," the cosmonauts answered. Hard docking was completed over the Atlantic Ocean at 12:12 pm, 6 min earlier than the prelaunch flight plan watched by millions of TV viewers worldwide. "Perfect. Beautiful. Well done, Tom. It was a good show. We're looking forward to shaking hands with you in board [sic] Soyuz," Leonov said. Tass later reported that Kubasov told Moscow ground controllers that "we felt a slight jolt at the moment of docking" but that all went according to plan.

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