Site news | Site map | About this site | About the author | Testimonials | Mailbox | ADVERTISE! | DONATE!

Training crews for the first Soyuz mission

By early September 1965, preparations for the first Soyuz mission began, just a month after Sergei Korolev had signed the final technical specifications for the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft. By that time, Korolev had already received a letter from the Head of Cosmonaut Training Center Nikolai Kamanin with a list of candidates for the first joint mission. (84)

Previous chapter: Soyuz-1 flight program


Komarov and Bykovsky climb into Soyuz simulators for training.


From the publisher: Pace of our development depends primarily on the level of support from our readers!

The original group of cosmonauts selected for the Soyuz rendezvous mission included Yuri Gagarin, Vladimir Komarov, Andriyan Nikolaev, Valery Bykovsky, Evgeny Khrunov, Viktor Gorbatko, Anatoly Voronov and Petr Kolodin. Gagarin, Nikolaev, Bykovsky and Komarov would be trained as pilots, while Khrunov, Gorbatko, Voronov and Kolodin as space walkers.

However on the insistence of Vasily Mishin and despite fierce resistance of Kamanin, civilian engineers were included into the crew. In the new selection officially approved on Nov. 16, 1966, a civilian engineer Aleksei Eliseev joined Komarov, Bykovsky and Khrunov in the primary crew, while Valery Kubasov entered a backup team including Gagarin, Nikolaev and Gorbatko. Another backup crew was formed in January 1967, including Georgy Beregovoi, Vladimir Shatalov, Petr Kolodin and Vladimir Volkov. Volkov came from a group of civilian candidates from Mishin's TsKBEM design bureau. That group also included Makarov and Grechko.

As a result of many delays in the development of the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft and its associated simulators, the active training of the crews did not start until February 1967. Komarov and Gagarin were using the Volga simulator to rehearse rendezvous operations, while spacewalkers were expected to make between eight and nine flights on a Tu-104 aircraft equipped with the TBK-60 thermal and vacuum chamber to practice the transfer from one spacecraft to another. However, as of January 1967, these flights were delayed due to leaks in the oxygen-supply system of the TBK chamber and the lack of the Yastreb spacesuits needed for the spacewalk. As late as February 14, Mishin listed a number of problems with the TBK, including temperature in its habitation compartment reaching 30 degrees C, lack of cosmonaut health monitoring and safety equipment, as well as a leaky life-support backpack. (774)

On March 9, when Mishin came to the Tyuratam launch site for the first launch of the L1 spacecraft, he also had a chance to see the first Soyuz slated for carry the pilot -- 7K-OK No. 4 -- undergoing processing at Site 31. (774)

On March 14 an 15, the primary crew conducted a 30-hour final rehearsal of the flight, followed by the second crew on March 17 and 18. Both crews passed final "theoretical" exams with flying colors on March 30 and departed for Tyuratam on April 8, 1967, the same day when the L1 spacecraft lifted off on its second test mission and cleared the way for the Soyuz. (231)

Next chapter: Preparations for the Soyuz-1 mission

Read much more about the history of the Russian space program in a richly illustrated, large-format glossy edition:



Bookmark and Share

The article and illustrations by Anatoly Zak

Last update: September 7, 2018

All rights reserved





Original members of the Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-2 crews and their backups (left to right): Gagarin, Khrunov (in EVA suit), Komarov, Eliseev (in EVA suit) and Bykovsky.


A photo supposedly showing Komarov during EVA training gave a hint to Western observers about the flight program of the Soyuz-1 mission.


Gagarin takes a seat inside the Soyuz simulator.


Volga simulators were used for training early Soyuz pilots.