Georgy Beregovoi lands aboard Soyuz-3
On October 30, 1968, Georgy Beregovoi made a safe landing in Kazakhstan aboard the descent module of the Soyuz-3 spacecraft after a four-day mission. For the first time since the beginning of flight tests two years earlier and a year and the half after the death of Komarov, the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft successfully returned a cosmonaut from orbit. The USSR now had a new transport vehicle.
October 30: the landing day
The official TASS report about the Soyuz-3 landing.
At 6:30 in the morning, mission control held the final meeting on the upcoming landing of Soyuz-3. As planned, at 8:32 in the morning, during the 80th orbit, Beregovoi initiated manual orientation based on ion orientation and switching to infra-read orientation for the firing of the DKD engine to leave orbit. Initially, Beregovoi made two reports to ground control that the ion orientation system had not been functioning, leaving officials in doubt for two or three minutes whether the planned deorbiting would be possible as planned, but, fortunately, Beregovoi then announced that the system had began working. (820)
This time, Mishin recorded the time of the braking engine firing from 09:45:05 to 09:47:34, which amounts to 149 seconds, which is four seconds longer than the duration quoted in the official October 30 TASS announcement about the landing and six seconds longer than the planned firing duration recorded by Mishin a day earlier. However, Mishin's pre- and post-landing notes recorded the velocity change (or the slowdown rate) provided by the braking maneuver as 95 meters per second. (774)
Kamanin remembered that communications with Beregovoi were cut immediately after his report about the braking engine cutoff. A few minutes later, Kamanin also received a report that the short-wave communications with the spacecraft had also ceased which indicated that the Descent Module had separated from the Habitation Module and Instrument Compartment.
First news on the fate of the cosmonaut came from General Kutasin, who led the search and rescue teams and also had access to information from anti-aircraft radar. "Distance 2,200 kilometers," Kutasin announced, indicating that the radar had homed in on the capsule and was tracking along its descent trajectory, which seemed to be very close to that planned. (820)
According to Mishin, the Descent Module of the Soyuz-3 was calculated to reach an altitude of seven kilometers above the Earth's surface at 10:12:26 Moscow Time, or 24 minutes after the braking maneuver. The geographical coordinates of the capsule's position at the seven-kilometer altitude -- 50.8 degrees North latitude and 73 degrees East longitude -- were also close to the previously planned parameters. (774)
The crew of a search plane saw the deployment of the parachute at an altitude of seven kilometers and then followed the capsule for the next 13 minutes, when the spacecraft fired its soft-landing engines, a moment before touching the ground. (820)
The successful touchdown of the capsule with the cosmonaut took place at 10:25 Moscow Time on October 30, according to TASS.
The first search and rescue helicopter landed next to the capsule practically at the same time as it landed and even before Beregovoi could open the hatch of the spacecraft, he saw the faces of rescue specialists peering into the windows.
Soyuz-3 landed 70 kilometers north of the Kazakh city of Karaganda, around 10 kilometers short of the projected point. (820) The three-day, 22-hour, 50-minute mission finally validated the entire flight sequence of the Soyuz spacecraft with a pilot onboard, two years after the test launches had began. But still, many questions remained, and more flight tests lay ahead.
The Descent Module of the Soyuz-3 spacecraft. The cover of the parachute container is in the foreground. The opening of the parachute container can be seen on the left side of the capsule. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak
The cover of the Soviet humor magazine, Krokodil, celebrates the joint mission of the Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-3 spacecraft, whose exterior appearance is still classified.
Beregovoi working with a flight journal aboard Soyuz-3 along with other images received via TV system by ground control, which he signed for the team of the calculation center on Jan. 10, 1969.