Soyuz 10 (Russian: 'Союз 10', Union 10) was launched on 22 April 1971 as the world's first mission to the world's first space station, the Soviet Salyut 1. The docking was not successful and the crew, Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksei Yeliseyev, and Nikolai Rukavishnikov, returned to Earth without having entered the station. Following difficulties in docking pairs of Soyuz capsules, this would be the first of numerous docking failures in the Soviet space station program.[6]

Soyuz 10
Mission typeDock with Salyut 1
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1971-034A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.05172
Mission duration1 day 23 hours 45 minutes 54 seconds
Orbits completed32
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSoyuz 7K-T No. 31[1]
Spacecraft typeSoyuz 7K-OKS
ManufacturerExperimental Design Bureau (OKB-1)
Launch mass6525 kg [2]
Landing mass1200 kg
Crew size3
MembersVladimir Shatalov
Aleksei Yeliseyev
Nikolai Rukavishnikov
CallsignГранит (Granit - "Granite") [3]
Start of mission
Launch date22 April 1971, 23:54:06 GMT
Launch siteBaikonur, Site 1/5[4]
End of mission
Landing date24 April 1971, 23:40:00 GMT
Landing site120 km northeast of Karaganda, Kazakhstan
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[5]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude208.0 km
Apogee altitude246.0 km
Period89.0 minutes

Soyuz 10 mission patch
← Soyuz 9



The spacecraft was the first of the upgraded Soyuz 7K-OKS, featuring the new "probe and drogue" docking mechanism with internal crew transfer capability, intended for space station visits.



The cosmonauts Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksei Yeliseyev, and Nikolai Rukavishnikov were able to navigate their Soyuz 10 spacecraft to the Salyut 1 station, yet during docking they ran into problems. The automatic control system failed during approach, owing to a serious design oversight. Soft dock (contact between the spacecraft and station without a full link) was achieved on 24 April 1971 at 01:47 GMT, but the computer sensed an abnormality in the spacecraft's alignment and began firing the attitude control jets to compensate. With Soyuz 10 being pushed to one side by the attitude control system, it became impossible to achieve hard dock, and large quantities of propellant were expended doing so. The docking attempt was called off, but further difficulty occurred when the probe would not come out of the space station's docking cone. The obvious solution was simply to jettison the orbital module and leave it attached to Salyut 1, but this would make it impossible for future Soyuz missions to dock; thus, the space station would have to be abandoned. Eventually, ground controllers realised that the cosmonauts could throw a circuit breaker in the docking mechanism, for interrupting the power supply, which would cause the probe to automatically retract. This procedure worked, and undocking was completed and the capsule returned to Earth later on 24 April 1971 at 23:40 GMT.[3] The automatic control system would be redesigned on future Soyuz spacecraft.


Position Cosmonaut
Commander   Vladimir Shatalov
Third and last spaceflight
Flight Engineer   Aleksei Yeliseyev
Third and last spaceflight
Systems Engineer [2]   Nikolai Rukavishnikov
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander   Alexei Leonov
Flight Engineer   Valeri Kubasov
Systems Engineer   Pyotr Kolodin

Reserve crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander   Georgy Dobrovolsky
Flight Engineer   Vladislav Volkov
Systems Engineer   Viktor Patsayev

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,525 kg (14,385 lb) [2]
  • Perigee: 208.0 km (129.2 mi) [5]
  • Apogee: 246.0 km (152.9 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 89.0 minutes



Retrorockets were fired at the first opportunity after undocking to permit return to Earth. One last hitch presented itself when toxic fumes began to fill the capsule during reentry, causing Rukavishnikov to pass out; however, all three crew members were recovered unscathed. The landing at 120 km to the northeast of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, the first night-time landing of a crewed spacecraft, was a success.[2]

See also

  • Soyuz T-13, a mission to manually dock to the crippled Salyut 7 space station
  • Soyuz T-15, a mission to ferry equipment from Salyut 7 to Mir, which had to manually maneuver and dock to Mir


  1. ^ The USSR launches first space station crew, accessed 27 December 2022
  2. ^ a b c d "Display: Soyuz 10 1971-034A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b Mir Hardware Heritage - 1.7.3 (wikisource)
  4. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Trajectory: Soyuz 10 1971-034A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Mission report