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Soyuz features

On this page are described a few features of the Soyuz spaceship that are too brief to have their own dedicated pages.


From ESA’s News From Moscow newsletter, Issue 7, 2005:

The cost of Soyuz manned ships for NASA, in case the United States decides to buy them from Russia for safety insurance of the ISS crews, may come up to 400 million rubles (~14.5 million at $1=R27.7 rate), the Russian Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov said in the RIA Novosti interview.

In Russia a Soyuz costs about 400 million rubles plus the same price of its launch vehicle, which totals 800 million rubles. “For the United States the price will be about that,” Perminov noted.

Docking system

From the Mir Hardware Heritage PDF document by David Portree (in NASA’s Shuttle-Mir history):

Soyuz internal transfer docking unit. This system [was used] for docking spacecraft to Mir. The active craft inserts its probe into the space station receiving cone. The probe tip catches on latches in the socket at the apex of the cone. Motors then draw the two spacecraft together. Latches in the docking collars catch, and motors close them. Fluid, gas, and electrical connections are established through the collars. After the cosmonauts are certain the seal is airtight, they remove the probe and drogue units, forming a tunnel between spacecraft and station. At undocking, four spring push rods drive the spacecraft apart. If the latches fail to retract, the spacecraft can fire pyrotechnic bolts to detach from the station.

The Soyuz TMA uses the same system for ISS dockings.

Soyuz docking system diagram

Kazbek-U seat fittings

Each cosmonaut has their own moulded seat liner fitted and made for them before the mission. These need to be swapped over with the returning crew’s during a crew changeover mission. Expedition crews on long missions also need to do periodic fit checks (as there is no gravity to compress their intervertebral disks, these expand, also stretching the muscles in their backs and increasing their height by a few centimeters). From the 7 July 2004 On-Orbit Report:

The two crewmembers conducted the standard fit check of the “Kazbeks,” the contoured shock absorbing seats in the Soyuz 8S descent capsule (SA). This required them to don their Sokol pressure suits, get in their seats and use a ruler to measure the gap between the top of the head and the top edge of the structure facing the head. The results were reported to TsUP. Kazbek-U couches are designed to withstand g-loads during launch and orbital insertion as well as during reentry and brake-rocket-assisted landing. Each seat has two positions: cocked (armed) and non-cocked. In the cocked position, they are raised to allow the shock absorbers to function during touchdown. The fit check assures that the crewmember whose body gains in length during longer-term stay in zero-G, will still be adequately protected by the seat liners for their touchdown in Kazakhstan.


As listed in Simulators of manned spacecrafts at GCTC at NASASpaceflight.com, the simulators are:

The TDK-7ST Simulator is intended for preparation of crewmen for Soyuz control at all stages of flight in regular modes and emergencies with imitation of work of all onboard systems.

The Don-Soyuz Simulator is intended for training of hand control of Soyuz in following modes: rendezvous, approach and docking with ISS and its modules; approach without Kurs radio engineering system of rendezvous with radar.

The Teleoperator Simulator is intended for preparation of cosmonauts on manual remote piloting mode TORU of approach and docking of Progress cargo ships and modules with ISS, and monitoring of ESA’s ATV docking.

Two views of the Simulator Hall, December 2009: 1, 2.

Ugly Posadky

Each day on orbit, a “Form 14” is radiogrammed up to the crew with the Ugly Posadky, угли посадкы, landing angles, for that day’s Soyuz de-orbit opportunities, in case the crew have to make an emergency evacuation and thus need the co-ordinates for re-entry. The times are printed in six-figure groups of hours, minutes and seconds. During these times the Soyuz can safely re-enter the atmosphere at a predetermined angle; too steep an angle and the capsule will burn up; too shallow and it will bounce off the atmosphere and head off into the void.

From 10 August 2004 On-Orbit Report:

Padalka and Fincke had three hours set aside to conduct the Soyuz emergency descent (срочный спуск, srochnyi spusk) training exercise, standard procedure for each crew depending on the Soyuz as a CRV (crew rescue vehicle). The exercise, which strictly forbids any command activation (except for switching the Soyuz InPU display), was supported by a tagup with ground experts at TsUP/Moscow via U.S. S-band. [The training session included a review of the pertinent ODF (operational data files), specifically the books on Soyuz Insertion & Descent Procedures, Emergency (Rapid) Descents, and Off-Nominal Situation Procedures.]