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Soyuz 22

Soyuz 22
Mission type Earth observation
Mission duration 7 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes, 17 seconds
Orbits completed 127
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Soyuz 7K-TM
Manufacturer NPO Energia
Launch mass 6,510 kilograms (14,350 lb)
Crew size 2
Members Valery Bykovsky
Vladimir Aksyonov
Callsign Ястреб (Yastreb - "Hawk")
Start of mission
Launch date September 15, 1976, 09:48:30 (1976-09-15T09:48:30Z) UTC
Rocket Soyuz-U
Launch site Baikonur 1/5[1]
End of mission
Landing date Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. UTC
Landing site 150 kilometres (93 mi) NW of Tselinograd
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 185 kilometres (115 mi)
Apogee 296 kilometres (184 mi)
Inclination 64.8 degrees
Period 89.3 minutes

Soyuz programme
(Manned missions)
← Soyuz 21 Soyuz 23

Soyuz 22 (Russian: Союз 22, Union 22) was a 1976 Soviet manned spaceflight.[2] It was an Earth-sciences mission using a modified Soyuz spacecraft, and was also, some observers speculated, a mission to observe NATO exercises near Norway.

The spacecraft was a refurbished Soyuz that had served as a backup for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission the previous year.

Cosmonauts Valery Bykovsky and Vladimir Aksyonov spent a week in orbit photographing the surface of the Earth with a specially-built camera.


  • Crew 1
    • Backup crew 1.1
    • Reserve crew 1.2
  • Mission highlights 2
  • Mission parameters 3
  • References 4


Position Cosmonaut
Commander Valery Bykovsky
Second spaceflight
Flight Engineer Vladimir Aksyonov
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Yury Malyshev
Flight Engineer Gennady Strekalov

Reserve crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Leonid Popov
Flight Engineer Boris Andreyev

Mission highlights

Soyuz 22 was launched to orbit 15 September 1976 at the unusually high inclination of 64.75°, not used since the Voskhod program. The orbiting Salyut 5 space station was at the standard 51.8° inclination, which led some observers to conclude that this solo Soyuz mission was chiefly intended to observe NATO's Exercise Teamwork, taking place in Norway, well above 51° latitude and therefore outside good visual range of the space station.[3] However, the particular camera used, an MKF-6 multi-spectral Carl Zeiss camera which allowed six simultaneous photographs to be taken, suggested to others that reconnaissance, if part of the mission, was a minor part of it.[4] Soyuz 22's orbital inclination maximized ground coverage, especially of the former East Germany. There were two orbit changes within 24 hours of launch. The first came on the fourth orbit and changed the orbit to 280 by 250 kilometres (170 by 160 mi). The second, on the sixteenth orbit, circularized the orbit to 257 by 251 kilometres (160 by 156 mi).

The mission's stated objectives were to "check and improve scientific and technical methods and means of studying geological features of the Earth's surface in the interests of the national economies of the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic."

The vehicle was the modified ASTP back-up ship. The ASTP docking mechanism was replaced with an East-German-built Carl Zeiss-Jena multi-spectral camera.[3] One cosmonaut would control the operations of the camera from inside the Orbital Module while the second changed the orientation from the Descent Module. The camera had six lenses, four visible light and two infrared, which imaged a preselected 165 km (103 mi) -wide strip of the Earth's surface. This allowed over 500,000 km2 (190,000 sq mi) to be imaged in 10 minutes.

The first test images from the camera were of Baikal-Amur railway that was being constructed. On the third day of the mission the crew took photographs of Siberia to the Sea of Okhotsk in the morning and the northwestern USSR.

On the fourth day, the crew imaged the Moon rising and setting to investigate the Earth's atmosphere. This also allowed them to see how clean their spacecraft's windows were. They also imaged Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and Siberia, with attention to geological formations and agricultural effects.

The fifth day focused on Azerbaijan, the southern Urals, the Baikal-Amur railway again, and western Siberia. At the same time a second camera was being flown on an aircraft over the same areas in order to compare the images.

The sixth day saw images of Siberia, the Northern USSR, and European USSR which were, according to TASS, areas that had never before been "targets of space photography."

The last full day had the crew focus on East Germany, where an An-30 aircraft was flying carrying an identical camera to the one aboard Soyuz 22.[3] They also re-photographed Central Asia, Kazhakstan, eastern Siberia, and the southwestern USSR in order to compare images with those taken earlier in the mission. One of the tasks the crew undertook was to dismantle the camera in order to remove its color filters needed to calibrate the images back on Earth. The task took them several hours to complete.

The crew also performed several biological experiments. They ran a small centrifuge in the orbital module to see how plants grew in artificial gravity. They also investigated the effects of cosmic rays on human vision. This effect had first been reported by Apollo astronauts who described bright flashes when they closed their eyes. This was due to cosmic rays passing through the eye. Soyuz 22 also carried a small aquarium so that the crew could watch the behavior of fish.

At the end of the mission, the crew took the film cassettes and other items they were returning to Earth and stowed them in the descent module. The retrofire, re-entry, and landing took place without incident on 23 September.[3]

The crew had photographed 30 geographic areas in 2,400 photographs.[3] None of the cassettes were found to be faulty and all the images were of good quality. The results, it was said, would aid experts in the fields of agriculture, cartography, mineralogy, and hydrology.

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,510 kg (14,350 lb)
  • Perigee: 185 km (115 mi)
  • Apogee: 296 km (184 mi)
  • Inclination: 64.8°
  • Period: 89.3 min


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  2. ^ The mission report is available here:
  3. ^ a b c d e Newkirk, Dennis (1990). Almanac of Soviet Manned Space Flight. Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company.  
  4. ^ Clark, Phillip (1988). The Soviet Manned Space Program. New York: Orion Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc.  
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