|Mission duration||23 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes, 43 seconds|
|Spacecraft type||Soyuz 7K-OKS|
|Launch mass||6,790 kilograms (14,970 lb)|
|Callsign||Янтарь (Yantar – "Amber")|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||June 6, 1971, 07:55:09UTC|
|Launch site||Baikonur 1/5|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||June 30, 1971, 02:16:52UTC|
|Perigee||163 kilometres (101 mi)|
|Apogee||237 kilometres (147 mi)|
|Docking with Salyut 1|
Soyuz 11 (Russian: Союз 11, Union 11) was the first and only manned mission to board the world's first space station, Salyut 1 (Soyuz 10 had soft-docked but had not been able to enter due to latching issues). The mission arrived at the space station on June 7, 1971 and departed on June 30, 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew. This accident resulted in the only human deaths to occur in space (as opposed to high atmosphere). The crew members aboard Soyuz 11 were Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski, and Viktor Patsayev.
|Flight Engineer||Vladislav Volkov
|Test Engineer||Viktor Patsayev
|Flight Engineer||Vitali Sevastyanov|
|Test Engineer||Anatoli Voronov|
|Flight Engineer||Valeri Kubasov|
|Test Engineer||Pyotr Kolodin|
The original prime crew for Soyuz 11 consisted of Alexei Leonov, Valeri Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin. A medical X-ray examination four days before launch suggested that Kubasov might have tuberculosis, and according to the mission rules, the prime crew was replaced with the back-up crew. For Dobrovolski and Patsayev, this was to be their first space mission. After the failure of Salyut 2 to orbit, Kubasov and Leonov were reassigned to Soyuz 19 for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.
The Soyuz 7K-OKS spacecraft was launched on June 7, 1971, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakh SSR. Several months earlier, the first mission to the Salyut, Soyuz 10, had failed to successfully dock with the station. Soyuz 11 successfully docked with Salyut 1 on June 7 and the cosmonauts remained on board for 22 days, setting space endurance records that would hold until the American Skylab 2 mission in May–June 1973.
Upon first entering the station, the crew encountered a smoky and burnt atmosphere and after replacing part of the ventilation system spent the next day back in their Soyuz until the air cleared. Their stay in Salyut was productive, including live television broadcasts. A fire broke out on day 11 of their stay, causing mission planners to consider abandoning the station. The planned highlight of the mission was to have been the observation of an N-1 booster launch, but the launch was postponed. The crew also found that using the exercise treadmill as they were required to do twice a day caused the whole station to vibrate. Pravda released news of the mission and regular updates while it was in progress.
Death of crew
Kerim Kerimov, chair of the State Commission recalled: "Outwardly, there was no damage whatsoever. They knocked on the side, but there was no response from within. On opening the hatch, they found all three men in their couches, motionless, with dark-blue patches on their faces and trails of blood from their noses and ears. They removed them from the descent module. Dobrovolski was still warm. The doctors gave artificial respiration. Based on their reports, the cause of death was suffocation..." 
It quickly became apparent that they had asphyxiated. The fault was traced to a breathing ventilation valve, located between the orbital module and the descent module, that had been jolted open as the descent module separated from the service module, 723 seconds after retrofire. The two were held together by explosive bolts designed to fire sequentially; in fact, they fired simultaneously. The force of this caused the internal mechanism of the pressure equalization valve to loosen a seal that was usually discarded later and normally allowed automatic adjustment of the cabin pressure. The valve opened at an altitude of 168 kilometers (104 mi), and the gradual loss of pressure was fatal within seconds. The valve was located beneath the seats and was impossible to find and block before the air was lost. Flight recorder data from the single cosmonaut outfitted with biomedical sensors showed cardiac arrest occurred within 40 seconds of pressure loss. By 935 seconds after the retrofire, the cabin pressure was zero, and remained there until the capsule entered the Earth's atmosphere.
Film later declassified showed support crews attempting CPR on the cosmonauts. It was not known until an autopsy that they had died because of a capsule depressurization. The ground crew had lost audio contact with the crew before re-entry began and had already begun preparations for contingencies in case the crew had been lost.
The cosmonauts were given a large state funeral and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis at Red Square, Moscow near the remains of Yuri Gagarin. US astronaut Tom Stafford was one of the pallbearers. They were also each posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal. Craters on the Moon were named after the three cosmonauts: Dobrovol'skiy, Volkov, and Patsaev.
The American people join in expressing to you and the Soviet people our deepest sympathy on the tragic deaths of the three Soviet cosmonauts. The whole world followed the exploits of these courageous explorers of the unknown and shares the anguish of their tragedy. But the achievements of cosmonauts Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev remain. It will, I am sure, prove to have contributed greatly to the further achievements of the Soviet program for the exploration of space and thus to the widening of man's horizons.
The Soyuz 11 landing coordinates are Karazhal, Karagandy, Kazakhstan and about 550 km northeast of Baikonur. At the site is a memorial monument in the form of a three-sided metallic column. Near the top of the column, on each of the three sides, is the engraved image of the face of each crew member set into a stylized triangle. The memorial is in open, flat country, far from any populated area. It is within a small, circular, fenced area.which is 90 km southwest of
The Soyuz spacecraft was extensively redesigned after this incident to carry only two cosmonauts. The extra room meant that the crew could wear Sokol space suits during launch and landing. The Sokol was a lightweight pressure suit intended for emergency use; updated versions of the suit remain in use to the present day.
A Soyuz capsule would not hold three crew members again until the Soyuz-T redesign in 1980, which freed enough space for three people in lightweight pressure suits to travel in the capsule.
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- This footage was shown during the 1994 TV adaptation of the documentary Moon Shot by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Soyuz 11.|
- Burgess, Colin; Doolan, Kate; Vis, Bert (2003). Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-6212-4.
- Ivanovich, Grujica S. (February 2008). Salyut – The First Space Station: Triumph and Tragedy. Praxis. pp. 300 pages. ISBN 0-387-73585-2.
- United States Congress: Office of Technology Assessment (March 30, 2005). Salyut: Soviet Steps Toward Permanent Human Presence in Space – A Technical Memorandum. Seattle: University Press of the Pacific. pp. 80 pages. ISBN 1-4102-2138-5.