Soyuz 7K-ST No. 16L

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Soyuz 7K-ST No.16L
Mission duration 00:05:13
Orbits completed Failed to orbit
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Soyuz-T
Manufacturer NPO Energia
Launch mass 6,850 kilograms (15,100 lb)
Crew size 2
Members Vladimir Titov
Gennady Strekalov
Callsign Okean (Ocean)
Start of mission
Launch date September 26, 1983, 19:37:49 (1983-09-26UTC19:37:49Z) UTC
Rocket Soyuz-FG
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Landing date September 26, 1983, 19:43:02 (1983-09-26UTC19:43:03Z) UTC
Landing site Baikonur
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Epoch Planned

Soyuz programme
(Manned missions)
← Soyuz T-9 Soyuz T-10

Soyuz 7K-ST No.16L, sometimes known as Soyuz T-10a or T-10-1, was an unsuccessful Soyuz mission intended to visit the Salyut 7 space station, which was occupied by the Soyuz T-9 crew. However, it never finished its launch countdown; the launch vehicle was destroyed on the launch pad by fire on September 26, 1983. The launch escape system of the Soyuz spacecraft fired two seconds before the launch vehicle exploded, saving the crew. It is so far the only case in which a launch escape system was fired with a crew aboard while the rocket was still on the pad.[1]


Position Crew
Commander Vladimir Titov
Flight Engineer Gennady Strekalov

Mission parameters[edit]

  • Mass: 6850 kg
  • Perigee: N/A
  • Apogee: N/A
  • Inclination: N/A
  • Period: N/A

Mission highlights[edit]

The Soyuz spacecraft narrowly escapes disaster.

The crew were sitting on the pad awaiting fueling of the Soyuz-U booster to complete prior to liftoff. At T-90 seconds, a valve failed to close, causing liquid kerosene propellant to spill onto the pad and ignite.[2] The launch control team activated the escape system but the control cables had already burned, and the Soyuz crew could not activate or control the escape system themselves. 20 seconds later, launch control was finally able to activate the escape system by radio command, by which time the booster was engulfed in flames. Explosive bolts fired to separate the descent module from the service module and the upper launch payload shroud from the lower. Then the escape system motor fired, dragging the orbital module and descent module, encased within the upper shroud, free of the booster with an acceleration of 14 to 17g (137 to 167 m/s²) for five seconds. Although Titov and Strekalov had no way of seeing what was going on outside, the former recalled feeling "unusual vibrations". Just after the escape tower pulled the descent module away, the booster exploded with its remains burning on the pad for nearly 20 hours. Four grid fins on the outside of the shroud opened and the descent module separated from the orbital module at an altitude of 650 m, dropping free of the shroud. The descent module discarded its heat shield, exposing the solid-fuel landing rockets, and deployed a fast-opening emergency parachute. Touchdown occurred about four kilometers from the launch pad. The two crew members were badly bruised after the high acceleration, but were otherwise in good health and did not require any medical attention.[1]

The explosion and fires severely damaged LC-1 (the same pad used by Sputnik 1 and Vostok 1), which cost an estimated 300 million USD to repair.[citation needed]

The descent module was refurbished and later used on Soyuz T-15.

The failure's immediate result was the inability to replace the aging Soyuz T-9 return capsule attached to the Salyut 7 space station. This led to dire reports in the Western media about the cosmonauts remaining aboard Salyut 7 (which had arrived several months before in the T-9) being 'stranded' in space, with no ability to return.

Years later, in an interview with the American History Channel regarding the flight, Titov claimed that the crew's first action after the escape rocket fired was to deactivate the spacecraft's cockpit voice recorder because, as he put it, "We were swearing".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A brief history of space accidents". Jane's Transport Business News. February 3, 2003. Archived from the original on 2003-02-04. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  2. ^ Sanchez, Merri J. (March 2000). "A Human Factors Evaluation of a Methodology for Pressurized Crew Module Acceptability for Zero-Gravity Ingress of Spacecraft" (PDF). Houston, Texas: Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  3. ^ Evans, Ben (September 28, 2013). "'We Were Swearing!' Thirty Years Since Russia's Brush With Disaster". Retrieved 2014-01-24. 

External links[edit]