Monday, 16 July 2012

Cold War Cooperation - Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

During what onlookers thought was the rising action of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were cooperating peacefully in orbit above the earth.

NASA and the Soviet Space command, planned an experimental meeting of two manned space crafts in space. This Apollo-Soyuz Test Project would be the first joint US-Soviet space flight, and the last flight of an Apollo spacecraft.

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The Mission Crest (NASA)
On July 15 the two spacecraft were launched within three hours of each other, and met on July 17 1975. Shown to the public as a symbol of detente policy, the two superpowers were realistically marking the end of the Space Race between them that began with the launch of Sputnik in October of 1957.

More than just a friendly "Hello" in space, the mission included joint and individual scientific experiments. The US Apollo crew engineered an eclipse of the Sun to allow the Soyuz team to take pictures of the solar corona for later experiments, as well as to provide useful insight into engineering for future joint space flights. After more than 44 hours together, the shuttles  went there separate ways. The US Apollo craft remained in space for 9 days, while the Soyuz for 5 days.

This test flight provided the knowledge for the Shuttle-Mir Program and the International Space Station docking capability with supply crafts from all over the world.

The docking collar used by the Soyuz would become the main link for the Mir Space Station until its retirement, and the Space Shuttle continued to use the APAS (Androgynous Peripheral Docking System) until 1998 when they changed the docking collar to the PMA (Pressurised Mating Adaptors) system.

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the last manned US spaceflight until April of 1981 with the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle. It was also the only spaceflight of US Astronaut Donald Slayton's career. Originally part of the Mercury Seven in 1959, he was grounded until 1972 for medical reasons.
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The Historic International Hand-Shake (NASA)

Remembering History - The Apollo-Soyuz Test Flight.