Soyuz 22
Cosmonauts and Soyuz 22, on a 1976 Soviet stamp
Mission typeEarth science mission
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1976-093A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.09421
Mission duration7 days 21 hours 52 minutes 17 seconds
Orbits completed127
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSoyuz 7K
Spacecraft typeSoyuz 7K-MF6
ManufacturerNPO Energia
Launch mass6570 kg
Landing mass1200 kg
Crew size2
MembersValery Bykovsky
Vladimir Aksyonov
CallsignЯстреб (Yastreb - "Hawk")
Start of mission
Launch date15 September 1976,
09:48:30 UTC
Launch siteBaikonur, Site 1/5[1]
ContractorNPO Energia
End of mission
Landing date23 September 1976,
07:40:47 UTC
Landing site150 km at the northwest of Tselinograd, Kazakhstan
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude250.0 km
Apogee altitude280.0 km
Period89.6 minutes

Vimpel Diamond patch  

Soyuz 22 (Russian: Союз 22, Union 22) was a September, 1976, Soviet crewed 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.


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

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Soviet Union Yury Malyshev
Flight Engineer Soviet Union Gennadi Strekalov

Reserve crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Soviet Union Leonid Popov
Flight Engineer Soviet Union 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 51.7° 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 51.0° latitude and therefore outside good visual range of the space station.[3] However, the particular camera used, an MKF-6 multispectral 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 250 by 280 km (160 by 170 mi). The second, on the sixteenth orbit, circularized the orbit to 251 by 257 km (156 by 160 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. In place of the APAS-75 androgynous docking system, it carried an East German MKF-6 camera, built by Carl Zeiss-Jena MKF-6 multispectral 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 Antonov An-30 aircraft was flying carrying an identical camera to the one aboard Soyuz 22.[3] They also re-photographed Central Asia, Kazakhstan, 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 1976.[3] The crew had photographed 30 geographic areas in 2400 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


  1. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  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. ISBN 0-87201-848-2.
  4. ^ Clark, Phillip (1988). The Soviet Manned Space Program. New York: Orion Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-517-56954-X.