Soyuz 9
The Soviet Union 1970 CPA 3907 stamp (Cosmonauts Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov, Soyuz 9).png
Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov on the 1971 commemorative stamp "424 Hours On Earth's Orbit" of Soviet Union
Mission typeTest flight
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1970-041A
SATCAT no.04407
Mission duration17 days 16 hours 58 minutes 55 seconds
Orbits completed288
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSoyuz 7K-OK No.9
Spacecraft typeSoyuz 7K-OK
ManufacturerExperimental Design Bureau (OKB-1)
Launch mass6460 kg [1]
Landing mass1200 kg
Crew size2
MembersAndriyan Nikolayev
Vitaly Sevastyanov
CallsignСокол (Sokol – "Falcon")
Start of mission
Launch date1 June 1970, 19:00:00 GMT
Launch siteBaikonur, Site 31/6[2]
End of mission
Landing date19 June 1970, 11:58:55 GMT
Landing siteSteppes in Kazakhstan
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[3]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude207.0 km
Apogee altitude220.0 km
Period88.59 minutes

Vimpel Diamond for entrainment patch
← Soyuz 8

Soyuz 9 (Russian: Союз 9, Union 9) was a June, 1970, Soviet crewed space flight. The two-man crew of Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov broke the five-year-old space endurance record held by Gemini 7, with their nearly 18-day flight. The mission paved the way for the Salyut space station missions, investigating the effects of long-term weightlessness on crew, and evaluating the work that the cosmonauts could do in orbit, individually and as a team. It was also the last flight of the first-generation Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft, as well as the first crewed space launch to be conducted at night. In 1970, Soyuz 9 marks the longest crewed flight by a solo spacecraft.


Position[4] Cosmonaut
Commander Soviet Union Andrian Nikolayev
Second and last spaceflight
Flight Engineer Soviet Union Vitaly Sevastyanov
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Soviet Union Anatoly Filipchenko
Flight Engineer Soviet Union Georgy Grechko

Reserve crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Soviet Union Vasily Lazarev
Flight Engineer Soviet Union Valeri Yazdovsky


The flight tested, for a longer period of time than any other, the capacity of the hardware and the human crew, on the long-term exposure to space conditions and observing (both visually and photographically) geological and geographical objects, weather formations, water surfaces, and snow and ice covers. The crew conducted observations of celestial bodies and practiced astronavigation, by locking onto Vega or Canopus, and then used a sextant to measure its relation to the Earth horizon. The orbital elements were refined to three decimal places by the crew.[1]

Commander Nikolayev and flight engineer Sevastyanov spent 18 days in space conducting various physiological and biomedical experiments on themselves, but also investigating the social implications of prolonged spaceflight. The cosmonauts spent time in two-way TV links with their families, watched matches in the 1970 FIFA World Cup, played chess with ground control, and voted in a Soviet election. The mission set a new space endurance record and marked a shift in emphasis away from spacefarers merely being able to exist in space for the duration of a long mission (such as the Apollo flights to the Moon) to being able to live in space. The mission took an unexpected physical toll on the cosmonauts; in order to conserve attitude control gas during the lengthy stay in orbit, Soyuz 9 was placed in a spin-stabilisation mode that made Nikolayev and Sevastyanov dizzy and space sick.[5]

Mission parameters

Chess game

Nikolayev and Sevastyanov vs. Kamanin and Gorbatko, Space/Earth 1970
e8 black queen
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 white queen
g6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
c4 black pawn
d4 white pawn
a3 white pawn
c3 white pawn
f3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
g1 white king
Final position, following 35... Kg8.

During the mission, the two cosmonauts played a game of chess against a pair of opponents on Earth: head of cosmonauts Nikolai Kamanin and fellow cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko. It was the first documented game played by humans while in space.[6][a] It was a consultation game, with the two cosmonauts playing as White and jointly deciding each move, while the two players on Earth did likewise as Black. The set used aboard Soyuz 9 had pegs and grooves to keep the pieces in place and did not include magnets, which might have interfered with the spacecraft's systems.[7]

The game began as a Queen's Gambit Accepted, with both players castling kingside. Material was exchanged evenly throughout the game. Toward the end of the game White checked Black four times, and rapid exchange of remaining pieces ensued. At 35. Qxf6+, Black responded with the final move 35... Kg8 (the only legal move), moving the king to the flight square g8. In the final position each side had a queen and five pawns, with no passed pawns. The game concluded as a draw.

White: A. Nikolayev and V. Sevastyanov (Low Earth orbit)   Black: N. Kamanin and V. Gorbatko (Earth)
Queen's Gambit Accepted (QGA) (ECO D20),   9/10[8] June 1970
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Bd6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Bg4 10.h3 Bf5 11.Nh4 Qd7 12.Qf3 Ne7 13.g4 Bg6 14.Rae1 Kh8 15.Bg5 Neg8 16.Ng2 Rae8 17.Be3 Bb4 18.a3 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Be4 20.Qg3 c6 21.f3 Bd5 22.Bd3 b5 23.Qh4 g6 24.Nf4 Bc4 25.Bxc4 bxc4 26.Bd2 Rxe1 27.Rxe1 Nd5 28.g5 Qd6 29.Nxd5 cxd5 30.Bf4 Qd8 31.Be5+ f6 32.gxf6 Nxf6 33.Bxf6+ Rxf6 34.Re8+ Qxe8 35.Qxf6+ Kg8 ½–½[6][9]

Sevastyanov was a chess enthusiast. Following Soyuz 9, he served as president of the Soviet Chess Federation from 1977-1986 and 1988-1989.[7]


The spacecraft soft landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan, and the crew was picked up immediately. Adjusting to gravity of Earth seemed to present a minor problem for the two cosmonauts.[1] They required help exiting the descent module and were virtually unable to walk for a few days.[5] Nonetheless, this experience proved the importance of providing crews with exercise equipment during missions. After landing the crew spent 2 weeks in a quarantine unit originally designed for cosmonauts returning from Moon landings.[5] At the time the Soviet press reported that this was done to protect the cosmonauts in case space travel had weakened their immune systems. However, the quarantine process was likely practice for the Soviet crewed lunar program, which at that point had not been abandoned.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Although the Soyuz 9 game is the first documented chess game played in space, some sources have indicated that this was not the first time a chess set was flown in space. During Expo 2020 in Dubai, a chess set was exhibited which was said to have been flown aboard Soyuz 3 and Soyuz 4.[7] (Dubai hosted the 2021 World Chess Championship concurrently with Expo 2020). However, it is unclear whether the set was used on either mission. Soyuz 3 had a single crew member, and was a failed docking attempt with the uncrewed Soyuz 2. Soyuz 4 also launched with a single crew member aboard, but quickly returned to Earth with another two cosmonauts. The latter had launched aboard Soyuz 5 and carried out the first-ever crew transfer via EVA, boarding Soyuz 4 for return to Earth.


  1. ^ a b c d "Display: Soyuz 9 1970-041A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Baikonur LC31". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 4 September 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Trajectory: Soyuz 9 1970-041A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Mir Hardware Heritage – 1.7.3 (wikisource)
  5. ^ a b c d Harvey, Brian (2007). Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration. Springer-Praxis. pp. 179–181. ISBN 978-0387218960.
  6. ^ a b Fox, Mike; James, Richard (1993). The Even More Complete Chess Addict. Faber and Faber. p. 97. ISBN 9780571170401.
  7. ^ a b c "Chess in outer space". FIDE. 13 April 2020.
  8. ^ Schipkov, Boris. "Space (Soyuz-9) - Earth (Control Center) [D20], Radio Match 1970". Chess Siberia.
  9. ^ "Soyuz 9 Cosmonauts vs. Ground Control".