Soyuz Apollo Test Project
2017 Feb 24
Friday, Day 55
The Partnership: A History of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project
Press Kit (PDF Download)
What Do You Do With A Spare Spacecraft?
Once ASTP was over, the Soviet Union had on its hands an unused spacecraft - the ASTP backup. It was so different from the standard Soyuz version being used to support the Salyut space stations that conversion was not practical. The solution was to use it for a one-off specialised mission.
It was turned into an orbiting camera platform, equipped with an East-German multi-spectral camera for surveying the terrain from altitude. The mission filled a gap between Salyut 4 and Salyut 6 - which was still nine months away. Salyut 6 was going to be equipped with a similar camera.
The mission commander was one of the original Vostok cosmonauts - Valeri Bykovsky (seen on the right in the photograph), who was not actively involved the main Salyut programme, and was not among the ASTP cosmonaut group either - most members of which transferred to Salyut. He was fit, experienced and available - a perfect candidate for the job. He was accompanied by Vladimir Aksyonov - a spacecraft design engineer.
Soyuz 22 is the only piloted Soyuz mission not to have flown in the 51 degree inclination orbital slot. Its orbit was angled at 65 degrees to the equator - like Vostok and Voskhod. The reason was simply to maximise the area available for coverage with the MFK-6 camera, with particular emphasis on coverage of the German Democratic Republic.
Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited