Two Crewed Spacecraft Docked in Orbit for the First time on this day in 1969

Docking two crewed spacecraft has remained one of the most complex challenges space agencies encountered in space in the past century. However, on this day, January 16, 1969, two crewed spacecraft successfully docked in orbit for the first time. This milestone marked the beginning of a new era of space exploration. How did the docking take place? What did we learn from this mission? Continue reading to find out.

How Two Crewed Spacecraft Was Successfully Docked in orbit in 1969

On January 14, 1969, the Soviet Union launched the Soyuz 4 spacecraft carrying only cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov on his first space mission to orbit. The space agency intended to dock the spacecraft with Soyuz 5 and transfer two crew members from the Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4 before heading back to Earth. On January 16, 1969, Soyuz 4 reached orbit and successfully dock with Soyuz 5.

After the successful docking, two cosmonauts Yevgeni Khrunov, and Aleksei Yeliseyev left the Soyuz 5 and joined cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov aboard the Soyuz 4. The three cosmonauts safely returned to earth on January 17, 1969. However, cosmonaut Boris Volynov was left behind in the Soyuz 5 which was still in orbit. While he was making his way back to Earth aboard Soyuz 5, the service module failed to separate from the descent module.

This occurrence made the spacecraft turn upside-down. This challenge even made the parachutes of the spacecraft malfunction, thereby deploying inappropriately. Despite these troubles, cosmonaut Boris Volynov survived the terrible landing. Although the cosmonaut lose a few teeth upon landing, his historic tactics to avoid the fatal landing of the Soyuz 5 spacecraft will never be forgotten in history.

What we learned from the first crewed docking

Docking has remained a great way to join one spacecraft to another orbiting spacecraft in space. Space agencies improved their knowledge in docking two spacecraft until they figured out how to dock two crewed spacecraft. We currently deploying this technique in space stations.

When we commence on a crewed mission to deep space, we shall also advance the docking systems to make it safer for our crew members as they explore the vast nature of radiating space.


Docking has remained a major part of space exploration. After we achieve the first unmanned docking in 1966, space agencies realized that they can do more in the future. Hence, crewed spacecraft docking was accomplished in 1969 to prove that it is quite safe to dock two spacecraft carrying humans aboard them.

We will likely advance our docking systems in the future and make them more sophisticated than ever. What do you think about this history?

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