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Apollo-Soyuz Docking

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was a memorable landmark in space exploration; for not only was there a successful docking of two human spacecrafts, but for the first time, two countries, the Soviet Union and the United States, worked jointly on the project. On July 15, 1975, the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz was launched and followed by the American spacecraft Apollo seven hours later. Around 02:00 Central U.S. time, the Apollo and Soyuz docked successfully and paved the way for “future joint human flights.”

Before the spacecrafts could launch though, there were complications that both the Soviet Union and the United States had to work out. There were numerous technical difficulties, for both countries had a different measuring system and because the two spacecrafts were made differently, they had dissimilar mating adapter designs. Several alterations needed to be made to the Apollo including the addition of heaters for control of the temperatures, propellants for the reaction control system and extra equipment for the docking. However, with all of the changes made to the Apollo, there were no major improvements needed for the Soyuz.

The Apollo was flown with Tom Stafford, Vance Brand and Deke Slayton and the Soyuz flew with Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. Tom Stafford, commander of the Apollo had participated in four missions before while Brand, the Command Module Pilot and Slayton, the Docking Module Pilot had each been in one. Both Leonov, the Commander of the Soyuz and Kubasov, the Flight Engineer had been a part of two missions. It was the two commanders, Stafford and Leonov who “exchanged the first international handshake in space through the open hatch of the Soyuz.”

For approximately 44 hours, the Apollo and Soyuz were docked together in space. Crewmembers exchanged gifts, signed certificates and even visited each other in the different spacecrafts. After undocking, the Soyuz stayed in space for two days before landing back in the U.S.S.R, while the Apollo remained for another three days, then landed in Hawaii. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, while seen as a success for space exploration and scientific experiments, was more importantly seen as a symbol of the end of tensions in the Space Race during the Cold War.

Research by Amanda Latham
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School


“30th Anniversary of Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.” Visitor Complex. Jul 2005. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. 30 May 2008,

Dick, Steven J.. “Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.” NASA. 22 Oct 2004. NASA. 30 May 2008,>.

Dick, Steven J.. “Chronology: Beginnings of ASTP.” NASA. 22 Oct 2004. NASA. 1 Jun 2008,

Dumoulin , Jim . “APOLLO-SOYUZ Test Project (ASTP).” 08 Oct 1993. Kennedy Space Center. 30 May 2008,

Grinter, Kay . “The Flight of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project.” The Apollo Soyuz Test Project. 05 Apr 2002. Kennedy Space Center. 1 Jun 2008,

“30th Anniversary of Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.” Visitor Complex. Jul 2005. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. 30 May 2008,

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