The scientific tourist #229 — the Soyuz 31/29 capsule

On display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, it’s the Soyuz 31 / 29 space capsule:

Soyuz 31/29 capsule

This capsule helped set the stage for what is now a fairly standard practice of staffing a crewed space station — it carried one crew to orbit, and a different crew back home to Earth. In this case, though, the orbital destination was not the International Space Station — it was the USSR’s Salyut 6 station, and the flights occurred in 1978.

This capsule launched as Soyuz 29 on 15 June, 1978, and docked with Salyut 6 two days later. While the Soyuz 29 crew worked over the subsequent months, another crew came to visit (and left a week later), and two Progress freighters docked with the station to resupply it.

On 26 August, Soyuz 31 was launched to the station carrying a Cosmonaut and the East German Sigmund Jähn (the first German to fly in space). They would stay at the station for less than a week, swapping spacecraft with the resident crew and returning home in the Soyuz 29 capsule. The Salyut 6 crew would stay in orbit until 2 November, setting a new space endurance record of 139 days.

So while this is (strictly speaking) the Soyuz 29 capsule, it carried both the Soyuz 29 crew (up) and the Soyuz 31 crew (down).

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