To mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy that took their life, ROSCOSMOS recently published information about the crew of SOYUZ-11. Among the documents are the declassified conversations of the cosmonauts before their flight. The site is in its original Russian.
On 30 June 1971, when the crew of the SOYUZ-11 spacecraft were returning to Earth, the capsule depressurized, resulting in the death of all three expedition crewmembers. Georgiy Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev were posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal. ROSCOSMOS refers to the death of the SOYUZ-11 crew “the most grievous tragedy in the entire Soviet and Russian era of space navigation.”
The documents tell how launch preparations went and provide the medical data of the crewmembers. The crewmembers speak about seeing the sky and the sun. The material on the ROSCOSMOS site also provides the last words of the cosmonauts. The last thing heard from them on Earth was Vladislav Volkov’s statement, “We’ll get together tomorrow; get the cognac ready.”
The website dedicates three pages to the event, with the first page providing information on the SOYUZ family of spacecraft, the SOYUZ-11 craft itself, and the scientific orbiting space station SALYUT-1.
Page two provides information on the main crewmembers (who were eventually replaced after their unsuccessful attempt to dock their craft, SOYUZ-10, to the SALYUT), the backup crew (the SALYUT-11 crew, who took over the mission of the SOYUZ-10 crew), and a stand-by crew. Each individual in this section has a photo and a link to more information on the cosmonaut. Also on the page is information on the flight program with details of the struggle to dock the SOYUZ-10 to SALYUT. There are photos and information from the launch and the flight to the space station. There is a link to an 11-page transcript (recently declassified) of the SOYUZ-11 crew conversations during pre-launch operations with the tracking station. You will also find an excerpt from Dobrovolskiy’s mission diary, and details of the approach and docking to the SALYUT space station (with additional excerpted transmissions between the crew and ground-based mission control during the docking).
The third website page provides details on the accident itself, how it impacted the Soviet space program, and how the cosmonauts were memorialized in Russia, Kazakhstan, and on the moon (through the efforts of the crew of Apollo-15).
At the present time there are no plans to translate the materials for the Translating History website, as we are actively engaged in other projects for the site at this time.