[FPSPACE] The Red Stuff

Igor Lissov i-cosmos@mtu-net.ru
Tue, 24 Oct 2000 13:32:26 +0400

Dwayne & Tristan,

>> A previous unmanned Soyuz test sank into the ocean when a hole was burned
>> into the heat shield.  So they had to build a bigger heat shield and as a
>> result of that the parachute had to be bigger also.  They never had a
>> chance to test the new parachute prior to launch of Soyuz 1.
>Wait... this is the parachute that failed during the reentry,
>right?  And it was never tested before flight?  That is pretty
>amazing.  Has that information ever come out before?

The story is very much distorted. According to the RKK Energiya
jubilee book published in 1996, two versions (official and
unofficial) still exist. Official version said that the main
parachute remained in container because pressure difference
between spacecraft's inner volume (760 mm Hg) and outer air
squeezed the container. With Kosmos 140, this couldn't happen
as this one got depressurized through a capped hole in
heatshield that burned through (so inner pressure was equal to
air pressure). The hole was eliminated in Soyuz 1 but of course
no parachute change made. Yet in four aircraft test drops
pre-Soyuz 1 the parachute worked perfectly.

The unofficial version caught the difference in pre-flight
procedures for the first three unmanned Soyuz spacecraft and
Soyuz 1 and 2. In the latter case, heatshield polymerization
was conducted in autoclave *with container installed and
without protective cover on it*. So tar could have settled on
the walls of container and friction raised greatly. (A follow-on
story not included in the Energiya book says that technicians
used wooden hammers to knock the parachute into the tarred

Igor Lissov