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Soyuz 18A: The First Crewed Inflight Launch Abort

5 Apr 2019, 15:43 UTC
Soyuz 18A: The First Crewed Inflight Launch Abort
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With over 140 crewed missions flown over the last half a century, the Russian Soyuz is the longest-serving and most-flown crewed spacecraft design of the Space Age. Only the now-retired American Space Shuttle, with 135 launches between 1981 and 2011, comes close to the impressive flight total of the Soyuz. Still used today to ferry crews to the International Space Station (ISS) and with any replacement still many years away from making its first flight, the Soyuz will continue to add to its impressive launch total for the foreseeable future.
Soyuz MS-12 shown approaching the ISS on March 15, 2019 carrying the Expedition 59 crew. (NASA)
While the Soyuz has earned an impressive record of reliability and safety, this has been the result of incremental improvements made over the decades to its various systems based on hard won experience and many early failures. Unfortunately, two of the failures during the first few years of the Soyuz program resulted in the loss of their crews. The first of these failures occurred on the first crewed flight of the earliest Soyuz variant, the 7K-OK. Under pressure to get back into the undeclared race to the Moon with the US, Soyuz 1 was ...

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