Cooperation in Space

July 4, 1975

Report Outline
Joint U.S.-Soviet Space Mission
Rapid Progress in Space Programs
Goals of Future Space Exploration
Special Focus

Joint U.S.-Soviet Space Mission

Technical and Political Purposes of Apollo-Soyuz

Shortly after noon (EDT) on Thursday, July 17, about 135 miles above Europe, a silver, bullet-shaped American Apollo spacecraft will maneuver slowly toward a green and white Russian Soyuz capsule with a bulbous nose and a pair of wings. The Apollo will push a black docking module toward the Soyuz and a metal ring will lock into a series of latching devices and pressure seals. After docking is completed, a hatch will open to permit Apollo astronauts Thomas P. Stafford and Donald K. (Deke) Slayton, weightless in space, to crawl into the docking module, while Vance D. Brand remains behind in the Apollo command module.

Sometime after 3 p.m., the Soyuz hatch will open and Stafford will reach out to shake the hands of Russian cosmonauts Aleksey A. Leonov and Valeriy N. Kubasov. Their historic handshakes will be shown live to a worldwide television audience. People around the world will also hear the astronauts address the cosmonauts in their native language and vice versa—“language of the listener” is the rule for the mission. The crews will exchange flags and sign a joint flight certificate. Later, the Russians will serve their American guests a luncheon of sour cabbage soup, jellied tongue, dried fish, rye bread, cream cheese with black currant jam, honey cakes, prunes with nuts, tea and candy—all from aluminum tubes and tin cans.

Thus will begin the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (Astp)—the first international manned space flight in history—if all goes according to schedule. It is an undertaking which many believe will open a new era of international cooperation in space. If humanity is ever to venture out through the solar system into the galaxy and beyond, it clearly must be a combined effort of more than one nation. “Somewhere along the line in space programs, we have to start doing a lot of work with other countries, basically to economize,” astronaut Vance Brand said recently.“Fifty years from now, undoubtedly, we'll be doing really great things. I think that it's important that we make this first step in cooperation.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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