Spaceflight Insider

Our Spaceflight Heritage: The first international space partnership

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (standing on left), Cosmonaut Aleksey A. Leonov (standing on right), commander of the Soviet crew; Astronaut Donald K. Slayton (seated on left), Astronaut Vance D. Brand (seated in center), and Cosmonaut Valeriy N. Kubasov (seated on right), Photo Credit:NASA

On July 15, 1975, The first international space partnership, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, took place between the United Soviet Socialist Republic and the United States. This first international spaceflight effort took place when an Apollo and a Soyuz spacecraft docked in low-Earth-orbit for a nine-day mission that brought the two former rivals together as one.

The main objective of the ASTP initiative was to test the unique rendezvous and docking systems that were. The U.S. space agency, NASA launched an Apollo command and service module on a Saturn IB rocket.

The Apollo component of ASTP ascends through the Florida sky on July 15, 1975. Photo Credit: NASA

The Apollo component of ASTP ascends through the Florida sky on July 15, 1975. Photo Credit: NASA

The flight crews included:



The Soyuz has been the primary Russian spacecraft used for manned flight since its introduction in 1967. The Soyuz was launched just over seven hours prior to the launch of the Apollo CSM. Apollo then maneuvered to rendezvous and docking 52 hours after Soyuz’s launch. The Apollo and Soyuz crews conducted a variety of experiments over a two-day period. After separation, Apollo remained in space an additional 4 days. Soyuz returned to Earth approximately 30 hours after separation.

ASTP was the last flight of the Apollo spacecraft and marked the beginning of a period of more than six years when the U.S. lacked the ability to launch crews to orbit. The next crewed flight, the first mission for space shuttle Columbia on STS-1 took place on April 12, 1981. In terms of ASTP, what might have appeared on the outside as a publicity stunt, would actually be the first step toward what would lead to sixteen separate nations coming together on the International Space Station project.


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Heather Smith's fascination for space exploration – started at the tender age of twelve while she was on a sixth-grade field trip in Kenner, Louisiana, walking through a mock-up of the International Space Station and seeing the “space potty” (her terminology has progressed considerably since that time) – she realized at this point that her future lay in the stars. Smith has come to realize that very few people have noticed how much spaceflight technology has improved their lives. She has since dedicated herself to correcting this problem. Inspired by such classic literature as Anne Frank’s Diary, she has honed her writing skills and has signed on as The Spaceflight Group’s coordinator for the organization’s social media efforts.

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