• News
  • Politics
  • Research & Analysis

Apollo-Soyuz - The Project That Changed The USA-USSR Relations Forever


The Apollo-SoyuzTest Project, the first joint expedition into space by the United States and the Soviet Union, docked two spacecraft on July 17, 1975. NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts carried out a number of scientific investigations and technological demonstrations over the course of two days.

However, the mission's primary goal was far closer to home. It served as a symbol of political harmony.

Apollo-Soyuz Mission

The Apollo-Soyuz mission, according to some historians, signaled the formal conclusion of the space race and the start of a protracted period of international collaboration in space.

The shuttle-Mir partnership and the International Space Station today are credited with helping to pave the way for space flight.

In a NASA oral history interview conducted in 2000, astronaut Vance Brand stated, "I honestly believe that we were sort of an example to the countries." "We were a small spark or door opener that led to improved communications."

The two superpowers had been competing against one another in the space race for decades, trying to develop and test many of the technologies necessary to use nuclear bombs to end the other's race.

However, the space race came to a conclusion with a handshake in microgravity rather than a nuclear exchange. Science really can unite nations you can see some examples of science and friendship between nations in StationZilla science news.

A Synopsis Of The Space Race

Sputnik 1, the first satellite ever launched by humans, stunned the globe on October 4, 1957. Months later, America answered with its own spaceship, Explorer 1. As this back-and-forth grew more heated, the Soviet Union launched the first person into Earth orbit in 1961, once more proving its technological superiority and compelling America to react.

U.S. authorities searched for a new mission that could be used as proof of the country's dominance in space as Cold War tensions increased.

The moon appeared to be the ideal choice for the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The most crucial factor was that the time frame was long enough to give America a chance to defeat the Soviet Union.

Kennedy made explicit America's lunar objectives in a historic address delivered at Rice University in Texas in September 1962, only one month before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He stated, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we intend to win."

The wager succeeded. By 1968, NASA's lunar mission had surpassed its Soviet counterpart by a wide margin. As the United States completed preparations to send the first Apollo humans to the moon, the Soviet Union launched its Zond 5 spacecraft, carrying a pair of tortoises into lunar orbit.

According to Cathy Lewis, curator of the international space program at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, "it really was one of those last hurrahs for the Soviet spaceflight program because it was one of the last times they were able to preempt the Americans in any real way," she told Discover in 2018.

Additionally, on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew's moonwalk marked a significant victory for America in the space race. Six lunar landings were made by Apollo astronauts over the span of four years. A Soviet cosmonaut has never traveled there.

Picture from the moon of the Apollo Mission
Picture from the moon of the Apollo Mission

The Project

But at that time, the Soviet Union hadn't been at rest. While the United States put men on the moon, cosmonauts were building the first space stations for humans as part of the Salyut program, gaining expertise in low-Earth orbit.

They had spaceflight training. Additionally, their scientific studies with animals in satellites had revealed fresh information about how the environment of space might affect the body.

The two nations frequently discussed working together in space and exchanging scientific knowledge throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The ongoing Cold War hostilities, however, prevented any genuine communication.

Then, as both nations were setting new standards for space travel, a new era of collaboration known as "Detente" emerged on Earth in the early 1970s. Both countries had just spent massive sums of money bolstering their military might as the Vietnam War came to an end.

The Soviet Union and the United States started to negotiate nuclear arms control agreements and generally started to de-escalate their hostilities since both sides were hungry for peace.

The Space Handshake

For some politicians, a Soviet and American spacecraft docking for a "handshake in space" would represent the height of détente.

This type of collaborative expedition benefited both scientists and engineers. Long-distance space technology was mature, and America had excellent space pilots.

In the meantime, the Soviet Union concentrated on automation and set the bar for extended space missions. Each of them had a subject that the other was eager to learn more about.

The foundation for the mission was laid in Moscow by an American delegation in 1970, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was formally launched two years later.

But not everybody favored the concept. Both parties were concerned that the other would steal their technologies.

For the Soviet Union's lagging astronautical program, Apollo-Soyuz was a "technical and scientific goldmine," according to some defense hawks and even a New York Times editorial board opinion. The Soviets kept making fun of American spaceships in the meantime.

The two nations finally overcame the political and engineering challenges to make the rendezvous possible, including the design and development of an American-funded docking module that could pair the two craft, three years after the last Apollo lunar mission.

On July 15, 1975, a Soyuz capsule and an Apollo capsule from an unfinished moon mission launched from opposite sides of the globe within hours of one another.Then, 140 miles above the surface of Earth, they collided two days later.

As the two spacecraft softly docked, Soyuz captain Alexei Leonov announced, "Soyuz and Apollo are shaking hands now." The astronauts inside then gave each other handshakes as the door between the ships opened and posed for photos. They likely believed we were monsters

The crew developed their teamwork skills over the course of the following two days as they explored the other country's spacecraft and conducted five collaborative scientific experiments. But initially, they had trouble even speaking.

They all wanted to speak their own language, but ultimately they found that when they tried to speak each other's language, they all understood things more clearly.

"We thought they [the Soviets] were quite aggressive people, and... they probably thought we were monsters," Brand said of the Soviets."So we very quickly broke through that, because when you work with individuals in the same field as you do and you're around them for a short time, you learn that, uh, they're human beings."

The crew worked together to assist their space agency in gaining fresh technical and scientific knowledge. In one experiment, the impact of low gravity on the growth of fish eggs was examined.

Another person blocked the sun with the Apollo capsule to simulate a solar eclipse while cosmonauts captured images of the solar corona.

Saturn IB Rocket
Saturn IB Rocket

Peace In Space

It must be said that the peaceful period in space was brief. The ships separated only two days after docking. And soon after, tensions from the Cold War returned.

No American astronaut would go into space again for about six years after Apollo-Soyuz, until the first space shuttle was launched in 1981. Russia, then the Soviet Union, continued to launch Soyuz spacecraft into orbit.

Finally, the two countries collaborated in space once more, first on the Shuttle-Mir program and then on the $150 billion International Space Station, which was largely funded by American taxpayers.

And when the Space Shuttle Program was terminated in 2011, NASA was left without a means of continuing to launch men into orbit. The United States bought seats on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft that will go to the International Space Station.

Actually, until May 2020, when SpaceX's Crew Dragonspacecraft sent astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, Apollo-Soyuz was the last time NASA astronauts traveled in an American spacecraft into orbit.

People Also Ask

What Happened On Apollo-Soyuz?

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint expedition into space by the United States and the Soviet Union, docked two spacecraft on July 17, 1975. Over the course of two days, NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts did a number of scientific experiments and tech demos together.

What Was The Purpose Of Apollo-Soyuz?

The world's first multinational human space voyage, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, has as its main objective the testing of compatible rendezvous and docking systems for manned spacecraft. Apollo and Soyuz meet. About 50 hours after the Soyuz launch, there is a rendezvous.

Was The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Successful?

The world's first multinational human space voyage, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, has as its main objective the testing of compatible rendezvous and docking systems for manned spacecraft. Apollo and Soyuz meet. About 50 hours after the Soyuz launch, there is a rendezvous.


The space race may have come to an end with a handshake, but the issues and difficulties surrounding Apollo-Soyuz have persisted.

Even though the two nations continue to compete with one another on the ground, the U.S. continues to collaborate with Russia in space and pays for the privilege.

Share: Twitter| Facebook| Linkedin

Recent Articles

No articles found.