The Soviet Union has launched two cosmonauts into space on a Soyuz mission to complete the world's first double link-up with an orbiting space station.
MV TILT UP TO: Rocket on launching pad.
MV: Cosmonauts walk from bus and speak.
SV/MV: Technicians in control room. (FOUR SHOTS)
GV: Rocket launched and into space. (TWO SHOTS)
The longest any crew has remained aboard a Salyut station is 63 days. The United States record is 84, set by a Skylab crew in 1974. Salyut-6 launched last September, is the first station to carry two docking ports-a features which will allow it to receive two ferry vehicles.
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Background: The Soviet Union has launched two cosmonauts into space on a Soyuz mission to complete the world's first double link-up with an orbiting space station. Soyuz-27 blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Central Asia on Tuesday (10 January) and, if all goes well, was expected to dock with the Salyut-6 laboratory by early afternoon on Wednesday (11 January). Two cosmonauts have been aboard the orbiting station for a month and the Soyuz crew will join them in carrying out research.
SYNOPSIS: The Soviet Union hopes for a space first by having two crews aboard the Salyut station simultaneously. It has not been tried before.
The mission's commander, Captain Vladimir Dzhanibekov-making his first space flight-and engineer Oleg Makarov, who has made one previous mission, will join Soyuz-26 cosmonauts Yuri Romanenko and Georgy Grechko.
The Soyuz programme has suffered some setbacks in the past. In 1971 three cosmonauts died returning from a mission and last year faulty docking equipment foiled a space link-up. Extra checks were made to avoid problems this time.
It is not known how long the joint flight will last or how long either crew will remain in space, but the study of endurance is one of the main aims of the Salyut series. The blast off came at mid-day.
In later reports, the Soviet news agency Tass said the mission was progressing well with the Soyuz craft following the planned orbital path.