The Soviet Union has opened the third decade of space exploration with the launching of a two-man Soyuz craft twenty years to the week after the world's first satellite.
GV: Soyuz Cosmonauts Vladimir Kovalyonok and Valery Ryumin walking to microphone and speaking (in russian) Soviet central Asia.
GV: Soyuz rocket taking off.
GV: rocket climbing with Soviet flag superimposed in foreground.
CU BLACK AND WHITE Cosmonauts inside spacecraft.
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Background: The Soviet Union has opened the third decade of space exploration with the launching of a two-man Soyuz craft twenty years to the week after the world's first satellite. The craft, launched from the same pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome that was used to put up Sputnik in 1957, is to rendezvous with the Salyut-6 space station which went up ten days earlier.
SYNOPSIS: The two cosmonauts, mission commander Vladimir Kovalyonok and flight engineer Valery Ryumin, are both on their first space flights. From Soyuz-25, they will be carrying out further experiments in the salyut programme, which has been at the centre of Soviet space exploration since the early 1970s. Following normal practice, the launch was not officially announced until the craft was safely in orbit. A three-man Salyut crew was killed in a spacecraft accident in 1971, and several other missions in the series have had to be cut short because of technical problems.
The Soyuz flights have been the only manned space launchings since the United States called a temporary halt to their programme in 1975 after the successful Apollo-Soyuz link-up by Soviet and American astronauts. The Soviet Union is to continue the Salyut series for the foreseeable future, and at a news conference recently a space programme chief said plans included bigger and better space station with larger crews spending longer periods of time in space. It has not been revealed how long the present mission will last.