Soyuz 2 was originally scheduled to be launch
ed one day after the launch of Soyuz 1
. The cosmonaut
s on board would have been Valeri Bykovsky
, Yevgeni Khrunov
, Aleksei Yeliseyev
. It would dock and Khrunov and Yeliseyev would spacewalk to Soyuz 1 and returning to earth with Vladimir Komarov
It was decided that even after the troubles that Soyuz 1 was facing to launch the mission. The crew would dock and try to unfurl the solar panel. But due to heavy rain at Baikonur, the launch was aborted. It was discovered after the Soyuz 1 crash that Soyuz 2 had the same pressure sensor problem so it would have faced the same fate.
It was not until 18 month
s later that it got off the ground. This time it was unmanned
and launched on 25 October, 1968
into a 191 km by 229 km orbit
Soyuz 3 launched the next day and the two spacecraft mananged to rendezvous but not dock. The failed docking was blamed on manual control of the Soyuz 3 by Georgi Beregovoi, who repeatedly put the spacecraft in an orientation that nulled the automatic docking system. Beregovoi used nearly all of his orientation fuel in his first attempt to dock - of 80 kg allocated, only 8 to 10 kg was remaining.
Soyuz 2 then reentered and was recovered on 28 October, 1968.
This mission was notable as usually the spacecraft name was reserved for manned missions. Unmanned test flights of manned spacecraft tended would receive a Cosmos designation.