Soyuz 8 was lanched October 13, 1969
. It was one of an ambitous three spacecraft mission. Soyuz 8 was to dock with Soyuz 7
while Soyuz 6
made spectacular film
of the linkup nearby. However this never took place as none of the spacecraft were able to dock
due to the failure of all their rendezvous systems.
The crew on board were commander Vladimir Shatalov and flight-engineer Aleksei Yeliseyev. Their callsign through the mission was Granit (Granite).
It is still not quite known exactly what the actual problem was but it is often quoted as being a helium pressurisation integrity test. The version of Soyuz spacecraft used for the missions (7K-OK) carried a torus shaped docking electronics equipment housing surrounding the motor assembly on the back of the service module. This is thought to have been pressurised with helium to provide a nice benign environment for the electronics. It was then jettisoned after docking to lower the mass of the spacecraft for reentry. What went wrong with the electronics on all three spacecraft is still not known.
According the the Soviet sources the other objectives for the mission were: testing spacecraft systems and designs, manoeuvring of spacecraft with respect to each other in orbit, conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological experiments in group flight.
The spacecraft landed October 18, 1969, 150 km northwest of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.