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This was the first special postmark applied on Baikonur, though with no mention of it due to the total secrecy. This special postmark was intended to commemorate the Soyuz 4 and 5 docking while the first space mail has been delivered to Vladimir Shatalov piloting Soyuz 4. Some covers were cancelled on Baikonur and almost instantly the postmark has been delivered to Moscow where it was used to cancel around 11,000 stationary covers using 14-15.1.69 dates. To differentiate from the Baikonur cancellations the postmark was scratched in the upper side of a rocket. These covers were sold out in state press agency kiosks “SoyuzPechat” and had a purple price tag on the backside. A very limited number of covers were postmarked on four dates – 14, 15, 17, 18 January 1969 - by the members of Soviet Philatelic Society members.

Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 where to perform the first spacecraft docking and transfer of the crew from one spaceship to another while performing spacewalk. The same exercise had to be done by ill-fated Soyuz 1 piloted by Komarov and Soyuz 2 by Bykovsky, Khrunov and Yeliseyev, but due to Soyuz 1 mulfunctions Soyuz 2 flight was cancelled that eventually saved lives of the crew – the spaceship had the same landing system design.

Soyuz 3 piloted by Beregovoy had to dock to unmanned Soyuz 2 but Beregovoy failed to navigate properly due to inadequate training. Now after all the trials and errors Soyuz 4 with Vladimir Shatalov docked to Soyuz 5 and the first “space station” was established. Soyuz 5 was piloted by Commander Boris Volynov and carried flight engineers Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov as the crew to be transferred to Soyuz 4 for reentry. With some difficulties Khrunov and Yeliseev spacewalked to Shatalov and brought him besides other goods – the first space mail. Volynov remained behind in Soyuz 5.

During Soyuz-5 reentry the service module failed to separate from the landing capsule forcing to descend upon the unpredicted trajectory with heatshield facing backwards resulting in massive overheating and circular movement. Volynov prepared for the worth. At some point due to very high temperature the service model connections broke up releasing the capsule. Unfortunately the parachute cables tangled and the soft landing rockets failed to perform in time causing Volynov severe injuries. Soyuz-5 missed the landing site by 600 kilometers. After the landing Boris Volynov and other cosmonauts were brought to report Brezhnev in Kremlin before getting any medical attention. Volynov was grounded and it took him 6 years to fly again on Soyuz-21 in 1976.

Soyuz-11 is sadly known for its tragic failure.

Original crew of Leonov, Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin was replaced by the backup crew of Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsaev due to Kubasov “probable” tuberculosis (that eventually came to be false). Dobrovolsky actually replaced Shatalov who moved to command Soyuz 10. The cosmonauts successfully docked Salyut-1 station and spent there 11 days then a fire occurred. At first there were plans to abandon the station, but eventually the crew remained as planned – for 22 days.

Despite the normal reentry the crew landed “without any sign of life” – as the doctors wrote and it quickly became apparent that they had asphyxiated. The cause of the death was clear as well – breathing ventilation valve that got to be opened as the capsule separated from the service module. Despite rapid deterioration the crew tried to fix the situation but they just had no time – as later were proved by the simulations.

The root cause of the malfunction was never found, as the valve behavior could not be simulated under any conditions but the Soyuz descend module was redesigned and the crew was down to 2 cosmonauts wearing pressurized spacesuits.

Soyuz-18-1 piloted by Vasili Lazarev and Oleg Makarov was flying for only 21 minutes before the hard landing in Altai Mountains. The second stage of the rocket launcher failed to separate starting to tilt the rocket out of the planned trajectory. When the deviation was analyzed by Soyuz guidance system the automatic abort sequence was activated. At that point the spacecraft was already directed towards the Earth and the forced separation of the booster and then the descend module has considerably increased the acceleration. The crew experienced up to 26g stopping their hearts and vision.

The parachute system worked perfectly but the landing occurred on the snowy slope of the mountain while the capsule continued to roll downwards for some 1200 meters before the parachute got caught in the treetops. Actually this was the advice of the rescue instructors – not the jettison the parachute in the mountain area. As the cosmonauts were not sure about their landing zone, fearing to get to the Chinese part of Altai, Lazarev burnt the documentation.

The rescue was tricky, as there was no chance to land a helicopter on the slope. The space recovery party tried to reach the landing zone and got caught by the avalanche fortunately without any fatalities. One the next day a geologist managed to reach the cosmonauts and guided a military helicopter for extraction. 

Soyuz 28 cover with all relevant postmarks and signatures applied on the Earth after the flight. Many take those covers as flown but obviously this is a mistake. 

Soyuz 28

Aleksei Gubarev 

Vladimír Remek (Czechoslovakia)


Salyut 6 / EO-1

Yuri Romanenko

Georgi Grechko 

Soyuz 30

Pyotr Klimuk
Mirosław Hermaszewski (Poland)

Salyut 6 / EO-2

Vladimir Kovalyonok
Aleksandr Ivanchenkov

Soyuz 31

Valery Bykovsky
Sigmund Jähn (East Germany)

INTERKOSMOS program gave massive push for the philatelic activities as now it should also serve the increasing demand outside USSR. For the Soyuz-30 flight with Polish cosmonaut Miroslaw Hermaszewsky three new postmarks were prepared and flown to the Salyut-6 station: Soviet “Space Mail” and Polish official cancellations plus additional private souvenir cancellation – “Space Mail – Salyut-6” crafted by the Baikonur philatelic club enthusiasts. All onboard cancellations were done using Soviet and Polish official postmarks with the dates 010778 and 27--6 -78 respectively and in addition two philatelic souvenir rubber stamps were used on some covers in red and black colors. Besides the dates one of the main features of “onboard” cancellation is relatively faded inks of the postmarks.

After Soyuz-30 return to Earth many covers were cancelled by the “Space Mail” official postmark with the date of landing – 050778 plus Polish and souvenir rubber stamps. In addition the same “flown” Space Mail postmark was used in Moscow Post Office for cancellation of FDCs and new stamps with the date -5-778. Later another copy of the “Space Mail” postmark was issued for Mezhkniga to serve foreign collector’s requests. The main difference between the postmarks is the height of the numbers.


There was an unpleasant story connected to this flight and the “flown” covers. One of the cosmonauts took several covers that were cancelled and signed in Baikonur, issued respectable certificates signed by the USSR Consulate in Germany and commercialized them while being abroad. The fact became known to the authorities in Baikonur and led for the military court trial. These covers can be still found on the auctions around the world.

info posted on Russian Astrophilately forum by Sergey Poznakhirko

Soyuz-30 fake cert.jpg

Soyuz T-2

Yury Malyshev
Vladimir Aksyonov


Salyut 6 / EO-4

Leonid Popov
Valery Ryumin

Salyut 6 / EO-6

Vladimir Kovalyonok
Viktor Savinykh

Soyuz 39

Vladimir Dzhanibekov
Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa (Mongolia)

Soyuz 40

Leonid Popov
Dumitru Prunariu

Soyuz T-6

Vladimir Dzhanibekov
Aleksandr Ivanchenkov
Jean-Loup Chrétien (France)

Salyut 7 / EO-1

Anatoli Berezovoy
Valentin Lebedev

Soyuz T-7

Leonid Popov
Aleksandr Serebrov
Svetlana Savitskaya

Salyut 7 seal .jpg

Soyuz T-13

On Feb 11, 1985 the station developed a chain power shortage and stopped to respond to the Center of Operations. The decision was made to send a repair team on board Soyuz T-13.


All the guidance towards the station was done by the Anti-Missile Defense forces, they was able to put Dzhanibekov and Savinykh into 200 meters distance from Salyut 7 for the manual docking approach. The cosmonauts entered the station with gas masks and warm clothing – temperature was well below 0 C. Fortunately the atmosphere was ok, so no gas mask were needed.

In the first days only one was working in the station, the other one was in the spaceship for safety reasons. One of the biggest problems was that the whole water supply on the station was frozen – Soyuz brought water for 8 days only, Dzhanibekov and Savinykh strictly limited themselves in water to gain more time. In a couple of days cosmonauts managed to start charging the batteries and in another couple of days the most of mission critical system stared to respond. On 16th – the water system came to life - this was actually the point of reincarnation.


No stamps or special cancellations were issued. In June 1995 there was a 10th anniversary event for Soyuz T-13 / Salyut 7 flight. A small presentation was held in Tsiolkovsky museum in Kirov with the participants of this adventure. The cover shows commemorative overprint, special event cancellation, museum postmark and signatures of Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Victor Savinykh.


This small section will be dedicated to the commemorative events and anniversaries of Soyuz – Salyut events and cosmonauts that took part in the program. Of cause some of the cosmonauts worked on both Salyut and MIR stations so I will make up my mind where to put this or that cover trying not to create too much duplicates over the website. After looking trough the covers and postcards I figured out that the best way to present it is according to the years of issue and not to group them around specific event. Why? I will try this way and see what I get.

1970 - 1979

1980 - 1989

1990 - 1999

2000 - 2009

2010 - present

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