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Soyuz means "union." Soyuz-TM is the Russian manned spacecraft that typically ferries three crewmembers to and from Mir. It was also available as an escape vehicle in the event Mir experienced a life-threatening situation, and was used as a "fly-around" vehicle in the vicinity of Mir. U.S. Mir astronaut Norman Thagard is the only American to have launched in a Soyuz, although several international Mir crewmembers have launched and returned in Soyuz spacecraft. U.S. Mir astronaut Jerry Linenger took part in a "fly-around" of Mir. Soyuz-TM has a mass of 7,100 Kg, a length of seven meters, a maximum diameter of 2.7 meters, and a pressurized volume of 10 cubic meters. After re-entering the atmosphere, a Soyuz capsule deploys parachutes, then fires braking rockets when it is just above the ground. All of NASA's pre-shuttle space capsules (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo) made water landings.
More detailed discussions of the Mir space station and its modules can be found in David Portree's Mir Hardware Heritage, available on this Web site in PDF format. For a description of Soyuz from the Soviet newspaper Pravda, go to Soyuz in Pravda.
Thagard on Launching in Soyuz
Thagard on Soyuz Docking
Soyuz in Pravda
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty