National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Descent Into the Void

Soyuz-11 Depressurization

On June 6, 1971, three cosmonauts rose to orbit aboard Soyuz-11 to dock with Salyut, the world’s first space station. During the next three weeks, the crew performed more than 140 science experiments, captivating the Soviet public with televised reports. Acclaim awaited the crew as they began re-entry on June 30. Teams deployed to the descent site in Kazakhstan, arriving in time to observe an apparent flawless landing. Upon opening the Soyuz’s hatch, rescuers found all three crewmembers still in their seats, lifeless. The national outpouring of grief reportedly matched U.S. sorrow following President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.