The basic idea behind a key for a vehicle is to keep an unauthorized person from using your car to go somewhere else - probably further away from you than you would like your transportation to be.

I would think that this would be true for spacecraft as well - I certainly wouldn't want someone stealing my Saturn V rocket!

However, it seems that there is much more required to launch these space vehicles. Has the system of a key ever been used on a spacecraft for security?


This is the Soyuz-27 start key:This is the Soyuz start key

And this is the keyhole: This is the keyhole

Soyuz rocket is nee ICBM R-7. And that is exactly the ICBM key.

This is all happening in a bunker. The shooter gives a series of commands before the final countdown. One of them is "key to start". It initiates the automated starting sequence.

The tradition prescripts to give the key to the cosmonauts after they return.

This recording of Yuri Gagarin radio communication with ground control @00:26 gives an example of "key to start" command. It is translated as "ignition key to starting position" in the subs.

  • $\begingroup$ Have any references of where, exactly, these were used? $\endgroup$ – Undo Sep 24 '13 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, here it is -- a good English transcription of more or less modern (2006) Soyuz launch sequence. $\endgroup$ – horsh Sep 24 '13 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ You might also be interested in this Soyuz prelaunch timeline from NASA. There's mention of T-6:15 Key to launch command given at the launch site and T-5:00 Launch key inserted in launch bunker. During the last launch, I've also clearly heard them say Launch key inserted at T-5:30. ;) $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Sep 26 '13 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ What's kind of funny, is that the "key to start" is preserved even in Kourou, where all the start complex has been built a new. While all the work is in French, they pronounce "klutch na start" in Russian, and at the liftoff they say "Pusk!" that is "Launch!". $\endgroup$ – horsh Sep 26 '13 at 23:44

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