Gagarin went directly to the orbit - the first manned flight was orbital. I don't know about any other Soviet or Russian spaceflights that wouldn't be orbital - except for some odd aborted launch or other unforeseen difficulties.

I wonder though, if they performed any manned suborbital launches at a later date - something like what Blue Origin plans to do commercially. Or maybe do they plan something like this? Or is Russia "Orbital only"?

  • $\begingroup$ A cite from wikipedia about Vostok "The first manned spaceflight, Vostok 1 in April 1961, was preceded by several preparatory flights. In mid-1960, the Soviets learned that the Americans could launch a sub-orbital manned spaceflight as early as January 1961. Korolev saw this as an important deadline, and was determined to launch a manned orbital mission before the Americans launched their manned suborbital mission." Sputnik, Laika, Gagarin were all orbital missions $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Nov 20, 2017 at 10:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Just for the sake of completeness. There was a wide program of suborbital launches involving dogs starting from the very first Korolev's R1 rocket. See this table (in Russian) for details ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Собаки_в_космосе $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


There were only four manned Russian programs:


No suborbital flights were made. See


No suborbital flights were made. See


There was a two suborbital mission: a failed Soyuz launch in 1975, Soyuz 7K-T No.39

  • Its apogee was 192km high, for a flight time of 21min.
  • Made it to space but clearly short of orbit.

The failure was due to an improper separation from stage 2 and 3.

And MS-10, a failure in 2018, not quite reaching space (93km).

Another one comes to mind: the failed launch of Soyouz T-10-1

In this case, the rocket caught fire on the launchpad and the escape tower saved the cosmonaut by making a short hop (but not reaching space).


  • A few manned atmospheric flights were made.

  • The longest one lasted 36min.

  • One orbital robotic flight was made.

So we have one accidental sub-orbital flight, and few atmospheric flights.

The answer is no for intentional sub-orbital flights.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The question is about intentional suborbital flights, not launch failures $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ COnveresly, this is evidence that the answer is actually No. There were only launch failures. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Nov 20, 2017 at 15:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Voskhod program followed Vostok and preceded Soyuz. It included two crewed flights. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2017 at 8:35

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