I wonder which Soviet/Russian crewed spaceflight reached the highest apogee and how high. For America, the highest apogee ever reached is 1,368 kilometers (~ 850 mi) by Gemini 11 (except that America went even further: to the Moon). Gemini 11 is probably the highest non-lunar spaceflight to date, but what apogee did the highest Soviet/Russian crewed spacecraft reach?

I assume there aren't huge orbital differences inbetween all Soviet and Russian spaceflights to date because all of them launch on the R-7 rocket, however the rocket has been slightly modified per each spacecraft (Vostok, Voskhod, Soyuz). Therefore, I think some Soyuz spacecraft must have reached the highest Soviet/Russian apogee to date. Do you know on which mission the highest altitude was reached or might have been reached? And whether a Soviet/Russian crewed spacecraft went beyond the thermosphere (which I don't think), like Gemini 11?


2 Answers 2


Voskhod 2 was I think the highest altitude crewed Soviet flight, reaching 475 km (295 mi) apogee. This was Leonov's spacewalk flight; I don't know if the high apogee was related to that.

The Mir-bound flights usually went to around 300-400 km (190-250 mi; the station's orbit varied considerably over its lifetime), and the prior Salyut stations orbited lower than that.

It seems a little odd that they wouldn't have flown higher before the end of 1968; the USSR was big on setting aviation records and could have tried to outdo some of those high Gemini flights. Once Apollo 8 flew to the moon, of course, they would have wanted to avoid drawing any attention to high altitude records.

  • $\begingroup$ Missed Voskhod because I was looking at average altitude, but you are right, that one went higher. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Sep 23, 2020 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well, the Soviets had little money for their spaceflight goals, compared to America. All their crewed spacecraft launched on variants of the R-7 rocket, just their lunar spacecraft would have launched on the N-1. They better tried to just launch to the Moon, but their N-1 failed in all four launch attempts. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    Sep 24, 2020 at 6:04

As a complementary answer, there's one example of a Soviet spacecraft build for manned spaceflight, but without an actual crew onboard during high altitude flights.

Soyuz 7K-L1 "Zond" was a member of the Soyuz family of manned spacecraft, intended to be the command module of the cancelled Soviet lunar programme.

A number of Zond test missions were flown, and Zond 5, 6, 7 and 8 flew around the Moon, giving an apogee of approximately 390,000 km.


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