The Soyuz spacecraft consists of an orbital module, a descent module and a service module:



The spacecraft is fitted into a fairing before it is sent to the launch pad:



The cosmonauts board the spacecraft on the launchpad by ascending an elevator. All the material I can find shows only one hatch in the descent module, the one connecting it to the orbital module. So I guess the crew enter the orbital module through an opening in the fairing then climb down into the descent module? Item 6 in the above diagram is a hatch in the orbital module. Photos of the crew leaving the descent module after landing show them being helped out of the top hatch.



I believe the hatch on the side in the above photo is to the parachute compartment only, not to the crew compartment.

However can't find any photos of the fairing that show an entry point or any descriptions of the boarding proceedure. So how exactly to the crew get into their spacecraft?


2 Answers 2


Referred to as the боковой загрузочный люк - side loading hatch.

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Yes, they enter through the fairing, square hatch on the left, next to the Roscosmos logo.

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Shown in red

"Soyuz" (Publishing House of Political Literature, Moscow, 1976)

Orbital Bay

The Soyuz was designed to conduct scientific experiments, ensure the transfer of the crew from spacecraft to spacecraft and for cosmonauts' rest.

This part of the Soyuz is made of magnesium alloy and consists of two shells – hemispheres connected by a cylindrical insert. On top of the compartment there is a docking unit with an internal hatch with a diameter of 0.8 meters.

There are two observation windows in the orbital compartment, the third is located on the manhole cover of the docking unit. In the lower part of the compartment there is a hatch leading to the descent module, as well as a side hatch through which cosmonauts enter the spacecraft on the launch pad.

The control panel, instruments and equipment of the main and auxiliary onboard systems of the compartment are located here.

Outside the orbital compartment there is an external-view camera, antennas of radio and television systems.

The mass of the orbital compartment is 1.3 tons.

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On the tower, the beige box surrounds the side loading hatch.

The second picture is the view inside the beige box.

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Two pictures show the Cosmonaut being assisted into the Orbital module.

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Training on entering the side hatch.

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Similarly, the Progress cargo ferry can be loaded this way.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great finds on the "beige box" pictures! Those are hard to come by. I was about to ask some former students for pictures but you made that unnecessary. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27 at 14:26

Yes, there is a hatch in the fairing, shown open here leading to the open spacecraft hatch:

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(NASA image link)

The arrows show the fairing and Orbital Module hatch locations with the spacecraft slid out of the fairing:

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(NASA image link sans arrows)

All content from this Quora post


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