Why The USSR Had Plans To Land Spacecraft in The USA During Emergencies.

Vote for this video by social sharing!
In an emergency, when time is of the essence the Soyuz Spacecraft might need to return to Earth at the next possible opportunity. Because the spacecraft needs large flat areas to safely land they included reentry plans which would place the descent module in the USA. Even during the cold war this was a sensible option when the alternative would be the loss of crew, international treaties confirmed that the crew and their spacecraft would be swiftly returned home should they end up in the wrong country.

Based on an article by Sven Grahn

  1. MrFredy402

    Thank you, now I know how to behave near landed soyuz capsule :D

  2. psmirage

    To quote a character in one of my video games, “I always welcome the opportunity to be gracious.”

  3. Jcjc Junk

    One of the locations is on top of my house

  4. Lewis Johnson

    Even at the height of the cold war, who could turn down a visit from a couple of cosmonauts?

  5. Chadx M

    As it should, space effort must need a collaborative effort.

  6. Morgan Sinclair

    I learned about the treaty in Lost Moon, Lovell’s story of Apollo 13 and his life, which was adopted into the Ron Howard film, Apollo 13.

  7. dragon


  8. PenileAugmentation

    Upon a glance, I read “cosmonauts” in the thumbnail as “communauts”.

  9. DSiren Sirenite

    “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing” Even in enemy territory.

  10. whuzzzup

    6:45 – there really is a “glass” sign on that thing?

  11. Odysseus Rex

    In high school ,in the 1970s, I half wrote a science fiction story in which i imagined a Soyuz capsule landing in the US in the middle of winter. I imagined a cattle rancher finding the cosmonauts using snowballs to drive off curious cattle. I never knew there any such real contingency plans.

  12. 5Rounds Rapid

    “CCCP, phone home!”

  13. Edward Chesser

    Even during the height of the Cold War, we Americans would have been honored to have Soviet Cosmonauts land their space craft in our country. They would have been treated well upon rescue and the spacecraft would have been promptly returned to the Soviet government.

  14. Michael Thompson

    I’m just imagining some farmer holding the cosmonaut at bay with a squirrely rifle until the sheriff shows up.

  15. Tara Li

    I have to admit – my first thought on reading the title of this video was: “Because they weren’t f’ing stupid!”

  16. Chyza

    I like how the instructions saying to not to go near the underside of the capsule were printed on the underside of the capsule

  17. Richard M

    Today we’d just say “We’re gonna need a bigger wall!”.

  18. king james488

    “stay away from the bottom of the capsule since it’s radioactive… the latch to open the capsule also happens to be on the bottom.”

  19. Matthew Carlson

    Could you talk about the Soviet moon lander?
    love your channel!

  20. Steven Goodale

    It’d be kinda neat if it landed in Idaho, I live in Boise and I’d imagine the crew would end up there on their way home which would be really cool.

  21. HO LAM YIU

    I’m printing out those stranded Soyuz aid instructions and keeping them in my pocket.
    Just in case.

  22. Брудли Блюа

    I genuinely had read “communauts” on the preview the first time.

  23. John theux

    0:00 I’m French and I heard: Ah, t’es dans la merde, enfoiré, c’est bon, t’es dans la merde!

  24. Ben Turner

    “Contact Department of Defense Manned Space Flight Support Office with questions at [DELETED]. *Call collect if necessary.”*
    They’re literally saying “if you’re such a cheap-ass to not want to pay to call us to help rescue astronauts/cosmonauts from the ISS, we will pay for the call, so f*cking call us.”
    Wow lol.

  25. StarkRG

    6:02 “Remove 1 of the 3 tools located at (1) OR FIND IT IF DETACHED DURING LANDING” And now I’m imagining a situation where the capsule has landed and the cosmonauts are ready to get out, but there’s five or six people wandering around outside looking for the hatch tool that fell off somewhere along the landing path (but PROBABLY somewhere around where the “soft” landing thrusters fired).

  26. tinkmarshino

    wow that was something new I had never heard before ( like I actually hear anything) thanks Scott.

  27. TreyVaswal

    “Unintentional collaboration..” Maybe more like ‘Spontaneous.’ :D

  28. Mukish Chezian

    this is so cool, it really shows how anything out of the earth needs worldwide cooperation even during times of war

  29. deepblueskyshine

    Really interesting for me information. As a high school student during mid 1980s I was (1 of 2 of my age) invited to the bulgarian Interkosmos club – informal club lead by academia managers of bulgarian space programs where I met Ivanov several times and Rukavishnikov ones, but I’ve never heared about contingency landing plans. They both joked a lot with one another about their scary flight, but rumor said their ballistic trajectory landing took a great deal from Rukavishnikov’s health. He (Rukavishnikov) was very interesting for me person – broadly educated with even broader interests, open minded strong siberian personality. Knowing many people from the socialism era space business I would say that in many cases (no military involvement) they would land in the USA if they have to even without top authorities approval.

  30. Lucy Tycho

    I’ve seen that picture with the instructions before, and always wondered why they had English. I thought it might have something to do with that space treaty, but it’s good to know the full details. A little disappointing that this never had to be done for real

  31. Andrii Martynov

    That’s something that I have never heard of. 👍

  32. Gary Williams

    2:15 – Nice image of a re-entry anticipation angle.

  33. Łukasz G.

    Great intro with soyuz!

  34. The Iron Toaster Oven

    Just when you think you know everything there is to know about space history, something insanely cool like this comes along, great video!

  35. satchell78

    “That’s not a russet Martha.” lol. Thanks Scott

  36. Lady pilliwick

    Fact : they did over shoot once and landed in China

  37. Mihail Dobrolitsky

    FYI Georgy is pronounced with a hard “g” like in get and an audible “e” and “o”

  38. limescale onetwo

    I live in Azle. I want my soyuz capsule souvenirs

  39. Xatik

    3:49 one of the landing sites (near city Суми) is 100 km from my home (same city) =)

  40. Luke B4 U Leap

    As always, VERY interesting, though THIS was perhaps one of your best.

  41. Sean McDonough

    4:16 – “What does this button do?”

  42. Thirst Fast

    5:15 Am I the only one that sees a Pringles moustache?

  43. David H

    I have no doubt that even at the height of the Cold War, had a Soviet capsule landed in the US, the cosmonauts would have been treated royally, and with maximum American hospitality and military deference. Things might have been a bit chilly on the Soviet side, but again, the propaganda win for them would have demanded exemplary treatment. The Soviet governments and the American governments may not have exactly been pals, and we were both prepared to annihilate each other at a moment’s notice, the the Soviet people and the American people have never been “enemies”. Hell, even Khrushchev got to visit Disneyland!

  44. MediaMatters IsMyCockHolster

    Wow, it could have landed on one of Dad’s farms there outside Ft. Worth. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot. Totally unrelated: when the original tilt-rotor Ospreys were being flight tested, they used to fly and hover over one of our farms. The first time we saw one it was just so unexpected, but very cool!

  45. PjPjPaul

    Never knew this!

  46. Max Bainrot

    I love how they have to remind the rescuers to help the crew get out hahaha

  47. dDoOyYoOuUtTuUbBeE

    This time, it could have been “I’m Scott Manley, land safe”…

  48. neithere

    Your Russian pronunciation is getting much better, thanks for the effort! :) And, and always, thank you for a very interesting video.

  49. Robb403

    Imagine the President having to send a message to the Soviets, ” We found your capsule in Utah after it made an emergency landing. But, we regret to inform you that the crew was eaten by Mormons before we could save them.”

  50. asiluawksadvnase8238

    Thanks for the video Scott. Some of those landing sites are pretty close to Minot, ND. Can’t imagine NORAD’s cold war response to a Soviet vehicle reentering over an AFB which hosts nuclear ICBMs.

  51. Slav Squirrel!

    Scott Manley: The Russians…
    All the people from the other republics:
    Are we a joke to you?

  52. Torax Malu

    @Scott: you mentioned a water landing of the Sojus in emergancy around Russia and Japan. How long that capsule would stay afloat and how it is compared with the Apollo capsules?
    Thanks and cheers.

  53. _

    Imagine calling 911
    *Yes, there are two Russians who just crashed into my backyard from space*

  54. bridgecross

    4:00 there is no limit to how much I love this control set. I spit on Elon’s all-touchscreen nightmare, I want to turn a little model globe.

  55. Jim Schiltz

    We should all sleep better knowing that there have always been these types of agreements between rivals.

  56. Brandon Winters

    Idaho native here, when he said Idaho I had to replay that several times :)

  57. Perfection47

    Grampa: “damned com mies, get off my lawn!!!” (In old OLD guy voice)

  58. Alex Siemers

    Therapist: Cursive Cyrillic doesn’t exist, it can’t hurt you
    Cursive Cyrillic: 0:05

  59. Sean McDonough

    5:39 – Ah, Soyuz the Impaler.

  60. Headcrab


  61. Dethmeister

    0:34 I like the way they moonwalk to the rocket.

  62. syafsanai

    1:41 Google Passat key

  63. phoenix rising

    Can you imagine the emergency communications between Moscow and Washington if it had gone towards dallas? Every ballistic missile in North America would have been on alert, and the civilian meltdown would have been catastrophic

  64. Phil Frederick

    One of the graphics had the words “cesium altimeter.” Can you talk about that sometime?

  65. Michael Foye

    To think we missed
    “Zeke, Jonah, come quick. I’ve caught myself some real commie spacecraft, and a couple of real live commies too.” being written into the history of space travel. Ah shucks.

  66. oasntet

    3:48 – “the Ukraine”… ;)

  67. t3llmike

    Imagine the amount of space anecdotes you would hear if Sven and Scott would actually meet up for a public chat. The evening would never end.

  68. tehbonehead


  69. Rob Graham

    There’s a section (the opening from memory) in the Apollo 13 book by Jim Lovell that covers the actual meeting just after the treaty was signed, from memory it’s also the event he’d been at during the plugs out test for Apollo 1. Both sides were extremely happy about having it as it put to rest what would happen if a ‘ditching’ had to happen over the others territory.

  70. Raffo42

    At 5:40 you (and the diagram) talk about the “landing motor sensor”, which is also described as “Cesium Altimeter”… How can you measure altitude with a radioactive source like cesium?

  71. Julius Sokolowski

    Sven used to lecture at my university (KTH). I think he is the PM or mentor to the group that is building KTH’s student sat. Didn’t have those projects in my days :(

  72. Stephen Courton

    I’m sure in an emergency that US wouldn’t object to emergency landing here.

  73. John Fife

    Was the inverse true? Did NASA have contingency plans for landing in the then-USSR?

  74. Gregory Lewis

    Decades ago I thought the flat expanse of southwestern Ontario would be a great landing spot for a Soyuz capsule, but now, they would probably hit one of over 900 windmills that are now operating.

  75. Ziginox

    Oh hey, shout out from Idaho! Would be super cool if a Soyuz landed in the desert here!

  76. AndyCallaway

    I like the fact that there is a symbol of a wine glass on the bottom of the capsule.
    It means, “Once you got the cosmonauts out, offer them a glass of merlot.” ;-)

  77. Graeme Cooke

    Why say “had”, ie past tense? I work at JRCC Trenton in Canada, and we have plans for emergency soyuz landings to this day.

  78. ilcuggino

    Hi Scott, I have a humble request, can you talk about the SABRE engine or aerobreathing rocket engines in general?

  79. Cincin 07

    I feel like I don’t care who it is or where they come from if they’re Travelers Among the Stars and I crash land in my backyard I’m giving them the biggest hospitality and helping them….. should always help the traveler when in need

  80. Richard Wilson

    Even without the treaty, I suspect the choice between imprisoned in America or dead in space would be quite easy to make!

  81. Max K

    Mission Control: Comrade, this is MC on the shortwave. Was the emergency de-orbit burn successful? Did you make it through reentry?
    Cosmonaut: Yes, burn and reentry proceeded nominally.
    MC: Good, we are relieved to hear that you are safe.
    Cosmonaut: Actually, I said the burn and reentry were nominal…
    [Sees the southern United States come into view through the window]
    [Sees reflection of the large “CCCP” on his helmet in the window]
    Cosmonaut: …but “safe” might be a bit optimistic comrade.

  82. Dj Luminol

    I grew in the cold war and I would have been thrilled to help a cosmonaut. Come on how cool would that have been for a kid to stumble across a space ship.

  83. Gordon Richardson

    Having lived through 5 decades of space exploration, that is something I genuinely did not know!

  84. Sir Billy Ritchie

    Maybe the Cosmonauts wanted to land in the US to go to Disney

  85. Jacob Furrow

    Imagine of this happened. I could see it being a strangely positive experience in the eyes of both, like US ping pong teams going to China.

  86. Colonel Graff

    In Soviet Russia we don’t land our spaceships on your country- your country is just in the way of our spaceships 🚀

  87. Rebel N Dirt

    I have found that even though the “Space Race” was one of the most competitive aspects of the cold war, it was also one where the US and USSR were usually friendly about.

  88. Cap'n Slipp

    _“Step 1. Attention! Do not stand within viewing distance or angle of these instructions!”_

  89. Klemens Edler

    6:35 Instruction number 1 telling you not to stand on the side the instructions are written on …

  90. Brian Streufert

    The reality, if this were ever to happen. Those cosmonauts would have been treated extremely well. Granted with a high sense of security but they would have been treated like out of town guests, no question. Hell, if they would have landed in TX, they might have had the best (and only) BBQ they’ve ever had!

  91. tybofborg

    “Don’t be afraid, I am an American citizen like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Mosc… er, Washington!”

  92. fotmheki

    Sounds a lot like the issues NASA had with Apollo 13. I read somewhere that soviet gone radio silent to let Huston communicate with Apollo without interference and also they was ready to help in the rescue mission as well.

  93. TheSeppentoni

    Imagine. You are farming your land and suddenly…… boooom two russians are on your lawn.

  94. Kenspiracy

    “Looks like we landed safely, Misha! I wonder where we ar-…”
    *banjo starts playing whilst the sound of a dozen or so shotguns being loaded can be heard*

  95. Cydonius1

    Excuse me sir can you direct me to the Navy base where they keep their nuklear wessels

  96. theman2160

    Scott Manley: “In space nobody can hear your rules.”

  97. rapter229

    Well, as you pointed out in a previous video, American spies were no strangers to sneakily dismantling an entire Russian capsule in a night and returning it in one piece the next day :)

  98. johnmburt1960

    An emergency Soyuz landing outside Fort Worth, Texas, in 1979 would make a swell movie.

  99. dontcheckmychannel

    “Why the USSR had plans to land spacecraft in the US during emergencies.”
    Probably on account of the emergency.

  100. Mark Richards

    Reporter: “You’ve just landed in enemy territory. What are you going to do next?”
    Cosmonauts: “Vee go to Dizznee Vorld!”

Comments are closed.