45th anniversary of space handshake between Russia and US
Moscow, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- Russia and the United States commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz flight on Friday, the first space mission carried out jointly between Moscow and Washington.
The Soyuz 19 docked with the Apollo CSM-111 in July 1975 and symbolized a detente between the two countries after decades of mistrust.
The Soviet ship was manned by cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Valeri Kubasov while its US counterpart was crewed by astronauts Thomas Stafford, Vance Brand and Donald Slayton.
Millions of people tuned in on television to watch the moment the two modules couple together over the sky in Germany on 17 July 1975 at 16.12 GMT.
“After the hatches opened we had to give Stafford a handshake for posterity,” Leonov said in a documentary subsequently made about the mission.
“I shook hands with him and pulled him toward our ship.”
The two vessels undocked two days later, circled Earth twice, re-coupled and remained joined for two more trips around the planet together before separating for the final time.
It was the first international space mission and has changed the history of how humans have explored the reaches beyond our planet.
The Apollo-Soyuz mission was a NASA initiative that sought to create a rescue system for spacecraft crews.
It was the product of almost three years of work between Soviet and American specialists, who proved they could work together despite political difficulties between their countries during the Cold War.