Purpose of the Russian Soyuz Spacecraft

The Soyuz spacecraft is designed to:

  • Fly a crew of two to three people back and forth to the International Space Station
  • Deliver small payloads to the Space Station and return them to Earth
  • Perform fly-around and docking operations

The Soyuz spacecraft serves as:

  • The ISS crew's return vehicle, acting as a lifeboat in the unlikely event an emergency would require the crew to leave the Station. A new Soyuz capsule is normally delivered to the Station by a Soyuz crew every six months, replacing an older Soyuz on the ISS
  • A crew rotation vehicle; one crew is delivered to the Station on a Soyuz and one departs on another Soyuz or alternate vehicle
  • A cargo return vehicle, carrying up to 250 kg of cargo