Cosmonaut Komarov on April 23, 1967 was launched in the very first manned space flight of the new Soviet spacecraft, Soyuz. The Soyuz, which had room enough for three cosmonauts plus a separate working compartment, made accessible through a hatch, was used for experiments. After reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, the shroud lines became intangled during the deployment of the landing parachutes and Komarov fell to his death. After this horrible incident, the Soviet program was delayed for nearly two years. The first manned Apollo flight in October 1968 was launched using a Saturn 1B booster. Astronauts Marine Reserve Corps Major R. Walter Cunningham , Air Force Major Donn F. Eisele, and Schirra orbited the Earth 163 times, examining spacecraft performance, taking pictures of the earth, and conveying television photographs. Apollo 8 in December 1968, made a landmark flight in which astronauts Air Force Major William A. Anders ,Borman, and Lovell orbited the moon ten times and made it back to earth safely. Air Force Colonel David R. Scott, civilian Russell L. Schweickart, and Major James A. McDivitt of the Apollo 9 flight, checked out rendezvous, docking, and undocking of the Apollo spacecraft lunar module (LM) during a 151-orbit mission. Astronauts Stafford , Navy Commander Eugene A. Cernan, and Lieutenant Cammander John W. Young of the Apollo 10 flight , orbited the moon 31 times in a trial performance for the lunar landing. As planned, Cernan and Stafford conveyed from the Apollo 10 command module (CM) to the LM, disconnected, and came down to within 10 mi (16 km) of the moon’s surface while astronaut Young controlled the CM. Subsequently, docking and rendezvous of the ascent stage were accomplished of the LM; the two astronauts then conveyed to the CM, got rid of the LM, started the service module rocket for the return trajectory to earth, and made it back again safely. The Apollo Project was now ready to send astronauts to the moon’s surface.
During this time, the USSR launched Zond, an unmanned spacecraft, about the moon, transporting cameras and biological specimens.In October 1968, Colonel Georgi T. Beregovoi flew Soyuz 3 on a 60-orbit mission. Soyuz 4 and 5 in January 1969 rendezvoused and docked in the orbit of earth. While the spacecrafts were connected, cosmonauts Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny V. Khrunov and Aleksei S. Yeliseyev, wearing space suits, moved by EVA from spacecraft Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4, which was being piloted by Colonel Vladimir A. Shatalov. Soyuz 6, 7, and 8, in October 1969 were launched a day apart, rendezvoused in orbit but the spacecrafts did not dock. In June 1970, Soyuz 9 manned with a two-cosmonaut crew, set a record for an almost 18 day flight duration.