Dobrovolsky and his crew orbited Earth three times before initiating their descent. Mission control radioed the team, cheerful to see them soon on “Mother Earth.” The commander’s reply? “Thank you, be seeing you.”
From there, the Soyuz 11 crew initiated every landing procedure exactly right. The ship’s rockets blasted for the correct length of time, the reentry capsule successfully separated from the hull, and its parachutes deployed. It appeared all was well.
Only, try as they might, mission control was no longer able to contact the Soyuz 11 crew. They radioed in several times, but they received no reply. So when the re-entry capsule landed in remote Kazakhstan, recovery units were concerned as they rushed to the scene.
Mission control had instructed the Soyuz 11 crew not to exit the spacecraft without assistance. There was no telling what 23 days in space would have on their bodies, so the Soviets wanted medics on hand for immediate treatment.