Despite years of discussions and agreements about limiting weapons in space, Soviet cosmonauts always reserved the right to include a triple barrel pistol in their Soyuz survival kits. Originally intended as protection against wolves and bears after a hypothetical touchdown in the Siberian wilderness, the TP-82 pistol also featured a folding stock that could be used as a shovel, and a hidden machete inside.
While waiting for recovery on land, the pistol could be used for hunting, for defense against predators, or for firing distress signals. There were a few dozen rounds of three types of ammunition in the kit – rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and flares, all usable in the unique gun.
Armed and ready, just in case:
- Anecdotal information indicates that Russian cosmonauts no longer take the all-in-one firearm onboard their spacecraft.
- Soyuz survival kits contain food rations, water bottles, warm clothing, rope, fish hooks, and other miscellaneous survival gear. American Gemini and Apollo spacecraft carried similar kits.
- It is believed that guns were first taken onboard Soyuz spacecraft after an off-course landing in March 1965. Depending on the source of the story, a Soyuz crew encountered wolves (or in some versions, a hungry bear) before the rescue chopper arrived.