This mission ceremoniously marked the end of the Space Race that had begun in 1957 with the Sputnik launch.
The mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments (including an engineered eclipse of the Sun by Apollo to allow Soyuz to take photographs of the solar corona), and provided useful engineering experience for future joint US–Russian space flights, such as the Shuttle–Mir Program and the International Space Station. astronaut Donald "Deke" Slayton's only space flight.
The Soviet Union criticised the Apollo spacecraft as being "extremely complex and dangerous".
The Americans also had their own concerns about Soviet spacecraft. Kraft, director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, criticized the design of the Soyuz: "We in NASA rely on redundant components--if an instrument fails during flight, our crews switch to another in an attempt to continue the mission.
Each side gave the other little coverage whatsoever of their achievements.
Both sides had severe criticisms of the other side’s engineering.
On June 7, 1971, the USSR had launched the first piloted orbital space station, Salyut 1.
Meanwhile, the United States had launched the Apollo 14 mission several months prior, the third spacecraft to land humans on the moon.
The unnumbered Apollo vehicle was a surplus from the terminated Apollo program and the last one to fly.
Prior to this mission, tensions remained high between the two world superpowers while the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, the Soviet press was highly critical of the Apollo space missions, printing "the armed intrusion of the United States and Saigon puppets into Laos is a shameless trampling underfoot of international law" over a photograph of the Apollo 14 launch in 1971.
"Experimental flight Apollo-Soyuz", commonly referred to by the Soviets as "Soyuz-Apollo"), conducted in July 1975, was the first joint U.
S.–Soviet space flight, as a symbol of the policy of détente that the two superpowers were pursuing at the time.