A change of plan

Despite this success, other elements of the project were not going well. Both the station and the TKS ferry were taking a long time to develop, and there were strong reservations about using the new and unreliable Proton to launch manned missions. Despite intense hostility between Chelomei and Vasili Mishin, engineers from their two bureaux conspired to find a solution to the problem, developing the long-duration orbiting station (DOS is its Russian acronym), a hybrid combining elements of Almaz with ideas from 0KB-1's own ambitious plan for a modular station. Soyuz spacecraft, launched on an R-7-derived rocket, would service the hybrid station.

The DOS plan helped speed up development, and by April 1971, the first of the hybrid stations was ready for launch. Salyut 1, as it was called (in "salute" to Yuri Gagarin's historic first flight a decade earlier), was launched by a Proton rocket and entered orbit some 264km (164 miles) above the Earth. With the station safely deployed, its intended first crew took off aboard Soyuz 10, rendezvousing on 24 April. The spacecraft managed to dock with Salyut 1, but an electrical fault prevented the cosmonauts swinging aside the bulkhead between the two spacecraft and gaining access to the station. After several attempts, they undocked and returned lost crew

The crew of Soyuz 11 pose for a photo during training, Left to right ore Commander Georgi Dobrovolsky, Test Engineer Viktor Patsayev and Flight Engineer Vladislav Volkov.


____Since 1960, Soviet cosmonauts have lived and worked at the specially built town of Zvyozdny Gorodok near Moscow. The name means "little town of stars" in Russian, but in the West it is usually known as Star City. The town is home to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, where facilities include full-size mock-ups and simulators of all the major Soviet and Russian space vehicles (including the Salyut stations), centrifuges for g-force training, and large water tanks for simulating weightless operations. A nearby airfield hosts aircraft that fly parabolic paths to simulate weightlessness. In the Soviet era, Zvyozdny Gorodok was a restricted area, but today foreign visitors include astronaut trainees, space enthusiasts, and tourists. Many cosmonauts and their families still live in the town.


During more than three weeks on the station, the crew adapted well to life in orbit. Volkov and Dobrovolsky decided to grow beards, but Patsayev shaved regularly.

to Earth - official Soviet press releases claimed the mission was only ever intended as a docking test. Six weeks later, Soyuz 11 tried again - and this time, everything went smoothly.

After docking and moving into the station, the three-man crew established a round-the-clock schedule. While one person slept, another was off duty, relaxing, eating, and using various exercise devices to stave off the effects of weightlessness. The third, meanwhile, manned the station's array of scientific experiments, which included remote-sensing instruments to study the Earth, telescopes and other detectors for astronomy, and various biomedical experiments that frequently saw the cosmonaut as both scientist and guinea-pig.

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