Soyuz 10 and Soyuz 11 Series with Salyut-1
Salyut 1 was launched on April 19, 1971 and deorbited on October 11, 1971. Two crews docked with the space station, although the first (Soyuz 10) was not able to enter the station possibly because of a hatch malfunction. The second crew (Soyuz 11) spent 3 weeks on the station (setting a new duration record), but died after separation of the Soyuz modules during reentry.
SOYUZ 10: SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR
On April 22, 1971 at 2354 GMT, Soyuz 10 was launched carrying the crew of Col. Vladimir Shatalov, flight engineer Aleksey Yeliseyev, and Nikolay Rukavishnikov, described as being responsible for operation of Salyut systems.
To accomplish rendezvous, the Salyut was maneuvered four times, while Soyuz made three major maneuvers. After 24 hours, the two spacecraft docked, with manual control being exercised by Shatalov once they were 180 meters apart. The crew said they were not able to see the space station until it was only 15 km away. The docking apparently was somewhat nerve-wracking, with Shatalov steering while his colleagues monitored various instruments on system status. The Soviets announced that new telemetry, and rendezvous and docking equipment was used for this mission.
After 5.5 hours, the ships undocked, without the crew ever entering the station. The Soyuz then flew around the station to take pictures (none of which have been published in the West) and returned to Earth. The flight lasted just under 2 days, and for the first time, a predawn landing was made (other missions had been recovered during the day).
The early recovery of Soyuz 10, and the failure of the crew to enter the space station, suggested that the mission had not met all its objectives although the Soviets said only that the flight had been scheduled very tightly for the research and testing tasks which were successfully accomplished.
There were several possible signs of trouble. First, the fact that the crew failed to enter the station once they had docked, especially since Rukavishnikov was a specialist in Salyut systems. Either the hatches or air locks were not functioning properly, or there was some threat of trouble which might have required a quick disconnect and return to Earth. Second, the crew returned to Earth at the very first opportunity to do so and still return in the usual recovery area, even though it meant landing in the dark. This suggested either trouble in Soyuz 10, or such dependence on Salyut systems that when these were unavailable, there was no point in prolonging the mission. Third, if all previous Soyuz flights are plotted on a graph to compare hour of launch with number of days in flight until recovery, a very linear relationship is found. On the basis of this type of estimate, the predawn launch of Soyuz 10 suggested a 30-day flight, but it only remained in orbit for 2 days.
While it is reasonable to accept the Soviet statement that the mission achieved the objectives associated with the new telemetry, docking, and control systems, it seems likely that the total mission fell short of its engineering capabilities and Soviet hopes.
SOYUZ 11: A SECOND SPACE TRAGEDY FOR THE SOVIETS
The Soyuz 11 crew was launched on June 6, 1971 at 0455 GMT and consisted of Lt. Col. Georgiy Dobrovolskiy, flight engineer Vladislav Volkov, and Salyut test engineer Viktor Patsayev.
The crew successfully docked with Salyut 1 on June 7 at 0745 GMT. Patsayev entered the station first, followed by Volkov and Dobrovolskiy.
The cosmonauts conducted various experiments (see below) during their 24 days on the space station, and on June 29, prepared for return to Earth, loading scientific specimens, film, tapes, and other gear aboard Soyuz 11. The ships undocked at 1828 GMT and retrofire occurred at 2234 GMT. The normal routine of detaching the work compartment and service module was accomplished, and using its automatic systems, the ship oriented itself and steered to the intended recovery area.
Radio communication with the crew came to an abrupt end at the moment of separating the work compartment, probably at 2247 GMT, even before the normal ionospheric blackout period. The drogue and main parachute systems functioned nominally, and a landing was made at about 2317 GMT on June 29.
Upon reaching the capsule, the recovery team was horrified to discover the three cosmonauts dead on their couches. Although the Soviets did not release information concerning the cause of death for quite some time, in 1973 U.S. negotiators for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project pressured them into releasing the first detailed explanation.
Soyuz is equipped with two valves that open for spacecraft descent venting, the first at about 5,300 meters, the second at about 4,350 meters. One of the valves failed as the work module separated from the descent module. It appears that venting took about 40 to 50 seconds to reach the point where the ship's atmosphere could no longer support life. The crew would have become aware of the leak both because they could hear the pressure leak, and the discharge of air would have resulted in a spacecraft attitude change, causing an automatic thruster to fire. The crew tried to close the leak with a crank, but were unable to do so before losing consciousness, and subsequently died of pulmonary embolisms. The Soviets had done away with the practice of wearing spacesuits during launch and reentry by this time, primarily because the Soyuz could not accommodate three space-suited cosmonauts, and suits were no longer considered necessary.
SALYUT 1 EXPERIMENTS
Once the Soyuz 11 cosmonauts were safely aboard the space station, the Soviets announced that the objectives of the mission were as follows: Checking and testing the space station's design, units, onboard systems, and equipment; trying out the methods and autonomous means of the station's orientation and navigation; studying geological-geographical objects on the Earth's surface, atmospheric formations, the snow and ice cover of the Earth with the aim of developing methods of using these data in the solution of economic tasks; studying physical characteristics, processes, and phenomena in the atmosphere and outer space in various spectral bands; and conducting medical-biological studies to determine the possibilities of performing various jobs in the station and to study the influence of space flight factors on the human organism.
Health monitoring and exercises for the crew continued through-out the mission. Other biological specimens and a hydroponic farm for growing plants were carried and used in experiments. Work related to Earth resources and weather monitoring was extensive, the detailed astronomical observations began midway through the mission, and the ship's systems and instrumentations were tested extensively. The crew also made fairly regular television broadcasts to Earth.
On June 17, a change in the reports on the crew occurred. No reports were made of scientific work or television transmissions, and only "minor correction work" was mentioned, with the comment that the ship was equipped with tools, spare parts, and safety devices. At first, some Western observers concluded that a problem had been encountered, but the mission continued for 2 more weeks with a resumption in scientific experiments and TV transmissions, so either the problem was corrected or it was simply a day of rest for the crew as announced by the Soviets.
(A) SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,
A1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS: 1976-80, (WITH SUPPLEMENTARY DATA THROUGH 1983) MANNED SPACE PROGRAMS AND SPACE LIFE SCIENCES PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF HON. BOB PACKWOOD, Chairman, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION UNITED STATES SENATE, Part 2, OCTOBER 1984, Printed for the use of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D. C., 1984
•Ms. Smith was an analyst in science and technology. Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|