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Soyuz 32 and Soyuz 34



Soviet Manned Space Programs: 1957-80



In 1979, the Soviets extended their manned space duration yet again, this time to 175 days. The main crew of Soyuz 32/34 did not receive any visitors because of an engine failure on Soyuz 33. Concern about the Soyuz engines led the Soviets to delay one manned flight and to replace the aging Soyuz 32 ship with a modified, unmanned Soyuz 34. Three Progress missions resupplied the crew, and the last of these delivered a space radiotelescope, the KRT-10. Difficulties in jettisoning the KRT-10 resulted in an unplanned EVA by the crew to detach it only a few days before the end of the mission.

Soyuz 32 (Proton) was launched on February 25, 1979 at 1154 GMT carrying the crew of Lt. Col. Vladimir Lyakhov and Valeriy Ryumin. The crew docked at the forward end of Salyut 6 at 1330 GMT on February 26, at which time the complex's orbit was 330x307 km. The crew used the Soyuz 32 engines to boost it into an orbit 338x308 km on March 5.

The crew spent a great deal of time during the first month reactivating and refurbishing the station. The Russian media emphasized that the station was now IVs years old, and that it had been ………

March 21, it was reported that the crew was working faster than expected and the unloading of Progress 5 was completed. In fact, of the 33 tasks assigned to the crew during the first 4 weeks, almost all had been completed ahead of schedule. In addition, the crew was doing more physical exercises than previous crews 2.5_to 3 hours a day. Ordinarily, crews had not exercised for that length of time until close to the end of the mission when they were preparing to return home, but based on the results of the previous long duration missions, doctors had decided to increase the amount of exercise throughout the mission. .

On March 30, the complex's trajectory was raised to 357X284 km using the Progress 5 engines, and a further trajectory correction was made on April 2 (no new orbital parameters were provided however). The cargo ship undocked on April 3. On April 6, the Sovuz 32 engines were used to further trim the orbit.

The next scheduled event for the crew was the arrival of Soyuz 33 bearing Nikolay Rukavishnikov and Georgiy Ivanov, the first Bulgarian in space. An engine malfunction forced the docking to be aborted, however (see next section).

The crew continued with the various experiments described on p. 585 with their time devoted extensively to materials processing, along with some work using the MKF-6M and KATE-L40 cameras and the BST-lm submillimeter telescope. During the May day festivities, the crew was given a 5-day vacation where they did not have to perform any scientific work, even though they had to keep up with their exercises. .

From May 15 to June 8, May io to June o, joint operations were conducted with

Progress 6 which carried more fuel and air, another control panel for the navigation system, a new Stroka teletype to replace the old one, and a tulip about to blossom. Prior to the docking, press reports made considerable mention of the tulip and how scientists wanted to see how well it would blossom in space and referred to how it would bring a breath of spring to the crew. No further mention was made of the flower, however, suggesting that it did not blossom well. (Soyuz 34 also brought up a tulip as will be discussed later.)

Progress 6's engines were fired to raise the station's orbit to 352x333 km on May 23 to correct for precession in the orbit which had caused a shift in the crew's work schedule in order to maintain contact with the ground at optimum times. Refueling of the station's tanks was completed on May 28, after which the Progress engines were used twice more (June 4-5) to place the complex in an orbit of 371x358 km.

On June 5, the crew celebrated their 100th day in orbit and were congratulated by the Soyuz 29/31 crew. Reports from Hungary around this time indicated that the Hungarian cosmonaut had been scheduled to be launched on June 5 to dock with Salyut 6, but that the mission had been postponed because of concern about the Soyuz engines. (152) Technicians had apparently identified the problem on Soyuz 33, but did not want to commit a crew to a Soyuz until an unmanned test could be completed. Thus, the unmanned Soyuz 34 was launched on June 6. After 2 days of independent flight to test out the modified engine, Soyuz 34 docked on June 8 at the aft of the station vacated only hours earlier by Progress 6.

Five days later, Soyuz 32 undocked and carried 180 kg of material down to Earth (since the Soyuz 33 failure precluded visiting missions, there was no other method of getting the experiment results back except with the main crew.) The ship landed on June 13 at 1618 GMT after a record 109 days in space. On board were 30 ampules from Splav and Kristall, film cassettes, biological objects, old scientific equipment such as clocks from the control panel and light bulbs to be studied for wear after the long stay in orbit, a cast made of a hollow discovered on one of the docking units possibly from a meteorite impact, and the contents of the vacuum cleaner.

With Soyuz 32 gone, the crew's next task was to move Soyuz 34 to the forward docking unit to allow another Progress mission to dock at the aft entrance. The switch took place on June 15.

Until this time, there had been little description in the routine press reports of the flight on the scientific experiments being conducted by the crew. Mention was made of work with Kristall and observations and photography of the Earth, but the level of activity seemed somewhat less than on the previous mission. The reports indicated that the crew was in good health, and that for the first time, one of them (Ryumin) had actually gained weight (700 grams). This was attributed to better living conditions and better food, although it was also noted that Lyakhov had lost 4 kg, so other factors must have counted as well.

In an interview with former cosmonaut Feoktistov, the average day aboard the space station was laid out: 8 to 9 hours of sleep; 1.5 to 2 hours for eating; 2 hours of exercises; 1 to 1.5 hours for communications with the ground; perhaps 2 hours of free time; and the rest for experiments. Feoktistov noted that they were trying to develop spacecraft with systems which were more highly automated to free the crew's time for performing more experimental work.

On June 30, Progress 7 docked, bringing 1,230 kg of freight including a space radiotelescope, the KRT-10. The craft also delivered two new experiments, "resistance" to measure the ballistic resistance of the station in orbit, and "vaporiser" (Isparitel), a materials processing experiment described on p. 601. A book called "The Moscow Area" was also sent up to remind the crew of the forest, fields, and streams back home.

The KRT-10 was 10 meters in diameter when fully deployed, so obviously could not be brought up to space in an assembled condition. The dish had been folded like an umbrella, while the supporting structure was contained in three cylindrical containers. The crew mounted control panels in the Salyut and laid electrical communications lines. The base of the telescope was attached to the edge of the aft docking unit by three special claws, and was deployed out the docking port such that as Progress 7 pulled away on June 18, the structure was extended out with it. Then the restraints which held the dish in the folded position were released and the antenna deployed. So as not to damage the radio-telescope, the Progress used springs to separate from Salyut instead of using its engines. Progress maintained a station keeping distance from the station and relayed pictures of the KRT-10 unfurling.

The antenna weighed 100 kg by itself, with the remaining systems and structures adding another 100 kg to its mass. The crew had practiced deploying the structure on Earth, and found that it was easier in space. Both men were required to operate the instrument, and several days were needed just to calibrate it correctly. Operation of the KRT-10 was done in conjunction with a 70 meter radiotelescope in the Crimea. Further information on this experiment can be found on p. 598.

As the mission drew to a close, the cosmonauts had to jettison the KRT-10 in order to clear the docking port for future missions. This maneuver was attempted on August 9, but vibrations developed in the antenna and it hooked on a protruding part of the station. The crew tried to jerk it free by using the Salyut engines, but to no avail. Although the crew had been in space for close to 6 months, the decision was made (at the crew's insistent request) that they would do an EVA to free the instrument on August 15.

The hatch in the transfer compartment proved difficult to open, but after a few tries, Ryumin succeeded at 1416 GMT and exited. Lyakhov followed and they began to install handrails. At this time, the station passed into the Earth's shadow, so they waited until they could resume communications with the Earth. Meanwhile, the crew enjoyed the view, and Ryumin commented that the stars looked like "huge diamond pins on black velvet." Once communications were restored, Ryumin worked his way down the length of the station, while Lyakhov remained near the hatch, and cut the recalicitrant antenna loose with pliers and kicked it with his boot to send it away from the ship. (153)

Since they were already outside, the crew also brought in samples which had been left on the outside of the station by previous crews or had been there since the time the station was launched.154 The crew's total time in space conditions was 1 hour 23 minutes, although the EVA had been scheduled for 2 hours. It was reported in the Western press that Ryumin had difficulty reentering Salyut because his spacesuit became entangled. (155)

On August 16, the Soyuz 34 engines were fired to place the complex in a correct orbit for descent (411x386 km, 91.4 min.). The crew landed on August 19 at 1230 GMT, 170 km southeast of Dzhezkazgan after 175 days (4,200 hours 36 minutes) in space. Both

men had celebrated their 40th birthdays on the space station (Lyakhov on July 21, Ryumin on August 16), and Lyakhov, a smoker for 28 years, had managed almost 6 months in orbit without a cigarette.

The doctors were impressed with the cosmonauts' condition upon return stating that "not a single crew has ever returned from a long space flight in such a medically ideal condition." (156) Ryumin had returned weighing the same as when he left, while Lyakhov lost a total of 5.5 kg,157 and both showed a decrease in shin size. Heart rate and arterial pressure was reported to be virtually the same as preflight measurements. There were reports in the Western media that Ryumin initially had trouble articulating words upon return. (158)

The readaptation of the two men took 2 to 3 days less than had been anticipated, although it was different for both. Ryumin immediately asked permission to take a walk, and walked 800 meters the first day. During the first meeting with journalists the next day, he "entered at a brisk walk of a tennis player ready for a match." Lyakhov, on the other hand, "walked quietly into the room and settled in a deep chair." (159)

By the third day, Ryumin was jogging in the park and Lyakhov was doing gymnastics (how much was not mentioned). They joked that they were ready to patent the invention on how to give a haircut in orbit: Put the vacuum cleaner tube on the veloergometer, put your head under it and turn it on so your hair stands on end, and someone can cut it without a comb. Doctors were intrigued by the fact that in their whole time in orbit, neither had even a cold, which would be unusual on Earth for a similar period of time.



150. Tass, 2229 GMT, 30 Jun 78.

151. Tass, 2229 GMT, 30 Jun 78.

152. Washington Post, June 3, 1979, p. A 21. Spaceflight, March 1980, p. 110.

153. Oberg claims in "Red Star in Orbit" (op. cit.) that the crew was so worried about the potential danger of the mission that they packed the Soyuz spacecraft in advance and wrote letters to their families and left them on the couches in the ferry craft (on the assumption that it would have been returned automatically if they did not survive). Oberg bases this on an alleged copy of Ryumin's diary released after the flight. The diary has never been authenticated, so the Oberg account cannot be confirmed.

154. There have been suggestions that the fact that the crew performed these additional activities meant that they were scheduled to perform an EVA anyway. It seems highly unlikely that an EVA would have been purposefully scheduled after the crew had been in space so long. Thus, it is assumed here that mission planners took advantage of the unscheduled activity to collect other samples.

155. Aviation Week and Space Technology, Mar. 10, 1980, p. 9.

156. Tass, 1445 GMT, 20 Aug. 79.

157. Tass' 1523 GMT, 23 Aug. 79. A later report said that he lost only 4 kg (Tass, 1245 GMT, 31

158. New York Times, Aug. 21, 1979, p. C-l.

159. Tass, 1711 GMT, 21 Aug. 79.

Page last modified: 10-04-2016 22:15:02 ZULU