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Space


Soyuz T-3 Spacecraft Series

1976-1980

By Marcia S. Smith, Formerly with the, Science Policy Research Division of the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service

II. THE SOYUZ-T PROGRAM

Soviet Manned Space Programs: 1957-80

MANNED MISSIONS TO SALYUT 6: 1977-80

SOYUZ T-3: RETURN TO A THREE- MAN CREW

The last flight of 1980 was a 2-week demonstration of the capability of Soyuz T to carry a crew of three, and another test of the Soyuz T systems following the less than successful Soyuz T-2 mission. The last three man crew for the Soviets had been the ill-fated Soyuz 11 mission in which all three cosmonauts lost their lives. The Soviets referred to this three man crew as the "first space repair team" (188) since virtually all their time was spent making repairs to Salyut.

Soyuz T-3 was launched at 1418 GMT on November 27 with a crew of Lt. Col. Leonid Kizin, Oleg Makarov, and Gennadiy Strekalov. Progress 11 had remained docked with the space station after Popov and Ryumin left, and was attached when Soyuz T-3 arrived. Since Progress occupied the aft docking port, this crew docked at the forward end of Salyut 6 at 1554 GMT on November 28. The Soviet media stressed that this was "exclusively a test flight," (189) and the ship linked up with the Salyut 6/Progress 11 complex "exactly on schedule."

The crew's main task aboard Salyut was a prophylatic examination of its systems and to continue the repairs started by the Soyuz 35/37 crew. They brought specially developed tools for these jobs. Since the mission was only planned for two weeks, the workload was intense. Two television broadcasts were cancelled as was one of the crew's free days. In addition, they were not able to exercise as much as they were supposed to.

The major repair job was adding a new hydraulic unit with four pumps to the thermal regulation system. This was a liquid-cooled system, so the crew had to be especially careful not to spill any of the antifreeze-like coolant. The task was complicated by the fact that station designers had not expected the Salyut to be used for such a long time, and since the pumps had a service life of 2 years and the station was only designed for 1.5 years, they had not made this one of the "serviceable" parts. Thus the Soyuz T-3 crew had to use a saw to cut through one of the metal supports to gain access to the pump area, while ensuring that all the "dangerous" metal filings were collected. (190)

That repair job was successfully accomplished, as were many more. To facilitate the repair activities, a direct communications link was established between the space crew and Popov and Ryumin who were vacationing in the Northern Caucasus. Among the other fix-it jobs were replacing a programming and timing device in the onboard control complex, an electronic unit in the telemetry system, and a transducer for one of the compressors in the refueling system (while Salyut was unoccupied, Progress 11 had automatically refilled the fuel tanks, at which time the problem was discovered).

A few experiments were also conducted during the mission, including: growing more monocrystals of cadmium-mercury-telluride in Splav; measuring the air circulation in the station to ensure that it was not becoming stagnant (called "Microclimate"); growing plants; and holography using the Soviet/Cuban holographic camera.

Progress 11 was used to make an orbital correction on December 8, placing the complex in a 370x290 km, 90.8 minute orbit. The Progress spacecraft undocked on December 9 and reentered 2 days later.

The Soyuz T-3 crew returned to Earth on December 10 at 0926 GMT after 13 days (307 hours 8 minutes) in space, landing 130 km east of Dzhezkazgan. Because they had not had time to do all their scheduled exercises, Kizim and Strekalov reportedly suffered from a certain amount of "stress" when they landed. (191) The successful repair activities of the crew were hailed as a "new accomplishment of Soviet cosmonautics [which] is a befitting gift for the forthcoming 26th Congress of the CPSU." (192)

In commenting on the crew's return as the last flight in the current Soviet 5-year plan, Cosmonaut Training Director Vladimir Shatalov stated that the manned space program was "an organic part of the economic plan of the USSR for 1976-1980" and that

"every ruble invested into outer space exploration ensures a return of up to 10 rubles." (193)

SALYUT 6 STATUS AT THE END OF 1980

As 1980 drew to a close, Salyut 6 remained in orbit in good condition. On December 29, it was in an orbit of 349x308 km and had completed 18,720 revolutions of Earth. Ground crews continued to test onboard systems, and the control and functioning of station systems was being accomplished by commands from Earth and by means of the onboard automatic equipment. Three more crews (Soyuz 39 and 40, both of which carried cosmonauts from other countries, and Soyuz T-4) were to occupy the station before it was deorbited in July 1982.

References:

A. 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

188. Apparently the Soviets forgot the activities of the U.S. Skylab 2 crew which repaired the badly damaged Skylab space station in 1973.

189. Tass, 1920 GMT, 29 Nov 80.

190. Novikov, N. Sovetskiy Voin, No. 8, 1981, pp. 28-29.

191. Kidger, Neville. Spaceflight, Jan. 1982.

192. Tass, 1130 GMT, 10 Dec. 80.

193. Tass, 1132 GMT, 11 Dec. 80.