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Space


Soyuz-T 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-2: FIRST MANNED LAUNCH OF SOYUZ T

WITH SALYUT-6

The second crew to visit the Soyuz 35/36 crew (Popov and Ryumin) was the first manned test of the newly modified Soyuz T spacecraft. Launched on June 5, 1980, at 1419 GMT, Soyuz T-2 (Jupiter) carried the two-man crew of Lt. Col. Yuriy Malyshev and Vladimir Aksenov. They docked with Salyut 6 at 1558 GMT on June 6 after conducting several tests of the Soyuz T systems which may not have been entirely successful.

The crew approached Salyut automatically until they were 180 meters away, but then switched to manual controls, even though the advantage of the Soyuz T was supposed to have been its ability to dock automatically. The Soviets announced at the time that the procedure was "relatively complicated compared to what had been done before" and that Soyuz T-2 had come toward Salyut 6 aligned perpendicular to the station, instead of straight along its path. The crew executed a quarter turn to line up the two craft and docked.

Following the return of the Soyuz 38 crew in September, the Soviets released a few more details of what had happened with the docking. Yeliseyev stated that difficulties were encountered with the control of the craft's flight. He reported that the onboard computer chooses which of several different approaches to fly to the space station (as well as descent trajectories) and that they had been unable to practice all of them prior to this mission. When the Soyuz T-2 computer selected which "control method" it was going to use for the approach sequence, it was one which had not been practiced either by the ship's crew or ground controllers, so the cosmonauts decided to switch to manual control. Yeliseyev added that telemetric data indicated that if they had stayed in the automatic mode, the docking would have proceeded without incident, adding that "this is one of the tasks of experimental flights—to teach people how to fly the craft and to teach personnel how to control the craft." (185)

More details of the improved Soyuz T were reported, which are included in the description of Soyuz T appearing earlier in this chapter. When Soyuz T-2 returned from space on June 9 after a short 4 days (94 hours 19 minutes) in space, it was announced that the orbital compartment of the spacecraft had separated prior to retrofire, as opposed to after retrofire as had been the case with the other Soyuz flights. This reportedly saved 10 percent of the fuel, since there was less mass to be slowed for descent.

Malyshev and Aksenov landed 200 km southeast of Dzhezkazgan at a time that was not announced by the Soviets, but duration was 94 hours 19 minutes according to other Soviet sources, meaning that touchdown would have occurred at 1238 GMT.

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

185. Moscow Domestic Service, 0755 GMT, 4 Oct. 80.