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Early Space Stations
Transcript of Early Space Stations
Floating in a Tin Can - Soviet Salyut Program
United States Skylab
On April 19, 1971, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first space station, the Salyut 1.Although in orbit for only 175 days, the Salyut 1 proved that a space station could serve as a useful platform for a variety of technical and scientific discoveries. The Salyut 1 had the Orion 1 Space Observatory telescope on board, the first telescope to be operated outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
This video shows the ill-fated crew of the Soyuz 11 mission exercising and performing physiological experiments aboard the Salyut 1.
The Salyut 1 space station as seen by the departing
Soyuz space craft. Courtesy of www.astronautix.com/graphics/s/sal1foto.jpg
Soyuz 11 was a historic mission in several ways. The crew was able to dock with the Salyut 1 space station, enter it and live and work for 22 days. However, during reentry a value open prematurely and the all three crewmembers died of decompression. You can learn more about the Soyuz 11 tragedy in Spaceflight Disasters.
The Soyuz 13 mission that launched on December 18, 1973 was the first to study the Earth’s atmosphere and associated pollution.
On April 5, 1975, Soyuz 7K-T No.39 failed to launch properly and the capsule never achieved orbit. Although the crew survived, there were initial fears they had landed in China. Cosmoanut Vasily Lazarev was injured during the failed launch and was initially denied his spaceflight bonus pay. He had to appeal to the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Leonid Brezhnev to receive it. Lazarev never flew again.
On July 17, 1975 an American Apollo capsule and the Soviet Soyuz capsule docked with each other. Three Americans and two Soviets worked together in the two craft over the next 48 hours. This mission was considered a great success by both counties. For more information regarding this historic mission, please see Apollo-Soyuz Docking Program in Part 2 of this course.
Soyuz 23 launched on October 14, 1976 had a multitude of problems. The crew was to inhabit the Salyut 5 space station but during docking maneuvers there was a malfunction and they were unable to dock. The flight was aborted and the capsule landed in an icy lake. Due to dense fog, bog around the lake and chunks of ice in the lake, it took the rescuers nine hours to locate and find a way to retrieve the crew whom had spent the night in the capsule floating in the lake.
Soyuz 29, launched June 15,1978, and its mission to Salyut 6 was historic in that the 139 day the crew spent in space shatters previous duration records.
Soyuz 30 featured the first Polish cosmonaut, Miroslaw Heraszewski.
Soyuz 32 is a memorable mission for several reasons. Foremost is the crew set new records for the longest time in space. Their 175 days in orbit broke the previous record of 139 days experienced by the Soyuz 29 crew. One interesting observation was that quail eggs hatched onboard resulted in the chicks growing much slower than on Earth and they lacked fully developed heads. Soyuz 33 was launched on April 10, 1979 and was to dock with the Salyut 6 space station. However, an engine failure during the docking maneuvers prevents successful docking and the Soyuz 33 crew was forced to return to Earth. This caused some consternation among the Soyuz 32 crew as they were looking forward to visitors after having already spent nearly 10 weeks alone. On August 15th the crew conducted an unscheduled space walk to remove an antenna that had become tangled on the outside of the station. The crew was so concerned for their health given their weakened condition that they left letters to their families in the Soyuz return vehicle. However, they successfully departed the station on August 19th and landed safely despite having lost 20% of their lower leg volume. This again served as a reminder how important in-flight exercise protocols were to the health of the crew.
Landing craft from Soyuz 30, now on display in the Museum of Polish Military Technology - File from Wikimedia Commons
Soyuz 35 is of interest because flight engineer Valery Ryumin spent 185 days in flight just 8 months prior to launch on April 9, 1980. Despite the record number of days in flight, both cosmonauts were reported to be playing tennis just three days after landing, suggesting that their exercise and diet protocols were effective in preventing severe spaceflight deconditioning. Cosmonauts Ryumin and Leonid Popov also addressed the spectators at the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow
Soyuz 35 crew greeting the crowd from space during the 1980 Summer Olympics
Cosmonauts Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin aboard the
Salyut 6 space station during their Soyuz 35 mission in 1980
Photo Courtesy of Rianovosti
The T-7 Soyuz flight included the first woman in space since Valentina Tereshkova, almost 20 years before. The new Salyut 7 space station was the first to have continuous hot water available to the crew.
Cosmonauts returning to Earth. Although a more modern clip,
the landing process has remained steady for many years. Those
returning from early Soyuz flights would have experienced what
can be seen in the video.
The T-8 Soyuz flight was aborted after a failed docking attempt. This mission is only noteworthy to me personally in that the two crew members Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov subsequently served as subjects for my experiments conducted in the mid-1990’s.
Soyuz T-10a was an ill-fated mission that failed to launch. The rocket exploded just seconds after the descent module containing the crew was separated from the booster rocket. The crew experienced accelerations up to 15gs and landed four kilometers from the launch pad. Fortunately neither crewmember was injured.
Soyuz T-10a video of launch disaster
Crew of the Soyuz T-10 mission
Courtesy of Russian International News Agency
The Soyuz T-14 flight was cut short after approximately two months in orbit when flight commander Vladimir Vasyutin experienced medical issues, said to be a prostrate infection, necessitating a premature return to Earth.
A future unit will provide information about the last phases of the Soviet-Russian space program prior to the habitation of the International Space Station.
US Skylab program
NASA’s short history of the Skylab program
An excellent set of videos and explanation by astronaut Joe Kerwin about the importance of exercise and the value of the Skylab experiments. At one time Dr. Kerwin was my boss.
A video segment detailing the problems with the solar panels on the first Skylab mission and how the problem was solved.
An interesting perspective from the Skylab era on why having humans in space is important for mission success
A brief video clip of the jet pack that was being developed during the time of Skylab to transport astronauts between space stations and satellites
A short video introducing the importance of studying the sun
NASA history - http://history.nasa.gov/SP-400/contents.htm
NASA history - http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4208/ch1.htm
This is fascinating reading summarizing the planning process for a space station. It reflects the difficulties that NASA was already beginning to have in defining what the mission of the agency should be after the lunar landings.
Please proceed to take Unit 8 - Quiz 2
Having been beaten in the 'space race' to land a man on the moon, the Soviet Union was in no way inclined to allow the United States to maintain preeminence in space. Shifting plans for landing on the moon, the soviets turned toward creating a permanently manned space station and in 1971, Salyut 1 achieved that goal. Despite the not unexpected growing pains associated with the Salyut program, including the loss of the first Salyut crew, the Soviets and now Russian space agency has been able to essentially maintain a continuous manned presence in space for nearly half a century.
The United States Skylab program, although short lived, was important in that, like the Soviet's program, was able to demonstrate through a series of reasonable well controlled experimental and medical monitoring that humans are able to function effectively in space for a long period of time while maintaining their overall health status. Both countries space station programs also conducted many experiments, including both Earth and outer space observations that have vastly increased our knowledge of the universe.
Without the success of these early 'tin can' space stations, the success of the International Space Station would not be possible.
Broadcast of Rakesh Sharma speaking with Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi
Please proceed to take Unit 8 - Quiz 1
Launched February 8, 1984, the Soyuz T-10 mission saw the first Indian to fly in space and was punctuated by Rakesh Sharma telling Prime Minister Indira Ghandi that from space India looked better than the whole world (saare Jahan Se Achcha). It was reported that Sharma practiced yoga during the flight as a method to counter the debilitating effects of space flight.