Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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The DOS Space Stations

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jul 24
Wednesday, Day 206

Curated by:

Salyut 1

Salyut 4

Salyut 6

Salyut 7

The next Salyut gets a new name
Salyut 1

The Soviet space station design that came out of the Korolyov design bureau was called "Zarya". One problem with it was that the call sign of ground control was also "Zarya", something that had begun with the Vostok flights.

Salyut 1 and Proton launching rocketWhether or not this was the determining factor, a late-in-the-day (about five days before launch) decision was made to change the spacecraft name. The chosen alternative was "Salyut" and the Salyut programme was born.

The decision to change came too late in one way as Zarya's name was already painted on the station's hull and there was no way to change it. The name can be seen, but is not readable, just below the red panel in this view of Salyut's Proton launch vehicle.The photograph originates from RKK Energiya company (the modern-day name of the successor organisation to Korolov's design bureau).

DOS and Almaz

Salyut 1 was not the only one of these spacecraft to bear a different name from the one painted on the side. The first of Chelomei's Almaz station to reach orbit got there 1973 April 4 but seems to have been damaged by debris from the explosion of its launch behicle upper stage. The result was that it never got to host a crew. The Soviet Union called it "Salyut 2" even though it was not the same class of spacecraft as the first Salyut.

Meanwhile, on the ground was another DOS space station, similar in design to the original Salyut. Painted on the hull was "Salyut 2" and it was launched 1973 May 11 - just over a month after the other "Salyut 2". It immediately used up all of its manoeuvring fuel through a thruster malfunction. As a failure, it was given the name "Cosmos 557" with no immediate acknowledgement that it was a Salyut-class spacecraft. The give-away was the radio frequencies at which it was tracked by western observers.

It was not until 1998 and the first element of the International Space Station that a vehicle openly named "Zarya" actually made it to orbit.

Design of the DOS Station

Depiction of Salyut 1 in orbitIn this image (right), a Soyuz spacecraft is depicted approaching Salyut 1. The Kamchatka peninsula can be seen on the Earth's surface below.

The Salyut hull is about 15 metres long and 4 metres diameter - a figure dictated by the diameter of its "Proton" launching rocket.

The round opening on top of the large section of the station contains sensors for astronomical studies. The operating controls are mounted inside Salyut's hull. In the event of Salyut 1's launch, the cover protecting the opening as it ascended to orbit on its Proton rocket, did not fall away. The crew was actually unable to undertake observations.

Salyut 1 control postThe engine compartment and the two solar panels at the rear, are 'borrowed' directly from the design of Soyuz. This results from Korolyov's design bureau taking a fast-track design route using one of Chelomei's "Almaz" spacecraft hulls and adapting it using tried and tested Soyuz components.

The photograph on the left shows the interior of Salyut 1 whilst being prepared for flight - there is a protective transparent cover over the instrument panel - labelled "REMOVE BEFORE LAUNCH". In the background can be seen the tunnel leading to the docking unit.

Salyut 1 was equipped to perform a range of scientific experiments, and the spacecraft actually performed well although events surrounding it might suggest otherwise.

Missions to Salyut 1

In 1971 April, the attempt to put a crew aboard using Soyuz 10 failed when the hatch of the space station refused to open. Soyuz 11 was more successful but when the crew headed back to Earth, they became the victims of a major space tragedy.

A valve in Soyuz 11's hatch was jolted open at the time the descent cabin separated from the Soyuz orbital module. Normally, the valve would have opened during descent through the lower levels of the atmosphere to equalise pressure inside and outside the cabin. In the vacuum of space - the result was fatal.

Soyuz 11 crew- Dobrovolski, Patsayev and VolkovSalyut 1 continued to orbit from the end of June, and the events of Soyuz 11, but changes resulting from the investigation which followed took nearly two years to be incorporated into the Soyuz design. Salyut 1 could not last that long. Early in October 1971, mission controllers fired the manoeuvring engines for the final time and Salyut 1 "..... entered the dense layers of the atmosphere and ceased to exist .....".

Members of the Soyuz 11 crew were not wearing space suits. The Soyuz re-design, which followed the Soyuz 11 accident, introduced them for subsequent cosmonaut crews. The resulting weight penalty of the spacesuits and their associated life-support systems meant that Soyuz no longer had the capacity to hold three people. It was nine years before a Soyuz flew again with three cosmonauts aboard - with the mission of Soyuz-T 3 in 1980.

Salyut 1 Statistics:

Launch Vehicle: Three Stage Proton
Launching Technique: Direct ascent
Mass: 18,500 kilogrammes
Length: 14.4 Metres
Diameter: 4.15 metres (maximum)

Salyut 1 Diary

Date Time (UTC) Event
1971 Apr 19 01:39 Salyut 1 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Proton rocket into 177 x 211 kilometre orbit at 51.6 degrees inclination
1971 Apr 19 02:34 After manoeuvres using its onboard rocket engine, Salyut 1 reaches 200 x 210 kilometre orbit to await arrival of Soyuz 10
1971 Apr 22 23:54 Soyuz 10 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Soyuz rocket into approx 200 kilometre, circular orbit with Vladimir Shatalov, Alexei Yeliseyev and Nikolai Rukavishnikov aboard, callsign - Granit
1971 Apr 23 After manoeuvres using its onboard rocket engine, Soyuz 10 is in a transfer orbit of 209 x 258 kilometres, approaching Salyut 1
1971 Apr 24 01:47 Soyuz 10 docks with Salyut 1
1971 Apr 24 04:18 Soyuz 10 reportedly undocks from Salyut 1
1971 Apr 24 05:47 Soyuz 10 reportedly docks with Salyut 1 for a second time
1971 Apr 24 07:17 Soyuz 10 undocks from Salyut 1: the crew have been unable to enter the station - Soyuz 10 flies alongside Salyut 1 for the remainder of the day - orbit 191 x 231 kilometres
1971 Apr 24 22:59 Soyuz 10 fires its manoeuvring engine to initiate re-entry
1971 Apr 24 23:40 Soyuz 10 lands - 120 kilometres north-west of Karaganda
1971 Apr 28 Salyut 1 orbit is 252 x 271 kilometres - the space station is 'parked', awaiting the Soyuz 11 mission
1971 May 31 Atmospheric drag has reduced Salyut 1 orbit to 198 x 204 kilometres
1971 Jun 5 Orbital manoeuvres have raised Salyut 1 orbit to 209 x 240 kilometres in preparation for the arrival of Soyuz 11
1971 Jun 6 A minor manoeuvre by Salyut 1 results in an orbit of 210 x 235 kilometres to set-up the Soyuz 11 rendezvous
1971 Jun 6 04:55 Soyuz 11 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Soyuz rocket into 160 x 238 kilometre orbit with Georgi Dobrovolski, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev aboard, callsign - Yantar
1971 Jun 7 07:49 Soyuz 11 docks with Salyut 1
1971 Jun 7 07:55 Soyuz 11 and Salyut 1 are firmly latched together - orbit is 207 x 231 kilometres
1971 Jun 9 Salyut 1/Soyuz 11 orbit is raised to 251 x 274 kilometres
1971 Jun 29 18:28 Soyuz 11 undocks from Salyut 1 - atmospheric drag has brought the orbit down to 229 x 237 kilometres
1971 Jun 29 22:35 Soyuz 11 fires its manoeuvring engine to initiate re-entry
1971 Jun 29 22:47 Soyuz 11 descent module separates from the instrument unit and the orbital module - a pressure equalisation valve in the centre of the hatch which allowed access to the orbital module opens and, in less than one minute, the cabin atmosphere escapes
1971 Jun 29 23:16 Soyuz 11 lands - 200 kilometres south-west of Kustanai - the crew is found dead when the spacecraft hatch is opened
1971 Jul 1 Following a series of manoeuvring engine firings over a two-day period, Salyut 1 orbit is 237 x 281 kilometres
1971 Jul 1 Following the Soyuz 11 accident, the next mission to Salyut 1 is cancelled - it would have seen cosmonauts Alexei Leonov, Nikolai Rukashnikov and Pyotr Kolodin aboard the space station during August
1971 Jul 27 Atmospheric drag has brought Salyut 1 orbit down to 206 x 235 kilometres
1971 Jul 28 Following a series of manoeuvring engine firings, Salyut 1 orbit is 222 x 294 kilometres
1971 Aug 17 Atmospheric drag has brought Salyut 1 orbit down to 201 x 251 kilometres
1971 Aug 19 Following a series of manoeuvring engine firings, Salyut 1 orbit is 285 x 314 kilometres
1971 Sep 24 Atmospheric drag has brought Salyut 1 orbit down to 269 x 295 kilometres
1971 Sep 26 Following a manoeuvring engine firing while at the perigee of its orbit, Salyut 1 orbit is lowered to 222 x 264 kilometres in preparation for the end of its mission
1971 Oct 10 Atmospheric drag has brought Salyut 1 orbit down to 177 x 182 kilometres
1971 Oct 11 Salyut 1 fires its manoeuvring engine and re-enters the Earth atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean - it is destroyed by frictional heating
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