Category Salyut – The First Space Station


Dobrovolskiy, Volkov and Patsayev knew well the risks of the return operation, but on the third orbit after undocking from Salyut they were in excellent spirits and impatient for the landing. At 1.10 a. m. on Wednesday, 30 June, while out of radio contact over the Pacific Ocean approaching Chile, Dobrovolskiy, assisted by Volkov, oriented Soyuz 11 to position its main engine facing the direction of the flight.

One of many disputed issues concerning the final phase of this mission is the time of the last words from the crew.

The last officially published communication from Soyuz 11 was at 00.16 a. m., when Kamanin in the TsUP spoke to Dobrovolskiy, who reported that they were in the process of preparing for the orientation manoeuvre. At that time they could still see the Salyut station. Then the controller signed off with: “Good-bye Yantars, until the next communication session.”

The official sources do not give a chronology of the last conversations with the Soyuz 11 crew, or between the cosmonauts.

In his 1971 book Soviets in Space, Peter Smolders cites the following words from Dobrovolskiy as the last communication received by the TsUP: “I am beginning the descent procedure.”

Yeliseyev’s book offers the following account of the final words received by the TsUP: “The last communication session is ending. Immediately before leaving the zone of radio visibility, Volkov managed to call loudly to say: ‘Prepare cognac, see you tomorrow!’ …” However, owing to the phrase “see you tomorrow” the time of this reported communication is unclear – was it on 29 June or 30 June. Nevertheless, the words “Prepare cognac” would be a typical final message prior to an imminent reunion. It may well have been that immediately before the loss of communication Dobrovolskiy said he was “beginning the orientation” and then in the final seconds Volkov managed to add his remark.

Between 1.22.00 a. m. and 1.31.25 a. m. Soyuz 11 passed over South America and then set off across the Atlantic Ocean. As noted, for optimal visibility at the landing site the braking manoeuvre was to be made on the third orbit after undocking from the station. This was why Soyuz 11 had a different re-entry trajectory than previous missions. One circuit of the Earth lasted on average 89 minutes. During this interval the planet rotated through 22.2 degrees, so Soyuz 11 was north of the equator at the moment that the engine fired, somewhat to the north and west of the typical braking position for a Soyuz descent. The engine was fired automatically at 1.35.24 a. m., as planned. At that time, Soyuz 11 was over the Atlantic between the northeast coast of South America and the coast of Africa. The engine fired for the planned duration of 187 seconds and was automatically switched off after reducing the speed of the spacecraft by the requisite 120 m/s. Another interesting detail – in contrast to most of the previous flights, in this case the braking manoeuvre was made during the descending portion of the orbit – i. e. after the ship had passed the apogee point. Following the braking manoeuvre, the automated control system would reorient the vehicle for the separation of the modules, perform the separation, control the path of the descent module through the atmosphere in order to aim for the target, manage the parachute deployment sequence, jettison the heat shield, fire the retro-rockets and jettison the parachute. The crew were not required to participate in any of these critical operations.

Did the tracking ships in the Atlantic Ocean detect signals from Soyuz 11 during the braking manoeuvre? Chertok’s memoirs and Kamanin’s diary, two of the most widely cited sources, offer contrary accounts.

Chertok wrote:

After undocking from the station, two orbits are allowed to prepare for the descent. The crew will conduct manual orientation while out of our visibility

Soyuz ll’s descent track. (Courtesy Sven Grahn)

zone and pass control to the gyro instruments. The command for the start of the descent activity will be emitted from NIP-16, with NIP-15 as the reserve. The KTDU will fire for braking at 1 hour 47 minutes on 30 June. …

All indications on the panel were normal, and the cosmonauts reported the achievement of all operations on time. … Everything went according to the timetable. The tracking ships received information as the spacecraft passed above, and reported to the TsUP that the braking engine had operated for the estimated duration and was switched off by the integrator [when the correct velocity had been attained]. The control-measuring complex and the GOGU were satisfied with the control of the spacecraft on the landing orbit.

After engine cut-off, the spacecraft exited the communication zone of the tracking ships in the Atlantic. The orbital module and the propulsion module were jettisoned from the descent module while passing over Africa.

Based on this, we can conclude that the TsUP had information from “the tracking ships” that the braking engine was fired and shut off as expected, and that Soyuz 11 then re-entered as planned. Also, Chertok implies that several ships were involved in tracking this particular re-entry! Furthermore, he said that Soyuz 11 left the radio zone of the ships when the main engine switched off, which is a point also made by the official TASS report (see the next chapter). However, he was mistaken in giving the time of the braking manoeuvre as 1.47 a. m. (this was the time that the modules were separated) and incorrect in saying that the separation occurred above Africa (it was the typical scenario for the previous Soyuz missions, but not in this case).

Another author, Colonel Ivan Borisenko, the ‘Sporting Commissar’, has said that communication was briefly established with Soyuz 11 about this time, then lost at the moment of the separation of the modules.

However, in his diary entry of 30 June General Kamanin says:

According to the re-entry programme, the KTDU must start at 01.35.24 and should turn off after 187 seconds. We impatiently waited for a report of the braking manoeuvre. Shatalov repeatedly called Yantar on line, but there was no response from the crew. …

At 1.47.28 the separation must occur, … but there are no reports about this. We did not know whether Soyuz 11 had begun the descent, or had remained in orbit. The period of communication calculated for the case of the ship not leaving orbit (01.49.37-02.04.07) began. There was an oppressive silence in the room. There was no communication with the crew or any new data about Soyuz 11. Everyone understood that something had occurred aboard the spacecraft, but no one knew what. The minutes of expectation passed terribly slowly.

So, according to Kamanin, no one in the TsUP knew whether the main engine had fired on time or if the braking manoeuvre had been completed. He did not mention receiving the information from the tracking ships in the Atlantic that Chertok cited. There was no response from the spacecraft to Shatalov’s calls. The silence from the spacecraft shortly before, during, and after the braking manoeuvre,

which was about ten minutes before the separation of the modules, is another interesting detail. With the exception of Kamanin, no other source (Chertok, Yeliseyev, Feoktistov, Rebrov, and others) spoke of the silence of the crew in the braking period – while Soyuz 11 was passing over the tracking ships. Yeliseyev, who was in the TsUP with Kamanin, Chertok, Feoktistov and others, did not refer to tension in the control room owing to uncertainty concerning the braking manoeuvre. He wrote nothing about the tracking ships and signals they might have received from Soyuz 11; only of data from the radar stations which detected the descent module after its path had carried it onto Soviet territory.

So what really happened? Let us consider the tracking ships in the Atlantic. Due to the position of Soyuz 11 during the braking manoeuvre, only a ship located in the equatorial region could have received a transmission during this time. Bezhitsa was at its operating station near the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, at 1.5 degrees south, 13 degrees west, until 29 June. From this station, it would have had two or three opportunities each day to monitor the success of the braking manoeuvre. But it had been at sea for four months, and was low on provisions. It was to sail to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands in early July for replenishment. Since this station was of crucial importance to monitoring Soyuz 11 during its braking manoeuvre, it was decided that Kegostrov, in the South Atlantic at 22 degrees south, 24 degrees west, should move to relieve Bezhitsa. On 29 June Bezhitsa received an unexpected order to leave its station. Amazingly, it left before Kegostrov arrived to replace it! On the morning of 30 June, local time, when it was realised that Kegostrov would not be in position before Soyuz ll’s braking manoeuvre, the head of the Soviet Naval Fleet personally ordered Bezhitsa’s captain to urgently return to his previous station so as to monitor the braking manoeuvre – not just the telemetry but also the commentary from the crew. However, it was apparent that Bezhitsa would not be able to resume its former station in time.[100]

Why was Soyuz 11 allowed to proceed with the undocking and return to Earth if a tracking ship to monitor the braking manoeuvre was absent? As noted, in planning the mission there were discussions about whether it should be for 45, 30 or 25 days. Finally, guided by the ballistics, Mishin had decided to accept the ‘25’-day duration and shorten it by one day, with the landing on 30 June instead of 1 July. This is the first important detail to consider when pondering the reasons for Soyuz ll’s return without a tracking ship in this key position. It would appear that in the final stage of the mission the usually excellent co-ordination between the TsUP (in fact, the State Commission) and the Soviet Naval Fleet failed, causing Bezhitsa to leave its station prior to the arrival of Kegostrov. In addition, there had been a dispute between the Air Force (Kamanin) and the TsKBEM (Tregub) about whether Soyuz 11 should return on the second or the third orbit after it undocked from the station. A return on the second orbit would have taken the familiar route across Africa, but would have meant landing in darkness. During the additional orbit, the eastward rotation of the Earth displaced the longitude at which the spacecraft would perform its

The tracking ship Bezhitsa was unable to monitor Soyuz ll’s braking manoeuvre.

northward crossing of the equator 22 degrees to the west.[101] The descent trajectory for Soyuz 11 was therefore different to the one with which everybody was familiar – as indicated by the mistake in Chertok’s account. Instead of firing the main engine while passing above the Gulf of Guinea, where Bezhitsa was to have been, the braking manoeuvre started at 10 degrees north, 40 degrees west, and was concluded at 29 degrees north, 32 degrees west. At Soyuz ll’s altitude, the communication zones of Bezhitsa and Kegostrov were about 15 degrees in radius, but beyond about 10 degrees the signal was weak. In fact, not only was Bezhitsa off-station when the spacecraft performed its braking manoeuvre, that fact that it was sailing at maximum speed in an effort to resume its station meant that it did not even attempt to listen. And Kegostrov, being even further away, could not have received a signal from Soyuz 11 at the vital time. This is why (as Kamanin noted) no one in the TsUP knew whether the spacecraft had made the manoeuvre. And, of course, even if one of these two ships had been in position, neither was equipped to relay the VHF transmission from the spacecraft to the TsUP, which is why the control room did not hear the cosmonauts’ voices, only “silence”. Academician Sergey Korolev and Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov were equipped to relay signals from a spacecraft to the TsUP, but only when a Molniya satellite was conveniently positioned, and in this case Komarov was out of service and Korolev was in the North Atlantic and too far away to receive signals during the spacecraft’s braking manoeuvre.


For more than 36 years the ashes of cosmonauts Georgiy Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev have rested in niches in the Kremlin’s wall. In addition to their families, they were mourned by hundreds of engineers, technicians, officers, cosmonauts and politicians. Despite the tragedy, there was a determination that the DOS programme must continue. The programme would never have come about if it were not for the support of Dmitriy Ustinov and Sergey Afanasyev, the so-called ‘Space Minister’. They supported the proposal initiated by Boris Raushenbakh, Boris Chertok and Konstantin Feoktistov at the TsKBEM to modify the Almaz military reconnaissance station which was being developed by a rival bureau led by Vladimir Chelomey, to serve as a long-term station for scientific research. Although Vasiliy Mishin, in charge at the TsKBEM, was antagonistic, these men succeeded not only in getting the programme started but also in making it the dominant element of the Soviet space programme.

On the operational side, General Nikolay Kamanin managed the training of the cosmonauts. The cosmonauts whose lives were most affected by the early years of the DOS work were Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksey Yeliseyev, Nikolay Rukavishnikov, Aleksey Leonov, Valeriy Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin. For months, together with Dobrovolskiy, Volkov and Patsayev, these men trained to operate the world’s first space station, Salyut.

Let us conclude by reviewing the lives of the key people of the programme after its disastrous early years.

CODE ‘111’

At 1.45 a. m., almost seven minutes after finishing the braking manoeuvre, Soyuz 11 crossed the coast of Portugal. Shortly thereafter the automated system rotated it through 90 degrees in order to position the orbital module on top and the propulsion module facing down. At 1.47.28 a. m., while passing over France, twelve explosive charges jettisoned the orbital module and six more jettisoned the propulsion module. Because the main radio transmission equipment was in the propulsion module, this terminated all signals from the descent module except those from the VHF antenna incorporated into the descent module’s hatch. Shortly thereafter it came within range of the antennas at Yevpatoriya, but the controllers still did not know that the braking manoeuvre had been achieved and that, consequently, the descent module was on its way home. If everything was going to plan, then by now they ought to have picked up the VHF transmission. Although Kamanin ordered Dobrovolskiy to report, there was no reply. If the braking manoeuvre had not been performed, then the spacecraft would be in communication between 1.49.37 a. m. and 2.04.07 a. m., and when this session opened Shatalov, who was responsible for communications during re-entry, made repeated calls to no effect.

Just like everyone else in the TsUP, Yeliseyev, the technical flight director, was surprised: “We had asked Dobrovolskiy to make continuous reports as soon as the descent module entered our communication zone, but he was silent. It was strange that Volkov was silent too – he had been very talkative in the recent sessions.”

As time passed without news, the anxiety amongst the people in the main control room rapidly increased as they realised that something must have happened. In fact, no one could have imagined the terrible event that had overwhelmed the crew in the cramped descent module.

Soyuz 11 flew over Germany and Poland and onto Soviet territory. At 1.54 a. m. the Soviet tracking radars reported that they had detected it north of the Black Sea at an altitude of about 40 km and 2,200 km from the aim point. It was sheathed by plasma, and hence temporarily out of radio contact. The radar detection was good news, because it confirmed that the spacecraft was on its way home. The controllers in the TsUP assured one another that the silence from the crew must be the result of a radio system failure. The tracking radars reported the reducing range: “Distance 1,800 … 1,000 … 500 … 100 … 50 km from the planning landing site.”

The small drogue parachute deployed on time. Then, at 2.02 a. m., at an altitude of about 7 km, the main chute deployed. During the 15 minutes or so of the descent on the main chute the crew were to make radio contact with the recovery team via the VHF and short-wave antennas built into the shrouds of the parachute, but there was no word. The basal heat shield was automatically jettisoned. At 2.05 a. m., with 13 minutes remaining, the recovery crews on an IL-14 aircraft and four Mi-6 and Mi-8 helicopters reported to the TsUP that they could see the module swinging on its red – and-white main chute and that they had detected signals from it, although there was still no word from the cosmonauts.

The manager of the recovery team, General Kutasin (call-sign ‘No. 52’), who was in one of the helicopters, reported directly to the TsUP. The clarity of this radio link was excellent. According to Yeliseyev, beaming smiles came to the faces of the controllers upon hearing that a transmission had been received from the antennas on the main chute – the first signals received from Soyuz 11 since it departed from the communication zone during preparations for the orientation manoeuvre above the Pacific Ocean: “Finally, we heard a report from a helicopter in the planned landing area that they could see the parachute. It was wonderful! … Then, the report from

The recovery team spotted Soyuz 11 descending on its main parachute (top left). It landed on its side (top right), and a few minutes later the recovery helicopters landed alongside (bottom).

No. 52: ‘It has landed. Our helicopters are landing nearby.’ Well, it seemed that was all. Next, they would report the general state of the crew, and with that we would finish our work. Only a few minutes more.”

Colonel Ivan Borisenko, the ‘Sporting Commissar’, who was actually the member of the recovery team responsible for officially logging the landing parameters, has written: “There was no radio contact with the cosmonauts. … From the Mi-6 in which I was flying we saw the descent module slowly descending,

swinging under the large canopy of the parachute. The soft-landing retro-rockets fired correctly, the module almost stopped for a moment in the air, then settled onto the ground.”

The four small rockets automatically fired at a height of 1 metre in order to soften the landing, in the process raising a cloud of dust. At 2.16.52 a. m., Soyuz 11 landed 202 km east of Dzhezkazgan, having overshot the target by 10 km. Exactly 23 days 18 hours 21 minutes 43 seconds had elapsed since it lifted off from Baykonur. At almost the same time, the helicopters landed nearby.

The TsUP awaited General Kutasin’s next report, but the radio remained silent.

Yeliseyev recalls the dramatic wait:

Five minutes passed by; 10; 15. … No news from No. 52. … How strange. Usually, someone remains in the helicopter to report on the radio the events as they happen…. One hour has passed. … No. 52 is still silent. … It means that something has happened. …

Suddenly, using an internal channel, Kamanin asked me to come. He was alone in the room used by the State Commission. He never called someone without a reason. As I ran to him, he looked darkly at me and said: “Now they have given me the code ‘111’, which means that they have all perished. We agreed a code: ‘5’ means that their general state is excellent; ‘4’ means good; ‘3’ means there are injuries; ‘2’ means severe injuries; ‘1’ means that a man perished; ‘111’ means that all three perished. It is necessary for us to fly to the landing site, I have ordered the plane.”

Kamanin, Shatalov and I were immediately driven to the airport, where an aircraft was ready. I can no longer remember the airport at which we landed. We transferred to a helicopter and were flown to the landing site.

Kamanin did not mention the ‘111’ code in his diary, but he wrote that for at least the first 30 minutes whenever he asked for a report from the landing site the reply

The Soyuz 11 recovery operation was handled on site by Kamanin’s aide, General Leonid Goreglyad.

was always: “Wait.” Then he received the following message: “General Goreglyad has flown from the landing site to Dzhezkazgan and reported via [short-wave] radio that the outcome of the space flight is the most tragic one.”


Although Mishin’s leadership of the TsKBEM was criticised in the aftermath of the Soyuz 11 tragedy, he retained his position owing to support by Sergey Afanasyev, the Minister of General Machine Building, and Andrey Kirilenko, who was a close colleague of Brezhnyev in the Politburo. Mishin’s relationship with Ustinov is very interesting. At first sight it may appear that he was always backed by Ustinov (for how else could he have remained in post despite the deaths of four cosmonauts, the fiasco of the L1 circumlunar programme, the repeated failures of the N1 rocket for

the N1-L3 lunar programme and the loss of two DOS stations before they could be visited) the relationship between the two men was actually much more complex. For instance, when asked in an interview with the eminent space journalist Vladimir Gubaryev about Ustinov’s nomination to lead the Soviet rocket programme, Mishin said: “I am not sure that it was the best choice! It is hard to say whether he brought more harm or good.’’

During the eight years that Mishin ran the main Soviet space institution, he was a controversial figure. He was unfortunate in gaining leadership at a time that NASA accelerated its space programme and won the ‘race’ to be the first to land a man on the Moon. To understand how the Soviet Union lost this race it is necessary to analyse Mishin’s leadership in the context of the roles of Afanasyev and Ustinov, and indeed of the input of Brezhnyev and Kosygin. However, in technical terms, the failures of Mishin’s years in charge of the TsKBEM were, in large part, the result of decisions made by this organisation, initially by Korolev and later by himself.

In terms of Earth orbital flights, Mishin’s period will be remembered for a series of failures, two of which concluded tragically for the crews – the only such losses to date in the programme. Even so, he retained the support of Afanasyev and Ustinov. He was replaced only after the cancellation of the N1-L3, the organisation of which was largely directed by Afanasyev and Ustinov!

The year 1971 marked a low point for the Soviet space programme, with the third launch of the giant N1 lunar rocket ending in failure, the Soyuz 11 tragedy and the deaths of three of the leading rocketry specialists: Aleksey Isayev, Georgiy Babakin and Mikhail Yangel. The disasters continued in 1972 with the loss of DOS-2 and the final N1, and into 1973 with the loss of DOS-3.[125] Although the design of the N1 was criticised by the leading designers at some of the other organisations (and indeed by some of the people in OKB-1/TsKBEM), Mishin continued to work on it, confident that it would soon become operational and enable cosmonauts to walk on the Moon. But the L3 concept was also criticised – if the manner in which the Americans had gone about landing on the Moon was extremely risky, the way that Mishin planned to do it seemed highly likely to result in the loss of the cosmonaut who attempted to execute it.

Mishin often did things in his own way. When dealing with issues about which he really ought to have consulted with his deputies, he made decisions on his own. An excellent example was his ‘contract’ with Chelomey – which marked the beginning of his downfall. Also, owing to his abrupt manner, his intolerance of criticism, and his frequent heavy drinking (sometimes at the TsUP during missions) the number of people whose respect he lost progressively grew. When he lost the support of some of his close colleagues, including Bushuyev and Chertok, this divided the TsKBEM into two factions, one wishing to push on with what was now really no more than a dream of a lunar programme and the other considering the DOS programme (which Mishin wished to discard) as the basis for a strong space programme. When Mishin ignored this ‘mutiny’ by his closest colleagues, the Kremlin stepped in and made its

“The gene of renunciation.” During his 8 years in charge of the TsKBEM, Vasiliy Mishin (third from the left), with the support of Minister Sergey Afanasyev (fourth from the left), worked with the objective of reaching the Moon. After his dismissal in 1974, Mishin (right photo) worked as a professor of space rocket technology at the Moscow Aviation Institute.

dissatisfaction clear, and in 1974 he was replaced by his old rival Valentin Glushko. To Ustinov, Mishin said: “I understand everything, except the reason for choosing Glushko.” Although Glushko’s management had its critics, he successfully turned the TsKBEM into an empire on a scale that Mishin could never have achieved.

Mishin was appointed as a professor of space rocket technology at his alma mater, the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI). In fact, since 1958 he had been lecturing at Lomonosov University in Moscow, and he continued to do this in parallel with MAI. One of his students was Valentin Lebedyev, who joined the TsKBEM, trained as a cosmonaut, and flew as the flight engineer of Soyuz 13, which was the last mission to be flown during Mishin’s term as Chief Designer. While a professor at the MAI, Mishin was able to supervise nine master’s theses and eight doctorates. Those who knew him in these years say he showed two different personalities. At times he was rough, explosive, intolerant and brusque, just as he had been when Chief Designer while speaking his mind in dealing with politicians and generals. But the second personality on display at the MAI was much more pleasant. As a teacher, he transmitted to generations of students his rich experience in the design of rockets. He directed the Department for the Design and Construction of Flying Vehicles at the MAI (later Department 601, Space Systems and Rocket Design) until 1990, and in 2002 its laboratory was given Mishin’s name. He co-authored a number of study-books that are still in use today. In addition, he directed a students’ design bureau where, among other projects, the first Soviet non­hermetic satellite was constructed.[126]

In the second half of the 1980s, after Mikhail Gorbachov had become the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mishin gave interviews and published several works designed to vindicate his still controversial contribution to cosmonautics. Although the CIA had been aware since the 1960s that a man named

Mishin was a key figure in the design of Soviet rockets, it was not until now that his identity was allowed to become public. In Why Didn’t We Fly to the Moon? which was published in December 1990,[127] he described, for the first time, the Soviet lunar programme in detail. Always sharp and direct in his manner, he wrote:

They accused me of not defeating the Americans. But everyone knew right from the beginning that the Americans would win. Our leaders did not listen. After the Americans had done it, we said that we were ready to do it better, but they would not let us try.

In conclusion, he wrote:

Often the question arises: If Korolev had not died, what would have come of our space programme? It is my view that not even he, with all his authority, persistency and predisposition for achieving goals, could have dealt with all the processes that have caught all areas of activity in our society. It would have been difficult for him to work without directives, . . . which followed an incomprehensible politics even during his lifetime. Without doubt, he would have achieved something. We could have had a landing on the Moon, … but sadly not within the deadlines that were imposed on us for prestige over the USA. Too much time had been wasted, and so much money was needed, but the directives did not provide it.

I do not wish readers to think that I am trying to avoid my responsibility as Chief Designer for some of the mistakes that were made in the course of the lunar programme – some by myself. He that does not do anything, does not make errors! We, the successors of Korolev, did everything that we could, but it was not enough.

Aleksey Leonov has strongly criticised Mishin for wasting the money available to the lunar programmes. Leonov firmly believes that in 1968 the Soviets could have beaten the Americans to a circumlunar flight. In fact, Leonov was to command the first L1 crew and, if the N1 rocket had worked and the N1-L3 programme had gone ahead, he would have been the first cosmonaut to attempt to land on the Moon. It is likely that Leonov’s hostility towards Mishin originated with the cancellation of the L1 programme without even attempting a manned mission, and was then worsened by Mishin’s order for Leonov’s crew to stand down and let Dobrovolskiy’s crew fly the Soyuz 11 mission.

Although Mishin persistently denied being directly responsible for the failures of the Soviet manned space programme in the years 1966 to 1973, when asked why he had been so antagonistic to the DOS programme he confessed: “I only understood it later on. In those years, I was not aware that I was making a mistake. The point is that 80 per cent of the tasks that were beneficial to the national economy could have been done by unmanned spacecraft.’’

Few people at the TsKBEM felt sorrow at Mishin’s dismissal as Chief Designer.

In writing his memoirs, Boris Chertok did not feel it appropriate to explain anything about Mishin’s subsequent career.

After leaving the TsKBEM, Mishin left its work behind. Only twice did he cross the doorstep of NPO Energiya. His only real support was his family: his wife Nina Andreyevna, with whom he spent 63 years, and his daughters Yelena (who worked for Korolev and for her father for 40 years), Kira and Vera.

Vasiliy Mishin died on 10 October 2001, aged 84, and was buried five days later in Trekurovskoye Cemetery in Moscow.[128] During a ceremony on 18 January 2007 to mark the 90th anniversary of his birth, his eldest daughter, Yelena, said: “As time goes by, all the things which remind me of my father and link me to him become dearer to me. He did not have relatives in high positions or strong contacts with the top man. He had only his wife and three daughters. . . . Yes, he always said what he thought. He never stepped back from anyone. He was wise, intellectual and a man of honour. It has been said that every scientist must have a gene of renunciation. . . my father had such a gene.’’


When the State Commission was informed of the terrible news, Afanasyev, Mishin, Kerimov and others refused to believe it, and asked for confirmation. About an hour later, General Uglyanskiy reported from the landing site that within a few minutes of the module landing, members of the recovery team, led by General Goreglyad, had opened the hatch and found the cosmonauts inert and without any signs of life.

Interestingly, Chertok has a different account of events in the TsUP immediately after the landing. In the absence of reports from the landing site, General Kerimov had thought that Marshal Kutakhov, the Commander in Chief of the Air Force, and as such in overall command of the recovery team, wished to have the privilege of informing the Kremlin of the successful conclusion of the historic mission. In fact, this report should have been made by Kerimov, who, as the Chairman of the State Commission, was responsible for reporting to Moscow; specifically to Ustinov and Smirnov. After 30 minutes without a communication from the landing site Kerimov decided that he really should call Ustinov to complain about the breach of protocol. But then he learned the truth. Pale, Kerimov gave the tragic news:

Two minutes after the landing, members of the recovery team ran from the helicopters to the descent module, which was laying on its side. Outwardly, there was no damage whatsoever. They knocked on the side, but there was no response from within. On opening the hatch, they found all three men in their couches, motionless, with dark-blue patches on their faces and trails of blood from their noses and ears. They removed them from the descent module. Dobrovolskiy was still warm. The doctors gave artificial respiration. Based on their reports, the cause of death was suffocation. There were no strange smells in the cabin. The procedure for evacuating the bodies to Moscow for analysis has been accepted. Specialists from Podlipok and the TsPK have set off for the landing site.

The stunned silence in the crowded control room was broken when someone said that the spacecraft must have suffered a decompression that had exposed the crew to the vacuum of space.

When the recovery team had run from their helicopters to the descent module, it was believed that the silence from the crew was simply the result of a radio failure. The team included Air Force doctors to assist the cosmonauts – who must surely be debilitated by their return to gravity after three and a half weeks in weightlessness. When the crew failed to respond to loud banging on the side of the module, they urgently opened the hatch and were shocked to find the men inert, as if asleep or unconscious. But the fact that their bodies were limp and there were trails of blood indicated that they were injured; even though the cause was not apparent. Normally, the recovery team would simply assist the cosmonauts to emerge from the 60-cm-diameter hatch. It would be more difficult to extract their inert bodies. The task was complicated by the fact that the module had come to rest with the couches stacked one above the other. One man reached into the cramped cabin, released the belt on Dobrovolskiy’s couch and drew him out. Patsayev’s couch was higher up. Owing to the manner in which the hatch swung into the cabin, it was more difficult to reach Volkov. As each body was retrieved, the doctors applied manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The activity was recorded by a film camera brought to document the joyous return. Furthest away was Dobrovolskiy. His body was still warm and limp. His bearded face was lifeless, his mouth was open and there was a dark patch on his right cheek. His rescuers valiantly tried to revive his heart using chest compression and lung ventilation. To the right, military medics tried to revive Volkov, with one positioned on the body to exercise the chest while the other knelt to give ventilation. Volkov’s right sleeve had been rolled up in order to attempt a transfusion. Nearest the cameraman was Patsayev, with his body oriented in the opposite direction to the others, and with a civilian medic to either side of him, attempting resuscitation by artificial respiration.

It would later be determined that when the recovery team pulled the cosmonauts from the module they had been dead for in excess of 30 minutes. Furthermore, they had spent 11.5 minutes exposed to vacuum. Humans and experimental animals had sometimes suffered rapid decompression in terrestrial laboratories or on scientific balloons at high altitude, but the Soyuz 11 crew were the first humans to suffer the vacuum of space at an altitude in excess of 100 km. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is only likely to be effective if given within six minutes of the cessation of the heart, since after this the brain is permanently damaged. The rescuers had stood no chance of reviving the cosmonauts.

There is only one film record of the rescue effort. It shows two medics tending to each body. In addition to manual chest compression and lung ventilation, they had heart-lung and defibrillation (electroshock) apparatus. The effort was observed by a number of military officers, some standing close by and the others waiting beside the helicopters.

As there are no official reports available from the people directly involved in the effort to resuscitate the crew, the details remain unknown. Colonel Borisenko only briefly reported: “We ran to the landing point. The recovery team opened the hatch and pulled out Dobrovolskiy, Volkov and Patsayev, who had no indications of life. The doctors did everything possible, but it was too late. Based on the preliminary examination by Dr. Anatoliy Alexandrovich Lebedyev at the landing site, the crew perished from the rapid decompression of the cabin of the ship.”

One of the doctors, and one of very few witnesses to the drama at the landing site, was Levan Stezhadze: “For more than an hour we tried to resuscitate them with the heart-lung machine. The heart reanimation lasted over an hour. We tried using the defibrillation equipment. It was good apparatus. … However, there were no signs to show that revival was possible. For example, when I inserted a needle into the heart of one cosmonaut, instead of blood there was only air.”

Drama at the landing site. Top left: Medical workers try to revive Dobrovolskiy. Top right: Medics attend to Patsayev (foreground) and Volkov (in the middle). Bottom left: After conceding that the cosmonauts were dead, their bodies were draped with white blankets. Bottom right: Specialists begin the inspection of the descent module.


The empire that Chelomey had spent many years building up began to decay when Ustinov became the Minister of Defence in 1976. As Ustinov did not wish to have two institutions working on manned space projects, Branch No. 1 of the TsKBM at Fili was transferred to NPO Energiya.[129] It was therefore ironic that whereas Mishin had sought to offload the DOS programme to Chelomey, Almaz was removed from Chelomey and handed to the TsKBEM’s successor! However, later Fili became KB Salyut, and eventually joined the Khrunichev Centre.

Vladimir Chelomey. The DOS design was derived from his Almaz reconnaissance station.

After Ustinov had left office, work began on an unmanned version of the Almaz, but progress was so protracted that Chelomey did not live to see its completion. He died on 8 December 1984, aged 70. He had been taken to hospital following a car accident, and during medication an artery became blocked. So ended the life of one of the Soviet Union’s greatest designers of missiles and space rockets.

SPACE ASTROPHYSICS Day 6: Friday, 11 June

The crew began multispectral observations, both of the optical characteristics of the atmosphere and of Soviet territory in order to provide scientists with unique data about certain locations, including lakes.

In addition, the Anna-III gamma-ray telescope was used to make the first such astronomical studies from a manned spacecraft.[73] Volkov aligned the station to point the telescope at its target and then activated the automatic stabilisation system. Then Dobrovolskiy activated the apparatus to measure the energy spectrum of the gamma rays. The instrument consisted of several scintillation counters and one Cherenkov counter for measuring gamma rays, a pair of neon-filled spark chambers equipped with cameras, and a control panel. The gamma-ray telescope had a detector area of 90 cm2, drew 14 watts of power and was sensitive to radiation at energies exceeding 100 MeV (million electron volts) with an angular resolution of 1 degree, which was twice as good as instruments previously flown on unmanned satellites. Overall, the 45-kg Anna-III apparatus measured 60 x 40 x 45 cm, and included a tape cassette with a capacity of 20,000 images.

In effect, the Salyut crew were the first space astronomers. Gamma-ray astronomy had only recently become feasible, and was giving insights into the structure of the universe. Gamma rays are the most energetic form of light. They are produced by fusion reactions in the cores of stars, but are soon absorbed and so stars appear dark in this part of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, they are emitted by violent events such as a supernovas (when a massive star ‘explodes’) and by the much less dramatic decay of radioactive elements in space. Objects like supernova remnants, black holes, neutron stars and pulsars are all sources of celestial gamma rays. In addition, there are powerful ‘flashes’ known as gamma-ray bursts which can release more energy in a few seconds than the Sun will emit during its entire 10- billion-year lifetime! The exact cause of such bursts is disputed, and there may in fact be several causes. Thus far it would seem that all of the bursts originate from outside

The Anna-Ill telescope to detect gamma rays.

our own galaxy, but it is conceivable that they might occur in our Milky Way once in every few million years, with one located within several thousand light-years of the Earth once every few hundred million years. By solving the mystery of gamma-ray bursts, scientists hope to develop further insight into the origin of the universe, the rate at which it is expanding, and its size.

The thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere is approximately equivalent to 10 metres of water, so gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared radiations from space are absorbed. When the highly energetic atomic nuclei of cosmic rays interact with the atmosphere they generate gamma rays, but these too are absorbed. It is therefore not possible to undertake gamma-ray astronomy at ground level; it must be done at high altitude using instruments on balloons or, better still, on satellites.

The cosmonauts used the Anna-III to:

• determine the telescope’s basic operational capabilities;

• investigate how the gamma-ray flux varied with directions in space; and

• correlate such observations with the flux of charged and neutral particles both directly entering the station and as secondary products in the station.

The Anna-III telescope detected gamma rays and charged particles as the station was rotated and stabilised relative to the Sun. In total, it was operated for 20 hours under the control of one cosmonaut.

The main astrophysical experiment on Salyut was the Orion telescope, which was in the transfer compartment. It had two mirrors, one 28 cm in diameter and the other 5 cm in diameter, and a focal length of 1.4 metres. The instrument was designed to make spectrograms of stars in the range 2,000-3,800 angstroms.[74] At a wavelength of about 2,600 angstroms it could provide a resolution of 5 angstroms. The tracking system allowed the telescope to maintain its orientation to within one second of arc. The spectrograms were recorded in the form of photographs on 16-mm tape bearing UFSH-4 emulsion. An airlock and mechanical arm allowed a cosmonaut to replace the film cassettes. The mirrors were coated with aluminium, without protection, to enable them to be re-surfaced if they ever became tarnished by micrometeoroids. To use the instrument, one man (usually Dobrovolskiy) controlled the orientation of the station while Patsayev, who was responsible for this research, aimed the telescope. Patsayev had to operate the system quickly because there was only a 30-35-minute period on each orbit during which observations could be made – this being while in the Earth’s shadow. Dobrovolskiy, sitting at the central control panel, oriented the station as specified by Patsayev in the transfer compartment with the Orion. When the target star was visible to the telescope, the station was stabilised and Patsayev started the observation. During the mission he obtained six spectrograms of the star Agena (beta Centauri) in the southern sky and nine of Vega (alpha Lyra) in the north. In fact, Vega is the ‘standard star’ for spectral analysis of other stars. These stars were selected because of their extremely high surface temperatures (10,000°C in the case of Vega and 24,000°C for Agena). Once an investigation was completed, Volkov used the airlock manipulator to retrieve the cassette of tape and to replace it with another one.

Salyut also had the FEK-7 photo-emulsion camera with a volume of 1.4 litres for detecting the charged particles of primary cosmic rays. The majority of cosmic rays are protons and alpha particles (helium nuclei), but there can also be much heavier nuclei. A precise knowledge of their fluxes as a function of energy was important for several reasons. Interstellar spectra can provide information about how cosmic rays are propagated and accelerated in the galaxy. In principle, this can be derived from measurements made in the upper atmosphere by demodulating the observed solar spectrum. Since protons and helium nuclei have different momenta and kinetic energies per nucleon, the comparison of their spectra provides useful constraints for modulation and acceleration theories.

The FEK-7 camera was designed to search for:

• magnetic monopoles (single magnetic charges; Dirac particles);

• trans-uranium and uranium nuclei in primordial cosmic rays, important for global astrophysics and the determination of the distribution of the sources of cosmic rays; and

• anti-nuclei and trans-nuclei to investigate the symmetry between matter and anti-matter.

Finding such particles would have important implications for theoretical physics. Similar cameras had been flown on the unmanned satellite Cosmos 213, on Zonds 5,

The Orion astrophysical telescope.

7 and 8 flying circumlunar trajectories and on the Soyuz 5 mission, but in each case data was able to be collected only for short periods. The FEK-7 on Salyut operated for 17 hours 28 minutes. It was placed in the descent module of Soyuz 11 for return to Earth and analysis by specialists.

Another project was to determine the intensity of charged particles in the altitude range 200-300 km (where the station flew) because this radiation appeared to have been increasing since I960. It had even been proposed that this region was occupied by clouds of electrons possessing energies as great as 300-600 MeV. When the Sun is active it can suddenly release vast numbers of charged particles, and following a major ‘flare’ the increased radiation can linger in the inner heliosphere (where the Earth is located) for up to a month. The Earth’s magnetic field provides a degree of protection, but even in low orbit a high flux of such particles can cause damage to both electronic and biological systems. During the flight, the crew performed more than 60 operations related to the measurement of charged particles. The instrument used was able to detect protons with energies of 400 MeV and electrons exceeding 8 MeV. The observed electron flows were several hundred times less intense than those previously measured by the Cosmos 225 satellite.

At 1.06 p. m. on 11 June Salyut left the communication zone of the NIP stations, but the ship Academician Sergey Korolev in the North Atlantic was able to continue to communicate with it. The final experiment of the day was to investigate optical materials that had been exposed to the space environment. Before the crew retired, Yevpatoriya relayed through a Molniya satellite and Academician Sergey Korolev to congratulate them on their successful work so far.

3.47 p. m.

Zarya: “Yantars, the Control Group wishes to thank you for your work during the last days. Have a nice rest, and start the next work day in a good mood.” Volkov: “Thank you. It is nice to hear that. If tomorrow we feel we did like today, then everything will be well.”

From Volkov’s diary:

11 June. A very full programme today. It shouldn’t be planned in that way, if you consider adaptation to the conditions aboard the station. The rubbish bags should be redesigned in order to avoid spending so much time opening and closing the hermetic seal.


As Kamanin, Yeliseyev, Shatalov, Mishin, Feoktistov, Afanasyev, Kerimov, Karas, Vorobyev, Severin and others travelled to the landing site, their route took them to Aktyubinsk, the hometown of Patsayev. On arriving at Dzhezkazgan’s airport, they were told that General Goreglyad had already organised the transport of the bodies to Moscow. From Dzhezkazgan the group flew in two helicopters to the landing site on the steppe, arriving at 4.00 p. m., whereupon the members of the recovery team recounted the day’s events.

Yeliseyev emotionally described the scene:

The module was on its side with the hatch open. The guys had already been transported away. One of the doctors reported that it was clear that there had been a decompression, and their blood had boiled. The doctors attempted to transfuse blood, but to no effect. When they opened the hatch, the guys were

“It is intolerably painful!” 279

still warm, but gradually… hopes faded. … It is intolerably painful. What an absurdity! A flat field, excellent weather, the module in good condition, and the guys dead. And suddenly something struck me as an electric shock: was it the hatch? Might this be my fault? But they had checked the seal! Might it be something that they had not seen? … I will not try to describe what I felt at that moment.

Shatalov and I went to the descent module to fill in the form describing its state on landing. The module was immediately surrounded by the military to prevent anyone approaching it without permission. The first thing I observed was the fountain pen. After my flight I had presented Viktor Patsayev with my pen “for good luck”. Now it was lying on the sand – evidently it fell out of his pocket when they pulled him out. In my head flashed a recollection of how we arrived at my home with Vadim and Victor after the meeting of the Military – Industry Commission which established their crew. We were happy, and sang songs. When saying goodnight I gave Viktor my pen. … And here it is – the end of the dreams and the plans. …

We inspected everything, inside and outside, and wrote our observations: everything was normal. Then they took from the descent module the tape recorder on which were the parameters measured during the descent. They sealed this in a special container for transport with the escort to Moscow. It would explain the tragedy. We flew in the same aircraft.

Kamanin provided a less emotional but more detailed account of the visit to the landing site. Although Yeliseyev wrote of the module that “everything was normal”, Kamanin noted the unusual position of one of the valves: “Prior to nightfall, we had time to conduct only a general inspection of the ship, cabin, seats, parachute system, etc. Judging by the results of this inspection, Soyuz 11 performed a soft landing – there was no significant external damage. In the cabin, all the transmitters and all the receivers were switched off. The shoulder straps of Volkov and Patsayev were unfastened, and Dobrovolskiy’s belts were… tight only at the waist. The shutter of one of the two air valves was inverted to 10 mm. There were no other deviations in the cabin.”

About an hour after the group from Yevpatoriya arrived at the landing site, they were joined by specialists from the TsKBEM and the TsPK who flew from Moscow. With this group was Aleksey Leonov, commander of the original Soyuz 11 crew. In his book Two Sides of the Moon, he has written: “When the rescue forces reported that the crew was dead, I was instructed to fly to the landing site immediately with… Vitaliy Sevastyanov.8 We were appointed members of the government committee dealing with the aftermath of the disaster and our main task was to secure the spacecraft and take photographs of the scene. It took us about 3 hours to reach the site, by which time the bodies of the crew had already been removed. Their blood – soaked seats and signs that attempts had been made to resuscitate them, were the only evidence of the tragedy.”

By mistake, here Leonov wrote Yeliseyev’s name.

On the morning of 1 July another group of specialists arrived from Moscow with equipment to test the hermetic seal of the descent module. They closed all openings, including the valve set in the unusual position, and increased the internal pressure above ambient by 100 mm of mercury. When there was no indication of a leak they increased the pressure first to 150 and then to 200, and waited 30 minutes, but again the pressure remained constant. Having established that the decompression was not the result of a meteoroid puncturing the shell of the module, the module was flown to Moscow later that day for a thorough investigation.


As the last of the Pleiades of extraordinary members of Soviet rocketry, they called Chertok a patriarch of cosmonautics. For two decades (1946-1966) he worked with Sergey Korolev. He directed the department which developed guidance systems and their associated electronics. From 1966 until 1973 he was a member of the Chief Operative and Control Group at the TsUP in Yevpatoriya. He was also one of the men who in 1969 approached Ustinov behind Mishin’s back and thereby started the DOS programme. Without Chertok’s willingness to embark on such a major project without his boss’s support, and to continue with it despite his boss’s open antipathy, the history of the Soviet manned space programme would certainly have turned out very differently.

On Mishin’s dismissal in 1974, Chertok was the first of the TsKBEM’s senior people to meet the new director – doing so several days prior to Glushko’s official

Boris Chertok, one of the leading figures in the Soviet rocket and space era.

appointment. On Glushko’s death in 1989 Yuriy Semyonov took over, and in 1992 Chertok became an advisor to Semyonov. Although at the time of Semyonov’s retirement Chertok was 95, he continued as the principal scientific consultant to Nikolay Sevastyanov, one of his former students, who took over the directorship of RKK Energiya (as NPO Energiya had become) in 2005.[130] Even after 60 years in the business he continued to work, and lectured at the N. E. Bauman University and at the Physics and Technical Institute.[131] His memoirs, in four volumes entitled Rockets and People,[132] provide a unique insight into the development of the Soviet rocket and space programmes.


After the excitement of the early days, life on board Salyut settled into a routine. As the new technical flight director at the TsUP, Yeliseyev was in charge of operations, supported by veteran cosmonauts Nikolayev, Gorbatko and Bykovs­kiy. Reports on how the flight was progressing were submitted to Kamanin several times per day.

Day 7: Saturday, 12 June

At 0.40 a. m. Salyut again entered the communication zone. The cosmonauts began the day by measuring the radiation in the station, then analysed their cardiovascular systems and tested their eyesight in different illumination conditions. Photography of the Earth’s cloud cover and various atmospheric phenomena completed the day’s scientific work. The crew transmitted another TV show and talked of living in their home in space.

From Volkov’s diary:

12 June. I woke up. I drank water from the new tank; we finished the first one. After Viktor had prepared the vacuum cleaner, I swam through the compartment cleaning it. Zhora is strapped in his seat and diligently writing something in his flight journal.

Viktor has prepared his sleeping place in the hatch between the descent module and the orbital module. Soon we will be in communication with the Earth, but now, according to schedule, I must exercise.

0. 41 a. m.

Patsayev: “We have a suggestion about the medical sensors. It is uncomfortable to wear them all the time. I kept the belt on for three days and the sensors have made indents. Let us make an agreement with you Zarya: tell us when you will be able to receive their telemetry and we’ll put them on during that time, but remove them at other times.’’

Zarya: “We understand. We accept your suggestion.’’

The flight controllers at the TsUP in Yevpatoriya take a break. Cosmonauts Gorbatko, Yeliseyev and Nikolayev are first, second and fourth in the first row.

2.12 a. m.

Dobrovolskiy: “Now it is time to say something about psychology. I think that the psychologists don’t have cause for concern. It is necessary that the three of us take exercise together. In addition, we should do it on a more frequent basis. Firstly, we would be able to encourage one other. … We should force ourselves to do all of the physical exercise.[75] It is necessary to extend the exercise time to approximately 30 minutes. You should plan this to be done by two or three of us – a minimum of two of us. It is better for the work, too.’’

Zarya: “About the exercise, all three of you can exercise for 30-40 minutes.’’

Dobrovolskiy: “All right. Now, about work. All new operations should be planned for the three of us. Only with three of us together could we work with the Polynom sensors and fix problems. It will also be more interesting.”

Zarya: “We understand.”

Dobrovolskiy: “In addition, it would be easier to repeat the operation.’’

Patsayev was complaining about the medical belts they had to wear continuously on their chests. Dobrovolskiy was concerned about the general organisation of their activities. In fact, these complaints marked the onset of psychological tensions – in part irritability arising from the unnatural circadian rhythm, but also due to flaws in mission planning and poor use of the very brief periods of communication with the TsUP.

The plan was for the three cosmonauts to work shifts displaced by 8 hours, and while one man slept his two comrades were to exercise or perform ‘silent’ work. In general, life on board the station was progressing satisfactorily. During the first two days, they prepared apparatus and started some experiments. The need to exercise and perform medical tests meant that the time available for experiments was limited. In addition, a lot of time was devoted to reading instructions, preparing equipment, placing experimental samples into their containers and chambers, recording results and so on. Consequently, only 4 to a maximum of 5.5 hours per day were available for experiments.

The scientific programme for the DOS-1 station had been agreed only after tense discussions between the TsKBEM managers and the representatives of the various scientific institutions. The station carried much more scientific equipment than any previous manned spacecraft. But if the flight was organised inappropriately, and the time was poorly allocated to the different experiments, then the cosmonauts would not be able to use the equipment in the best manner. One instructor had proposed that the cosmonauts read detailed instructions before each experiment to familiarise themselves with the purpose and methodology, and then, when the experiment was completed, read how they were to record their results. All this reading took up a lot of time.

For Yeliseyev, this was a real challenge:

The programme was planned in such a way that all important crew activities would be carried out while the station was in range of the tracking stations. This enabled us to check the status of the onboard systems and, if necessary, provide support to the crew. However, due to the timing of the orbit it was impossible to retain the normal terrestrial duration of 24 hours for the crew, and their cycle was 25 minutes shorter. By saying ‘24 hours’, I don’t mean the duration of the light and dark times in space, because an orbit lasts only 90 minutes; I mean the sleep cycle of the men – in particular, the time from the start of one morning to the start of the next. We thought that they would soon accommodate themselves to the planned circadian rhythm. However, the physicians saw a serious risk. Alyakrinskiy, a biorhythmology specialist from the Institute of Biomedical Problems, came to the control centre in the hope of changing the programme. He wanted to talk to me urgently. At first, I attempted to avoid him: we were busy, the cosmonauts felt well, and I did not see the need to spend time on medical issues. However, he persisted and I saw him. Our conversation was long and difficult. He really understood the essence of the problem and carefully explained it to me. He asserted that the daily deviations of the rhythm of life from the norm would be very difficult for the cosmonauts, and would cause nervous disruption, if not worse. I did not believe him. In any case, it was not realistic to expect us to rearrange the programme at this stage. Therefore, I assured him that there was no problem and refused his request. Finally, he gave up and departed.

Nevertheless, as time went by the psychological stresses on the crew worsened. From Dobrovolskiy’s notebook:

Some days were a nightmare. There was a general absence of everything: no interesting things, no happiness, the monotonous sound of the ventilators, strong smells, numerous experiments. It seemed to me that the TsUP simply wished to test our endurance.[76]

The euphoria of the first days was undermined by the ‘ranking’ of the crew. They shared a general responsibility for the success of the flight and jointly undertook the programme, but by his enthusiasm Volkov, the only veteran on the crew, threatened the authority of Dobrovolskiy, the commander who was used to the discipline of a military chain of command. Initially minor issues grew into more serious ones. The TsUP sensed that the situation on board was abnormal, and attempted delicately to improve it. This was the first long flight of a З-man crew, and the first aboard such a large and complex spacecraft. Previous space missions had not been able to study the psychology of a group of people isolated in a craft in a dangerous environment with a biorhythm significantly different to that on Earth and pursuing a schedule of exercise and experiments. The two cosmonauts for the Soyuz 9 mission who spent 18 days in a cramped Soyuz had trained together for more than a year. However, the Soyuz 11 crew had been formed less than four months ago, had not expected to fly so soon, and had a rookie commander and an ambitious flight engineer with little respect for military authority. While Mishin and Kamanin fought for the prestige of ‘their’ cosmonauts on crews, it was now evident that neither man thought seriously about the psychological issues facing ‘mixed’ crews on long-duration space flights. In particular, when considering whether to replace Kubasov with Volkov in order to allow Leonov’s crew fly this first space station mission, no thought was given to the potential downside of sending Dobrovolskiy’s recently formed crew on such a long flight.

3.44 a. m.

Zarya: ‘‘Yantar 2, conduct photography, monitor the most visible atmospheric phenomenon and let us know.’’

Volkov: ‘‘Well, now we see a bush fire.’’

Zarya: ‘‘Understood. Another request. If possible, report the porthole conditions.

Is it possible to see the stars?”

Volkov: “No, it isn’t. In sunlight the stars are not visible, but they can be seen just before sunset and [of course] before sunrise.’’

Zarya: “Understood.”

Volkov “The portholes are clean…. They are in excellent condition, but some are slightly covered by vapour. The stars are not visible on the daylight side. I made a few observations. Even Jupiter, which is now in the constellation of Scorpio, is not visible.’’

From Patsayev’s notebook:

12 June. At night the stars and the Earth are easily visible. We can see the clouds and the illuminated cities – even fires on Earth. We can see the limb of the planet where it occults the stars. During sunsets and sunrises, the long rays of light illuminate high-altitude clouds. Are the stars visible during the days? It depends on the position of the Sun. At angles of less than about 15 degrees we can see the planets and the brighter stars.

8.11 a. m.

Zarya: “Yantar 2. Another question. Could you work with the experiments and at the same time receive information?’’

Volkov: “Do you understand, everything depends on the time. Now, for example, I am preparing the Polynom. We spent 1 hour 20 minutes on that.’’

Zarya: “Understood.”

Volkov: “The difficulty is that a man is not fixed in the seat. … Everything floats away – as soon as you let go of something it floats away.’’

Television Report:

Zarya-25 (call-sign of Yevgeniy Frolov, the commentator of the Central USSR TV): “On line is the flight engineer, Vladislav Volkov. We know that for you the station is at the same time a laboratory, your home, even a gymnasium. We would like to hear from you a detailed description while making the first TV tour of Salyut. Now from the Earth we are switching to the portable camera. Did you understand us?’’

Volkov: “I understood you very well. I will be pleased to give a tour of the Salyut orbital station. It consists of two segments. The station you can see now, and the Soyuz ship. … In the distance, the Soyuz spacecraft is visible, docked with the station. Notice the size of this station! Now the research engineer is swimming here from the transfer compartment.’’

Zarya-25: “I see him very well.’’

Volkov: “Now I’ll show you the second part of our station. We have our very own sports facility, although admittedly it is not as big as the arena at Luzhniki. Here is a medical seat, the treadmill and handrails. Here is a chamber, some apparatus, the work place of the research engineer and his flight journal and control panel. This is the central control panel – we use it to control the orbital station and the spacecraft at the same time. . . . Now you can see our photographs of Korolev, Gagarin and Lenin. They are always with us in spirit. Now, I’ll show you the docking apparatus. Here is the docking place. Do you have questions? Can you see the docking spot?’’

Zarya-25: “I can see it very well.’’

Volkov: “That is the orbital module. This is the transfer compartment. Here is the sleeping zone. Here we rest.’’

Zarya-25: “We are running out of time. Could Yantar 1 provide a brief summary of the last week?’’

Dobrovolskiy: “Zarya, I can hear you very well. In brief, all the systems of the spacecraft are working excellently, and the crew feels well. We’re ready to continue with the flight programme.’’

While the fixed TV camera monitored their activities, the cosmonauts took their exercises, engaged in numerous scientific experiments, and even cast the first votes from space – affirming their support for the Communist Party’s policies, of course. Excerpts from the broadcasts from Salyut were repeatedly shown on Moscow TV, and owing to his rugged good looks Volkov soon became an idol for many teenage Russian girls.

The hard working day of 12 June, which began at 0.40 a. m., finished at 2.30 p. m. when Salyut left the communication zone of the Soviet ground stations.