As noted, the mission of the first Salyut station was controlled from the TsUP in Yevpatoriya, Crimea, supported by several tracking ships of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
In March 1971 Academician Sergey Korolev had relieved Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov in the North Atlantic, near Sable Island off the Canadian coast. Its first task had been to support Soyuz 10 in April. Now it was supporting Soyuz 11. Most of the crewmen of Academician Sergey Korolev originated from Odessa, the city in which Dobrovolskiy was born. They also had fond memories of Volkov, who had visited the ship in December 1970 and attended its launch. It had all the apparatus needed to control the most complex operations of the Soyuz-Salyut orbital complex, including orbital manoeuvres. It could communicate with the TsUP via a Molniya satellite. When the station’s path took it over the eastern region of North America or the North Atlantic, Academician Sergey Korolev would be able to communicate with it for up to 12 minutes, and two or three communication sessions were possible each day.
An older and less sophisticated ship was stationed in the equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean. This was Bezhitsa, which was on its fifth voyage since its launch in
February 1967. It had taken its station at 13 degrees west and 1.5 degrees south in March 1971 to support the Salyut mission. It could communicate with the crew of a spacecraft and receive telemetry, but did not routinely transmit to the TsUP – this required the use of the internal channels of the Soviet Navy. Also in the southern Atlantic Ocean was Kegostrov, which was another of the smaller vessels launched in 1967, and also on its fifth voyage. It had sailed in February 1971 and taken its station at 24 degrees west and 22 degrees south. Like Bezhitsa, it was equipped to receive telemetry from the spacecraft and communicate with its crew. Depending on the schedule decided for the return of Soyuz 11, one or other of these two ships was to monitor the critical braking manoeuvre. Several other communication ships were located in the South Atlantic to assist with the operation of Salyut: Morzhovets, Borovochi, Nevely and Ristna.
1. Yeliseyev, A. S., Life – A Drop in the Sea. Aviatsiya and kosmonavtika, Moscow, 1998, pp. 77-79 (in Russian).
2. Siddiqi, Asif A., The Soviet Space Race with Apollo. University Press of Florida, 2003, pp. 778-780.
3. Vasilyev, M. P., Salyut on Orbit, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1973, pp. 81-107 (in Russian).
4. www. ski-omer. ru (in Russian, about Soviet tracking ships).
5. Kamanin, N. P., Hidden Space, Book 4. Novosti kosmonavtiki, 2001, pp. 320325 (in Russian).