Drawing away from the station


In their first fortnight on board the Salyut station the cosmonauts had performed a large amount of scientific work and accumulated results to be returned to Earth for analysis by specialists. As the mission drew to a conclusion, the crew were in high spirits.

Day 16, Monday, 21 June

Work resumed with the Orion astrophysical observatory, this time with stars in the constellation of Serpens. Volkov was in charge of navigation. He spent a lot of time ‘sitting’ by a porthole on the station’s floor, ‘hunting’ for landmarks on the Earth and in the sky. Once Volkov had selected a landmark, Dobrovolskiy would orient and stabilise the station to enable this to be viewed. During the next orbit, Patsayev controlled the two telescopes of the Orion system, one on the exterior of the transfer compartment and the other affixed to a porthole inside it, to simultaneously record spectrograms of a single star in different sections of the ultraviolet spectrum.[89] The cosmonauts also continued measurements of gamma rays, the electrically charged nuclei in cosmic rays, and the intensity of free electrons in the orbital environment. At 2.21 p. m. Patsayev, who had started his career in meteorology, sent a greeting on behalf of the Salyut crew to the attendees of the National Meteorological Congress in Leningrad.

From Patsayev’s notebook:

21 June. The Moon looks the same as when viewed from Earth. Sometimes a round rainbow ‘spot’, or halo, is visible through a porthole on the opposite side to the Sun.

The boundaries of clouds can be determined by their shadows. Thicker

clouds are moving away in regular order, and cloud belts on the night side are visible in moonlight. …

The can openers are inadequate, often creating shards while opening the can. The seal of the rubbish bags is unsuitable, letting the stench out. …

It is essential to have a work site for performing repairs, a workbench with instruments. . . .

The station lights are inadequate. The inscriptions on the push buttons for switching on the food heater and the vacuum cleaner are barely visible. It is too dark at the work sites, especially at No. 3 [which was located adjacent to the large conical module housing the main scientific equipment].

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