A Dramatic Reentry
Soyuz 5 was launched on 15 January 1969, crewed by Volynov, Aleksei Yeliseyev, and Yevgeni Khrunov. On 16 January Yeliseyev and Khrunov transferred to Soyuz 4, crewed by Commander Vladimir Shatalov, following an orbital rendezvous and docking. Soyuz 4 undocked from Soyuz 5 the following day and Volynov prepared for a solo re-entry.
Soyuz 5’s equipment module failed to separate properly following retrofire due to the misfiring of explosive bolts, and consequently blocked the re-entry heat shield on the base of the descent module. As a result of the added mass of the equipment module, Volynov lost control of Soyuz 5 which began to tumble, finally stabilizing itself with the thinnest part of the spacecraft facing forward. As the assembly entered the atmosphere, the stress and heat on the supporting struts between the modules finally made them burn through and part, allowing the equipment module to fall away and burn up on re-entry. Volynov could only wait while the descent module’s automatic orientation system tried to regain control, which fortunately it managed to do with the heat shield facing forward.
Following re-entry, the module’s parachutes deployed only partially, and a failure of the soft-landing retrorockets in the base of the descent module caused a hard landing which almost wrecked the module, and broke some of Volynov’s teeth.
Anniversary of First Spacecraft Docking, 16 January 1969
Soyuz 5 was a Soyuz mission using the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union on January 15, 1969, which docked with Soyuz 4 in orbit. It was the first-ever docking of two manned spacecraft of any nation, and the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another of any nation, the only time a transfer was accomplished with a space walk – two months before the US Apollo 9 performed the first ever internal crew transfer.
Today is the International Space Station’s Birthday! (6 December 1998)
On 20 November 1998, Russia launched Zarya, the first module of the International Space Station (ISS). It provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS.
On 4 December 1998, the United States launched STS-88 carrying Unity, a module with six berthing locations, facilitating connections to other modules.
On 6 December 1998, the two modules were mated, and thus began the ISS and an ongoing partnership of two nations in orbit.
Launch Anniversary of the First International Space Station Module (20 November 1988)
Zarya (literally Russian for “dawn”), also known as the Functional Cargo Block or FGB, was the first module of the International Space Station to be launched. The FGB provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly. With the launch and assembly in orbit of other modules with more specialized functionality, Zarya is now primarily used for storage, both inside the pressurized section and in the externally mounted fuel tanks. The Zarya is a descendant of the TKS spacecraft designed for the Russian Salyut program. The name Zarya was given to the FGB because it signified the dawn of a new era of international cooperation in space. Although it was built by a Russian company, it is owned by the United States.
Salyut 6 Launch Anniversary (29 September 1977)
Salyut 6, was a Soviet orbital space station, the eighth flown as part of the Salyut programme. Launched on 29 September 1977 by a Proton rocket, the station was the first of the ‘second-generation’ type of space station. Salyut 6 possessed several revolutionary advances over the earlier Soviet space stations, which it nevertheless resembled in overall design. These included the addition of a second docking port, a new main propulsion system and the station’s primary scientific instrument, the BST-1M multispectral telescope. The addition of the second docking port made crew handovers and station resupply by unmanned Progress freighters possible for the first time, which in turn allowed the programme to evolve from short-duration station visits to long-duration expeditions, marking the beginning of the transition to multi-modular, long-term research stations in space.
From 1977 until 1982, Salyut 6 was visited by five long- and eleven short-duration crews, including cosmonauts from Warsaw Pact countries as part of the Intercosmos programme. These crews were responsible for carrying out the primary missions of Salyut 6, including astronomy, Earth-resources observations and the study of the effect of spaceflight on the human body. Following the completion of these missions and the launch of its successor, Salyut 7, Salyut 6 was deorbited on 29 July 1982, almost five years after its launch.
Gennady Padalka, Awesome Cosmonaut
Gennady Ivanovich Padalka (born June 21, 1958, in Krasnodar, Russia) is a Russian Air Force officer and an RSA cosmonaut. As of June 2010, Gennady ranks sixth for career time in space due to his time on both Mir and the International Space Station.
As of June 2010, Gennady Padalka has participated in eight spacewalks.
Gennady is currently aboard the ISS and is scheduled to perform yet another spacewalk on August 20th, 2012.
Anniversary of First Female Cosmonaut Space Walk
Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya (Russian: Светла́на Евге́ньевна Сави́цкая; born August 8, 1948) is a former Soviet female aviator and cosmonaut who flew aboard Soyuz T-7 in 1982, becoming the second woman in space some 19 years after Valentina Tereshkova. She served two duty tours on the Salyut 7 space station, and on her second one became the first woman to perform a space walk on July 25, 1984. She was outside the space station for 3 hours 35 minutes. Of the 57 Soviet/Russian spacewalker through 2010, she is the only female. She is the daughter of Soviet military commander Yevgeniy Savitskiy. She is married, with one child.
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: An Orbital Partnership Is Born
On July 17, 1975, something momentous happened: two Cold War-rivals met in space. When their respective spacecraft rendezvoused and docked, a new era of cooperative ventures in space began.
For more than a decade, American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts have been regularly living and working together in Earth orbit, first in the Shuttle-Mir program, and now on the International Space Station. But, before the two Cold War-rivals first met in orbit in 1975, such a partnership seemed unlikely. Since Sputnik bleeped into orbit in 1957, there had been a Space Race, with the U.S. and then-Soviet Union driven more by competition than cooperation. When President Kennedy called for a manned moon landing in 1961, he spoke of “battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny” and referred to the “head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines.”
But by the mid-70s things had changed. The U.S. had “won” the race to the moon, with six Apollo landings between 1969 and 1972. Both nations had launched space stations, the Russian Salyut and American Skylab. With the space shuttle still a few years off and the diplomatic chill thawing, the time was right for a joint mission.
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project would send NASA astronauts Tom Stafford, Donald K. “Deke” Slayton and Vance Brand in an Apollo Command and Service Module to meet Russian cosmonauts Aleksey Leonov and Valeriy Kubasov in a Soyuz capsule. A jointly designed, U.S.-built docking module fulfilled the main technical goal of the mission, demonstrating that two dissimilar craft could dock in orbit. But the human side of the mission went far beyond that.
Image Credit: NASA
(via The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: An Orbital Partnership Is Born)
Zvezda (ISS module) Launch Anniversary
Zvezda (Russian: Звезда, meaning “star”), DOS-8, also known as the Zvezda Service Module, is a component of the International Space Station (ISS). It was the third module launched to the station, and provides all of the station’s life support systems, some of which are supplemented in the USOS, as well as living quarters for two crew members. It is the structural and functional center of the Russian portion of the station - the Russian Orbital Segment.
The module was manufactured by RKK Energia, with major sub-contracting work by GKNPTs Khrunichev. Zvezda was launched on a Proton rocket on July 12, 2000 and docked with the Zarya module on July 26. The rocket used for the launch was one of the first to carry advertising; it was emblazoned with the logo of the fast food chain Pizza Hut, for which the company is reported to have paid more than US$1 million.
Anniversary of Venera 4 Probe Launch, June 12, 1967
Venera 4 (Russian: Венера-4, Венера meaning Venus; manufacturer’s designation: 1V (V-67)) was a probe in the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus. Venera-4 was the first successful probe to perform in-place analysis of the environment of another planet. It was also the first probe to land on another planet. Venera 4 provided the first chemical analysis of the Venusian atmosphere, showing it to be primarily carbon dioxide with a few percent of nitrogen and below one percent of oxygen and water vapors. The station detected a weak magnetic field and no radiation field. The outer atmospheric layer contained very little hydrogen and no atomic oxygen. The probe sent the first direct measurements proving that Venus was extremely hot, that the atmosphere was far denser than expected, and that Venus had lost most of its water long ago.