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Salyut 1

Salyut 1 (DOS-1)
Salyut 1 as seen from the departing Soyuz 11.
Station statistics
COSPAR ID 1971-032A
Call sign Salyut 1
Crew 3
Launch April 19, 1971
01:40:00 UTC
Launch pad Site 81/24, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Soviet Union
Mass 18,425 kg
(40,620 lb)
Length ~20 m
Width ~4 m
Pressurised volume 99 m³ (3,500 ft³)
Perigee 200 km (108 nmi)
Apogee 222 km (120 nmi)
Orbital inclination 51.6 degrees
Orbital period 88.5 minutes
Days in orbit 175 days
Days occupied 24 days
Number of orbits 2,929
Distance travelled 118,602,524 km
(73,696,192 mi)
Statistics as of de-orbit and re-entry
Soyuz docking with Salyut 1

Salyut 1 (DOS-1) (Russian: Салют-1; English translation: Salute 1) was the first space station of any kind, launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. More stations followed in the Salyut program, and heritage of that space station program is still in use on the ISS.

Salyut 1 originated as a modification of the military Almaz space station program then in development. After the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon in July 1969, the Soviets began shifting the primary emphasis of their manned space program to orbiting space stations, with a possible lunar landing later in the 1970s if the N-1 booster became flight-worthy (which it didn't). One other motivation for the space station program was a desire to one-up the US Skylab program then in development. The basic structure of Salyut 1 was adapted from the Almaz with a few modifications and would form the basis of all Soviet space stations through Mir.

Civilian Soviet space stations were internally referred to as "DOS" stations, although publicly, the Salyut name was used for all Almaz and DOS stations. Several military experiments were nonetheless carried on Salyut 1, including the OD-4 optical visual ranger, the Orion ultraviolet instrument for characterizing rocket exhaust plumes, and the highly classified Svinets radiometer.

Construction of Salyut 1 began in early 1970 and after nearly a year, it was shipped to the Baikonour Cosmodrome. Some remaining assembly work had yet to be done and this was completed at the launch center.

Launch was planned for April 12, 1971 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight on Vostok 1, but technical problems delayed it until the 19th. The first crew launched later in the Soyuz 10 mission, but they ran into troubles while docking and were unable to enter the station; the Soyuz 10 mission was aborted and the crew returned safely to Earth. Its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days. This was the first time in the history of spaceflight that a space station had been manned, and a new record in time spent in space. This success was, however, overshadowed when the crew was killed during re-entry, as a pressure-equalization valve in the Soyuz 11 re-entry capsule had opened prematurely, causing the crew to suffocate. After this accident, missions were suspended while the Soyuz spacecraft was redesigned. The station was intentionally destroyed by de-orbiting it after six months in orbit, because it ran out of fuel before a redesigned Soyuz spacecraft could be launched to it.[1]


  • Structure 1
    • Transfer compartment 1.1
    • Main compartment 1.2
    • Auxiliary compartments 1.3
    • Orion 1 Space Observatory 1.4
  • Specifications 2
  • Visiting spacecraft and crews 3
    • Soyuz 10 3.1
    • Soyuz 11 3.2
  • Re-entry 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


At launch, the announced purpose of Salyut was to test the elements of the systems of a space station and to conduct scientific research and experiments. The craft was described as being 20 m in length, 4 m in maximum diameter, and 99 m³ in interior space with an on-orbit dry mass of 18,425 kg. Of its several compartments, three were pressurized (100 m³ total), and two could be entered by the crew.[2]

Transfer compartment

The transfer compartment was equipped with the only docking port of Salyut 1, which allowed one Soyuz 7K-OKS spacecraft to dock. It was the first use of the Soviet "probe and drogue" type docking system that allowed internal crew transfer, a system that is in use today. The docking cone had a 2 m front diameter and a 3 m aft diameter.[2]

Main compartment

The second, and main, compartment was about 4 m in diameter. Televised views showed enough space for eight big chairs (seven at work consoles), several control panels, and 20 portholes (some obstructed by instruments).[2]

Auxiliary compartments

The third pressurized compartment contained the control and communications equipment, the power supply, the life support system, and other auxiliary equipment. The fourth, and final, unpressurized compartment was about 2 m in diameter and contained the engine installations and associated control equipment. Salyut had buffer chemical batteries, reserve supplies of oxygen and water, and regeneration systems. Externally mounted were two double sets of solar cell panels that extended like wings from the smaller compartments at each end, the heat regulation system's radiators, and orientation and control devices.[2]

Salyut 1 was modified from one of the Almaz airframes. The unpressurized service module was the modified service module of a Soyuz craft.

Orion 1 Space Observatory

The astrophysical Orion 1 Space Observatory designed by Grigor Gurzadyan of Byurakan Observatory in Armenia, was installed in Salyut 1. Ultraviolet spectrograms of stars were obtained with the help of a mirror telescope of the Mersenne system and a spectrograph of the Wadsworth system using film sensitive to the far ultraviolet. The dispersion of the spectrograph was 32 Å/mm (3.2 nm/mm), while the resolution of the spectrograms derived was about 5 Å at 2600 Å (0.5 nm at 260 nm). Slitless spectrograms were obtained of the stars Vega and Beta Centauri between 2000 and 3800 Å (200 and 380 nm).[3] The telescope was operated by crew member Viktor Patsayev, who became the first man to operate a telescope outside the Earth’s atmosphere.


  • Length - 15.8 m
  • Maximum diameter - 4.15 m
  • Habitable volume - 90 m³
  • Mass at launch - 18,900 kg
  • Launch vehicle - Proton (three-stage)
  • Span across solar arrays - about 10 m
  • Area of solar arrays - 28 m²
  • Number of solar arrays - 4
  • Resupply carriers - Salyut 1-type Soyuz
  • Number of docking ports - 1
  • Total manned missions - 2
  • Total long-duration manned missions - 1

Visiting spacecraft and crews

Soyuz 10

Photo of Salyut 1 with docked Soyuz 10 spacecraft, taken from TsKBEM photographer satellite

After taking 24 h for rendezvous and approach, Soyuz 10 soft-docked with Salyut on April 23[1] and remained for 5.5 h. Hard-docking was unsuccessful due to an unforeseen design flaw in the Soyuz's autopilot. The crew could not enter the station and had to abort the mission.

Expedition Crew Launch date Flight up Landing date Flight down Duration (days) Notes
Soyuz 10 Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksei Yeliseyev and Nikolai Rukavishnikov April 23, 1971 Soyuz 10 April 25, 1971 Soyuz 10 0 Failed docking

Soyuz 11

The Soyuz 11 crew with the Salyut station in the background, in a Soviet commemorative stamp
Salyut 1 as photographed from the departing Soyuz 11.

Soyuz 11 required 3 h 19 min on June 7 to complete docking. The crew transferred to Salyut and their mission was announced as:

  • Checking the design, units, onboard systems, and equipment of the orbital piloted station
  • Testing the station's manual and autonomous procedures for orientation and navigation, as well as the control systems for maneuvering the space complex in orbit
  • Studying Earth's surface geology, geography, meteorology, and snow and ice cover
  • Studying physical characteristics, processes, and phenomena in the atmosphere and outer space in various regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and
  • Conducting medico-biological studies to determine the feasibility of having cosmonauts in the station perform various tasks, and studying the influence of space flight on the human organism.

On June 29, after 23 days and flying 362 orbits, the mission was cut short due to problems aboard the station, including an electrical fire. The crew transferred back to Soyuz 11 and reentered the Earth's atmosphere. After parachuting to a soft landing in Kazakhstan, the recovery team opened the hatch to find all three crew members dead in their couches. An inquest found that a pressure relief valve had malfunctioned during re-entry leading to a loss of cabin atmosphere. Pressure suits had not been used on Soviet manned spacecraft since the Vostok program.[4]

Expedition Crew Launch date Flight up Landing date Flight down Duration (days) Notes
Soyuz 11 Viktor Patsayev, Vladislav Volkov June 6, 1971 07:55:09 UTC Soyuz 11 June 30, 1971 02:16:52 UTC Soyuz 11 23 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes, 43 seconds Crew died on re-entry


Salyut 1 was moved to a higher orbit in July-August 1971 to ensure that it would not be destroyed prematurely through orbital decay. In the meantime, Soyuz capsules were being substantially re-designed to allow pressure suits to be worn during launch, docking maneuvers, and re-entry.[4] The Soyuz redesign effort took too long however, and by September, Salyut 1 was running low on attitude control gas. It was decided to conclude the station's mission and on October 11, the main engines were fired for a deorbit maneuver. After 175 days, the world's first space station burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

Pravda (October 26, 1971) reported that 75% of Salyut 1's studies were carried out by optical means and 20% by radio-technical means, while the remainder involved magneto-metrical, gravitational, or other measurements. Synoptic readings were taken in both the visible and invisible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.[2]


  1. ^ a b Shayler, David; Rex Hall (2003). Soyuz: A Universal Spacecraft (Springer-Praxis Books in Astronomy and Space Sciences). Telos Pr. pp. 172–179.  
  2. ^ a b c d e "Salyut 1". NSSDC ID: 1971-032A. NASA. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  3. ^ G.A.Gurzadyan, J.B.Ohanesyan, Observed Energy Distribution of Lyra and Cen at 2000−3800 Å, Nature, vol.239, p. 90, 1972 [2]
  4. ^ a b Baker, Philip (2007). The Story of Manned Space Stations: an introduction. Berlin: Springer. p. 25.  

External links

  • Zarya - Salyut 1 chronology
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