This post is a research reflection based on my term paper subject choice - the USSR's Salyut Program.
Requirement for ASCI 601 Week 5.
 This is a collection of information that may not necessarily translate to my final research project - mostly for my own, in-depth, knowledge.

Read Week 4's Reflection
before we add more information

Figure 1.

Sketch of Soyuz crew ferry docking with Salyut 1 space station.

Note: From International Space Station, Russian space stations [Fact Sheet], by Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 1997, NASA ( NASA content (images, videos, audio, etc) are generally not copyrighted and may be used for educational or informational purposes without needing explicit permissions (NASA Image Use Policy).

Note: From International Space Station, Russian space stations [Fact Sheet], by Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 1997, NASA ( NASA content (images, videos, audio, etc) are generally not copyrighted and may be used for educational or informational purposes without needing explicit permissions (NASA Image Use Policy).

Recap: The Salyut Program

After multiple ICBM and Soyuz successes, the USSR knew they had the data they needed to make a space station a reality. While NASA was proceeding as a civilian endeavor, the USSR maintained a classified, military-industrial posture (Sagdeev, Eisenhower, & Logsdon, 2008). On the heels of the USAF's and NRO's Manned Orbital Laboratory cancellation - with only the mockup ever entering orbit in 1966 - the USSR got to work (Uri, 2019).

Originally, the USSR had two station types: Salyut (civilian), and Almaz (military). The Almaz program was approved, first - proposed in 1964, with work beginning in 1970. They realized that using the civilian name and versions of the orbiters, while switching between civilian and military purposes for each station, was the perfect cover for world speculation. Therefore, they established the Salyut Program and focused their efforts...

Sixteen months after the 1970 establishment of the Salyut Program, on April 19, 1971, Salyut 1 was in LEO (Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 1997, pg. 2).


Salyut (Salute)

  • The USSR's civilian type space station, conceived after Almaz type stations
  • Also, the public name of each space station
    • Salyut 2, 3, and 5 were secretly Almaz 1, 2, and 3
  • Salyut type stations used Almaz hardware for large components, such as the hull, while Soyuz hardware components were used for the subsystems
  • The Salyut type differed from the Almaz type in construction with docking in the rear (Salyut was in the front) and Almaz stations had weapons on board(Portree, 1995)

Almaz (Diamond)

  • The Almaz Program and station type was conceived before the Salyut Program and station type
  • Military - secrecy was high and information is difficult to find
  • Was meant to use Transport Logistics Spacecraft (TKS) rather than Soyuz before the Salyut/Almaz secrecy idea came into play
  • Almaz Program/stations were cancelled prior to Salyut 7; Salyut 7 was originally going to be Almaz 4
  • The remaining Almaz stations were converted into unmanned satellites
    (Portree, 1995)


Week 5: Experiments, Notable Equipment, & Lessons

The Salyut Program's contributions to modern, and future, space habitation lie in their experimentation aboard each Salyut station. We covered Salyut 1 - 3, and their general information, last week. This week, we will go over the experiments on board the successful missions, and what was ultimately learned from each - including failures - if such information is available. Being that the USSR was so secretive about these missions, especially the military (Almaz) stations, some information is difficult to come by.

Salyut 1

April 19, 1971 - October 1971

Figure 2.

Soyuz 11 crew.

Soyuz 11 Crew (O'Connor & Harkens, 2010).

Note: From Descent into the void: Soyuz-11 depressurization, by O'Connor, B. & Harkins, W. B., 2010, NASA ( NASA content (images, videos, audio, etc) are generally not copyrighted and may be used for educational or informational purposes without needing explicit permissions (NASA Image Use Policy).


  • The station, itself, was an experiment:
    • Station design, systems, equipment, and units
    • Manual and autonomous systems for orientation/navigation/maneuvering
    • Goal was to develop a new, autonomous system
  • Geological/geographical studies of Earth's surface, atmospheric formations, snow/ice cover
  • Atmospheric/space phenomena/characteristics/processes
  • Various Medico-biological studies to decide future job possibilities on-station
  • First space station greenhouse
    • Named Oasis
    • Flax seed sprouts
  • Earth-Cloud Photography
  • Mapping

Notable Equipment

  • Single docking port
  • Colorful, movable walls to help cosmonauts stay directionally-oriented
  • Power: 4 Soyuz silicon photocell solar arrays
    • Supplemented the station's power when docked
  • Heat regulation radiators
  • Ion attitude control sensor
  • Meteoroid & technogenic bodies (MTB) flux sensor system
  • Primary engine:
    • 417-kg thrust; one nozzle
  • Backup engine:
    • 411-kg thrust; two nozzles
  • Attitude control engines:
    • Four 10-kg thrust
  • Service module = no access
  • Cassettes and a player, drawing pads, books for fun
  • Slept in sleepingbags attached to the walls
  • 2 refrigerators


Lessons Learned

  • During their return to Earth, the air supply for the Soyuz 10 cosmonauts became toxic; one cosmonaut went unconscious.
  • Soyuz 11, the manned spacecraft that transported cosmonauts to and from Salyut 1, had no individual life support system for each cosmonauts' suits, which were also only pressurized during EVAs (extra-vehicular activity). A shock opened a 1-mm valve, upon re-entry, causing pulmonary embolisms, killing all three men.
  • Soyuz were redesigned to allow needed life support systems; one crew seat had to be removed because of this, for space.

(Haeuplik-Meusburger, Paterson, Schubert, & Zabel, 2014; Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 1997; Smirnov, V., Semenov, A., Rebrikov, Kuzim, Gosniias, & Russian Academy of Sciences, 1999; Soyuz 10, n.d.; Soyuz 10, n.d.b)

DOS-2 & Salyut 2/Almaz 1 Failures

DOS-2 (Durable Orbit Station)

  • Launched July 29, 1972 from Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • The Proton launch vehicle's second-stage control system failed
  • Never received official Salyut designation as it failed to reach orbit

Salyut 2/Almaz

  • April 3, 1973 - April 14/15, 1973
  • Reached orbit but lost stability; fell
  • In 1992, cosmonaut Mikhail Lisun finally let the world know there was an electrical fire before the station depressurized
    (Portree, 1995, pg. 68)

DOS-3/Kosmos 557 Failure

  • May 8, 1973 launch cancelled - a stage one oxidizer vent leak
  • Launched May 11, 1973 from Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • DOS-3 was renamed Kosmos 557 to disguise the failure as Western radar picked up the signal
    (Cosmos 557, n.d. ; Ivanovic, 2008, pg. 1, 6, 340; Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 1997)

Key Lessons Learned

  1. DOS-3 was heavier than DOS-1/Salyut 1
    • Carried scientific equipment
    • Caused Proton launch vehicle to fail orbital placement
    • DOS-1 orbit: 200 x 222 km; DOS-3 could only reach 155 x 215 km
  2. DOS-3 was first station with ionic sensor
    • Senses orientation of spacecraft in relation to ionosphere via the angle of ion entry into its tube
    • The ionic sensor was deemed unreliable as it (1) detected both ions AND glowing attitude thruster particles and (2) ionic orientation changes per Earth's magnetic field
    • To counter, designers programmed thrusters at lowest level, minimizing efflux
    • this caused orientation maneuvers to take longer, contributing to the orbital fail

3. Weak and confusing chain of command situation; a more streamlined communication protocol would have saved time when attempting to stop the thrusters from staying in the 'on' position (Ivanovich, 2008, pgs. 334 - 339; Portree, 1995, pg 68)

The United States launched SkyLab on May 14, 1973 (Skylab, n.d.)

Salyut 3/Almaz 2

June 24, 1974 - January 24, 1975

Figure 3.

Salyut 3/Almaz

(Portree, 1995)
(Portree, 1995)

Note: From Mir hardware heritage. (No. 19950016829), by Portree, D. S., 1995, Johnson Space Center Reference Series ( NASA content (images, videos, audio, etc) are generally not copyrighted and may be used for educational or informational purposes without needing explicit permissions (NASA Image Use Policy).


  • Priboy water recycling system - condensed atmosphere in station
  • Water pollution, agricultural land, ore-bearing landform, ocean ice studies via Agat camera
  • Film development - 30 mins = shoot, develop, scan, broadcast to Earth
  • Soyuz 14's mission was to test Salyut 3 as a recon satellite, and use exercise equipment to test human effects of weightlessness
    • Unlike past missions, Soyuz 14 cosmonauts climbed out of the spacecraft after returning to Earth without help

Notable Equipment

  • Meteoroid and technogenic bodies (MTB) flux sensor system
  • 23-mm rapid-fire cannon in station's hull; aimed by using sights & maneuvering station
  • 3-foot recovery capsule; could send up to 260 lbs to Earth
  • An EVA (extra-vehicular activity) hatch (first on an Almaz)
  • Sun-tracking solar arrays (not on earlier Salyuts)
  • Agat Earth-observation camera (mainly for military recon; studies mentioned were secondary)
  • Shower
  • Velcro floors

Lessons Learned

  • Soyuz 15's (August 26-28, 1974) Igla system (autonomous docking system) malfunctioned; manual docking failed due to gyroscope issues; power was running low - astronauts reentered two days post-launch. Adjusting Igla was not possible before Salyut 3 fell from orbit.
  • Soyuz 15 had no backup systems


(Portree, 1995, pg. 27; Soyuz 15, n.d.))

Personal Reflection on Research Thus Far...

Though much information has yet to present itself for some of the failed stations, we can see that adjustments were made with each failure and success. Stations gradually improved. Next week, when we move on to Salyut 4 - 7, it will be interesting to compare the progression from Salyut 1.


Haeuplik-Meusburger, S., Paterson, C., Schubert, D., & Zabel, P. (2014). Greenhouses and their humanizing synergies. Acta Astronautica.96, 138–150.

Howell, E. (2016, December 7). Lunokhod 1: 1st successful lunar rover.

Ivanovich, G. S. (2008). Salyut - the first space station: Triumph and tragedy (1st 2008. ed.). New York, NY: Springer New York.

Jordan, G. (Host). (2020, February 21). Early space stations (No. 132) [Podcast Episode Transcript] in Houston We Have a Podcast. NASA.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. (1997). International Space Station, Russian space stations [Fact Sheet]. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA Image Use policy. (n.d.). NASA.

O'Connor, B. & Harkins, W. B. (2010, September). Descent into the void: Soyuz-11 depressurization. NASA.

Portree, D. S. (1995, March 1). Mir hardware heritage. (No. 19950016829). Johnson Space Center Reference Series.

Sagdeev, R., Eisenhower, S., & Logsdon, J. (2008, May 28). United States-Soviet space cooperation during the Cold War. NASA.

Salyut 1. (n.d.). NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Salyut 2. (n.d.). NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Salyut 3. (n.d.). NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Siddiqi, Asif A. (2000). Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974. NASA. SP-2000-4408.

Skylab. (n.d.). NASA Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Smirnov, V. M., Semenov, A. S., Rebrikov, V. N., Kuzim, G. A., Gosniias, & Russian Academy of Sciences. (1999). Results of onboard investigations on meteoroid and technogenic bodies from “Salyut” and “Mir” orbital stations. Space Debris, 1(3), 211-218.

Soyuz 10 (n.d.). Encyclopedia Astronautica.

Soyuz 10. (n.d.b). NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Soyuz 11. (n.d.). NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

Soyuz 15. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Astronautica. NASA.

Uri, J. (2019, June 10). 50 years ago: NASA benefits from Manned Orbital Laboratory cancellation. NASA History.

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