Soyuz 11

Summary

Soyuz 11
The Soviet Union 1971 CPA 4060 stamp (Cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev).png
Soyuz 11 on a 1971 commemorative stamp of Soviet Union
Mission typeDock with Salyut 1
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1971-053A
SATCAT no.05283
Mission duration23 days 18 hours 21 minutes 43 seconds
Orbits completed383
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSoyuz 7K-OKS No.2
Spacecraft typeSoyuz 7K-OKS
ManufacturerExperimental Design Bureau (OKB-1)
Launch mass6565 kg [1]
Landing mass1200 kg
Crew
Crew size3
MembersGeorgy Dobrovolsky
Vladislav Volkov
Viktor Patsayev
CallsignЯнтарь (Yantar – "Amber")
Start of mission
Launch date6 June 1971, 04:55:09 GMT
RocketSoyuz
Launch siteBaikonur, Site 1/5 [2]
End of mission
Landing date29 June 1971, 23:16:52 GMT
Landing site90 km at the southwest of Karazhal, Karaganda Region, Kazakhstan
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit [3]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude185.0 km
Apogee altitude217.0 km
Inclination51.6°
Period88.3 minutes
Docking with Salyut 1
Docking date7 June 1971
Undocking date29 June 1971, 18:28 GMT [1]
Time docked22 days
Zvezda Rocket Patch.svg
Zvezda Rocket
Soyuz 11 crew.jpg
(l-r) Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev 

Soyuz 11 (Russian: Союз 11, Union 11) was the only crewed mission to board the world's first space station, Salyut 1 (Soyuz 10 had soft-docked but had not been able to enter due to latching problems).[4] The crew, Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev,[5][6][7] arrived at the space station on 7 June 1971 and departed on 29 June 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurised during preparations for reentry, killing the three-man crew.[8] The three crew members of Soyuz 11 are the first humans known to have died in space.[9][10]

Crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Georgy Dobrovolsky
Only spaceflight
Flight Engineer Vladislav Volkov
Second spaceflight
Research Engineer [1] Viktor Patsayev
Only spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Aleksei Gubarev
Flight Engineer Vitaly Sevastyanov
Research Engineer Anatoly Voronov

Original crew

Position Cosmonaut
Commander Alexei Leonov
Flight Engineer Valeri Kubasov
Research Engineer Pyotr Kolodin

Crew notes

The original prime crew for Soyuz 11 consisted of Alexei Leonov, Valeri Kubasov and Pyotr Kolodin. A medical X-ray examination four days before launch suggested that Kubasov might have tuberculosis, and according to the mission rules, the prime crew was replaced with the backup crew.[11] For Dobrovolski and Patsayev, this was to be their first space mission. After the failure of Salyut 2 to orbit, Kubasov and Leonov were reassigned to Soyuz 19 for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.[citation needed]

Mission

The callsign Yantar (amber) was used. The Soyuz 7K-OKS spacecraft was launched on 6 June 1971, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Several months earlier, the first mission to the Salyut, Soyuz 10, had failed to successfully dock with the station.[12] During the first day of the flight, maneuvers were made to effect a rendezvous with the unmanned Salyut (1971-032A). When Soyuz 11 was 6 to 7 km from Salyut, automatic devices took over and in 24 minutes closed the gap between the two ships to 9 m and reduced the relative speed difference to 0.2 m/s. Control of the ships went from automatic back to manual at 100 m. Docking took 3 hours 19 minutes to complete and involved making the connection mechanically rigid, engaging various electrical and hydraulic links, and establishing air-tight seals before locks could be opened. When the pressure was equalized between the ships, the locks were opened and all three members of the crew passed into Salyut 1.[1] Soyuz 11 successfully docked with Salyut 1 on 7 June 1971 and the cosmonauts remained on board for 22 days, setting space endurance records that would hold until the American Skylab 2 mission in May–June 1973.[8]

Upon first entering the station, the crew encountered a smoky and burnt atmosphere and after replacing part of the ventilation system spent the next day back in their Soyuz until the air cleared. Their stay in Salyut was productive, including live television broadcasts. A fire broke out on day 11 of their stay, causing mission planners to consider abandoning the station. The planned highlight of the mission was to have been the observation of an N1 rocket launch, but the launch was postponed. The crew also found that using the exercise treadmill as they were required to twice a day caused the whole station to vibrate. Pravda released news of the mission and regular updates while it was in progress.[citation needed]

On 29 June 1971, the crew loaded scientific specimens, films, tapes, and other gear into Soyuz 11, then transferred manual control back from Salyut 1 to Soyuz 11 and returned to their ferry craft. Undocking occurred at 18:28 GMT. Soyuz 11 flew co-orbit for a while and retrofired at 22:35 GMT. The work compartment and service module were routinely cast off prior to entering the dense atmosphere. Radio communications abruptly ended at the moment of separating the work compartment (about 22:47 GMT), before the normal ionospheric blackout. Automatic systems landed the craft safely at 23:16:52 GMT. The total flight duration of the crew was 570.22 hours and involved 383 orbits -- 18 prior to docking, 362 docked, and 3 after undocking. On reaching the landing site and opening the hatch, the helicopter rescue crew discovered all three men dead in their seats. The official investigation results showed that the men died of pulmonary embolisms when the imperfect seal of the hatch between their command module and work compartment permitted the air supply to evacuate in the seconds after the two crafts separated.[1]

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6,565 kg (14,473 lb) [13]
  • Perigee: 185.0 km (115.0 mi) [3]
  • Apogee: 217.0 km (134.8 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 88.3 minutes

Death of crew

On 29 June 1971, after an apparently normal reentry of the capsule of the Soyuz 11 mission, the recovery team opened the capsule to find the crew dead.[8][14][15]

Kerim Kerimov, chair of the State Commission, recalled: "Outwardly, there was no damage whatsoever. They knocked on the side, but there was no response from within. On opening the hatch, they found all three men in their couches, motionless, with dark-blue patches on their faces and trails of blood from their noses and ears. They removed them from the descent module. Dobrovolsky was still warm. The doctors gave artificial respiration. Based on their reports, the cause of death was suffocation".[16]

It quickly became apparent that they had asphyxiated. The fault was traced to a breathing ventilation valve, located between the orbital module and the descent module, that had been jolted open as the descent module separated from the service module, 12 minutes and 3 seconds after retrofire.[17][18] The two modules were held together by explosive bolts designed to fire sequentially; in fact, they had fired simultaneously.[17] The explosive force of the simultaneous bolt firing caused the internal mechanism of the pressure equalisation valve to loosen a seal that was usually discarded later and which normally allowed for automatic adjustment of the cabin pressure.[17] The valve opened at an altitude of 168 km (104 mi), and the resultant loss of pressure was fatal within seconds.[17][19] The valve was located beneath the seats and was impossible to find and block before the air was lost. Flight recorder data from the single cosmonaut outfitted with biomedical sensors showed cardiac arrest occurred within 40 seconds of pressure loss. By 15 minutes, 35 seconds after retrofire, the cabin pressure was zero, and remained there until the capsule entered the Earth's atmosphere.[17] Patsayev's body was found positioned near the valve, and he may have been attempting to close or block the valve at the time he lost consciousness. An extensive investigation was conducted to study all components and systems of Soyuz 11 that could have caused the accident, although doctors quickly concluded that the cosmonauts had died of asphyxiation.[17] Examination of the descent module showed that it was in excellent condition and there was no damage to it in the forms of cracks or ruptures of the hull.

The autopsies took place at Burdenko Military Hospital and found that the cause of death proper for the cosmonauts was hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the brain, with lesser amounts of bleeding under their skin, in the inner ear, and in the nasal cavity, all of which occurred as exposure to a vacuum environment caused the oxygen and nitrogen in their bloodstreams to bubble and rupture vessels. Their blood was also found to contain heavy concentrations of lactic acid, a sign of extreme physiologic stress. Although they could have remained conscious for almost 40 seconds after decompression began, less than 20 seconds would have passed before the effects of oxygen starvation made it impossible for them to function.[16]

Alexei Leonov, who would have originally commanded Soyuz 11, had advised the cosmonauts before the flight that they should manually close the valves between the orbital and descent modules as he did not trust them to shut automatically, a procedure he thought up during extensive time in the Soyuz simulator. However, Dobrovolsky, Volkov, and Patsayev either chose to disregard his warnings or else forgot about them during the lengthy mission. After the flight, Leonov went back and tried closing one of the valves himself and found that it took nearly a minute to do, too long in an emergency situation with the spacecraft's atmosphere escaping fast.[16]

The Soviet state media attempted to downplay the tragic end of the mission and instead emphasized its accomplishments during the crew's stay aboard Salyut 1. Since they did not publicly announce the exact cause of the cosmonauts' deaths for almost two years afterwards, United States space planners were extremely worried about the upcoming Skylab program, as they could not be certain whether prolonged time in a micro-g environment had turned out to be fatal. However, NASA doctor Charles Berry maintained a firm conviction that the cosmonauts could not have died from spending too many weeks in weightlessness. Until the Soviets finally disclosed what had really happened, Dr. Berry theorised that the crew had died from inhaling toxic substances.[16]

A film that was later declassified showed support crews attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the cosmonauts.[20][21] It was not known until an autopsy that they had died because of a capsule depressurisation. The ground crew had lost audio contact with the crew before reentry began and had already begun preparations for contingencies in case the crew had been lost.[5]

The cosmonauts were given a large state funeral and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis at Red Square, Moscow near the remains of Yuri Gagarin.[8] United States astronaut Tom Stafford was one of the pallbearers. They were also each posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal.[16]

United States president Richard Nixon issued an official statement following the accident:[14]

The American people join in expressing to you and the Soviet people our deepest sympathy on the tragic deaths of the three Soviet cosmonauts. The whole world followed the exploits of these courageous explorers of the unknown and shares the anguish of their tragedy. But the achievements of cosmonauts Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsayev remain. It will, I am sure, prove to have contributed greatly to the further achievements of the Soviet program for the exploration of space and thus to the widening of man's horizons.

The Soyuz spacecraft was extensively redesigned after this incident to carry only two cosmonauts. The extra room meant that the crew could wear Sokol space suits during launch and landing. The Sokol was a lightweight pressure suit intended for emergency use; updated versions of the suit remain in use to the present day.[16] A Soyuz capsule would not hold three crew members again until the Soyuz-T redesign in 1980, which freed enough space for three people in lightweight pressure suits to travel in the capsule.

Memorials

The Soyuz 11 landing coordinates are 47°21′24″N 70°07′17″E / 47.35663°N 70.12142°E / 47.35663; 70.12142 which is 90 kilometres (49 nmi) southwest of Karazhal, Karagandy, Kazakhstan and about 550 kilometres (297 nmi) northeast of Baikonur. At the site was placed a memorial monument in the form of a three-sided metallic column, with the engraved image of the face of each crew member set into a stylized triangle on each of the three sides near the top. The memorial is in open, flat country, far from any populated area, within a small, circular fence.[22] In 2012, the memorial was found to have been vandalized beyond repair, with only the base of the metallic column remaining and any roads leading to it overgrown.[23] However, in 2013, Russian space agency Roscosmos restored the site with a redesigned monument, reflecting the three-sided form of the original but this time constructed from brick. Also placed at the site was a sign explaining the history of the location and the fate of the original monument.[24]

Craters on the Moon were named after the three cosmonauts: Dobrovol'skiy, Volkov, and Patsaev. The names of the three cosmonauts are included on the Fallen Astronaut commemorative plaque placed on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission in August 1971. To honor the loss of the Soyuz 11 crew, a group of hills on Pluto is also named Soyuz Colles.

In the city of Penza, Russia, near the school-gymnasium No.39, in honor of the dead astronauts, a memorial stele was made with quotes from the poem by the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko "Between our Motherland and you is a two-way eternal connection" (Russian version: "Между Родиной нашей и вами — двусторонняя вечная связь")[25]

A series of postage stamps of Ajman[26] and Bulgaria[27] were issued in memory of the cosmonauts in 1971.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Display: Soyuz 11 1971-053A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Baikonur LC1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Trajectory: Soyuz 11 1971-053A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Mir Hardware Heritage/Part 1- Soyuz (wikisource) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Mir_Hardware_Heritage/Part_1_-_Soyuz#1.7.3_Salyut_1-Type_Soyuz_Mission_Descriptions
  5. ^ a b Encyclopedia Astronautica (2007). "Soyuz 11". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  6. ^ Mamta Trivedi (2001). "30 Years Ago: The World's First Space Station, Salyut 1". Space.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2001. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  7. ^ "After glory era, cash woes hobble Russian space program". CNN. 1997. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d "Triumph and Tragedy of Soyuz 11". Time (magazine). 12 July 1971. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  9. ^ STS107 had re-entered the atmosphere when its accident occurred
  10. ^ "Space disasters and near misses". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  11. ^ Chertok, Boris (2011). "The Hot Summer of 1971". In Siddiqui, Asif (ed.). Rockets and People, Volume 4: The Moon Race (PDF). NASA. p. 361. ISBN 9780160895593. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2016. Alt URL This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ "A Troubled Salyut". Time Magazine. 10 May 1971. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  13. ^ "Display: Soyuz 11 1971-053A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ a b "Soyuz 11: Triumph and Tragedy". NASA. 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2013. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ "Deadly accidents in the history of space exploration". USA Today. 1 February 2003. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Ben Evans (24 April 2013). "The Crew That Never Came Home: The Misfortunes of Soyuz 11". Space Safety Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d e f "The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project". NASA. 1974. Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  18. ^ "The crew of Soyuz 11". NASA. Retrieved 20 October 2007. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. ^ "A brief history of space accidents". Jane's Information Group. 2003. Archived from the original on 5 October 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  20. ^ "Soyuz 11 CPR". youtube.com. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  21. ^ This footage was shown during the 1994 TV adaptation of the documentary Moon Shot by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.
  22. ^ "Google Maps – Soyuz 11 Landing Site – Monument Photo closeup". Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  23. ^ "О ПАМЯТНИКЕ КОСМОНАВТАМ" [About The Cosmonaut Monument]. valera-curkan.livejournal.com. 5 May 2012.
  24. ^ "ЦПК. В КАЗАХСТАНЕ ОТКРЫТ ВОССТАНОВЛЕННЫЙ ПАМЯТНИК ЭКИПАЖУ КОРАБЛЯ «СОЮЗ-11»" [In Kazakhstan a restored monument was opened in remembrance of the crew of Soyuz-11]. Roscosmos. 7 July 2016.
  25. ^ Svobodnaya Pressa: "They were just 8 seconds short..." Retrieved 23 December 2019
  26. ^ Aljman stamps, Soyuz 11 - Cosmonaut Casualties 1972 Retrieved 23 December 2019
  27. ^ "Bulgaria: Stamps (Series: Death of Soviet Cosmonauts 1971". colnect.com. Retrieved 23 December 2019.

Further reading

  • Colin Burgess (author); Doolan, Kate; Vis, Bert (2003). Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-6212-4.
  • Ivanovich, Grujica S. (February 2008). Salyut – The First Space Station: Triumph and Tragedy. Praxis. pp. 300 pages. ISBN 0-387-73585-2.
  • United States Congress: Office of Technology Assessment (30 March 2005). Salyut: Soviet Steps Toward Permanent Human Presence in Space – A Technical Memorandum. Seattle: University Press of the Pacific. pp. 80 pages. ISBN 1-4102-2138-5.

See also

External links

  • Mir Hardware Heritage – 1.7.3 (wikisource)

Coordinates: 47°20′N 70°24′E / 47.333°N 70.400°E / 47.333; 70.400