Soyuz 17
Soyuz 17 was the first of two long-duration missions to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Salyut 4
Salyut 4
Salyut 4 was a Salyut space station launched on December 26, 1974 into an orbit with an apogee of 355 km, a perigee of 343 km and an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees. It was essentially a copy of the DOS 3, and unlike its ill-fated sibling it was a complete success...

 space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 in 1975. The flight set a Soviet mission-duration record of 29 days, surpassing the 23-day record set by the ill-fated Soyuz 11
Soyuz 11
Soyuz 11 was the first manned mission to arrive at the world's first space station, Salyut 1. The mission arrived at the space station on June 7, 1971 and departed on June 30, 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the...

 crew aboard Salyut 1
Salyut 1
Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days...

 in 1971.


Backup crew

Reserve crew

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6800 kg (14,991.4 lb)
  • Perigee: 185 km (115 mi)
  • Apogee: 249 km (154.7 mi)
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 88.8 min

Mission highlights

Salyut 4 was launched 26 December 1974, and Soyuz 17, with cosmonauts Georgi Grechko
Georgi Grechko
Georgy Mikhaylovich Grechko is a retired Soviet cosmonaut who flew on several space flights among which Soyuz 17, Soyuz 26, and Soyuz T-14.Grechko graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Mechanics with a doctorate in mathematics. He was a member of Communist Party of Soviet Union...

 and Aleksei Gubarev
Aleksei Gubarev
Aleksei Aleksandrovich Gubarev was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on two space flights: Soyuz 17 and Soyuz 28.Gubarev graduated from the Soviet Naval Aviation School in 1952 and went on to serve with the Soviet Air Force...

 as its first crew, was launched 16 days later on 10 January 1975. Gubarev manually docked Soyuz 17 to the station on 12 January, and upon entering the new station he and Grechko found a note from its builders which said, "Wipe your feet!"

Salyut 4 was in an unusually high circular orbit of 350 km (217.5 mi) when Soyuz
Soyuz spacecraft
Soyuz , Union) is a series of spacecraft initially designed for the Soviet space programme by the Korolyov Design Bureau in the 1960s, and still in service today...

 17 docked with the station. Salyut designer Konstantin Feoktistov
Konstantin Feoktistov
Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov was a Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer. Feoktistov also wrote several books on space technology and exploration...

 said this was to ensure propellant consumption would be half of what was needed for lower-altitude Salyuts.

The crew worked between 15 and 20 hours a day, including their 2 hour exercise period. One of their activities included testing communication equipment for tracking ships and contacting mission control via a Molniya
Molniya may refer to:* The Molniya , the Soviet military communications satellite.* Molniya orbit, distinctive orbit associated with the satellite....


Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 was a major component of the mission, with the station's solar telescope
Solar telescope
A solar telescope is a special purpose telescope used to observe the Sun. Solar telescopes usually detect light with wavelengths in, or not far outside, the visible spectrum.-Professional solar telescopes:...

  activated on 16 January. The crew later discovered that the main mirror of the telescope had been ruined by direct exposure to sunlight when the pointing system failed. They resurfaced the mirror on 3 February and worked out a way of pointing the telescope using a stethoscope, stopwatch, and the noises the moving mirror made in its casing.

On 14 January, a ventilation hose was set up from Salyut 4 to keep the Soyuz ventilated while its systems were shut down. On 19 January it was announced that ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

 sensors were being used to orient the station, a system described as being more efficient.

A new teleprinter
A teleprinter is a electromechanical typewriter that can be used to communicate typed messages from point to point and point to multipoint over a variety of communication channels that range from a simple electrical connection, such as a pair of wires, to the use of radio and microwave as the...

 was used for communications from the ground crew, freeing the Salyut crew from constant interruptions during their work.

The cosmonauts began powering down the station on 7 February and they returned to Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in the Soyuz capsule two days later. They safely landed near Tselinograd in a snowstorm with winds of 72 km/h and wore gravity suits to ease the effects of re-adaptation.
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