Soyuz T-13
Soyuz T-13 was a Soyuz
Soyuz programme
The Soyuz programme is a human spaceflight programme that was initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, originally part of a Moon landing project intended to put a Soviet cosmonaut on the Moon...

 mission, a human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 mission transporting personnel to the Russian space station Salyut 7
Salyut 7
Salyut 7 was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was first manned in May 1982 with two crew via Soyuz T-5, and last visited in June 1986, by Soyuz T-15. Various crew and modules were used over its lifetime, including a total of 12 manned and 15 unmanned launches...

. The eighth expedition to the orbital station, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

, atop a Soyuz-U2 carrier rocket
The Soyuz-U2 was a Soviet, later Russian, carrier rocket. It was derived from the Soyuz-U, and a member of the R-7 family of rockets...

, at 06:39:52 UTC on 1985-06-06. It is of note because it marked the first time a spacecraft had docked with a 'dead' space station, and the first time such a station had been returned to operational status following repairs.


Backup crew

Mission highlights

Soyuz T-13 was the 8th expedition to Salyut 7
Salyut 7
Salyut 7 was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was first manned in May 1982 with two crew via Soyuz T-5, and last visited in June 1986, by Soyuz T-15. Various crew and modules were used over its lifetime, including a total of 12 manned and 15 unmanned launches...


Vladimir Dzhanibekov could have had no notion that he would so soon visit Salyut 7 after his Soyuz T-12
Soyuz T-12
Soyuz T-12 was the seventh manned spaceflight to the Soviet space station Salyut 7. The name "Soyuz T-12" is also the name of the spacecraft used to launch and land the mission's three person crew. The mission occurred in July 1984, during the long-duration expedition Salyut 7 EO-3...

 flight. Soyuz T-13 was the first Soyuz to dock manually with an inert Salyut. For the purpose it was slightly modified to include control levers in the descent module for proximity operations. Viktor Savinykh and Vladimir Dzhanibekov salvaged the Salyut 7 station, which had been crippled by a solar array problem. Savinykh remained aloft for 169 days, returning to Earth in Soyuz T-14; Dzhanibekov returned to Earth in Soyuz T-13 with Grechko after spending 110 days on Salyut 7. Before deorbiting, Soyuz T-13 spent about 30 h conducting rendezvous and docking tests.

The effort turned out to be one of the most impressive feats of in-space repairs in history. As the Pamirs approached the inert station, they saw that its solar arrays were pointing randomly as it rolled slowly about its long axis. They used a handheld laser rangefinder to judge their distance, and conducted a fly-around inspection to be certain the exterior was intact. Dzhanibekov noted that the thermal blanket
Thermal blanket
A thermal blanket is a device used in in-situ thermal desorption to clean large area soil contamination. The primary function of a thermal blanket is to heat the soil to the boiling point of the contaminants . The contaminants break down...

s on the transfer compartment had turned a dull gray from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Upon achieving hard dock—the first time a Soyuz docked with an inactive station—the crew confirmed through the electrical connectors in the docking collars that the Salyut 7 electrical system was dead. They carefully sampled the air in the station before opening the hatch. The station air was very cold, but breathable. Frost covered the walls and apparatus. The cosmonauts wore winter garb, including fur-lined hats, as they entered the station. The first order of business was to restore electric power. Of the eight batteries, all were dead, and two were destroyed. Dzhanibekov determined that a sensor had failed in the solar array pointing system, preventing the batteries from recharging. A telemetry
Telemetry is a technology that allows measurements to be made at a distance, usually via radio wave transmission and reception of the information. The word is derived from Greek roots: tele = remote, and metron = measure...

 radio problem prevented the TsUP from detecting the problem. Salyut 7 had quickly run down its batteries, shutting down all its systems and accounting for the break in radio contact. The cosmonauts set about recharging the batteries. They used Soyuz T-13 to turn the station to put its solar arrays in sunlight. On June 10 they turned on the air heaters. The cosmonauts relied on the Soyuz T-13 air regeneration system until they could get the Salyut 7 system back in order. On June 13 the attitude control system
Attitude control system
In spaceflight, the attitude control system or attitude determination and control system of a spacecraft consists of equipment to measure, report and change the orientation of the vehicle.- Components :...

 was successfully reactivated. This was cause for jubilation, as it meant a Progress bearing replacement parts could dock with Salyut 7. Wall heaters were turned on only after all the frost had evaporated, in order to prevent water from entering equipment. Normal atmospheric humidity was achieved only at the end of July. The station’s water tanks thawed by the end of June. Freezing destroyed the water heater, so the cosmonauts used a powerful television light to heat fluids.

Further reading

  • Vladimir Dzhanibekov
    Vladimir Dzhanibekov
    Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dzhanibekov is a former cosmonaut who made five flights.He was born in the remote area of Iskandar in Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan. He changed his surname from Krysin when he married to honor his wife's family, which was noble kin of the descendants of the medieval Kazakh...

    , "Soviets In Space - Are They Ahead?", National Geographic, pp. 430–433, 1986 October.
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