Soyuz T-15

Backup crew

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6850 kg
  • Perigee: 331 km
  • Apogee: 366 km
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 91.5 minutes

Mission highlights

Soyuz T-15 was the first expedition to Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...


Due to the pressure of launching Mir in time for the 27th Communist Party Congress
27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
27th Congress of the CPSU was held in Moscow. It was held after the deaths of Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU...

, mission planners were left without Soyuz spacecraft or modules to launch to the station at first. It was decided to launch Soyuz T-15 on a dual mission to both Mir and 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...


Leonid Kizim
Leonid Kizim
Leonid Denisovich Kizim was a Soviet cosmonaut who was twice named a Hero of the Soviet Union ....

 and Vladimir Solovyov
Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov
Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov is a former Soviet cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union ....

 first docked with the Mir space station on March 15, 1986 after their March 13 launch. During their nearly 51-day stay on Mir, they unloaded two Progress spacecraft, launched after their arrival.

On May 5, 1986 12:12:09 UTC they undocked from Mir for a day long journey to Salyut 7, docking on May 6 16:57:52 UTC. They conducted two EVAs
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

 and collected experiment results, experimental apparatus, and samples of materials. The crew loaded Soyuz T-15 with their personal belongings, plants grown on Mir, and other items in preparation for the trip to Salyut 7, which was about 4000 km ahead of Mir in a lower orbit. On May 4, Mir was lowered by 13 km to speed the approach to Salyut 7 and conserve Soyuz T-15's limited fuel supply for the transfer. Soyuz T-15 separated from Mir when Salyut 7 was 2500 km away. The crossing required 29 hours. They returned to Mir on June 25-26. Mir maneuvered twice June 24-25, raising its orbit slightly and moving closer to Salyut 7. On June 25, Soyuz T-15 undocked from Salyut 7 and began the 29 hour journey back to Mir.

Shortly after arriving at Salyut 7, station commander Vladimir Vasyutin
Vladimir Vasyutin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Vasyutin was a Soviet cosmonaut.He was selected as a cosmonaut on December 1, 1978...

 had fallen ill, and been unable to perform his duties. Most notably, the crew was unable to perform EVAs with implications for the Mir program. On May 28 the crewmembers climbed outside to retrieve space exposure experiments and test the Ferma-Postroital ("girder-constructor") device. A deployment canister converted a folded girder cartridge into a 15-meter girder in only a few minutes. The girder was retracted by reversing the process at the end of the EVA. The EVA lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. The second EVA consisted of girder and welding experiments. On May 31, Kizim and Solovyov attached measurement devices to the top of the retracted girder, then re-extended it with an aim toward studying its rigidity. They then used an electron gun to weld several of the girder's joints. The EVA lasted five hours.

The crew removed 20 instruments with a total mass of 350 to 400 kg from Salyut 7 before returning to Mir. Between August 19 and August 22, engines on Cosmos
Cosmos (satellite)
Kosmos is a designation given to a large number of satellites operated by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. Kosmos 1, the first spacecraft to be given a Kosmos designation, was launched on March 16, 1962....

 1686 boosted Salyut 7 to a record-high mean orbital altitude of 475 km to forestall reentry. Atmospheric drag took its toll, however, and the station reentered over South America 55 months later. Pieces of Salyut 7 and Cosmos 1686 were found in Argentina.

The Soviets intended to dock Soyuz T-15 with Mir's forward port, leaving the aft port free for arriving Progress spacecraft. However, Soyuz T-15, like its Soyuz-T precursors, was equipped with the Igla approach system, not the Kurs system used on Mir's front port. Soyuz T-15 approached Mir from behind. At 20 km Soyuz T-15's Igla system acquired its counterpart on Mir's aft port. At 200 meters, the Igla system was shut off, and the crew manually maneuvered around the station to dock at the front port. They used the same laser range finder used by Soyuz T-13
Soyuz T-13
Soyuz T-13 was a Soyuz mission, a human spaceflight mission transporting personnel to the Russian space station Salyut 7. The eighth expedition to the orbital station, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, atop a Soyuz-U2 carrier rocket, at 06:39:52 UTC on 1985-06-06...

 to dock with the uncooperative Salyut 7 station in 1985.

Soyuz T-15 arrived at Mir with a cargo of 350–400 kg of instruments from Salyut 7. On July 3, Kizim surpassed Valeri Ryumin's record for time spent in space. On July 6, he became the first human to have spent a full year in space. The crew spent their last 20 days on Mir conducting Earth observations.

Soyuz T-15 was the last mission to use the Soyuz-T
The Soyuz-T spacecraft was the third generation Soyuz spacecraft, in service for seven years from 1979 to 1986. The T stood for transport...

 spacecraft, due to its replacement by the Soyuz-TM
The Soyuz-TM crew transports were fourth generation Soyuz spacecraft used for ferry flights to the Mir and ISS space stations...

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