Salyut 1

Salyut 1 (DOS-1) (Салют-1; English translation: Salute 1) was the first space station of any kind, and the first Soviet space station. It was launched on April 19, 1971. Its first crew launched in Soyuz 10 but was unable to board it due to a failure in the docking mechanism; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 productive days. However, a pressure-equalization valve in the Soyuz 11 reentry capsule opened prematurely when the crew returned to Earth, killing all three. Salyut 1 re-entered Earth's atmosphere on October 11, 1971.


At launch, the announced purpose of Salyut was to test the elements of the systems of a space station and to conduct scientific research and experiments. The craft was described as being 20 m in length, 4 m in maximum diameter, and 99 m³ in interior space with an on-orbit dry mass of 18,425 kg. Of its several compartments, three were pressurized (100 m³ total), and two could be entered by the crew.

Transfer compartment

The first, or transfer, compartment was connected directly with Soyuz 11. Its docking cone had a 2 m front end diameter and a 3 m aft end diameter.

Main compartment

The second, and main, compartment was about 4 m in diameter. Televised views showed enough space for eight big chairs (seven at work consoles), several control panels, and 20 portholes (some unobstructed by instruments).

Auxiliary compartment

The third pressurized compartment contained the control and communications equipment, the power supply, the life support system, and other auxiliary equipment. The fourth, and final, compartment (unpressurized) was about 2 m in diameter and contained the engine installations and associated control equipment. Salyut had buffer chemical batteries, reserve supplies of oxygen and water, and regeneration systems. Externally mounted were two double sets of solar cell panels that extended like wings from the smaller compartments at each end, the heat regulation system's radiators, and orientation and control devices.

Salyut 1 was modified from one of the Almaz airframes. The unpressurized service module was the modified service module of a Soyuz craft.

Orion 1 Space Observatory

The astrophysical Orion 1 Space Observatory designed by Grigor Gurzadyan of Byurakan Observatory in Armenia, was installed in Salyut 1. Ultraviolet spectrograms of stars were obtained with the help of a mirror telescope of the Mersenne system and a spectrograph of the Wadsworth system using film sensitive to the far ultraviolet. The dispersion of the spectrograph was 32 Å/mm (3.2 nm/mm), while the resolution of the spectrograms derived was about 5 Å at 2600 Å (0.5 nm at 260 nm). Slitless spectrograms were obtained of the stars Vega and Beta Centauri between 2000 and 3800 Å (200 and 380 nm). The telescope was operated by crew member Viktor Patsayev, who became the first man to operate a telescope outside the Earth’s atmosphere.


  • Length - 15.8 m
  • Maximum diameter - 4.15 m
  • Habitable volume - 90 m³
  • Mass at launch - 18,900 kg
  • Launch vehicle - Proton (three-stage)
  • Span across solar arrays - about 10 m
  • Area of solar arrays - 28 m²
  • Number of solar arrays - 4
  • Resupply carriers - Salyut 1-type Soyuz
  • Number of docking ports - 1
  • Total manned missions - 2
  • Total long-duration manned missions - 1

Visiting spacecraft and crews

Soyuz 10

After taking 24 h for rendezvous and approach, Soyuz 10 docked with Salyut on April 23 and remained docked for 5.5 h. The crew did not transfer to the space station

Expedition Crew Launch Date Flight Up Landing Date Flight Down Duration (Days) Notes
Soyuz 10

Vladimir Shatalov, Aleksei Yeliseyev and Nikolai Rukavishnikov

April 23, 1971

Soyuz 10

April 25, 1971

Soyuz 10

0 Failed docking

Soyuz 11

Soyuz 11 required 3 h 19 min on June 7 to complete docking. The crew transferred to Salyut and their mission was announced as:

  • Checking the design, units, onboard systems, and equipment of the orbital piloted station
  • Testing the station's manual and autonomous procedures for orientation and navigation, as well as the control systems for maneuvering the space complex in orbit
  • Studying Earth's surface geology and geography, meteorology, and snow and ice cover
  • Studying physical characteristics, processes, and phenomena in the atmosphere and outer space in various regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and
  • Conducting medico-biological studies to determine the feasibility of having cosmonauts in the station perform various tasks, and studying the influence of space flight on the human organism.

On June 29, after flying 362 orbits docked with Salyut, the mission was cut short due to problems aboard the station, including an electrical fire. The crew transferred back to Soyuz 11 and reentered the Earth's atmosphere. The crew, however, was killed on descent due to a loss of cabin atmosphere and the circumstance that they were not wearing pressure suits; after this pressure suits were worn during launch, docking maneuvers and reentry.

Expedition Crew Launch Date Flight Up Landing Date Flight Down Duration (Days) Notes
Soyuz 11

Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev, Vladislav Volkov

June 6, 1971 04:55:09 UTC

Soyuz 11

June 29, 1971 23:16:52 UTC

Soyuz 11

23.77 Crew died on reentry


Salyut 1 was moved to a higher orbit in July and August 1971 to ensure that it would not be destroyed prematurely through orbital decay. On October 11, Salyut 1 fired its engines for the last time to lower its orbit and ensure prompt reentry over the Pacific Ocean. After 175 days in space, the first real space station came to an end. Pravda (October 26, 1971) reported that 75 percent of Salyut 1's studies were carried out by optical means and 20 percent by radio-technical means, while the remainder involved magneto-metrical, gravitational, or other measurements. Synoptic readings were taken in both the visible and invisible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

See also


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