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Almaz OPS
Part of Almaz

Salyut 3 in Shop

Salyut 3 in Shop
Salyut 3 in the shop before launch. Red plastic covers can be seen over the engine nozzles of the station orientation engines in the forward fuselage. The white fairing contains either the deployable whip antennae shown in drawings of the station or a primitive SLAR. The white fairing on the side is part of the cradle holding the station.
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler

Russian manned space station. Vladimir Chelomei's Almaz OPS was the only manned military space station ever actually flown.

AKA: 11F71;Mech;OPS. Status: Operational 1973. First Launch: 1973-04-03. Last Launch: 1976-06-22. Number: 3 . Payload: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb). Thrust: 7.84 kN (1,763 lbf). Gross mass: 17,800 kg (39,200 lb). Unfuelled mass: 16,000 kg (35,000 lb). Specific impulse: 291 s. Height: 14.55 m (47.73 ft). Span: 17.00 m (55.00 ft).

The stations were equipped with an unprecedented array of sensors for 'man-in-the-loop' observation and targeting of mobile ground targets. One was equipped with a space-to-space gun. In the end the station officially proved that manned systems were not a cost-effective method for space reconnaissance and targeting. But the Almaz station provided the basis for the Russian Salyut, Mir, and the International Space Station space station modules.

The initial Almaz program planned in 1965 consisted of two phases. In the first phase, 20 metric ton Almaz APOS space stations, complete with crew and re-entry capsule, would be put in orbit by a single launch of a Proton rocket. In 1966 this plan was revised. The first phase would now consist of single-docking port Almaz OPS stations, visited by crews launched separately aboard 6.5 metric ton Soyuz transport vehicles. In this phase the value of manned space reconnaissance and targeting would be evaluated.

Almaz flights were delayed in 1970 when resources were diverted in a crash program to modify Almaz into the civilian Salyut space station in order to upstage the American Skylab. Almaz first phase flights finally took place in 1973-1977. Four Soyuz crews successfully visited two Almaz stations.

On December 10, 1963, US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced the beginning of studies for a Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) - a military space station. Within the Soviet Union, Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomei's OKB-52 had been authorized in a 1 January 1965 decree to build a similar design - the Almaz APOS. The APOS - Autonomous Piloted Orbital Station - was equipped with a VA re-entry capsule. No dockings would be required in this phase.

On 30 June 1966 Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 145ss 'On approval of the 7K-TK as transport for the Almaz station' was issued. It was decided that the Soyuz-R space station would be canceled, as would the Almaz APOS. In their place the Almaz OPS, a version of the APOS without the VA reentry capsule and with a docking port, would be developed. Almaz was assigned the 11F71 index number previously allocated to the Soyuz-R station, and Kozlov was ordered to hand over to Chelomei all of the work completed in relation to the station. Kozlov's Soyuz 7K-TK ferry was to continue in development to transport crew to the Almaz OPS.

G A Yefremov escorted the Soyuz-R material from Kozlov's Samara plant to Chelomei's TsKBM organization. The documents showed what a complex development was required to achieve the military's requirements. In Samara, work continued with release of the technical documentation of the 7K-TK. However due to delays in the Almaz all work on further development of the 7K-TK was suspended on 28 December 1966. These schedule changes were embodied in Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 104 'On changes in the timeline for the Almaz program and suspension of the 7K-TK'. The revised Almaz Phase A now consisted of launch of three OPS stations without VA re-entry capsules. Three two-month expeditions would be launched to each station aboard 7K-TK transports. Each station of the initial series was to have a life of three to four months.

Two decrees during the course of 1967 reinforced these decisions and set an aggressive schedule of initial flight tests of Almaz-A/Soyuz 7K-TK in 1968 and entry of the system into service in 1969. (these were Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On approval of work on Almaz' was issued on 9 February 1967 and Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On full approval of the Almaz and 7K-TK programs' on 1 June 1967).

On 21 June 1967 the Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On approval of the Almaz draft project' was issued, followed by Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On schedule of work on the Almaz space station' on 14 August. The revised program seemed on track for an early test flight. Almaz program development was overseen by the State Committee for Flight Technology, P Dementiev, Chairman.

Chelomei's revised Almaz draft project was presented to the Fourth Trials Directorate at Baikonur Cosmodrome in January 1968. First launch did not now seem possible until 1969. Chelomei continued to have difficulty maintaining top-level support for Almaz as the project met delay after delay. While Khrushchev was in power, Chelomei was ascendant - Sergei Nikitovich, the Secretary General's son, worked at his firm. But Chelomei was not seen as an experienced politician and had belittled Council of Ministers Deputy Chairman Dmitri Ustinov. When Brezhnev took power, Ustinov became the Communist Party Central Committee Secretary for Defense. Chelomei's influence waned.

The official schedule for Almaz was held until 1969, when it became apparent that delays in subsystems deliveries would rule out any first flight until 1970. The mock-up of Almaz had been completed at Reutov in 1968 while production of station hulls was proceeding at Fili Factory 22. For Chelomei's ex-Myasishchev engineers, designing and building the structure of the station was trivial. However Almaz had a number of ambitious military and guidance systems that were desperately behind schedule. There was the large Agat camera, which was capable of infrared detection, could be controlled by the cosmonauts. Using 'space binoculars' to determine if a target was clear and of interest, the entire array of sensors could be directed toward the target. Parts of the earth covered by cloud were examined using side-looking radar. All of this required high-precision guidance and orientation of the station. The station had to be pointed precisely for the target run while the panels remained oriented to the sun.

Chelomei developed the necessary complex guidance system within his own collective. His design bureau worked with VNIIEM on an electromechanical system of orientation using spherical gimbals and flywheels with great kinetic momentum ('gyrodynes'). These electrically-powered gyrodynes could point the station with great precision without the expenditure of propellant.

Chelomei was also developing the Argon digital computer at the All-Union Institute of Digital Electronic Computer Technology (VNITsEVT). This computer was not in fact launched until 15 years later, for use aboard Mir! All of the technology for the Almaz station was similarly taking much longer than Chelomei expected. Therefore in the course of 1969 station spaceframes were being completed, but systems assembly had not even begun.

Other threats to the project's survival emerged. On 10 June 1969 President Nixon announced cancellation of the USAF MOL military space station program. The original impetus for development of Almaz was eliminated at a stroke. On 3 July 1969 the second Soviet N1 lunar launch vehicle blew up on the pad. 17 days later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, winning for the Americans the moon race. With the collapse of the work on the N1, the whole reason for Mishin's design bureau's existence simply vanished in the air. A new high-priority project was needed.

Korolev had begun development of a Multi-Module Space Base (MKBS) before 1966. However MKBS was to be launched by the N1; as long as this was not available, there would be no MKBS. Almaz on the other hand did not require a new launch vehicle, although the UR-500 was in a period of intense 'baby sickness'. So while TsKBEM was in a period of analysis and instability, Reutov and Fili were building space station for the Ministry of Defense.

On one of these August 1969 days, three TsKBM engineers came to the office of Mishin's deputy, Chertok, with a plan to take an Almaz spaceframe, install Soyuz systems, add a new docking tunnel with a hatch to reach the interior, and presto - a space station was finished. Tentative discussions with potential allies within Chelomei's design bureau found support there as well. The DOS 'long-duration orbiting station' was the result of this 'conspiracy'.

At the end of 1969 Chelomei's Khrunichev factory had built 8 Almaz test stand and two flight articles. A Special Contingent within Chelomei's design bureau was formed at the end of 1968 to conduct crew tests on the ground of the stations in phase one and to make flights to Almaz in the second phase. Three-man crews had already been formed. They would conduct real-time tests on the ground during the flight and advise the flight crew of any problems.

The DOS 'conspiracy' came out in the open on 6 December 1969 at a key meeting of Chief Designers. Afanasyev started with the demand that an Almaz flight take place within less than two years, before the end of the Eighth Five Year Plan. He asked Eydis (Chelomei's representative) to install an Igla passive docking system to permit docking with the station of the existing Soyuz 7K-OK as opposed to the planned 7K-S. If Chelomei's bureau could not meet this requirement, then the 'conspirator's' DOS project could be authorized in its place.

An extensive discussion of the future course of the Soviet manned space program followed. Eydis pleaded that the Almaz program not be infringed upon. If an early station was desired, completion of an Almaz could be started on 1 January. The station would not have any military systems or ECS ready, but could be modified for docking with a 7K-OK. He noted that work on Almaz had been underway since 1965, all based on the requirements of the Ministry of Defense. TsUKOS and the General Staff wanted to conduct research in reconnaissance systems - infrared, wide-spectrum, high resolution, and television transmission. Their objectives went far beyond launch of a simple space station.

Throughout these discussions Afanasyev did not praise or criticize any of the speakers. Obviously he had to formally discuss the matter with Ustinov before any decision could be made. The decisive meeting came on 26 December 1969. Ustinov called the DOS 'conspirators' to Kuibyshev Street. Mishin was sent away to Kslovodsk and Chelomei and Glushko were not invited. No one wanted to listen to any more of Glushko's diatribes about Kuznetsov's engines.

Ustinov supported presentation of the DOS concept to the Central Committee. Chelomei categorically opposed DOS and was trying to kill it through military channels. But the allure of an '18 month' station - one which would not only beat the American Skylab, but be in space in time for the 24th Party Congress - seemed too alluring. Mishin also rejected DOS, but deputies at both design bureaus supported the concept and were eager to proceed.

DOS was therefore created only when the moon project failed. Chelomei was forced to work on DOS, and it severely impacted Almaz schedules. The Salyut name was later applied to both the DOS and Almaz stations, creating the impression in the outside world that they were built by one designer. This deception was a constant weight on the heart of the designers and workers who had to accept the compromise.

The official ministry decrees starting the DOS and reorganizing the Almaz projects were issued in February 1970. The cooperative DOS crash program was to build a civilian space station to beat Skylab into orbit. The civilian station (later named Salyut) would use the Almaz spaceframe fitted out with Soyuz functional equipment. Mishin's OIS military station was canceled and Chelomei's Almaz would continue, but as second priority to the civilian station. The Soyuz 7K-S station ferry, the 7K-ST, would be revised to be a more conservative modification of the Soyuz 7K-OK. The OIS cosmonaut group was to be incorporated into the Almaz group.

The relevant Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 105-41 'On creation of the DOS using Almaz as a basis' was issued on 9 February, followed by Decree 57ss 'On creation of the DOS using Almaz as a basis' on 16 February. The first station was to be completed within a year. On 15 February Ustinov had conferred with the Cabinet. They agreed that work would continue on both the lunar expedition and DOS. A formal declaration from Mishin and Chelomei to work together was required.

On 5 May 1970 Smirnov and Afanasyev settled the future course of manned spaceflight at a DOS project review. Almaz and DOS would continue in the short term, but MKBS would follow in earth orbit. Mishin's attempt to replace Almaz with his DOS-A design was defeated.

In parallel with DOS work Khrunichev started static, vibration, and thermal tests of the Almaz. In the second half of 1971 the first phase station design was changed from three crew to two crew. This was due to a reduction in crew size of the Soyuz 7K-T ferry crew seize after the death of the Soyuz 11 crew.

Design work began on the TKS had actually begun in 1969. To assure reliability all systems were qualification tested on dynamic, static, heat, and flammability test stands. These included complete ECS, docking, rendezvous, and electrical analogue system tests. At Zagorsk test stands were built for the payloads, engine tests, and vacuum trials. At Chkalovsk ECS and thermo-regulation system trial were conducted. Full scale stand was built for testing of the docking system as well as a full scale VA.

The Almaz DU engine unit was based on Polyot technology by Section 08-08, headed by Sergei Vladimirovich Yefimov. Development was very difficult, and when the time came for the first launch the State Commission wouldn't clear the spacecraft for launch because the engine system had not completed its test series at Zagorsk. Only when Chelomei threatened to take the matter to the Politburo was permission granted. The reliability of the system was ultimately proven on Almaz 305, which completed 760,000 engine firings.

The DU was controlled by 30 pressure data sensors and 60 temperature sensors. Dozens of radio commands were required to monitor, close, and open various elements of the system for each firing. Prior to flight the system was subjected to static, vibration, thermal vacuum, cold-soak, and flammability tests. Vibrations tests were conducted of the whole system fueled. These took many months.

In assembly at the factory one tube was incorrectly assembled. Afanasyev and Chelomei went to the factory, and instructed that ten duplicate articles be tested in vibration and fire. These conclusively showed the incorrectly assembled element would not affect the system function. These tests included the first test of the DU in a vacuum chamber, where corrosion problems were studied in detail. Reliability, reliability was the constant refrain. Once it appeared that there was fire aboard the station; but it turned out only to be a sensor failure.

Collaboration of the two chief designers did lead to some agreements, although these were contrary to government decrees. Chelomei was anxious to develop Almaz while Mishin wished to move on with the N1 booster to MKBS and the moon. On 3 February 1972 Mishin and Chelomei sent a joint letter to Afanasyev. They proposed that Almaz would take over the DOS role as a civilian station after the four DOS-1's had been launched. Faced for once with a show of unanimity, Afanasyev rejected the plan. He replied that under no circumstances was Almaz to be used for scientific research. On the other hand, DOS would require substantial rework to be capable of military research. Therefore, the designers were to keep to original plan.

Meanwhile progress toward completion of the first flight Almaz was accelerating. Initial equipment to be qualified were the STR Thermoregulation System and SNIP Pressurization Control System. These had to be tied into the ECS and installed in phase 1 article 4, s/n 64688, as well as the 'docked' 7K-T mock-up. For these trials two cosmonaut crews rotated shifts over a 90 day stand test. This was completed on 21 April 1972.

By June 15, 1972 the first Almaz was reaching a high level of completion and firm flight schedules could be finally be established. These were contained in Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On schedule of work for the Almaz and TKS programs'. On 29 July a Proton rocket failed to place the second DOS station into orbit. Brezhnev then personally selected Almaz for the next space station launch. There was just enough time to beat the scheduled to beat the American Skylab station, scheduled for launch in April 1973. OPS-1 / Salyut 2 was delivered to Baikonur in January 1973. The first ten day flight trials of the first OPS were planned for March 1973.

Equipment delays continued to plague the project. Chelomei wrote a letter to S A Smirnov on 28 September 1972 noting systems that still needed to be delivered:

Chelomei wrote to the Central Committee on 16 October 1972 and listed equipment still undelivered:

On 21 November 1972 Chelomei was notified that launch would be delayed due to aircraft trials of a revised backup parachute system for the Soyuz 7K-T ferry. It was commonly believed that Mishin was intentionally delaying these tests to make Chelomei miss his schedule. The Soyuz 7K-T 11615A-8 differed in detailed equipment from the Soyuz 7K-T 11615 model used to dock with the civilian DOS stations. This included control panels for operation of Almaz electrical systems by remote control from aboard the Soyuz.

Almaz 0101-1 was delivered to Baikonur on 15 December 1972. The flight trials State Commission was established by the decree 888-303 of 27 December 1972 and was headed by Deputy Commander of the RVSN rocket forces, Col-Gen M A Grigoriev. Trials of the OPS were conducted at Chelomei's Area 92-2 (laboratory bunker area), with electrical and integration tests at Area 92-1 (Proton MIK), prior to joining the station to the rocket. The station was also moved to Mishin's MIK KO and MIK at Area 2B and 2 for fitting of the Igla rendezvous equipment, vacuum trials and fit checks with the Soyuz 7K-T. Full-up system tests of Almaz began in January 1973. Fueling of the station were done back at Chelomei's Area 91 at the 91-2 and ZNS 11G141 propellant facilities.

Preparation of Almaz for flight met fully all military requirements for radio maskirovka deception operations. The ground-based analogue OPS , 11F71-100, was readied for use by a parallel crew to mime the flight activities of Salyut 2.

Chelomei was so enraged with Mishin's delays in qualifying the Soyuz and its marginal technical characteristics that he sent a letter to the Soviet leadership on 28 February 1973. In this he complained:

Therefore he recommended that Almaz should be unmanned (!) for Phase I flights until the TKS was available.

Chelomei's recommendations was not taken up, but it appeared that Mishin did respond to pressure on the re-qualification of the Soyuz parachute system. Almaz was ready for launch on 1 March 1973 but planned launches on 5 , 15, and 25 March were scrubbed due to Mishin's Soyuz not being ready.

Almaz 0101-1 finally entered orbit under the cover name Salyut 2 on 3 April 1973. The first 12 days of operation were normal. Two orbital corrections were made, and the Agat camera and ASA-34 topographical/star camera were operated successfully. But before a crew could be launched the station was lost. At 12:30 Moscow time on 14 April the station moved out of tracking range. When it returned at 03:16 telemetry showed the station had de-pressurized. On 16 April at 09:12 radio communications with the station ceased.

At first the station loss was attributed to a short in electrical equipment started a fire in pressure vessel, leading to rupture of hull and de-pressurization. This would be consistent with the fire in Salyut 1. But study of telemetry later showed that the cause was a hole in the nitrogen tank of the engine unit pressurization system. This prevented operation of the low thrust stabilization engines and elevated temperatures in the bay, causing loss of proper radio telemetry, de-pressurization, and then loss of main engines. It was theorized that debris from an explosion of the third stage of the Proton booster may have penetrated the nitrogen tank. Officially it was reported that control was lost on April 25, 1973, and the OPS ceased operations on 29 April.

The same day that communications were lost with Salyut-2 the American Skylab station was rolled out to the pad. It was launched a month later and the Soviet Union lost the chance to conduct the first fully successful space station mission. Salyut 2 decayed from orbit and re-entered on 28 May 1973 in the Pacific Ocean 3000 km east of New Guinea..

Had the station continued in operation, it would have been manned by two crews: Artyukhin and Popovich aboard Soyuz 12 (back-ups Volynov, Zholobov), followed by Demin and Sarafanov (backups Rozhdestvensky and Zudov) aboard Soyuz 13.

Following three successful Skylab missions came the shocking news that Mishin had been authorized to build a new-design fifth DOS station using Almaz facilities. Chelomei wrote a bitter letter to Afanasyev on 28 December 1973. He noted that the K-00534 TTT requirements for Almaz of the Ministry of Defense envisioned a two phase program. Instead his Khrunichev ZIKh factory was hijacked for DOS production. Now it had been further assigned to build DOS-5 for Mishin. Therefore, he concluded that the first phase of Almaz could not be completed. He asked Afanasyev how to resolve this situation.

The second Almaz was launched as Salyut 3 on 25 June 1974. Following the successful Soyuz 14 and unsuccessful Soyuz 15 missions, on 23 September 1974 the station ejected a KSI film return capsule, which was recovered damaged but with the film intact. On 25 January 1975 Salyut 3 fired its maneuvering engines for the last time and braked itself from orbit over the Pacific Ocean.

The station had a planned life of eight months and had the special objective of locating and transmitting to the ground the coordinates of mobile objects at sea and in the air. For this purpose 14 type of photo cameras, and various optical sensors (pointing scope, panoramic viewer, periscope) were carried as well as infrared sensors. Semi-active radar (SAR) was not flown but was planned in the future. Salyut 3 was equipped with the Agat-1 camera, which had a 6.375 m focal length using 3 m folding optics, an OD-4 Vzor pointing scope, POU panoramic camera, as well as topographic and star cameras. In addition its Volga infrared apparatus had a 100 m resolution. The Vzor OD-4 could sight an object at sea, then train all of the sensors on that object. Skylab was visually hunted by the station using the Sokol instrument, demonstrating use of the sensor array in space-to-space warfare and reconnaissance.

Of the 17 orbits per day the station would fly, seven did not pass over the USSR and were useless for communication. To fill the gap two tracking ships were used for Salyut 3. The vessel Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was stationed off Sable Island in the Atlantic, at 51 deg N, which provided 5 to 6 orbit per day coverage. The ship Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was stationed off Cuba, at 21 deg N, and provided coverage on 2 orbits. The result was communications opportunities on every orbit.

On 4 July 1974 Soyuz 14 docked with the Salyut 3 space station after 15 revolutions of the earth and began the first military space station mission. The planned experimental program included manned military reconnaissance of the earth's surface, assessing the fundamental value of such observations, and some supplemental medico-biological research. All objectives were successfully completed and the spacecraft was recovered on July 19, 1974 at 12:21 GMT, landing within 2 km of the aim point 140 km SE Dzhezkazgan. After the crew's return research continued in the development of the on-board systems and the principles of remote control of such a station.

In August 1974 Soyuz 15 was to conduct the second phase of manned operations aboard Salyut 3, but the Igla rendezvous system failed and no docking was made. As Chelomei had complained, Soyuz had no reserves or backup systems for repeated manual docking attempts and had to be recovered after a two-day flight. The state commission found that the Igla docking system of the Soyuz needed serious modification. This could not be completed before Salyut 3 decayed. Therefore the planned Soyuz 16 spacecraft became excess to the program (it was later flown as Soyuz 20 to a civilian Salyut station, even though over its two year rated storage life).

The Salyut 3 KSI film capsule was ejected on 23 September 1974 but suffered damage to the landing sequencer from the hot plasma sheath generated during re-entry. Therefore the heat shield did not separate, nor did the main parachute open. The capsule was deformed by the hard landing but all the film was recoverable.

On 24 January 1975 trials of a special system aboard Salyut-3 were carried out with positive results at ranges from 3000 m to 500 m. These were undoubtedly the reported tests of the on-board 23 mm Nudelman aircraft cannon (other sources say it was a Nudelman NR-30 30 mm gun). Cosmonauts have confirmed that a target satellite was destroyed in the test.

The next day the station was commanded to retrofire to a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. Although only one of three planned crews managed to board the station, that crew did complete the first completely successful Soviet space station flight.

The second successful Almaz phase 1 flight, Salyut 5, was launched on 22 June 1976. It had taken only 60 days and 1450 man-hours to prepare Almaz 0101-2 for flight, using the services of 368 officers and 337 non-commissioned officers. The station operated for 409 days, during which the crews of Soyuz 22 and 24 visited the station. The tracking ships Academician Sergei Korolev and Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin were stationed in the Atlantic and Caribbean to provide communications when out of tracking range of the USSR.

Soyuz 23 was to have docked but its long-distance rendezvous system failed. Soyuz 25 was planned, but the mission would have been incomplete due to low orientation fuel on Salyut 5, so it was canceled. The film capsule was recovered 22 February 1977 (and sold at Sotheby's, New York, on December 11, 1993!). The station was deorbited on 8 August 1977.

Soyuz 21 with Volynov and Zholobov aboard hard-docked with the station on 6 July 1976 after failure of the Igla system at the last stage of rendezvous. Towards end of the two month mission an early return to earth was requested due to the poor condition of flight engineer Zholobov (who was suffering from space sickness and psychological problems). The crew landed in very bad physical and mental condition 200 km SW of Kokchetav on August 25, 1976 at 18:33 GMT. It was determined that they had become emotional, not followed their physical training, and developed an unreasonable desire to return to earth. The possibility also existed that there were toxic gases in the station.

The hard-luck flights continued with Soyuz 23 on 14 October 1976. The ferry spacecraft, with Rozhdestvensky and Zudov aboard, suffered a docking system failure. Sensors indicated an incorrect lateral velocity, causing unnecessary firing of the thrusters during rendezvous. The automatic system was turned off, but no fuel remained for a manual docking by the crew of . The capsule landed in Lake Tengiz in -20 deg C conditions in a snowstorm. The wet parachute filled and dragged the capsule below the surface, cooling the capsule. Heating systems had to be turned in the capsule to conserve battery power. Amphibious vehicles attempted to recover the spacecraft but could not reach it. Finally swimmers managed to attach a cable to a helicopter. The capsule was dragged for kilometers across the icy sea. Only in the morning was the crew able to emerge from the capsule. The recovery crews were surprised they were still alive.

Soyuz 24 brought repair equipment and equipment for a change of cabin atmosphere. This special apparatus was designed to allow the entire station to be vented through the EVA airlock. Because of this the planned EVA was canceled. However analysis after arrival showed no toxins in the air. The crew changed the cabin air anyway, then returned to earth. The mission, although a short 18 days, was characterized as busy and successful mission, accomplishing nearly as much as the earlier Soyuz 21's 50 day mission. The Soyuz was recovered February 25, 1977 9:38 GMT 37 km NE Arkalyk. The KSI film return capsule followed them a day later and was recovered successfully. It was sold at Sotheby's in 1993 and was donated to the US National Air and Space Museum.

As on Salyut 3, during the flight of Salyut 5 a 'parallel crew' was aboard a duplicate station on the ground. They conducted the same operations in support of over 300 astrophysical, geophysical, technological, and medical/biological experiments. Astrophysics studies included an infrared telescope-spectrometer in the 2-15 micrometer range which also obtained solar spectra. Earth resources studies were conducted as well as Kristal, Potok, Diffuziya, Sfera, and Reatsiya technology experiments. Presumably Salyut 5 was equipped with a SAR side-looking radar for reconnaissance of land and sea targets even through cloud cover.

A third crew was to be launched to the station aboard Soyuz 25 but the flight was canceled. It seemed that propellant reserves aboard the station had dipped too low to support another mission; in the opinion of Glushko (Mishin's successor). He therefore refused to ready another Soyuz for the mission. The spacecraft allocated for Soyuz-25 flew as Soyuz 30 to a civilian Salyut station.

This marked the end of Almaz Phase 1 and a state commission reviewed the results. The P-100 antenna demonstrated radio communications and photo television transmission of information to within 4 deg of the horizon (7 deg specification) at ranges of up to 1500 km . Photographic resolution was 15 to 20 lines/mm. The Pechora-1 television imagery transmission system worked well. All communications demonstrated, including: relay of data via Molniya-1 satellite when the station was out of sight of the USSR; automated processing of telemetry; and clear television downlink to the TsUP ground control center and Ostankino tracking center. Stage 1 trials were therefore declared to be successfully completed and decrees 46-13 of 19 January 1976 and 534-165 of 27 July 1996 allowed long-term use of station to proceed. Articles 104 and 105 released for use as production Almaz-2 stations.

However the overall results of the Salyut 3 and 5 flights were said to have demonstrated to the Soviet military that manned reconnaissance was not worth the expense. There was minimal time to operate the equipment after the crew took the necessary time for maintenance of station housekeeping and environmental control systems. The experiments themselves showed good results and especially the value of reconnaissance of the same location in many different spectral bands and parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. However this technology could best be exploited on unmanned satellites.

Crew Size: 2. Orbital Storage: 410 days. Habitable Volume: 100.00 m3. RCS Coarse No x Thrust: 14 x 98 N. RCS Fine No x Thrust: 8 x 10 N. RCS Coarse Backup No x Thrust: 4 x 98 N. RCS Fine Backup No x Thrust: 4 x 10 N. Spacecraft delta v: 300 m/s (980 ft/sec). Electric System: 3.12 average kW.

More at: Salyut-2.

Family: Soviet Space Stations, Space station, Space station orbit. Country: Russia. Engines: RD-0225. Spacecraft: OPS + TKS. Launch Vehicles: Proton, Proton-K. Propellants: N2O4/UDMH. Launch Sites: Baikonur, Baikonur LC81/23. Agency: Chelomei bureau, MOM. Bibliography: 120, 163, 181, 191, 2, 274, 367, 376, 439, 443, 445, 474, 6, 67, 76, 12038.
Photo Gallery

Almaz 1966Almaz 1966

Almaz Phase 2 1966Almaz Phase 2 1966

Almaz modelAlmaz model
Model of Almaz station as flown in Phase 1 at the Chelomei Bureau.
Credit: Andy Salmon

Almaz forward hatchAlmaz forward hatch
Forward view of the Almaz. In the original design, the forward tunnel would have led to the aft hatch of the VA crew return capsule. The station was flown without this capsule, a Soyuz being used to shuttle them to the station and back to earth. In the OPS-2 design this hatch led to a forward airlock, with a second docking collar for either TKS or Soyuz ferries.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz right exteriorAlmaz right exterior
Aft view of the Almaz, showing the propellant tanks and the '11F668' article number on its side. While this number was used for Almaz-T radar satellites, this station, stored at MAI, has the internal systems of the Phase 1 Almaz. It may have been the s/n 100 ground simulator converted to an Almaz-T mock-up.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz right exteriorAlmaz right exterior
Aft view of the Almaz, showing the airlock, ringed by propellant tanks. The KSI capsule ejection airlock juts out below the main docking hatch. A red plastic cover is seen over the engine bell of one of the two RD-0225 main engines. The downlink antenna of the Grafit communications system is on the lower left.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz airlockAlmaz airlock
Side view of Almaz showing transition section globular air lock, with the KSI capsule airlock jutting out at an angle below, while the EVA tunnel extends at an angle to the top.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz forward hatchAlmaz forward hatch
Almaz transition section airlock, with the female docking cone for use with the Soyuz or TKS. At the bottom is the KSI airlock, used to jettison small capsules to return film to earth during the flight. The EVA hatch for spacewalks was located on the ceiling, out of sight.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz right hatchAlmaz right hatch
Almaz forward tunnel. In the original design this led to the hatch in the heat shield of the VA crew return capsule.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Salyut 3 on PadSalyut 3 on Pad
The Salyut 3 station is protected with silver insulation blankets, which will be removed before launch. The large housing containing either the deployable whip antennae or the primitive SLAR is visible on the small-diameter section.
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler

Almaz EVA panelAlmaz EVA panel
The Almaz space stationís instrument panel in the small diameter section for controlling and observing extra-vehicular activity. A television monitor of the Albatros system provides views of the exterior of the station. This was mounted on the opposite wall across from the main control station.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Salyut 3 on PadSalyut 3 on Pad
The Salyut 3 station is protected with silver insulation blankets, which will be removed before launch. The large housing containing either the deployable whip antennae or the primitive SLAR is visible on the small-diameter section.
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler

Almaz camera stationAlmaz camera station
The crew station for the reconnaissance cameras of the Almaz military space station. The eyepiece of the Sokol-1 PKO Circular Observing Periscope is at top, followed by the enormous 340 cm diameter view plate of the POU-11 Panoramic Survey Unit. The operator is looking into the sight of the OD-5 Telescope Optical System. Hand controls for pointing of the cameras and triggering of the cameras are at either side of the OD-5 sight. The panel to the left of the POU-11 display contains typical Soyuz instrumentation: clock, earth globe instrument showing current station position, displays of the Igla docking system, and a multipurpose television monitor of the Albatros external television system. To the operator's left are panels of the BIPS On-board Information Distribution System.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz main consoleAlmaz main console
The main console for operating the Almaz space station, placed to the left of the camera operation console. The familiar instruments found in Soyuz and the civilian Salyut space stations are all present - clockwise from upper left: The Albatros combined video / radar display for rendezvous and docking, and on Almaz, for external views of the station; the clock; the earth globe instrument for displaying position over the earth; the controls for calling up automatic spacecraft command sequences.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz forward panelAlmaz forward panel
Another Almaz control station, located in the station forward of the camera. Purpose unknown.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz main consoleAlmaz main console
Close-up of the main console for operating the station, with the familiar Soyuz-type globe, clock, and external television/radar scope instruments.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Almaz comm panelAlmaz comm panel
Communications console of the BIPS On-board Information Distribution System of the Almaz, including keyboard. This was mounted to the left of the main space station control console, and allowed encrypted teletype communications with the earth as well as burst update of plans and procedures from the ground.
Credit: © Mark Wade

An Almaz station being prepared for flight at the Khrunichev Factory in Moscow.
Credit: Khrunichev

Almaz station engineAlmaz station engine
Almaz station orientation engine.
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler

Salyut 2Salyut 2
Credit: Manufacturer Image

RD-0225 Almaz engineRD-0225 Almaz engine
RD-0225 main propulsion engine for Almaz space station
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler

Almaz cutawayAlmaz cutaway
The Almaz military station was first successfully launched into space as Salyut 3 in June 1974. The one meter diameter 'Agat' telescope could photograph airfields and missile complexes. There were also infrared and topographical cameras. A Nudelman cannon provided an active defence system in the event of an attack by an Apollo spacecraft. The Soviet military, based on the results of the Salyut 3 and 5 Almaz flights, lost interest in manned military space stations.
Credit: Videokosmos

Almaz - SoyuzAlmaz - Soyuz
Almaz - configuration as flown on Salyut 3 / Salyut 5 with Soyuz ferry craft.
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr

Almaz - configuration as flown on Salyut 3 / Salyut 5.
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr

The Almaz station as flown during Phase 1 of the programme (Salyut 3 and 5).
Credit: Khrunichev

Almaz 3Almaz 3
Rare drawing of Salyut 3 Almaz space station. From left to right, docking port surrounded by manoeuvre engines and solar panels; main station body; forward ring with orientation engines.
Credit: Dmitry Pieson

1966 March 30 - .
1966 September 2 - .
1966 September 7 - .
1966 October 13 - .
1966 December 28 - . Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
1966 December 28 - .
1967 January 5 - .
1967 February 9 - .
1967 June 1 - .
1967 June 21 - .
1967 July 31 - .
1967 August 14 - .
1967 September 11 - .
1967 September 13 - .
1967 November 30 - .
1967 December 8 - .
1968 January 27 - .
1968 February 8 - .
1968 March 7 - .
1968 December 26 - .
1969 March 20 - . Launch Vehicle: N1.
1969 May 10 - .
1969 August 1 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K/D.
1969 October 19 - .
1969 December 1 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1969 December 6 - .
1969 December 26 - . Launch Vehicle: N1.
1970 January 19 - .
1970 February 1 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1970 February 9 - .
1970 February 16 - .
1970 February 18 - .
1970 February 26 - .
1970 February 27 - .
1970 February 28 - .
1970 August 7 - .
1970 September 23 - .
1970 October 6 - .
1970 October 28 - .
1970 November 17 - .
1970 November 27 - .
1970 December 2 - .
1970 December 9 - .
1970 December 17 - .
1970 December 30 - .
1971 January 9 - .
1971 January 20 - .
1971 February 27 - .
1971 March 6 - .
1971 April 15 - . Launch Vehicle: N1.
1971 May 6 - .
1971 June 1 - . Launch Vehicle: N1.
1971 June 16 - .
1972 June 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1972 December 31 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1973 April 3 - . 09:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC81/23. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1974 June 24 - . 22:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC81/23. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1976 January 19 - .
1976 June 22 - . 18:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC81/23. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
1977 August 8 - .

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