Today, there are only two space stations in use, the Tiangong space station (TSS) and the International Space Station ISS, operating with the mission of sending humans to space. However, few people know that the first space house of mankind is the space station “Salyut-1” launched by the Soviet Union into orbit in 1971.

Station Salyut-1 was built from another space station

Initially, the first space station that needed to be launched into orbit was another station. This station was built not for scientific research, but for military purposes with the name “Almaz” (“Diamond”). This project was the Soviet response to NASA’s orbiting station “Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL)” whose main mission was reconnaissance.

The station is equipped with cameras, radio engineering reconnaissance and other similar operations. However, the MOL project was canceled in 1969, and the “Almaz” station encountered a series of technical problems. At this time, a more possible solution is proposed, that is, on the basis of the “Almaz” station, it is possible to build another station with large scientific tasks.

The Great Mission: To Be Man’s First Space Station

Station “Salyut-1” was built specifically for the long stay of humans in orbit. All in all, there is only one module consisting of 3 compartments, in which the first compartment is a technical compartment with engines and solar cells, the second compartment is to live and work for 3 astronauts (here can eat and drink) drink, sleep and conduct experiments), while the third compartment is the smallest – this is the transitional compartment used to docking with the spacecraft. The entire structure weighs nearly 18.5 tons.

The first expedition, on April 23, 1971, was unsuccessful when the crew of 3 people who were flown to the space station could not move from the spacecraft to the station “Salyut”. Moreover, the ship’s annular shaft is fixed very tightly and has been deformed, so it cannot be separated.

Model of docking Soyuz-11 spacecraft with Salyut-1 station. Photo: A. Scherbakov.

That condition lasted for nearly 5 hours, almost becoming critical. However, thanks to consultation with the control station, all 3 crew members returned to Earth safely.

The next expedition set a record for the length of time humans stayed in space – lasting 23 days. It was a turning point in the history of human space science but ended in a terrible tragedy.

After 23 days in orbit, the crew (composed of Lieutenant Colonel Georgy Dobrovolsky, engineer Vladislav Volkov and researcher Viktor Patsaev) and returned to Earth. At an altitude of nearly 150km from the Earth, in the process of lowering altitude, the phenomenon of opening the compartment occurred.

The lack of oxygen and the rapid drop in blood pressure kept the conquerors in a normal state for no more than a few minutes in extremely painful conditions, causing eardrum rupture and gradual loss of consciousness. The spacecraft’s landing compartment landed normally, but the rescue team found the dead astronauts inside. Their bodies were later interred in a cemetery by the Kremlin wall.

Astronauts fly into space without protective armor

At the time of returning to Earth, the astronauts did not wear protective armor in case of an accident, they only used rubberized clothing. It was this tragedy that made scientists rush to create protective armor that is still in use today.

Station “Salyut-1” operates in space 175 days and nights

After the tragedy, the space station “Salyut” was stopped, the next flight of the station will take place in unmanned mode. After 175 days of operation in space, on October 11, 1971, the debris of the station did not burn out when passing through the dense layers of the atmosphere and fell into the Pacific Ocean far from waterways back and forth.

Because of the secrecy nature of the entire Soviet space program, there are not any real photographs of the “Salyut-1” station. The station even has a different name from the original “Zarya” (“Dawn”). People don’t change the name so that no one can see it. “Dawn” was also named for a Chinese satellite, so the first orbiting station was renamed “Salyut”.

Later, the station “Salyut” became the prototype for the Orbital Station “Mir” (“Peace”) and the Russian module part of the International Space Station ISS.


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