Forward view of Almaz space station - original configuration. From left to right note stowed solar panels, sunshade for Agat reconnaisance camera extending below first station compartment, VA reentry capsule and its launch escape rocket.
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 21,728 bytes. 558 x 168 pixels.
To determine the usefulness of manned military space flight, two projects were pursued in the second half of the 1960's. Chelomei's Almaz was to conduct orbital research into the usefulness of manned observation of the earth, while TsKBEM MOM's Soyuz VI would conduct military research. The first Almaz concept was a Proton-launched reconnaissance station. It was to be dedicated to detailed high-resolution study of specific targets. Accordingly it was equipped with a very high resolution optical camera, infrared sensor, and optical sight for use by the cosmonauts aboard. The flight trials were intended to prove the effectiveness of manned orbital reconnaissance operations. Considerable preliminary research was done on the Almaz on complex apparatus for operational earth observation and transmission of data to earth by radio. By the beginning of the 1970's, a draft project was developed for an orbital station with man-tended on-board equipment, as well as a transport craft for resupply an return of material.
|Almaz forward view - Forward view of Almaz space station - original configuration, Note crew couches in cutaway view of VA reentry capsule interior. The Almaz was actually flown without the VA. Also note the orientation engines just below the VA attachment collar.|
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 27,117 bytes. 541 x 328 pixels.
|Rear view of Almaz - Rear view of Almaz model. Note two maneuvering engines flanking docking collar, stowed solar panels, and guides for aft interstage separation|
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 34,657 bytes. 391 x 486 pixels.
The Soyuz-R system consisted of two separately launched spacecraft derived from the Soyuz design, with the docked complex having a total mass of 13 tonnes. The small orbital station 11F71 would be equipped with photo-reconnaissance and ELINT equipment. To dock with the 11F71 station Samara developed the transport spacecraft 11F72 Soyuz 7K-TK. Soyuz-R was included by the Defence Ministry in the 1964-1969 five-year space reconnaissance plan, issued on 18 June 1964.
|Almaz interior - Closeup view of interior of Almaz space station. Note large white film cassettes of reconnaisance camera, and cosmonaut at control station for Agat camera system.|
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 33,064 bytes. 594 x 334 pixels.
|Almaz model - Model of Almaz station as flown at the Chelomei Bureau. Note the extended forward main body which contained the Nudelmann space gun.|
Credit: Andy Salmon. 21,905 bytes. 334 x 376 pixels.
In June 1965 Gemini 4 conducted the first American manned military experiments. At the same time the US Air Force’s Manned Orbital Laboratory was on the verge of being given its final go-ahead. These events caused a bit of a panic among the Soviet military, where the Soyuz-R and Almaz projects were in the very earliest stages of design and would not fly until 1968 at the earliest.
|Almaz 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.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 64,053 bytes. 394 x 577 pixels.
In January 1966 Korolev died unexpectedly and OKB-1 was leaderless. Chelomei obtained a decision that the Kozlov’s Soyuz-R space station would be cancelled and the Almaz would take its place. The reason officially given was that the spacecraft had become too heavy for the planned launch vehicle. 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 to that date. G A Yefremov brought the Soyuz-R material from Kuibyshev to TsKBM. The documents showed what a complex development was required. However at the same time the leadership directed that Kozlov’s Soyuz-R 7K-TK ferry continue in development to transport crews to the Almaz. 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. In 1967 it was foreseen that the Almaz/Soyuz 7K-TK system would be tested in 1968 and enter service in 1969.
|Almaz right exterior - Aft view of the Almaz, showing the propellant tanks and the '11F668' article number on its side.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 41,067 bytes. 361 x 343 pixels.
|Almaz right exterior - Aft view of the Almaz, showing the airlock, ringed by propellant tanks. The EVA hatch juts out below the main docking hatch.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 75,161 bytes. 543 x 393 pixels.
|Almaz airlock - Side view of Almaz showing spherical air lock, with EVA tunnel jutting out at an angle. The film return capsule airlock was mounted between the EVA tunnel and the main docking hatch.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 81,841 bytes. 398 x 570 pixels.
|Almaz forward hatch - Almaz forward airlock, with the female docking cone for use with the Soyuz. At the bottom is the EVA exit tunnel; the ring mount was used to jettison small capsules to return film to earth during the flight.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 43,253 bytes. 571 x 394 pixels.
Following the death of the crew of Mishin’s Salyut 1 on their return to earth in 1971, and the failure to reach orbit of the second Salyut in 1972, Brezhnev finally gave Chelomei the nod to launch the Almaz in order to beat the American Skylab. Under the cover name Salyut 2 it reached orbit in April 1973. A crew was preparing to launch but the station depressurised on the 13th day of the mission. Either a fragment of the exploded Proton booster's third stage penetrated the skin or an on-board electrical short started a fire. Almaz was finally successfully launched into space as Salyut 3 in June 1974. The one meter diameter telescope could photograph airfields and missile complexes. An optical sight gave the cosmonaut the illusion of coming to a standstill over a facility. The cosmonaut could see the numbers on the decks of ships and the types of aircraft on aircraft carriers. There were also infrared and topographical cameras. The Nudelman cannon inherited from the Soyuz VI was retained as an active defence system in the event of an attack by an Apollo spacecraft. The cannon was supplemented with space-to-space missiles.
|Salyut 3 on Pad|
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler. 35,387 bytes. 223 x 600 pixels.
The results of the flights showed 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.
|Almaz 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. 64,512 bytes. 574 x 397 pixels.
The Almaz manned effort was abandoned, and it was decided that Salyut alone would be used for international co-operation in space. The USSR could not afford two simultaneous manned stations. Further manned tests of military equipment would be made aboard Salyut. These experiments were developed by the various scientific institutes of the Ministry of Defence, supervised by Minobshchenash under the direction of the general staff.
|Almaz EVA panel - The Almaz space station’s instrument panel for controlling and observing extra-vehicular activity. A television monitor provides views of the exterior of the station. This was mounted on the opposite wall across from the main control station.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 30,674 bytes. 574 x 247 pixels.
Military experiments planned for Almaz were moved to Salyut and Mir. The TKS design was adapted for use as Mir modules. Most notably the Spektr module was originally designed to test reconnaissance and anti-satellite systems.
Almaz continued in one form. As a counterpoint to the American Lacrosse satellite, a version of Almaz with an enormous side-looking radar was designed. The first such Almaz-T was to be launched in 1981. However, an order arrived from Moscow ten days prior to the launch - terminate the Almaz Program as a result of work on Buran. Ustinov had decided to deal the finishing blow to Chelomei. Only after the deaths of Chelomei and Ustinov (they died the same year two weeks apart) did new Chief Designer Gerbert Yefremov manage to convince Minister of Defence Sokolov that the program needed to be continued. They authorised him to prepare for launch the station that had collected dust for six years at the Baikonur test range. To the designers' surprise, the Almaz was in decent condition (in contrast to its fairing, which had been used as a toilet). It had only been saved by its external placards - ‘Warning - Don't Enter - Self-Destruct Charges on Board’. This much-suffering Almaz was launched on November 29, 1986. But the second stage did not separate for the first time in many years and the same self-destruct charges destroyed the Almaz.
|Salyut 3 on Pad|
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler. 55,401 bytes. 257 x 600 pixels.
|Almaz camera station - The crew station for the Agat reconnaissance camera on the Almaz military space station. After two successful flights (Salyuts 3 & 5) the it was found that the extra cost of a manned spacecraft outweighed any advantages and the program was cancelled. The operator could manually operate the camera system. Film could be developed and examined aboard the station. Small reentry capsules, mounted around the aft docking collar, allowed film to be returned during the mission.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 70,851 bytes. 575 x 399 pixels.
Craft.Crew Size: 2. Orbital Storage: 410.00 days. Total Length: 14.6 m. Maximum Diameter: 4.2 m. Total Habitable Volume: 100.00 m3. Total Mass: 17,800 kg. Total Payload: 5,000 kg. Total Propellants: 1,800 kg. Primary Engine Thrust: 800 kgf. Main Engine Propellants: N2O4/UDMH. Main Engine Isp: 291 sec. Total spacecraft delta v: 300 m/s. Electric system: 3.12 total average kW. Electrical System: Solar cells 52 sq m.
|Salyut 3 in Shop|
Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler. 85,621 bytes. 640 x 364 pixels.
The day before the overthrow of his patron, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger military space station, the Almaz. This 20 tonne station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket. Therefore there were now two competing projects for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R. First flight of the Almaz, with a one year operational period, was set for 1968.
|Almaz 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 combined video / radar display for rendezvous and docking; the clock; the earth globe instrument for displaying position over the earth; the controls for calling up automatic spacecraft command sequences.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 78,440 bytes. 570 x 395 pixels.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on space stations at OKB-52' was issued.
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 11F71 Soyuz-R space station would be cancelled and the Almaz would be developed in its place. Almaz was assigned the 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. However Kozlov's Soyuz 7K-TK ferry was to continue in development to transport crew to the Almaz.
|Almaz forward panel - Another Almaz control station, located in the station forward of the camera. Purpose unknown.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 54,875 bytes. 570 x 398 pixels.
Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 104 'On changes in the timeline for the Almaz program and suspension of the 7K-TK' was issued. Due to delays in the Almaz all work on further development of the 7K-TK was suspended.
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On approval of work on Almaz' was issued.
|Almaz main console - Closeup of the main console for operating the station, with the familiar Soyuz-type globe, clock, and external television/radar scope instruments.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 76,642 bytes. 574 x 402 pixels.
Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On approval of the Almaz draft project' was issued. Chelomei's draft project showed the 11F71 Almaz station to consist of an 11F75 orbital block and an 11F74 VA landing apparatus (derived from the Apollo-type capsule he had designed for his LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft). Launch of the re-entry capsule with the cosmonauts would eliminate the need for the Soyuz 7K-TK ferry under development by Kozlov.
|Almaz comm panel - Communications console of the Almaz, including keyboard. This was mounted to the left of the main space station control console, and encrypted teletype communications with the earth.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 68,073 bytes. 577 x 337 pixels.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On schedule of work on the Almaz space station' was issued.
Ten stations 'in advanced stage of completion' by end of year.
|Almaz - An Almaz station being prepared for flight at the Khrunichev Factory in Moscow.|
Credit: Khrunichev. 19,316 bytes. 273 x 265 pixels.
|Almaz station engine - Almaz station orientation engine|
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 13,817 bytes. 175 x 314 pixels.
Decree 57ss 'On creation of the DOS using Almaz as a basis' was issued.
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On schedule of work for the Almaz and TKS programs' was issued.
|RD-0225 Almaz engine - RD-0225 main propulsion engine for Almaz space station|
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 14,609 bytes. 163 x 365 pixels.
|Almaz 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. The Nudelman cannon at the nose provided an active defense 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. 28,944 bytes. 470 x 260 pixels.
|Almaz - Soyuz - Almaz with Soyuz ferry craft|
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 38,586 bytes. 593 x 356 pixels.
First successful Almaz military manned space station flight. Following the successful Soyuz 14 and unsuccessful Soyuz 15 missions, on 23 September 1974 the station ejected a film return capsule, which was successfully recovered. On 25 January 1975 it fired its manoeuvring engines for the last time and braked itself from orbit over the Pacific Ocean.
208km X 240km orbit to 213km X 253km orbit. Delta V: 4 m/s
213km X 252km orbit to 251km X 268km orbit. Delta V: 15 m/s
250km X 266km orbit to 265km X 271km orbit. Delta V: 5 m/s
266km X 267km orbit to 268km X 272km orbit. Delta V: 1 m/s
265km X 269km orbit to 265km X 273km orbit. Delta V: 1 m/s
261km X 266km orbit to 258km X 262km orbit. Delta V: 1 m/s
258km X 261km orbit to 258km X 286km orbit. Delta V: 7 m/s
235km X 259km orbit to 261km X 285km orbit. Delta V: 14 m/s
261km X 285km orbit to 255km X 294km orbit. Delta V: 3 m/s
218km X 229km orbit to 0km X 218km orbit. Delta V: 68 m/s
Total Delta V: 51/119 m/s.
Officially: Futher testing of improved station design, on-board systems and equipment; conduct of scientific and technical research and experiments in space flight. Futher testing of improved station design, on-board systems and equipment; conduct of scientific and technical research and experiments in space flight.
|Almaz - Almaz - configuration as flown|
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 30,053 bytes. 553 x 324 pixels.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 46-13 'On course of work on Almaz and the TKS' was issued.
|Almaz Original - Almaz - Early configuration with VA return capsule|
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 32,915 bytes. 640 x 362 pixels.
|Almaz with Gun|
Credit: Dave Anderman. 34,517 bytes. 478 x 299 pixels.
Credit: Khrunichev. 39,962 bytes. 659 x 382 pixels.
Credit: Khrunichev. 35,127 bytes. 694 x 447 pixels.
Following the decision to cancel Chelomei's manned Almaz military space station programme, a resolution consolidated the programs, with the Mir docking ports to be reinforced to accommodate 20 tonne space station modules based on Chelomei's TKS manned ferry spacecraft. NPO Energia was made responsible for the overall space station, but subcontracted the work to KB Salyut due to the press of in-house work on Energia, Salyut 7, Soyuz-T, and Progress. The subcontractor began work in the summer of 1979.
|Almaz 3 - Rare drawing of Salyut 3 Almaz space station. From left to right, docking port surrounded by maneuver engines and solar panels; main station body; Nudelman self-defence gun.|
Credit: Dmitri. 12,172 bytes. 320 x 182 pixels.