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Almaz
Almaz
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.


Article Number: 11F71. Manufacturer's Designation: OPS. Code Name: Mech. Class: Manned. Type: Space Station. Nation: Russia. Manufacturer: OKB-52.

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 viewAlmaz 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.


In December 1962 Sergei Korolev released his draft project for a versatile manned spacecraft, the Soyuz. Korolev understood very well that financing of the scale required could only come from the Ministry of Defence. Therefore his draft project proposed two additional modifications of the Soyuz: the Soyuz P (Perekhvatchik, Interceptor) space interceptor and the Soyuz R (Razvedki, intelligence) command-reconnaissance spacecraft. The VVS and the Strategic Rocket Forces supported these variants of the Soyuz. They were fully aware that the US Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory was in the advance concept stage (it would be approved for development on December 10, 1963). But Korolev had no time to work on what were to him Soyuz ‘side-lines’. In 1963 his OKB-1 was fully occupied with work on the Voskhod and N1 projects.


Rear view of AlmazRear view of Almaz - Rear view of Almaz model. Note two maneuvering engines flanking docking collar, stowed solar panels, and guides for aft interstage separation

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Therefore he decided that while OKB-1 Kaliningrad would concentrate on development of the Soyuz-A circumlunar spacecraft, the military projects Soyuz-P and Soyuz-R would be ‘subcontracted’ to OKB-1 filial number 3, based in Samara (then Kuibishev), headed by Chief Designer Dmitri Ilyich Kozlov.

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 interiorAlmaz 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.


Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomei headed a competing space design bureau OKB-52 and was Korolev’s arch-rival. He had prospered in the early 1960’s when he was backed by Khrushchev. On 12 October 1964, only two days 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 in 1965 there were two competing projects in development for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R.


Almaz modelAlmaz 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.


Military project manager for the Almaz was Colonel Ye S Shchapov. The Soyuz-R reconnaissance program began in 1974. The advanced project was completed by Kozlov, but it was cancelled when the spacecraft became too heavy for the planned launch vehicle. In 1964-1965 Chelomei was promoting his competing concept. G A Yefremov brought the Soyuz-R material from Kuibyshev to TsKBM in an effort to show what a complex development it was.

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 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.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 64,053 bytes. 394 x 577 pixels.


On 24 August 1965 urgent measures were ordered to test manned military techniques in orbit at the earliest possible date. Kozlov was to fly by 1967 a military research variant of the Soyuz. The new spacecraft was designated the 7K-VI by Kozlov and had the project code name ‘Zvezda’.

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 exteriorAlmaz 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.


Following numerous problems in the first flight tests of the Soyuz 7K-OK, Kozlov ordered a complete redesign of the 7K-VI. The new spacecraft, with a crew of two, would have a total mass of 6.6 tonnes and could operate for a month in orbit. The project as reformulated was approved by the central committee on 21 July 1967 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, with first flight to be in 1968 and operations to begin in 1969. The Soyuz VI was to include a recoilless gun for self-defence developed by the well known Soviet designer A E Nudelman. The final layout of the 7K-VI was very similar to that of the American MOL. Like the MOL, it featured the return capsule at the front, with a hatch in the heat shield leading to the orbital compartment, followed by the equipment-engine module. By the middle of 1967 the mock-up and dynamic stand for testing of the Nudelman gun were completed. All materials for the approval of the draft project by the expert commission were completed, and drawings were released for both the Zvezda and the Soyuz-M launch vehicle. But the head of OKB-1, Mishin, resented Kozlov’s independence. Mishin proposed his own project for an orbital station 11F730 Soyuz VI. Through various complex machinations Mishin seized control of the project on 8 December 1967. OKB-1 would pursue it at a desultory pace until it was finally cancelled in 1969.


Almaz right exteriorAlmaz 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.


Chelomei meanwhile continued to eradicate any OKB-1 content from the Almaz. His draft project of 21 June 1967 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). The revised Almaz design would eliminate the need for the Soyuz 7K-TK. The Almaz also incorporated the Nudelman gun, the basic layout, and other equipment from Kozlov’s cancelled Soyuz VI. By 1969, although the Almaz still had not flown, Chelomei went a step further and proposed replacement of the 11F72 Soyuz 7K-TK with his own transport-supply spacecraft 11F72 (transportniy korabl snabzheniya - TKS). This would consist of the 11F74 VA landing capsule and a new 11F77 Functional-Cargo Block (funktsionalno-gruzovoy blok, FGB). On 16 June 1970 Kozlov’s Soyuz-R was finally cancelled and replaced by the TKS as the re-supply craft for Almaz under Central Party decree 437-160.


Almaz airlockAlmaz 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.


In its final form the 20-tonne Almaz was to operate for two to three years at a time and take reconnaissance photographs during that entire period. Three-man crews would be rotated every 90 days by TKS transport-supply spacecraft. The TKS VA reusable crew capsules could be launched and reused up to ten times. Chelomei however 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 an experienced politician and belittled Council of Ministers Deputy Chairman Dmitri Ustinov. When Brezhnev took power, Ustinov became the Communist Party Central Committee Secretary for Defence. Chelomei's influence waned, and the project was badly behind schedule by the time the competing American MOL was cancelled in July 1969.


Almaz forward hatchAlmaz 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.


Having lost the moon race, but seeing a chance to beat the Americans in the space station race, Brezhnev ordered Mishin's OKB-1 to produce a space station in the shortest possible time using the Almaz structural vessel but grafting into it proven Soyuz systems. Eight completed Almaz spaceframes were handed over to Mishin, and installation of Soyuz systems was made at Chelomei’s Khrunichev factory.

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 PadSalyut 3 on Pad

Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler. 35,387 bytes. 223 x 600 pixels.


Thirty military personnel were trained to work on Almaz. Aside from pilots there were seamen, missilemen, and communications specialists. Each would conduct intelligence operations in his area of expertise - for example Submariner Valeri Rozhdestvenskiy was to develop methods for conducting surveillance of enemy navies and submarines.

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 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. 64,512 bytes. 574 x 397 pixels.


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. Therefore the program was not cancelled, but to be followed by the Almaz-T system, which was to be a multi-satellite multi-spectral system for sustained reconnaissance.

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 panelAlmaz 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.


Chelomei was told to scrap his unflown Almaz stations but instead hid them in a corner of his vast factory. The TKS was finally flown several times in conjunction with civilian Salyut stations., but never with its intended manned crew.

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 PadSalyut 3 on Pad

Credit: via Dietrich Haeseler. 55,401 bytes. 257 x 600 pixels.


The next Almaz-T was erected on the launch pad on June 25, 1987. The Proton launch vehicle normally cannot be kept fuelled, on hold, for more than four days. An order once again arrived at Baikonur - delay the launch and remove the rocket from the launch pad. The order was ignored, with extraordinary measures being taken to keep the station inside the shroud at normal temperatures despite hot summer days of 42 degrees C. Learning that Minister of General Machine Building Baklanov was at Baikonur, and he finally agreed to allow launch of the spacecraft. It received the name Cosmos 1870 and provided radar imagery to scientific and commercial customers for two years. A second Almaz-T was flown in 1991 as Almaz-1. This spacecraft was instrumental in the rescue of the expedition lost on the ice of Antarctica in the ship Mikhail Somov. No other sensor could locate the ship in the perpetual polar night.


Almaz camera stationAlmaz 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.


In 1992, the Machine Building NPO began to develop a new Almaz-T, with three radars and an optical telescope. But financing was not forthcoming. The Almaz and TKS designs, however, live on into the 21st century - the Almaz as the International Space station base block, and the TKS as the International Space Station Zarya Functional Cargo Block.
Specification

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.


Almaz Chronology


12 October 1964 Almaz project starts Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.

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 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 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.


01 January 1965 Almaz space station development authorised.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on space stations at OKB-52' was issued.


30 March 1966 Soyuz R Cancelled; Soyuz 7K-TK to be ferry to Almaz station Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.

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 panelAlmaz 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.


28 December 1966 Almaz program delays; Soyuz 7K-TK suspended

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.


09 February 1967 Almaz space station begun.

Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On approval of work on Almaz' was issued.


01 June 1967 Development plan for the Almaz station and Soyuz 7K-TK ferry


Almaz main consoleAlmaz 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.


Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On full approval of the Almaz and 7K-TK programs' was issued. Use of the 7K-TK ferry with the Almaz station continued as the project baseline. It was scheduled that the Almaz/Soyuz 7K-TK system would be tested in 1968 and enter service in 1969.
21 June 1967 Almaz draft project approved.

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 panelAlmaz 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.


14 August 1967 Almaz space station schedule approved.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On schedule of work on the Almaz space station' was issued.


01 December 1969 First flight Almaz station close to completion Program: Almaz. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.

Ten stations 'in advanced stage of completion' by end of year.


01 February 1970 Space station programs rationalized. Program: Almaz. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.


AlmazAlmaz - An Almaz station being prepared for flight at the Khrunichev Factory in Moscow.

Credit: Khrunichev. 19,316 bytes. 273 x 265 pixels.


Brezhnev orders a cooperative crash program to build a civilian space station to beat Skylab into orbit. The civilian station (later named Salyut) will use the Almaz spaceframe fitted out with Soyuz functional equipment. Mishin's OIS military station was cancelled 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 incorporated into the Almaz group.
09 February 1970 Salyut project begins.


Almaz station engineAlmaz station engine - Almaz station orientation engine

Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 13,817 bytes. 175 x 314 pixels.


Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 105-41 'On creation of the DOS using Almaz as a basis' was issued.
16 February 1970 Salyut crash program authorised.

Decree 57ss 'On creation of the DOS using Almaz as a basis' was issued.


15 June 1972 Almaz / TKS project rescheduled. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.

Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On schedule of work for the Almaz and TKS programs' was issued.


31 December 1972 Brezhnev selects Almaz for next space station Program: Almaz. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.


RD-0225 Almaz engineRD-0225 Almaz engine - RD-0225 main propulsion engine for Almaz space station

Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler. 14,609 bytes. 163 x 365 pixels.


Brezhnev personally selects Almaz for next space station launch. Following two successive failures of DOS-7K station (Salyut 1 and 7-29-72 launch failure), Brezhnev personally selects Almaz for next launch (Salyut 2).
03 April 1973 Salyut 2 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 18,500 kg. Perigee: 216 km. Apogee: 248 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 54.62 days.


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. 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.


The first flight of the Almaz manned military space station. In January 1973 the first Almaz OPS was delivered to Baikonur. Launch and initial orbital checkout went according to plan. But before a crew could be launched the station depressurized. It was concluded that a short in electrical equipment started a fire in pressure vessel, leading to rupture of hull and depressurization. An alternate theory was that debris from an explosion of the third stage of Proton penetrated the hull. Control was lost on April 25, 1973, and the OPS cased operations on 29 April. Decayed May 28, 1973. Initial crew was to have been Popovich and Artyukhin.
Officially: Testing of improved design, on-board systems and equipment; conduct of scientific and technical research and experiments.

Almaz - SoyuzAlmaz - Soyuz - Almaz with Soyuz ferry craft

Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 38,586 bytes. 593 x 356 pixels.


25 June 1974 Salyut 3 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 18,500 kg. Perigee: 213 km. Apogee: 253 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 90.00 days.

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.
Maneuver Summary:
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.



AlmazAlmaz - Almaz - configuration as flown

Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 30,053 bytes. 553 x 324 pixels.


19 January 1976 Almaz / TKS flight tests approved.

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.


22 June 1976 Salyut 5 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 19,000 kg. Perigee: 215 km. Apogee: 232 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 411.24 days.


Almaz OriginalAlmaz Original - Almaz - Early configuration with VA return capsule

Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr. 32,915 bytes. 640 x 362 pixels.


Second successful flight of the Almaz manned military space station. Operated for 409 days, during which the crews of Soyuz 22 and 24 visited the station. 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 cancelled. The film capsule was ejected 22 February 1977 (and sold at Sotheby's, New York, on December 11, 1993!). The station was deorbited on 8 August 1977. In addition to the human crew two Russian tortoises (Testudo horsfieldi) and Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were flown.


Almaz with GunAlmaz with Gun

Credit: Dave Anderman. 34,517 bytes. 478 x 299 pixels.


The results of the Salyut 3 and 5 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. 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.
Additional Details: Salyut 5.
01 January 1978 Manned Almaz program terminated Program: Almaz.


Almaz-1VAlmaz-1V

Credit: Khrunichev. 39,962 bytes. 659 x 382 pixels.


Almaz station portion of the project already severely cut back after Marshal Grechko's heart attack in early 1976. Chelomei lost his most active patron and was unable to withstand the slow strangulation of his projects by Ustinov and Glushko. Almaz finally completely scrapped in 1980, but Chelomei hid the completed space stations in a corner of his complex, labelling them as 'radioactive material'. Chelomei finally forced to retire in October 1983. TKS shuttle craft used to dock with Salyut stations but never in manned mode. Following Ustinov's death, Almaz stations finally flown as unmanned radarsats, but Chelomei did not live to see this.

Almaz-1Almaz-1

Credit: Khrunichev. 35,127 bytes. 694 x 447 pixels.


01 February 1979 Almaz cancelled and consolidated with Mir

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 3Almaz 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.



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