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Salyut 6
Salyut 6
Salyut 6 as displayed in Moscow in 1981.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 29,637 bytes. 640 x 174 pixels.

Program: Salyut. Objective: Manned. Type: Spacecraft.

Sergei Korolev had proposed, designed, and built mock-ups of large manned space stations to be launched by his giant N1 rocket throughout the 1960’s. None of these proposals was ever approved by the military beyond the mock-up stage. Meanwhile the competing Chelomei OKB-52 bureau was given the task in 1965 to develop Almaz, a counterpart to the US military Manned Orbiting Laboratory space station. First flight with one year operational period was originally planned for 1968. Chelomei's influence waned, and the project was badly behind schedule by the time the competing American MOL was cancelled in July 1969.

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 undertake a crash program to develop a 'civilian' space station using components from Chelomei's Almaz program. Mishin was given control over the Almaz production line at Chelomei's Khrunichev facility in order to build the DOS-7K civilian station using the Almaz spaceframe but proven Soyuz components. With the beginning of work on the DOS station the large, long term N1-launched station was cancelled.

Interior of Salyut 6Interior of Salyut 6 - Interior of Salyut 6 looking forward.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 42,371 bytes. 583 x 384 pixels.

The spacecraft that emerged was a hybrid of the Almaz and the Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz control panel was used almost unchanged, as was the forward docking mechanism and the aft propulsion module. The spacecraft was to be called Zarya, or ‘Dawn’, but the name was changed just before launch to prevent confusion with the identical ground control call sign. Instead DOS-1 became known as Salyut 1. This was the first manned orbital space station, but the triumph was destroyed when the crew perished during the return to earth. The next DOS, Cosmos 557, reached orbit but control was lost soon thereafter. Salyut 4, Salyut 6, and Salyut 7 were all successful, each space station being an evolutionary improvement over the previous model. The Salyuts allowed the Soviet Union to obtain an unmatched lead in manned orbital spaceflight experience and flight durations. The design line culminated in the Mir base block module. Major Events: .
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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .