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Soyuz T-15
Mission statistics
Mission name Soyuz T-15
Crew size 2
Call sign Mayak (Beacon)
Launch date March 13, 1986
12:33:09 UTC
Gagarin's Start
Landing July 16, 1986
12:34:05 UTC
55 km NE of Arkalyk
Mission duration 125 days, 56 seconds
Number of orbits 1980
Related missions
Previous mission Next mission
Soyuz T-14 Soyuz TM-2

Soyuz T-15 was a manned mission to the space station Mir. It was part of the Soyuz programme.

Contents

Crew

(1) number of spaceflights each crew member has completed, including this mission.

Mission parameters

  • Mass: 6850 kg
  • Perigee: 331 km
  • Apogee: 366 km
  • Inclination: 51.6°
  • Period: 91.5 minutes

Mission highlights

Soyuz T-15 was the first expedition to Mir.

Due to the pressure of launching Mir in time for the 27th Communist Party Congress, mission planners were left without Soyuz spacecraft or modules to launch to the station at first. It was decided to launch Soyuz T-15 on a dual mission to both Mir and Salyut 7.[1]

Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovyov first docked with the Mir space station on March 15, 1986 after their March 13 launch. During their nearly 51-day stay on Mir, they unloaded two Progress spacecraft, launched after their arrival.[2]

On May 5, 1986 12:12:09 UTC they undocked from Mir for a day long journey to Salyut 7, docking on May 6 16:57:52 UTC. They conducted two EVAs and collected experiment results, experimental apparatus, and samples of materials. The crew loaded Soyuz T-15 with their personal belongings, plants grown on Mir, and other items in preparation for the trip to Salyut 7, which was about 4000 km ahead of Mir in a lower orbit. On May 4, Mir was lowered by 13 km to speed the approach to Salyut 7 and conserve Soyuz T-15's limited fuel supply for the transfer. Soyuz T-15 separated from Mir when Salyut 7 was 2500 km away. The crossing required 29 hours. They returned to Mir on June 25-26. Mir maneuvered twice June 24-25, raising its orbit slightly and moving closer to Salyut 7. On June 25, Soyuz T-15 undocked from Salyut 7 and began the 29 hour journey back to Mir.

Vasyutin's illness had left loose ends on Salyut 7. Most notably, the crew were unable to perform EVAs with implications for the Mir program. On May 28 the crewmembers climbed outside to retrieve space exposure experiments and test the Ferma-Postroital ("girder-constructor") device. A deployment canister converted a folded girder cartridge into a 15-meter girder in only a few minutes. The girder was retracted by reversing the process at the end of the EVA. The EVA lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. The second EVA consisted of girder and welding experiments. On May 31, Kizim and Solovyov attached measurement devices to the top of the retracted girder, then re-extended it with an aim toward studying its rigidity. They then used an electron gun to weld several of the girder's joints. The EVA lasted five hours.

The crew removed 20 instruments with a total mass of 350 to 400 kg from Salyut 7 before returning to Mir. Between August 19 and August 22, engines on Cosmos 1686 boosted Salyut 7 to a record-high mean orbital altitude of 475 km to forestall reentry. Atmospheric drag took its toll, however, and the station reentered over South America 55 months later. Pieces of Salyut 7 and Cosmos 1686 were found in Argentina.

The Soviets intended to dock Soyuz T-15 with Mir's forward port, leaving the aft port free for arriving Progress spacecraft. However, Soyuz T-15, like its Soyuz-T precursors, was equipped with the Igla approach system, not the Kurs system used on Mir's front port. Soyuz T-15 approached Mir from behind. At 20 km Soyuz T-15's Igla system acquired its counterpart on Mir's aft port. At 200 meters, the Igla system was shut off, and the crew manually maneuvered around the station to dock at the front port. They used the same laser range finder used by Soyuz T-13 to dock with the uncooperative Salyut 7 station in 1985.

Soyuz T-15 arrived at Mir with a cargo of 350–400 kg of instruments from Salyut 7. On July 3, Kizim surpassed Valeri Ryumin's record for time spent in space. On July 6, he became the first human to have spent a full year in space. The crew spent their last 20 days on Mir conducting Earth observations.

Soyuz T-15 was the last mission to use the Soyuz-T spacecraft, due to its replacement by the Soyuz-TM.

References

  1. ^ Wade, Mark. "Mir complex". Encyclopedia Astronautica. http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mirmplex.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-16.  
  2. ^ Anikeev, Alexander. "Spacecraft "Soyuz-T15"". Manned Astronautics. http://space.kursknet.ru/cosmos/english/machines/st15.sht. Retrieved 2007-04-16.  
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