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Life of Berezovoy
Space mail
Unique and original diary written from 22 June to
29 November 1982 by the Commander of Elbrus expedition, 51st Pilot, cosmonaut and hero of the Soviet Union.



Salyut space stations Salyut-7


The Salyut-7, the last space station of the Salyut class was the precursor of the MIR space station; it was launched into space by the Soviet Union from the Cosmodrome in Baikonur on 19 April 1982.

The Salyut-7 orbital station with the docked Soyuz T spacecraft in flight

The total weight was 19,824 kg, length 14.4 metres, diameter 4.2 metres, the inhabitable area totalled 90 cubic metres with a crew comprising from two up to a maximum of six cosmonauts.

It stayed in orbit for 9 years (3,215 days) supporting a large number of space missions both with a crew and without. 10 resident crews inhabited Salyut-7 for a total of more than 800 days. The last visit by cosmonauts to the station took place in 1986, when a Soyuz craft docked at the port to recover material to be transferred to the then newly arrived Mir (whose launch had taken place on 19 February 1986), thus for the first time alternating the use of two cosmic stations in Earth's orbit.

Although not inhabited, Salyut-7 was destined to stay in orbit until 1994, but a sharp increase in solar activity, which led to a "swelling" of the atmosphere, modified its flight path; it returned to Earth on 7 February 1991, when a trail of debris was spread as it fell, burning, through the sky of Argentina and Chile.

The Salyut-7 orbital station with the docked Soyuz T spacecraft in flight

From a technical point of view, Salyut-7 represented a further step forward for the Soviets in the design of space stations: as a matter of fact, in 1983 the Cosmos-1443 craft was docked with it in orbit, providing an additional module for working in orbit and allowing further expansion of the dimensions of the station (the useful space of the Salyut-7 was 90 cubic metres with the addition of the 10 cubic metres of the Soyuz capsule which had brought the crew, whilst the Cosmos-1443 added 50 cubic metres to the total volume).

Inside, compared to the previous stations, Salyut-7 offered a more comfortable environment for the cosmonauts for the future missions that would involve longer stays. Numerous improvements had been made: hot running water, a freezer for storing fresh food that arrived from Earth, better lighting, the seats of the command posts redesigned to transform into bicycles to offer more physical exercise, special ultra-violet lights to aid the elimination of germs and prevent infection, a new x-ray telescope (instead of the traditional one that had been adopted on the previous model) to allow for surveys in the cosmos.

A diagram of the Salyut-7 with a Progress and a Soyuz docked on the ends

And thanks to these improvements the record for the longest stay in space was already reached by the first crew: Anatoli Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev arrived on 13 May 1982 on board the Soyuz T-5 and stayed until 10 December 1982 (211 days) when they returned to Earth with the Soyuz T-7 spacecraft. Two years later Kizim Leoind, Solovyev Vladimir and Atkov Oleg fixed a new record of 236 days.

13 May 1982. Anatoli Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev - first expedition on Salyut-7
and record for longest stay on board (211 days)

The last two Salyut stations were visited by several international crews, comprising Cuban, French and Indian cosmonauts.

It was, in actual fact, with Salyut-7 on 24 June 1982 that the Soviet Union opened itself to "International Space Cooperation" and for the first time a French astronaut, Jean-Loup Chrétien, was sent into space together with the two Soviet cosmonauts Ivanchenkov and Dzhanibekov.

24 June 1982. The first western astronaut to fly with Russians: Ivanchenkov,
Dzhanibekov and the Frenchman Jean-Loup Chrétien

And on 19 August 1982, almost twenty years after Valentina Tereskova, when it seemed that the Soviet space programme had completely forgotten about women, the first crew of Salyut-7 was joined by cosmonauts Popov and Serebrov and by the second woman sent into space, Svetlana Savitskaya, world aerobatic champion and research scientist who, during her stay on board, was allowed to stay in "private accommodation" on board the Soyuz-7 capsule.

19 August 1982. The second Russian woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, together with Popov and Serebrov
-The data gathered during the experiments demonstrate that there are no significant differences in the physiological
reactions of the male or female organism in weightlessness.

The experience gained with the Salyut stations opened the way to multi-modular space stations: the Mir from 1986 to 2001 was home to more than 100 cosmonauts and astronauts from at least 12 different countries; the ISS International Space Station, started in 1998, upon its imminent completion, will be the biggest and most complex construction ever created in Earth's orbit, designed for a multinational permanent crew of six people.


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Last update 09.11.2009