The fall of the Chief Designer
The tragedy that befell the Soyuz 11 crew had not only dramatic, effects on the plans for further use of the world’s first space station, but also the entire Soviet manned space programme. On 9 July 1971, while the investigation of the accident was underway, the State Commission decided to halt preparations for the next flight to Salyut. This was despite Leonov’s assurance that his crew was ready for a 1-month mission. But after such a terrible tragedy, no one wished to take the risk. Salyut was in very good condition, continuing to orbit in its automated regime. It executed two manoeuvres: on 19 August raising its orbit to 290 × 308 km and on 25 September lowering it to 224 × 262 km. The controllers at the TsUP in Yevpatoriya continued to monitor its systems. However, when it became, clear that there was no prospect of revisiting the station, it was de-orbited on 11 October 1971 by lowering its orbit so that it would enter the atmosphere over the South Pacific, where it burned up. It had been in orbit for 175 days.
KeywordsState Commission Solar Panel Initial Orbit Mission Control Chief Designer
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