Mutiny at the cosmodrome
While the engineers at the TsKBEM were modifying the docking mechanism of the Soyuz to eliminate the problem which had prevented Soyuz 10 from linking up with Salyut, on 2 May 1971 Vasiliy Mishin proposed to General Kamanin a revision to the programme. Owing to concern that Salyut’s drogue might have been damaged, he proposed that the next mission should carry in its orbital module two spacesuits, identical to those used for the external transfer during the Soyuz 4/5 mission. Once the rendezvous had been accomplished, the spacecraft would ‘park’ close alongside Salyut and one of the cosmonauts would don his suit and exit the orbital module in order to inspect the station’s docking mechanism. He would then cross the gap and, by gripping onto a series of handles on the surface of the station, make his way along to the area of the science module and open the cover that had failed to release immediately after the station reached orbit. As part of this scheme, Mishin proposed that only two cosmonauts should be assigned to the next mission, rather than three. Although he did not mention names, he probably had in mind Leonov and Kubasov, the commander and flight engineer of the second DOS crew. Both were admirably suited to the assignment since Leonov was the first man ever to make a spacewalk and Kubasov, having been Yeliseyev’s backup for Soyuz 5, had undertaken training for such activity.
KeywordsState Commission Orbital Module Launch Date Chief Designer Descent Module
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