A Year in Space

by George A. Spiteri 

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Wednesday December 23rd 1987

At 11:04 GMT Soyuz fired its engines for 17 seconds for the fourth and final maneuver prior to docking with Mir. At 12:28 GMT Soyuz began flying around the complex to reach Kvant. This procedure took 7 minutes. Radio Moscow had live coverage of the docking, which came at 12:51 GMT when Titov exclaimed, “contact effected….full mechanical link-up of the two spacecraft effected”.

At 14:20 GMT the hatches between Soyuz and Mir were opened and Titov, Manarov and Levchenko floated in to be met enthusiastically by the old-timers, Romanenko and Alexandrov. Romanenko said, “at last, all five of us are on the station”. Titov’s first impressions of his new “home” were that it seemed larger then expected but all around he could see the signs of serious research having taken place. Manarov said, “Romanenko and Alexandrov are looking their best”. Thus began the first proper change of shift in space making Mir a truly permanent space complex.

Thursday December 24th 1987

Today Radio Moscow publicly announced That Titov, and Manarov would attempt a yearlong flight. In Mission Control Viktor Blagov said that it would be “a small step to a manned flight to Mars”. It was also revealed that a doctor would be sent up later in the flight to examine them.

Concerning the present shift change, Alexei Leonov said that for the first time ever joint work is to be carried out by a crew completing a space mission and the one that has just arrived. Previously the crew spent time mothballing the station and another crew was launched into orbit. Mir is permanent and does not need to be vacated. According to Leonov the advantages of this are that the old crew do not need to provide an inventory for the new crew as everything can be explained word-of-mouth.

Aboard Mir the three new boys were quickly joining the pace of life in the space station. Medical research was prominent today. The day ended with the five cosmonauts sending New Year’s greetings to the people of the world.

Friday December 25th 1987

Today was a routine day in orbit but on the ground it was publicly announced that the Soviet-Bulgarian crew due to be launched on 21st June, 1988 would consist of Anatoli Solovyov, Viktor Savinkh and Bulgarian, Alexander Alexandrov. These three would be the first visitors for Titov and Manarov during their long flight.

Saturday December 26th 1987

Yuri Romanenko and Alexander Alexandrov have been showing Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov around the complex, introducing them to the equipment especially the Kvant module. The majority of today’s work was taken up with astrophysical studies and the transferring of equipment to Soyuz TM 3, preparatory to its landing.

Sunday December 27th 1987

Today the five cosmonauts did astrophysical and biological experiments and made observations of the earth’s resources. A special apparatus was used to obtain protein crystals in zero gravity.

Monday December 28th 1987

Today there was a thorough check of the systems of the two Soyuz transport craft.

Tuesday December 29th 1987

Romanenko, Alexandrov and Levchenko said their farewells to Titov and Manarov. Soyuz TM 3 undocked from Mir at 05:55 GMT and the Descent Module landed near Arkalyk at 09:16 GMT on the snow-swept steppes. Most attention centered around Yuri Romanenko who had spent a record 326 days in space. Romanenko said on landing that he felt well and could not get used to the idea of coming home and carried on working right up to the last minute.

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