A Year in Space

by George A. Spiteri 

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Friday December 2nd 1988

Titov and Manarov began intensive preparations for their return to earth scheduled for December 21st. Dr. Polyakov carried out another routine medical examination of the cosmonauts.

Saturday December 3rd 1988

The cosmonauts spoke to their families (for the Soviet/French crew this was the first occasion that they had spoken to their relatives during their month-long flight).

Sunday December 4th 1988

Today was the 350th day in orbit for Titov, and Manarov; Dr. Polyakov, who has monitored their health, said they were in good condition.

Monday December 5th 1988

Jean-Loop Chretien and Alexander Volkov said that they had tested their space suits for Friday’s EVA. Meanwhile, the Soviet/French crew conducted medical experiments related to space adaptation. Vladimir Titov end Musa Manarov were getting the results of their experiments conducted over the past year ready for return to earth. It was also mentioned today that there was a fir tree aboard Mir brought from earth to remind the cosmonauts of the holiday season (in the U.S.S.R. Christmas is not an actual holiday but the New Year is celebrated).

Tuesday December 6th to Thursday December 8th 1988

Alexander Volkov and Jean-Loop Chretien continued extensive preparations for the international missions highlight their space walk. Both donned their space suits inside Mir and were given a medical examination by Pr. Valery Polyakov.

Friday December 9th 1988

Today cosmonauts Alexander Volkov and Jean-Loup Chretien performed their critical EVA. The main purpose of the space walk was to install a folding structure made of carbon plastic called ERA which would then unfold into a hexagonal prism 1metre high and 4metres in diameter. This structure was the prototype for future girders to be used for mounting telescopes, solar batteries and solar powered units. Once erected outside Mir and with the cosmonauts safely back inside, ERA would be jettisoned into space. Another purpose of the EVA was for the crew to leave equipment and specimens outside Mir to be collected during a future space walk in 6 months time.

Once, outside Mir the cosmonauts first installed a support platform outside the station’s passage compartment and then mounted ERA to it. At first, the structure would not unfold and when Mir came into contact with Mission Control, Volkov said, “the framework has been unfolded” but said, with a chuckle, a Russian four-letter word was needed for help!

The final task for the cosmonauts was to test the structure for vibration resistance with measuring instruments gauging its oscillations and video cameras recording the experiment. Flight Director, Valery Ryumin, ordered them back inside, obviously concerned about their oxygen supply. Volkov and Chretien’s EVA lasted 5 hours and 57 minutes (a record for Soviet space walks). Another milestone was Chretien became the first man other than an American or a Soviet to make a space walk. Soviet and French specialists highly praised the performance of the two men.

Saturday December 10th 1988

Today was a well-earned rest-day especially for Volkov and Chretien.

Sunday December 11th 1988

The cosmonauts continued with another rest-day.

Monday December 12th 1988

Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov familiarized and checked out the Soyuz TM 6 systems. This is the capsule they will use to return to earth on December 21st along with Jean-Loup Chretien. Speaking to Mission Control today, Chretien said he regretted that the most exciting part of the mission, last Friday’s space walk, was now over.

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