Soyuz T-13

Infobox Space mission
mission_name = Soyuz T-13
sign = Pamir
spacecraft_name = Soyuz T
insignia = Salyut Patch.gif
insignia_size = 180px
stats_ref =
crew_members = 2
launch_pad = Gagarin's Start
launch = June 6, 1985 06:39:52 UTC
landing = September 26, 1985 09:51:58 UTC
duration = 112d/03:12:06
orbits = 2645
apogee = 222 km (138 mi)
perigee = 198 km (123 mi)
period = 88.7 minutes
altitude =
inclination = 51.6°
distance =
mass = 6850 kg (15,100 lb)
crew_photo =
crew_caption = L-R: Dzhanibekov, Savinykh
previous = Soyuz T-12
next = Soyuz T-14

Soyuz T-13 was a Soyuz mission, a human spaceflight mission transporting personnel to the Russian space station Salyut 7. The eighth expedition to the orbital station, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, atop a Soyuz carrier rocket, at 06:39:52 UTC on 1985-06-06. It is of note because it marked the first time a spacecraft had docked with a 'dead' space station, and the first time such a station had been returned to operational status following repairs.


Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.

*Vladimir Dzhanibekov (5) - Commander
*Viktor Savinykh (2) - Flight Engineer

*Vladimir Dzhanibekov (5) - Commander
*Georgi Grechko (3) - Flight Engineer

Backup crew

*Leonid Popov - Commander
*Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov - Flight Engineer

Mission highlights

Soyuz T-13 was the 8th expedition to Salyut 7.

Vladimir Dzhanibekov could have had no notion that he would so soon visit Salyut 7 after his Soyuz T-12 flight. Soyuz T-13 was the first Soyuz to dock manually with an inert Salyut. For the purpose it was slightly modified to include control levers in the descent module for proximity operations. Viktor Savinykh and Vladimir Dzhanibekov salvaged the Salyut 7 station, which had been crippled by a solar array problem. Savinykh remained aloft for 169 days, returning to Earth in Soyuz T-14; Dzhanibekov returned to Earth in Soyuz T-13 with Grechko after spending 110 days on Salyut 7. Before deorbiting, Soyuz T-13 spent about 30 h conducting rendezvous and docking tests.

The effort turned out to be one of the most impressive feats of in-space repairs in history. As the Pamirs approached the inert station, they saw that its solar arrays were pointing randomly as it rolled slowly about its long axis. They used a handheld laser rangefinder to judge their distance, and conducted a fly-around inspection to be certain the exterior was intact. Dzhanibekov noted that the thermal blankets on the transfer compartment had turned a dull gray from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Upon achieving hard dock—the first time a Soyuz docked with an inactive station—the crew confirmed through the electrical connectors in the docking collars that the Salyut 7 electrical system was dead. They carefully sampled the air in the station before opening the hatch. The station air was very cold, but breathable. Frost covered the walls and apparatus. The cosmonauts wore winter garb, including fur-lined hats, as they entered the station. The first order of business was to restore electric power. Of the eight batteries, all were dead, and two were destroyed. Dzhanibekov determined that a sensor had failed in the solar array pointing system, preventing the batteries from recharging. A telemetry radio problem prevented the TsUP from detecting the problem. Salyut 7 had quickly run down its batteries, shutting down all its systems and accounting for the break in radio contact. The cosmonauts set about recharging the batteries. They used Soyuz T-13 to turn the station to put its solar arrays in sunlight. On June 10 they turned on the air heaters. The cosmonauts relied on the Soyuz T-13 air regeneration system until they could get the Salyut 7 system back in order. On June 13 the attitude control system was successfully reactivated. This was cause for jubilation, as it meant a Progress bearing replacement parts could dock with Salyut 7. Wall heaters were turned on only after all the frost had evaporated, in order to prevent water from entering equipment. Normal atmospheric humidity was achieved only at the end of July. The station’s water tanks thawed by the end of June. Freezing destroyed the water heater, so the cosmonauts used a powerful television light to heat fluids.

Further reading

*Vladimir Dzhanibekov, "Soviets In Space - Are They Ahead?", "National Geographic", pp. 430-433, 1986 October.

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