Yesterday I discovered a fascinating story about a daring space adventure back in 1985, a rescue mission to save the Soviet space station Salyut 7, the direct processor to Mir. This tale was posted over on the arstechnica website, and I am not going to do it an injustice by trying to retell it, but instead wet your whistle a little bit to pique your interest, then send you over there!
At 1:20pm and 51 seconds on February 11, 1985, Salyut 7 became unresponsive. The Russians now had two choices, let the station die, fall out of orbit uncontrolled, while waiting for Mir to come online; or plan an unprecedented repair mission requiring a never attempted “Docking with a non-cooperative object”. The state of the station was unclear–had there been a fire, had there been a micro-meteor strike, was it habitable?–but the mission was a go. June 6, 1985, Soyuz T-13 launched with Vladimir Dzhanibekov as commander and Victor Savinikh as flight engineer, and this story is theirs.
“The story happened in 1985 but subsequently vanished into obscurity. Over the years, many details have been twisted, others created. Even the original storytellers got some things just plain wrong. After extensive research, writer Nickolai Belakovski is able to present, for the first time to an English-speaking audience, the complete story of Soyuz T-13’s mission to save Salyut 7, a fascinating piece of in-space repair history. Belakovski is an engineer with a background in aerospace engineering. He is fluent in English and Russian and gathered a number of technical and non-technical sources in order to understand what really happened in the leadup to and execution of the Soyuz T-13 mission.”