Author Topic: Soyuz T-3A  (Read 1824 times)

Offline Ben E

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Soyuz T-3A
« on: 02/19/2011 02:04 PM »
I was just wondering if anyone has any additional information about the cancelled Soyuz T-3A mission? I understand that it was a medical research flight, involving Lazarev, Strekalov and Polyakov, but the crew was dissolved when Lazarev failed a medical exam in early 1981.

The literature I've read seems to imply that Lazarev, Strekalov and Polyakov were training for the mission, but the crewing arrangement and purpose of the mission changed from a medical research mission to a full-blown repair of Salyut 6 (eventually carried out by Kizim, Makarov and Strekalov on the 'real' Soyuz T-3). But if Soyuz T-3A was scheduled for launch in November 1980 and Lazarev did not fail his medical exam until early 1981, then I'm a bit confused about the timing and when exactly the Lazarev team was dissolved.

I'm curious to know
1) if Soyuz T-3A was scheduled to fly BEFORE or AFTER the 'real' Soyuz T-3 mission in November 1980
2) how long it would have remained in orbit

Many thanks.

Online Nicolas PILLET

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Re: Soyuz T-3A
« Reply #1 on: 02/19/2011 02:31 PM »
What you can read in the book "Мировая пилотируемая космонавтика" :

October 1979
Creation of two crews (main and backup) for a mission on Soyouz T-3 :
Crew n°1 : Lazarev - Strekalov
Crew n°2 : Isaulov - Rukavichnikov

The goal of the mission is to continue testing of the new version 11F732. So, my guess is that it would be a short duration flight.

December 1979
Decision to make medical experiments during the mission. Two "medical" cosmonauts are added.
Crew n°1 : Lazarev - Strekalov - Poliakov
Crew n°2 : Isaulov - Rukavichnikov - Potapov


May 1980
The first two flights of 11F732 were successful, and there is technical difficulties onboard Saliout-6. For these two reasons, the medical experiments are cancelled. The mission becomes a repair mission.

June 1980
New crews are named, according to the new objectives of the mission.
Crew n°1 : Kizim - Makarov - Feoktistov
Crew n°2 : Lazarev - Strekalov - Poliakov
Crew n°3 : Isaulov - Rukavichnikov - Lebedev


October 1980
Feoktistov is replaced by Strekalov due to medical concerns.
Crew n°1 : Kizim - Makarov - Strekalov
Crew n°2 : Lazarev - Savinikh - Poliakov
Crew n°3 : Isaulov - Rukavichnikov - Lebedev


27th november 1980
Launch of Soyouz T-3.
Nicolas PILLET
Kosmonavtika : The French site on Russian Space

Offline Ben E

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Re: Soyuz T-3A
« Reply #2 on: 02/19/2011 02:52 PM »
Nicolas, that is fantastic and very, very helpful. Many thanks.

Online Olaf

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Re: Soyuz T-3A
« Reply #3 on: 02/19/2011 06:28 PM »
June 1980
New crews are named, according to the new objectives of the mission.
Crew n°3 :  Lebedev
Lebedev was injured during training in march 1980, then he was replaced by Ryumin on Soyuz 35. That´s why I think he can´t be a member of the Soyuz T3 crew in June 1980.
And his biography on astronaut.ru doesn´t say anything about training for Soyuz T3.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2011 10:20 AM by Olaf »

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Soyuz T-3A
« Reply #4 on: 02/20/2011 11:12 AM »
It’s interesting to note that if Lazarev had flown the mission, he would have become the oldest man to fly in space at age 52 (beating the record of Deke Slayton, who flew Apollo-Soyuz at the age of 51).  In a cosmonaut biography book published by Novosti Kosmonavtiki in 2000 it was revealed that beating Slayton’s record was an objective set out by NPO Energiya chief Valentin Glushko in the late 1970s, among other things to see if the age limit for cosmonauts travelling in space could be expanded. For that reason, the book claims, Konstantin Feoktistov was picked in 1982 to fly a mission to Salyut-7 and cardiologist Oleg Atkov was especially selected to fly with him to perform medical experiments. Unfortunately, in 1983 Feoktistov was medically disqualified, although Atkov of course did go on to fly an 8-month mission aboard Salyut-7 in 1984.

The book “Mirovaya pilotiuremaya kosmonavtika”, mentioned earlier in this thread and also published by Novosti Kosmonavtiki  (in  2005), has the same story in its cosmonaut biography section. However, in the Salyut-7 chapter a slightly different version of the story is given. Here it is claimed that Feoktistov *himself* came up with the idea to fly the mission *after* Atkov had already been assigned to fly to Salyut-7. The plan would have been for Feoktistov to go up with Atkov  and return about two months later with the Soviet-Indian visiting crew. However, NPO Energiya management was reportedly against the idea (which conflicts with the other story that it was originally Glushko’s own idea) and the plan was definitively abandoned after Feoktistov became medically disqualified. Unfortunately, Feoktistov doesn’t say anything about these plans in his autobiography “Traektoriya zhizni”.

Could Glushko have come up with a seemingly absurd plan to beat the oldest-man-in-space record? It certainly seems plausible given his thirst for propaganda successes. He is known to have been behind the plan to resume training of female cosmonauts in the late 1970s to upstage the flight of America’s first woman astronaut and later to assign Savitskaya to an EVA mission in 1984 to steal the thunder from Kathy Sullivan’s EVA on STS-41G.

Let’s come back now to Soyuz T-3 and assume the story about Glushko’s plan to break the record for the oldest man in space is true. There is no evidence that Lazarev’s assignment was related to that plan, but it is still tempting to believe there was a link, certainly because the idea reportedly originated in the late 1970s. Lazarev and Strekalov were assigned prime crew members for T-3 in October 1978 and then two months later doctor Valeriy Polyakov was added to the crew to carry out a medical research programme. The objectives of that programme have never been specified.  One of his tasks would probably have been to  subject Salyut-6’s longterm crew to a series of medical tests during the final stages of its mission, but seeing how Lazarev’s organism reacted to zero-g at age 52 may well have been another goal.   It should also be pointed out in this respect that Lazarev himself had a medical background, having graduated as a surgeon in 1952.

A few “anomalies” in the Soyuz T-3 assignments would tend to support all this. Firstly, when the original assignments were made in October 1978, it would have been logical for the Soyuz T-2 back-ups (Kizim-Makarov) to be assigned to Soyuz T-3.  Instead, Lazarev and Strekalov (the second back-up crew for Soyuz T-2) got the assignment, possibly indicating the “old age record” was seen as a major objective.  It was the last opportunity for such a short-duration Soyuz-T mission, because the following vehicles (beginning with T-4) were scheduled to fly long-duration flights.  It is also puzzling that when Lazarev-Strekalov were moved to back-up position after T-3 became a repair mission, Polyakov remained part of the back-up crew, even though the medical programme had reportedly been cancelled.  Officially, he backed up Feoktistov, who  was picked to fly the mission because of his engineering experience. Was there simply not enough time to train an engineer as a back-up for Feoktistov or was there a plan to do the “old-age” related medical experiments anyway if the back-ups had to fly the mission? Of course, Feoktistov himself would have broken the old-age record had he flown T-3 (he was 54 at the time), but with no doctor in the prime crew and the urgent need to conduct repairs to Salyut’s thermal control system, medical research would probably not have been part of the programme.


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