Soyuz T-13: saving Salyut 7

Soyuz T-13The Soviet Union launches Soyuz T-13 on a mission to salvage space station Salyut 7, which has gone unoccupied for more than half a year and has lost power and attitude control. Cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savinykh find the station dead in space, tumbling slowly, forcing them to use their Soyuz vehicle’s thrusters to match the station’s erratic motion to allow a manual docking. Inside the station, the crew finds frigid but breathable air, and again the Soyuz engines are fired to orient the station so its solar panels catch enough sunlight to charge its batteries. After a week of work carried out in bulky clothing befitting a Russian winter, the cosmonauts reactivate the station fully, scoring a major space first – the first-ever docking with, and repair of, a fully deactivated space station. For the first time, a Salyut crew spends some overlap time with the next long-term crew, a step toward the uninterrupted occupancy that will become commonplace aboard Mir, Salyut’s successor. Savinykh remains aboard Salyut 7 for 168 days, overlapping into the next long-term station crew, while Dzhanibekov departs 110 days into his stay.