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Zarya: "Yantar 3, again we all send our greetings on your birthday - we wish you a successful flight and happiness in your life. Your family sends their most sincere wishes.''

Patsayev: "Thank you for your greetings. Although you are far away from us, we always feel your support.''

Patsayev's 38th birthday was the first birthday to be celebrated in space. Knowing the recent crisis and tensions between the members of the crew, the psychologists at the TsUP had prepared a special programme. Patsayev's wife and children were in the communication centre in Kaliningrad, watching the TV signal from the station.

With them was the famous TV anchor, Yuriy Fokin. The communication officer at the TsUP was Nikolayev.

Nikolayev: ''How is the table prepared?''

Patsayev: ''The table is prepared excellently: cold veal, cookies and blackberry juice in tubes.''

Nikolayev: ''Did you find the bottle?'' He was referring to the traditional bottle of celebratory champagne.

Patsayev (laughing): ''No, we didn't. We looked for the bottle everywhere, but we couldn't find it. The delicacy was the onion, which was a present from Vadim. We sliced it into three parts and shared it. Zhora's present was lemon.''

The onion and lemon were smuggled on board by Volkov especially for the first birthday in orbit. The TV viewers could see the table set with tubes of juice, cheese, fruits, nuts and cans of veal. The items were held in place by tapes across the table. Patsayev sat at the table and Dobrovolskiy and Volkov floated in the background, smiling happily. Not having champagne glasses, they toasted loudly with the plum juice tubes. Patsayev said that of his presents he most enjoyed the onion, which was the first 'fresh' food that any of them had tasted since entering space.

His son Dmitriy recalls: ''We were invited to the communication centre and had a chance to talk with dad, but only for a brief time. I don't really remember what we said - I was 13 years old and there were many interesting devices in the room that distracted me. However, I do remember that Dobrovolskiy and Volkov presented an onion to him.''

Svetlana Patsayeva, even younger, remembers the visit only by what her mother

''Did you find the bottle?'' asked General Nikolayev (right) as Patsayev celebrates his birthday in orbit.

told her: "The crew were given congratulations from their friends and relatives. And there was music too. Our friends especially asked that our father's favourite song be played. Previously, the people on the ground had recorded the congratulations from our family. They brought me home from Young Pioneers' camp for this. Someone came to our home with the equipment to record our words, me playing the piano (in fact, I was just starting to learn music, and my playing was not very good), and the sounds of our parrot.''

After the communication session Patsayev's friends gathered in his apartment in Moscow, where his wife, Vera, had prepared a celebratory lunch. It was an unusual birthday party, as the person being honoured was not present. Someone had a bottle of French champagne, but it was decided to defer opening it until Viktor was home. A note was affixed to the bottle bearing the signatures of all the attendees, together with the message: 'Vitya, you were searching for this bottle in space, but it was here on Earth.'

From Dobrovolskiy's notebook:

19 June. Viktor's birthday. His wife sent a greeting letter with the words: ''Mum has arrived, she is feeling well.'' Viktor was so impassioned.

From Volkov's diary:

19 June. Today is Viktor's birthday. We laid the table. The onion was a real delicacy. Zarya gave him their greetings. The Earth asked for a report.

21.30. Start my duty. I will be the first to see the globe instrument indicate '1,000 orbits'. This historic event will occur during my time on duty. Simply unbelievable.

I slept at the new place, which is similar to the roomette in a wagon.6 For the last two days I have slept well - about eight hours. Tomorrow we expect the radio programme With Good Morning to be transmitted.

So, with the stress of the fire behind him, Volkov was once again sleeping well.

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