The Smoke Isnt Being Produced Any More

The controllers met again five minutes before the next communication session and Yeliseyev's team prepared brief instructions appropriate to each of the three options. Just in case, he invited Eleonora Krapivina, who had spent a lot of time studying the crew in training and could evaluate their capabilities in an emergency situation. For Yeliseyev, it was important to have someone on hand to assist him in providing the most important instructions to the cosmonauts in the brief time available during the communication session.

When radio contact could be expected, Yeliseyev called: "Yantar! This is Zarya! On line!''

Instead of the station commander, who was responsible for reporting on incidents as serious as this, the response came from Volkov. Volkov: "Zarya, this is Yantar. We hear you well.'' Zarya: "Where are you?'' Volkov: "In the station.'' Zarya: "Report what is happening.''

Volkov: "The smoke isn't being produced any more, but there is still smoke in the station. We have headaches.''

It was evident from Volkov's voice that he was tired, almost exhausted, but there was no sign of the previous anxiety. The smoke had come from the control panel of the scientific apparatus (PUNA) located on the wall at the rear of the main working compartment. This suggested that the problem was simply the failure of one of the science instruments. The controllers were greatly relieved. The instructions for this situation were very simple - to switch on the filter to cleanse the atmosphere.

Flight director Yeliseyev and Colonel Gorbatko played an important role in calming the Salyut crew after a fire broke out on the station, convincing them to continue the mission.

For reassurance, Yeliseyev explained the procedure for abandoning the station: "The order of the steps for an emergency evacuation is printed on pages 110 to 120. It lists what you should do after your transfer into the descent module. After transfer, prepare the spacecraft according to the instruction on 7K-T, pages 98a and 98b.2 To undock, read pages 133 to 136. However, return only on command from the Earth. Don't hurry. With the panel switched off, the smoke should cease. If you choose to depart, leave the filter on. Take tablets for your headaches. The telemetry indicates that the carbon dioxide and oxygen concentrations are normal. The commander will take the decision about transferring to the ship and undocking from the station.''

As commander of the station, Dobrovolskiy understood that it was time for him to take control of the communication: "Zarya, I am Yantar 1. We understand. There is no hurry. PUNA is switched off. Now two of us will be on duty, one will rest. Don't worry, we want to continue working.''

Zarya: "Yantar 1, this is Zarya. We have analysed the onboard systems and we believe our recommendations will restore the situation. We hope you will be able to continue the flight according to the plan. The smell of the smoke will disappear. We suggest that you rest tomorrow, then resume the normal regime. Later, after you have left the communication zone of the ground stations, the ship Academician Sergey Korolev will contact you.''

General Kamanin, who was planning to fly to Yevpatoriya on the afternoon of the same day, had been informed of the problem by General Shatalov in Zvyozdniy.3 When Kamanin arrived at Yevpatoriya, Colonel Bykovskiy informed him: "The situation has improved. There is no longer smoke, just the smell of soot. But in the last six hours the crew has been so busy that they have not had dinner, and therefore are in need of rest.''

During the emergency Volkov had become extremely nervous and, as the veteran, had usurped Dobrovolskiy's role and attempted to resolve the situation by himself. When he used expressions like "I decided'' and "I did'' in later conversations with Yeliseyev, Nikolayev and Bykovskiy it became clear that he was too emotional and independently minded to realise or acknowledge his errors.

In one of his last interviews, published in 1989, Mishin recalled: "I had a complex conversation with Volkov. He declared himself to be in command. When the cable burned, they lost their heads and wanted to depart the station. I calmed them down.'' In addition, Mishin ordered Volkov to respect the commander: "Everything must be solved by the crew commander; carry out his orders.'' But Volkov had replied: "The whole crew decides things together. We will sort out how to proceed by ourselves.''

2 Recall that 7K-T was the model of the Soyuz in use at that time.

3 Kamanin was already planning to fly to Yevpatoriya on 16 June at 4 p.m. Prior to his flight, he went to the TsPK and met Popovich (on the eve of the latter's trip to Paris with Sevastyanov), Khrunov (about to visit the United States) and Volynov (who again asked Kamanin to be included in one of the forthcoming crews). Around 1 p.m., when Kamanin was having lunch, Shatalov approached him with the news of the fire on the station. Kamanin went straight to the airport and at 2.05 p.m. his Tu-104 departed for Yevpatoriya.

At 10.30 p.m., the station entered the communication zone on its 155th orbit with the crew on board. Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev had calmed Volkov and sent him to rest, and he had fallen asleep. Kamanin conversed with Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev. After recounting the sequence of events on the station and describing the health of the crew, Dobrovolskiy judged the situation to be "almost normal". Although it was clear that they were exhausted by the day's events, he concluded: "We'll probably be able to continue the flight.''

In his diary Kamanin added: "Prior to the launch of Soyuz 11 we agreed with Georgiy Dobrovolskiy that in describing the status of the station and the crew, if he had no doubt about continuing the flight he should say 'outstanding' or 'good', and if he had doubts then he should say 'satisfactory'. But the station commander forgot this.'' Kamanin was also dissatisfied that Dobrovolskiy appeared to have deferred to Volkov, who, after reminding everyone that he was the most experienced member of the crew, had dominated the communications with the TsUP.

A few orbits later, Academician Sergey Korolev made contact with the station and then informed the controllers at the TsUP that the situation on board was improving: Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev had eaten a meal and Volkov was still asleep.

The sudden emission of smoke in the station had strained the relationships between the members of the crew to the limit. During the crisis the cosmonauts continued to make entries in their notebooks. One remark by Dobrovolskiy clearly indicates his concern: ''If this is harmony, what is divergence?''

Day 12, Thursday, 17 June

The next day, while the controllers analysed the telemetry received from the station, the crew visually inspected the locus of the fire, identified the faulty apparatus, and isolated it from its power supply. It was the fan to cool the panel for controlling the orientation of some of the scientific equipment. When the fan seized, the motor had continued to try to drive it, and the winding of the stator had overheated and issued a dense smoke. Although there had been no flame, as such, this was the first case of a 'fire' on the manned space mission.

On the recommendation of the TsUP, the cosmonauts reactivated the instruments one by one until all the scientific equipment was again operational.

Although the filter removed the smoke, the crew remained concerned about the composition of the atmosphere.

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