A space station or an orbital space station is a spacecraft which supports crew members to live in the space. It is designed to remain in space for a long period of time and for other spacecraft to dock. Today’s space stations have become a Research Laboratories and used to study the effect of long-term space flight. Salyut 1 was the world’s first space station of any kind and was launched by the Soviet Union in April 1971.
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Salyut 1: World’s first space station
It was the first space station of any kind, launched into low Earth orbit on April 19, 1971. The construction work of Salyut 1 was started in early 1970, and after a year it was transported to the Baikonur Cosmodrome and assembled at the launch Center. The launch of Salyut 1 was planned on the date of Yuri Gagarin’s flight on “Vostok 1” on April 12, 1971. But due to some technical problems, it was delayed and launched on April 19, 1971. The first successful crew launched on 7 June 1971 and this crew of 3 members remained in space for 23 days 18 hour 21 min 43 seconds. It was the first time in the history of space flight that a space station had been manned. During the return to Earth, the spacecraft, containing crew members met an accident and all the members died tragically. After six months running in the orbit, the space station ran out of fuel and destroyed by de-orbiting.
Structure of Salyut 1
The Salyut 1 space station was 20m long, 4m in maximum diameter with an on-orbit mass 18,425kg. The structure contained total three pressurized compartments, transfer compartment, main compartment and an auxiliary compartment for astronauts and one unpressurized area containing the engines and control equipment. The transfer compartment was equipped with only docking port which allowed one spacecraft to dock. The second and main compartment was 4m in diameter having enough space for eight big chairs and containing some control panels and 20 porth holes. Two wings like solar panel were also installed at the either end of the space station.
The third compartment contained the control and communication equipment, the life support system, the power supply and auxiliary equipment. The “Orion 1 Space Observatory” was also installed on Salyut to see the stars with the help of a mirror telescope. Orion 1 Space Observatory was operated by Viktor Patsayev, who became the first person to operate a telescope outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
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The Salyut 1 space station orbited the Earth almost 3000 times during its 175 days in space. After that, the main engines were fired to de-orbit it because it was running out of fuel. On October 11, the world’s first space station burned up over the Pacific Ocean.