Tutorial:Salyut programme

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Welcome to my first tutorial! Here, we will try to re-enact the world's first space stations. All of the designs are based on actual modules of the Salyut space stations. Of course, I can't do it perfectly, but I am trying my best. Also, I am doing it without any mod parts.

The Salyut programme was the first space station program undertaken by the Soviet Union, which consisted of a series of four crewed scientific research space stations and two crewed military reconnaissance space stations over a period of 15 years from 1971 to 1986. It was, on the one hand, designed to carry out long-term research into the problems of living in space and a variety of astronomical, biological and Earth-resources experiments, and on the other hand this civilian program was used as a cover for the highly secretive military Almaz stations, which flew as well under the Salyut designation.

Vocabulary list

Just so you know, some terms I am using here :

  • Zenith - top side of the ship; usually oriented away from the orbited body.
  • Nadir - bottom side of the ship; usually oriented towards the orbited body.
  • Port - left side of the ship
  • Starboard - right side of the ship
  • Front - front side/end of the ship
  • Aft - back side/end of the ship


Proton-8K82K on the launchpad

Any custom-built launcher that can carry a large amount of payload into a low orbit can be used. But I recommend using the Proton-K (the SAS on the first stage is meant to toggle on and off for purposes of correcting spin only; it will cause a dangerous oscillation if SAS is left on) from the ISS tutorial (for payloads of less than 13.02 tonnes) or any of the launchers that could carry a payload of at least more than 14 tonnes. But I have a launcher that could carry a Soyuz of Progress.

R-7 Soyuz Rocket

The R-7 with a soyuz spacecraft prior to launch

The Soyuz (Russian: Союз, meaning "union", GRAU index 11A511) was a 1960s Soviet expendable carrier rocket designed by OKB-1 and manufactured by State Aviation Plant No. 1 in Samara, Russia. It was used to launch Soyuz spacecraft as part of the Soyuz programme, initially on unmanned test flights, followed by the first 19 manned launches of the programme.

Front to aft:

To increase the thrust from 4 MN to 4.24 MN it is possible to replace the engines on the radial adapters with LV-T30 Liquid Fuel Engines.

Soyuz personnel transport and Progress unmanned craft

Soyuz is a series of spacecraft initially designed for the Soviet space programme by the Korolyov Space Bureau in the 1960s, and still in service today. The Soyuz succeeded the Voskhod spacecraft and was originally built as part of the Soviet manned lunar programme.

The Progress is a Russian expendable freighter spacecraft. The spacecraft is an unmanned resupply spacecraft during its flight but upon docking with a space station, it allows astronauts inside, hence it is classified manned by the manufacturer. It was derived from the Soyuz spacecraft, and is launched with the Soyuz rocket. It is currently used to supply the International Space Station, but was originally used to supply Soviet space stations for many years. There are three to four flights of the Progress spacecraft to the ISS per year. Each spacecraft remains docked until shortly before the new one, or a Soyuz (which uses the same docking ports) arrives. Then it is filled with waste, disconnected, deorbited, and destroyed in the atmosphere. Because of the different Progress variants used for ISS, NASA uses its own nomenclature where "ISS 1P" means the first Progress spacecraft to ISS.

Ship Design


A Soyuz capsule around Kerbin

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Front to aft:


Try your best to put it on the same orbit as the orbiting Salyut station. If you have an auto-pilot, use the "Launch to rendezvous" function. If not, try to send it with the station.

Rendezvous and Docking

Check the tutorials on rendezvous and docking if you don't know how to. The goal is to attach the front end of the Soyuz or Progress to the front/aft end of the station. You may need to switch between vessels to put them in the right directions.

First Generation-The first space stations

Salyut 1

Salyut 1 (DOS-1) was the first space station of any kind, launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. More stations followed in the Salyut programme, and heritage of that space station program is still in use on the ISS.

Ship Design

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The Almaz program was a highly secretive Soviet military space station program, began in the early 1960s.

Three crewed military reconnaissance stations were launched between 1971 and 1974: Salyut 2, Salyut 3 and Salyut 5. To cover the military nature of the program the three launched Almaz stations were designated as civilian Salyut space stations. Salyut 2 failed shortly after achieving orbit, but Salyut 3 and Salyut 5 both conducted successful manned testing. Following Salyut 5, the Soviet Ministry of Defence judged in 1978 that the time consumed by station maintenance outweighed the benefits relative to automatic reconnaissance satellites.

The space stations cores were known internally as OPS, from "Orbital Piloted Station." As part of the Almaz program several spacecraft for supportive roles were developed: The VA spacecraft, the Functional Cargo Block and the TKS spacecraft, which were to be used in several combinations. The heritage of the Almaz program continues to this day with the ISS module Zarya being one example.

Ship Design

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Salyut 4

Salyut 4 (DOS 4) was a Salyut space station launched on December 26, 1974 into an orbit with an apogee of 355 km, a perigee of 343 km and an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees. It was essentially a copy of the DOS 3, and unlike its ill-fated sibling it was a complete success. Three crews attempted to make stays aboard Salyut 4 (Soyuz 17 and Soyuz 18 docked; Soyuz 18a suffered a launch abort). The second stay was for 63 days duration, and an unmanned Soyuz capsule remained docked to the station for three months, proving the system's long-term durability. Salyut 4 was deorbited February 2, 1977, and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on February 3.

Ship Design

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Second generation – Long-duration inhabitation of space

In 1977 another marked step forward was made with the second generation of Salyut stations: The aim was to continuously occupy a space station with long-duration expeditions, for the first time in spaceflight.

Although Salyut 6 and Salyut 7 resembled the previous Salyut stations in overall design, several revolutionary changes were made to the stations and program for the aim of continuous occupation: The new stations featured a longer design life and a second docking port at the aft of the stations – crew exchanges and station "hand overs" were now made possible by docking two crewed Soyuz spacecraft at the same time. Furthermore, the uncrewed Progress space station resupply craft was created based on the crewed Soyuz spacecraft, to resupply crew and station with air, air regenerators, water, food, clothing, bedding, mail, propellants, pressurant, and other supplies – while the Progress docked to the station's second docking port, the crew's Soyuz spacecraft could remain docked to the station's first port. The Progress spacecraft can even deliver hardware parts for updating the onboard experiment apparatus and even permitting to perform repairs of the station if needed, furthermore extending the stations life.

The space station program had matured: Flights of both crews and cargo to a space station had become common, and the Salyut stations – first Salyut 6 from 1977 to 1981, and then Salyut 7 from 1982 to 1986 – were crewed continuously for a considerable part of the time.

Salyut 6 and 7

Salyut 6 (DOS-5) was launched on September 29, 1977. Salyut 6 was visited from 1977 until 1981 by 16 manned spacecraft, bringing five long-duration crews ("expeditions") and 11 short-term crews. The very first long-duration crew on Salyut 6 broke a record set on board Skylab, staying 96 days in orbit. The short-term crews included foreign cosmonauts from the Interkosmos programme setting several firsts: the first citizen in space of a nation other than the United States or the Soviet Union, the first black and Hispanic person in space and the first Asian person in space. The longest flight on board Salyut 6 lasted 185 days. The fourth Salyut 6 expedition deployed a 10-meter radio-telescope antenna delivered by an uncrewed cargo spacecraft.

After Salyut 6 manned operations were discontinued in 1981, a heavy unmanned spacecraft called TKS and developed using hardware left from the canceled Almaz program was docked to the station as a hardware test. Some unconfirmed reports say the station was functionally capable of even more missions and years, but combating the ever-increasing mold in living quarters was becoming impossible, and in practice caused the retirement decision. Salyut 6 was deorbited July 29, 1982.

Salyut 7 (DOS-6) was launched on April 19, 1982. DOS-6 was built as the back-up vehicle for Salyut 6 with very similar equipment and capabilities, though several more advanced features were included. The station was aloft for eight years and ten months, during which time it was visited by 10 manned spacecraft bringing six long-duration crews ("expeditions") and 4 short-term crews (including French and Indian cosmonauts in the Interkosmos programme). On 12 February 1985, during an unmanned period, contact with Salyut 7 was lost. The station had became crippled by electrical problems, all systems did shut down and the station began to drift. It was decided to put together a salvage mission, and in June 1985 the Soyuz T-13 mission, in what was in the words of author David S. F. Portree "one of the most impressive feats of in-space repairs in history," managed to bring the station online again. The Soyuz T-15 mission was the last to visit Salyut 7 in 1986, ferrying equipment from Salyut 7 to the new Mir space station; This was so far the only ferry flight between two space stations.

Aside from the many experiments and observations made on Salyut 7, the station also tested the docking and use of large modules with an orbiting space station. These modules, called "Heavy Cosmos modules", helped engineers develop technology necessary to build Mir.

Salyut 7 was finally deorbited on February 7, 1991.

Ship Design

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TKS Cosmos Space Module

The TKS spacecraft was a Soviet spacecraft conceived in the late 1960s for resupply flights to the military Almaz space station.

The spacecraft was designed for both crewed or autonomous uncrewed cargo resupply flights, but was never used operationally in its intended role – only four test missions were flown to Salyut space stations during the program. However the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) of the TKS spacecraft would later form the basis of several space station modules, including the Zarya FGB module on the International Space Station.

The TKS spacecraft consisted of two spacecraft mated together, both of which could operate independently: The VA spacecraft (known in the West as the Merkur spacecraft), which would have housed the cosmonauts during launch and reentry of an TKS spacecraft, while traveling to and from an Almaz space station.And the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) which, in order to resupply an Almaz space station, carried docking hardware, tanks and a large pressurized cargo compartment. Furthermore the FGB carried the on-orbit maneuvering engines for the TKS.

While the VA carried the reentry hardware, and only minimal life support and maneuvering systems, the FGB would have been used as the primary orbital maneuvering system and cargo storage for the TKS spacecraft.

The FGB could also be used alone as an unmanned cargo module without an VA spacecraft, which enabled the FGB design to be re-purposed as FGB space station modules later on. The VA spacecraft on the other hand was also intended to be launched as well as "Almaz APOS" mated with an Almaz-OPS space station core, instead of a FGB, as the primary orbital maneuvering system. As of August 2009,Excalibur Almaz planned to use the VA capsule as low-cost cargo return vehicles.

Ship Design

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Salyut's heritage – Modular space stations

After the second generation, plans for the next generation of Salyut stations called for the cores DOS-7 and DOS-8 to allow, for the first time in spaceflight, the addition of several modules to a station core and to create a modular space station. For this, the DOS modules were to be equipped with a total of four docking ports: one docking port at the aft of the station as in the second generation Salyuts, and the replacement of the front docking port with a "docking sphere" containing a front, port and starboard docking port.

While the station cores DOS-7 and DOS-8 were built and flown, they never received the Salyut designation; Instead, DOS-7 evolved into the Mir Core Module for the Mir space station that followed the Salyut programme, and DOS-8 was used as the Zvezda Service Module for the International Space Station (ISS) which followed Mir.

And the heritage from the Almaz program is present even today. While in 1976 the last space station from the Almaz programme was flown with Salyut 5, the development of the Almaz TKS spacecraft evolved into the Functional Cargo Block, becoming the first space station modules with the ISS Zarya Functional Cargo Block being in orbit still today.

Mir orbital station

Mir's configuration

DOS-7 continued to be developed during Salyut 7, becoming the Mir Core Module of the Mir space station – the first modular space station, with crewed operations from 1986 to 2000.

The station featured among others upgraded computers and solar arrays and accommodations for two cosmonauts each having their own cabin. A total of six docking ports were available on the Mir Core Module, which were used for space station modules and visiting spacecraft – the docking sphere design had been upgraded from its initial Salyut design to contain the maximum of five docking ports (front, port, starboard, zenith and nadir). And finally, the modules for the Mir space station were derived from the Functional Cargo Block design of the Almaz programme.

The name of the Mir space station – Russian: Мир, literally Peace or World – was to signify the intentions of the Soviet Union to bring peace to the world; It was however during the time of the Mir space station that the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, ending what was began with the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. This dissolution had started with the Soviet "perestroika and glasnost" ("restructuring and openness") reform campaigns by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, had reached an preliminary endpoint with the revolutions of 1989 and the end of the communist Eastern Bloc (Warsaw Pact and the CoMEcon), finally to reach the Soviet Union itself in 1991.

While the Russian Federation became the successor to much of the dissolved Soviet Union and was in a position to continue the Soviet space program with the Russian Federal Space Agency, it faced severe difficulties: imports and exports had steeply declined as the economic exchange with CoMEcon nations had crumbled away, leaving the industry of the former Soviet Union in shambles. Not only did the political change in east-Europe signify an end of contributions to the space program by east-European nations (like from the east-German Carl Zeiss Jena), but parts of the Soviet space industry were located in the newly independent Ukraine, which was similarly cash-strapped as Russia and started to demand hard currency for its contributions.

It was during this time of transition and upheaval that the Shuttle–Mir Program was established between the Russian Federation and the United States in 1993. The former adversaries would now cooperate, with "Phase One" consisting of joint missions and flights of the US Space Shuttle to the Mir space station. It was a partnership with stark contrasts – the Russian needed an inflow of hard currency to keep their space program aloft; In the US it was seen as a chance to learn from the over 20 years of experience of Soviet space station operations, and jumpstart the US space station program.

It was "Phase Two" of this Shuttle-Mir Program that would lead to the International Space Station.

Mir Module Designs

Mir Core Module

The base block for the entire Mir complex, the core module, or DOS-7, provided the main living quarters for resident crews and contained environmental systems, early attitude control systems and the station's main engines. The module was based on hardware developed as part of the Salyut programme, and consisted of a stepped-cylinder main compartment and a spherical 'node' module, which served as an airlock and provided ports to which four of the station's expansion modules were berthed and to which a Soyuz or Progress spacecraft could dock. The module's aft port served as the berthing location for Kvant-1.

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The Mission

The original launch of the Mir core module was February 20, 1986. It was launched into a Low Earth Orbit, which is 160 to 2000 km. Mir's orbit is 354 km PE x 374 km AP with a 51.6° orbital inclination. So if you want to make it good, launch the core module as usual, with a gravity turn at 10000m or 10 km. Turn towards 38.4 degrees (for the 51.6 inclination). Continue until you reach a 374 km apoapsis, then burn prograde there until you get a 354 periapsis. It is possible to do this with precise flying or an autopilot.


The first expansion module to be launched, Kvant-1 consisted of two pressurised working compartments and one unpressurised experiment compartment. Scientific equipment included an X-ray telescope, an ultraviolet telescope, a wide-angle camera, high-energy X-ray experiments, an X-ray/gamma ray detector, and the Svetlana electrophoresis unit. The module also carried six gyrodynes for attitude control, in addition to life support systems including an Elektron oxygen generator and a Vozdukh carbon dioxide remover.

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The Mission

Kvant-1 was originally intended to be launched and docked to Salyut 7, but delays forced it to be launched to Mir instead. Kvant-1 did not have any propulsion systems of its own and to reach Mir, Kvant-1 was mated with a Functional Service Module (FSM) – carrying propulsion and electrical systems – to act as a space tug. The FSM was derived from the TKS spacecraft, which would later form the basis for the Functional Cargo Block of the Kvant-2,Kristall, Spektr, and Priroda modules.

First, build the Kvant-1 inside the VAB. Then, build the FSM below Kvant-1. The FSM design is shown below:

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The first TKS based module, Kvant-2, was divided into three compartments; an EVA airlock, an instrument/cargo compartment (which could function as a backup airlock), and an instrument/experiment compartment. The module also carried a Soviet version of the Manned Maneuvering Unit for the Orlan space suit, referred to as Ikar, a system for regenerating water from urine, a shower, the Rodnik water storage system and six gyrodynes to augment those already located in Kvant-1. Scientific equipment included a high-resolution camera, spectrometers, X-ray sensors, the Volna 2 fluid flow experiment, and the Inkubator-2 unit, which was used for hatching and raising quail.

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The Kvant-2 is docked starboard of core module.


Kristall, the fourth module, consisted of two main sections. The first was largely used for materials processing (via various processing furnaces), astronomical observations, and a biotechnology experiment utilizing the Aniur electrophoresis unit. The second section was a docking compartment which featured two APAS-89 docking ports initially intended for use with the Buran programme and eventually used during the Shuttle-Mir programme. The docking compartment also contained the Priroda 5 camera used for Earth resources experiments. Kristall also carried six gyrodines for attitude control to augment those already on the station, and two collapsible solar arrays.

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Kristall is docked nadir of core module.


Spektr was the first of the three modules launched during the Shuttle-Mir programme; it served as the living quarters for American astronauts and housed NASA-sponsored experiments. The module was designed for remote observation of Earth's environment and contained atmospheric and surface research equipment. Additionally, it featured four solar arrays which generated approximately half of the station's electrical power. The module also featured a science airlock to expose experiments to the vacuum of space selectively. Spektr was rendered unusable following the collision with Progress M-34 in 1997 which damaged the module, exposing it directly to the vacuum of space.

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Spektr is docked port of core module.

Docking Module

The docking module was designed to help simplify Space Shuttle dockings to Mir. Before the first shuttle docking mission (STS-71), the Kristall module had to be tediously moved to ensure sufficient clearance between Atlantis and Mir's solar arrays. With the addition of the docking module, enough clearance was provided without the need to relocate Kristall. It had two identical APAS-89 docking ports, one attached to the distal port of Kristall with the other available for shuttle docking.

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The docking module is docked nadir of Kristall. The docking module was launched by the Space Shuttle.


The seventh and final Mir module, Priroda's primary purpose was to conduct Earth resource experiments through remote sensing and to develop and verify remote sensing methods. The module's experiments were provided by twelve different nations, and covered microwave, visible, near infrared, and infrared spectral regions using both passive and active sounding methods. The module possessed both pressurised and unpressurised segments, and featured a large, externally mounted synthetic aperture radar dish.

Front to aft:

Priroda is docked zenith of core module.


The deorbit of our Mir space station will be carried out using a Progress M1-5 spacecraft to dock aft of Kvant-1. Point the station retrograde using the navball. Afterwards, use the Progress M1-5's engine to deorbit the station. During atmospheric re-entry, the solar panels will catch the air it will cause the station to rotate around, and as it rotates the solar panels break off. If a solar panel is edge-on to the airflow, it will stay attached to the station but eventually, they will break if the station turns around. Apart from solar panels, aerodynamic parts will also cause it to rotate. Also, undock all the modules during re-entry. If you are using the Ferram Aerospace Research mod, the modules might automatically separate from each other and spread around in different directions. All of the parts should splash down hard into the ocean. If you crash it on land, some might survive the fall.

What now

You could do the International Space Station and/or possibly your own space station, interplanetary base, etc. let your imagination run wild!