Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 138

Soyuz TM-12



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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  18.05.1991
Launch time:  12:50:27.919 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  389 - 397 km
Inclination:  51.6°
Docking Mir:  20.05.1991, 14:30:43 UTC
Undocking Mir:  09.10.1991, 20:55:08 UTC
Landing date:  10.10.1991
Landing time:  04:12:18 UTC
Landing site:  67 km SE of Arkalyk

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Artsebarsky  Anatoli Pavlovich  Commander 1 144d 15h 21m 50s  2288 
2  Krikalyov  Sergei Konstantinovich  Flight Engineer 2 311d 20h 00m 34s  4934 
3  Sharman  Helen Patricia "Lenochka"  Research Cosmonaut 1 7d 21h 13m 45s  124 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Artsebarsky
2  Krikalyov
3  Sharman
1  Artsebarsky
2  Aubakirov
3  Viehböck

Animations: Soyuz

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Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Volkov  Aleksandr Aleksandrovich  Commander
2  Kaleri  Aleksandr Yuriyevich  Flight Engineer
3  Mace  Timothy Kristian Charles  Research Cosmonaut


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 67 km southeast of Arkalyk.

Helen Sharman became the first British cosmonaut. Following a two day solo flight Soyuz TM-12 docked with the Soyuz TM-11-Kvant1-Mir-Kristall-Kvant2 complex on May 20, 1991. The Mir-8 crew welcomed aboard Mir the Mir-9 crew of Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov (on his second visit to the station), accompanied by British Research Cosmonaut Helen Sharman.
As part of the British Juno program Helen Sharman was involved in scientific experiments, especially life sciences, together with the eighth resident crew. Sharman's experimental program, which was designed by the Soviets, leaned heavily toward life sciences, her speciality being chemistry. A bag of 250,000 pansy seeds was placed in the Kvant2 EVA airlock, a compartment not as protected from cosmic radiation as other Mir compartments. Helen Sharman also contacted nine British schools by radio and conducted high-temperature superconductor experiments with the Elektropograph-7K device. Helen Sharman commented that she had difficulty finding equipment on Mir as there was a great deal more equipment than in the trainer in the cosmonaut city of Zvezdny Gorodok.
During a communication session with a British girls' school on May 21, 1991 Helen Sharman commented that Mir was experiencing solar array problems because of the station's changing orientation. Late that day the level of background noise on the station suddenly fell from the customary 75 decibels as fans, circulating pumps, and other equipment shut down. The lights began to fade. A computer in the orientation system had failed, preventing the solar arrays from tracking on the Sun, and causing Mir to drain its batteries. Helen Sharman stated that Viktor Afanasiyev and Musa Manarov told her such power problems had occurred before. When it reentered sunlight, the station was turned to recharge its batteries.

Main goal of the mission was to exchange the Mir resident crew. Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov became the ninth Mir resident crew.

The Mir-8 crew returned uneventfully to earth on May 26, 1991 together with Helen Sharman. The Mir-9 crew first needed to move their spacecraft to Mir's aft port to make way for Progress M-8, which could not dock with the rear port because of the damage to the Kurs approach system antenna there. The move was made on May 28, 1991, and required 42 min.

The unmanned freighter Progress M-8 docked with Mir on June 01, 1991 at 09:44:37 UTC, undocked on August 15 1991 at 22:16:59 UTC and was destroyed in reentry on August 16, 1991 at 06:56:32 UTC.

The cosmonauts released the small MAK-1 satellite from the Mir base block's experiment airlock on June 17, 1991. It was designed to study Earth's ionosphere. However, a probable power failure prevented its antennas from deploying, and the satellite remained inert.

Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov performed the first EVA June 24, 1991 (4h 58m). They removed the damaged Kurs approach system unit and replaced it. They also assembled a prototype thermomechanical joint to be used in the assembly of space structures.

The second EVA occurred on June 28, 1991 (3h 24m). Both cosmonauts attached to Mirs hull the TREK instrument, a device for studying cosmic ray superheavy nuclei. The experiment was devised by the University of California and delivered by Progress M-8. They used the Strela telescoping boom to move about the station.

On July 15, 1991 (5h 45m) Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov went outside the station for the third spacewalk. They attached two ladders to Kvant to give them handholds, then assembled a platform for Sofora on Kvant. Sofora was to be a 14.5-m girder extending from Kvant.

The fourth EVA was performed on July 19, 1991 (5h 28m). Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov installed an automated assembly unit similar to the one Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Soloviyov had experimented with on Salyut 7 in 1986. Sofora was also an experimental construction. The cosmonauts assembled 3 of 20 segments planned for Sofora before returning to Mir.

Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalyov performed the fifth EVA four days later on July 23, 1991 (5h 34m). The crew added 11 segments to the Sofora girder.

In the sixth and final EVA on July 27, 1991 (6h 49m) the crew added 11 segments to the Sofora girder. They also attached a Soviet flag in a metal frame to the top of the girder. This was not planned in advance; the cosmonauts decided independently to attach the flag.

On August 23, 1991 at 00:54:17 UTC the unmanned Progress M-9 docked with the station. This resupply vessel to Mir carried a reentry capsule for return of 150 kg of experiment results. It undocked on September 30, 1991 at 01:53:00 UTC. The 350 kg return capsule detached from the Progress' orbital module at an altitude of 110 to 130 km. The capsule underwent a ballistic descent to 15 km, followed by a parachute descent from there to surface. The capsule's beacon began transmitting at 4.5 km. and landed in Kazakhstan on September 30, 1991 at 08:16:24 UTC.

Soyuz TM-13 arrived at Mir on October 04, 1991. It carried Austrian Research Cosmonaut Franz Viehböck and Kazakh Research Cosmonaut Toktar Aubakirov. The flight was unusual for carrying no Flight Engineer. Veteran Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov commanded. The Austrians paid $7 million to fly Franz Viehböck to Mir, and the Kazakh cosmonaut flew partly in an effort to encourage newly-independent Kazakhstan to continue to permit launchings from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Research Cosmonauts photographed their respective countries from orbit and conducted the usual range of materials processing and medical experiments. Anatoli Artsebarsky traded places with Aleksandr Volkov and returned to Earth in Soyuz TM-12. Sergei Krikalyov remained aboard Mir on his unplanned long-duration mission together with Aleksandr Volkov to make up the Mir-10 crew.

The Soyuz spacecraft is composed of three elements attached end-to-end - the Orbital Module, the Descent Module and the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module. The crew occupied the central element, the Descent Module. The other two modules are jettisoned prior to re-entry. They burn up in the atmosphere, so only the Descent Module returned to Earth.
Having shed two-thirds of its mass, the Soyuz reached Entry Interface - a point 400,000 feet (121.9 kilometers) above the Earth, where friction due to the thickening atmosphere began to heat its outer surfaces. With only 23 minutes left before it lands on the grassy plains of central Asia, attention in the module turned to slowing its rate of descent.
Eight minutes later, the spacecraft was streaking through the sky at a rate of 755 feet (230 meters) per second. Before it touched down, its speed slowed to only 5 feet (1.5 meter) per second, and it lands at an even lower speed than that. Several onboard features ensure that the vehicle and crew land safely and in relative comfort.
Four parachutes, deployed 15 minutes before landing, dramatically slowed the vehicle's rate of descent. Two pilot parachutes were the first to be released, and a drogue chute attached to the second one followed immediately after. The drogue, measuring 24 square meters (258 square feet) in area, slowed the rate of descent from 755 feet (230 meters) per second to 262 feet (80 meters) per second.
The main parachute was the last to emerge. It is the largest chute, with a surface area of 10,764 square feet (1,000 square meters). Its harnesses shifted the vehicle's attitude to a 30-degree angle relative to the ground, dissipating heat, and then shifted it again to a straight vertical descent prior to landing.
The main chute slowed the Soyuz to a descent rate of only 24 feet (7.3 meters) per second, which is still too fast for a comfortable landing. One second before touchdown, two sets of three small engines on the bottom of the vehicle fired, slowing the vehicle to soften the landing.


Sergei Krikalyov landed on March 25, 1992 at 08:51:02 UTC with Soyuz TM-13 spacecraft.
Helen Sharman landed on May 26, 1991 at 10:04:13 UTC with Soyuz TM-11 spacecraft.

Photos / Graphics

crew in training
Kvant2 airlock


Last update on May 14, 2016.