Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 115

Soyuz TM-4

Soyuz TM-6


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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  21.12.1987
Launch time:  11:18:03.142 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  337 - 357 km
Inclination:  51.6°
Docking Mir:  23.12.1987, 12:51:00 UTC
Undocking Mir (Crew):  21.12.1988, 02:32:54 UTC
Landing date (Crew):  21.12.1988
Landing time (Crew):  09:56:40 UTC
Landing site (Crew):  160 km SE of Dzheskasgan
Undocking Mir (Soyuz TM-4):  17.06.1988, 06:20:50 UTC
Landing date (Soyuz TM-4):  17.06.1988
Landing time (Soyuz TM-4):  10:12:32 UTC
Landing site (Soyuz TM-4):  202 km SE of Dzheskasgan

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

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No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Titov  Vladimir Georgiyevich  Commander 2 365d 22h 38m 38s  5790 
2  Manarov  Musa Khiromanovich  Flight Engineer 1 365d 22h 38m 38s  5790 
3  Levchenko  Anatoli Semyonovich  Research Cosmonaut 1 7d 21h 57m 33s  125 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Titov
2  Manarov
3  Levchenko
1  Soloviyov
2  Savinykh
3  Aleksandrov

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  Shchukin  Aleksandr Vladimirovich  Research Cosmonaut
Crew Soyuz TM-4 backup

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Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 202 km southeast of Dzheskaskan.

Following a two day solo flight Soyuz TM-4 docked with the Mir on December 23, 1987. Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov became the third resident crew of Mir.
Musa Manarov and Vladimir Titov travelled to Mir aboard Soyuz TM-4 together with test pilot cosmonaut Anatoli Levchenko. Soyuz TM-4 maneuvered through orbits of 168 x 243 km, 255 x 296 km, and 333 x 359 km before docking with Mir at 12:51 UTC December 23, 1987. Anatoli Levchenko returned to earth aboard Soyuz TM-3 together with the Mir-2 crew.

Soyuz TM-4 with the Mir-3 crew aboard arrived at Mir on December 23, 1987. Before departing Mir, the Mir-2 crew of Yuri Romanenko and Aleksandr Aleksandrov demonstrated use of EVA equipment to the Mir-3 crew. The Mir-3 crew delivered biological experiments, including the Aynur biological crystal growth apparatus, which they installed in Kvant. The combined crews conducted an evacuation drill, with the Mir computer simulating an emergency.

Soyuz TM-3 departed on December 29, 1987 and the crew settled in for their one-year mission. Soyuz TM-4 was flown to the front port of Mir on December 30, 1987, clearing it for the next Progress freighter. Progress 34 arrived at Mir and remained docked from January 23, 1988 - March 04, 1988. Meanwhile Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov conducted part of an ongoing survey of galaxies and star groups in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum using the Glazar telescope on Kvant. The survey required photography with exposure times up to 8 minutes. Even small cosmonaut movements could shake the complex. This produced blurring of astronomical images, so all cosmonaut movements had to be stopped during the exposures.

On February 12, 1988 the cosmonauts began preparations for an EVA to replace and augment Mir's solar arrays. They tested their EVA suits February 23, 1988 - February 25, 1988.

The first spacewalk was conducted on February 26, 1988 (4h 25m). The cosmonauts removed one portion of the array Yuri Romanenko and Aleksandr Laveykin had assembled in June 1987. They replaced it with an eight-part array set which increased electricity output by 20% and also tested new solar cell materials and allowed telemetric monitoring of output. They also found time to wipe several of Mirs portholes, which had accumulated a dusty coating, and extensively photographed Mirs exterior.

On March 17, 1988 the cosmonauts studied the effects of noise produced by fans and other equipment on their living quarters as part of the Akustika experiment. During the same period, a Soviet spokesman stated that dust and odours on Mir bothered the cosmonauts.

Progress 35 arrived and remained docked to Mir from March 25, 1988 - May 05, 1988. In late March and early April, Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov installed and tested a new telefax system and unspecified equipment to improve communications between Mir and Earth. During May a particle the Soviets identified as a piece of space debris blasted a crater in a two-pane Mir viewport. The damaged area was 6-8 mm across.

Progress 36 arrived and docked to Mir's aft port from May 15, 1988 - June 05, 1988. It was replaced with Soyuz TM-5 on June 09, 1988 - June 17, 1988. This brought a Bulgarian cosmonaut to the station. Due to the Soyuz 33 failure, Bulgaria was the only east European Soviet ally not to have had a citizen visit a Soviet space station. Bulgarian Research Cosmonaut Aleksandr Aleksandrov used nearly 2,000 kg of equipment delivered by Progress freighters to conduct 46 experiments in the Shipka program during his stay. The visiting crew left aboard Soyuz TM-4, leaving the fresh Soyuz TM-5 as a lifeboat. The Mir-3 crew flew this from the aft to fore port of Mir on June 18, 1988, leaving the aft port ready for the next Progress freighter.

Both cosmonauts went out the space station again on June 30, 1988 (5h 10m) for an unrehearsed EVA to replace Kvants TTM shadow mask X-ray telescope. The cosmonauts had trained for the EVA by videotape sent up by the Progress 36 supply ship along with needed tools. In addition to their suits, the Mir-3 crew carried 40 kg of tools and equipment between them. Upon reaching the work site, they cut through 20 layers of thermal blanket to reach the Roentgen suite of instruments. The EVA ended unsuccessfully when a wrench needed to remove a clamp snapped.

Progress 37 arrived and remained docked to the aft port of Mir from July 20, 1988 - August 12, 1988. In late July 1988 the Altair/SR relay satellite Kosmos 1897 was moved from its station to support the Buran shuttle test flight of November 14, 1988.

Soyuz TM-6 arrived on August 31, 1988. Its crew had a unique makeup, with a Commander (Vladimir Lyakhov) who had been trained to fly a Soyuz TM-solo in the event a rescue ship needed to be sent to recover two cosmonauts from Mir, no Flight Engineer, and two inexperienced Research Cosmonauts. One was Valeri Polyakov, who would remain aboard Mir with Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov to monitor their health during the final months of their planned year-long stay. The other was cosmonaut Abdul Mohmand, from Afghanistan. Abdul Mohmand's experiment program was dominated by a series of observations of Afghanistan, called Shamshad. Vladimir Lyakhov and Abdul Mohmand left their fresh spacecraft docked to Mir as a lifeboat and returned aboard Soyuz TM-5. During the return to Earth, Soyuz TM-5 suffered a combined computer software and sensor problem, which delayed its re-entry by 24 hours.

Soyuz TM-6 was flown by the Mir-3 crew from the aft to forward crew of Mir on September 08, 1988. Progress 38 then docked and remained at the aft port from September 12, 1988 - November 23, 1988.

The third EVA was performed on October 20, 1988 (4h 12m). Using tools delivered by Progress 38, Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov removed the old TTM shadow mask X-ray unit and successfully replaced it. They then installed equipment in anticipation of the upcoming Franco-Soviet EVA.

Soyuz-TM 7 arrived at Mir on November 28, 1988 on the Franco-Soviet Aragatz mission with French cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien (on his second mission to a Soviet space station) and Soviet cosmonauts Aleksandr Volkov and Sergei Krikalyov. This increased Mir's population to six. According to Sergei Krikalyov, this was the 'worst-case scenario' as far as crowding on the station was concerned. Not only were there more cosmonauts than usual aboard Mir; the station was also full of equipment and life support supplies delivered by Progress freighters for the joint Franco-Soviet mission. The crowding was exacerbated because there was no docking port free for a Progress freighter. Therefore, the crew could not use a Progress as a 'pantry' or 'storage room' for the station. The large joint experiment manifest - mostly medical and technology experiments chosen to support the French-led European Space Agency Hermes shuttle project - strained Mir's electricity supply. The total mass of the experiments was 580 kg.

On December 09, 1988 Jean-Loup Chrétien and Aleksandr Volkov depressurized the multiport docking adapter and clambered outside Mir (5h 57m). Jean-Loup Chrétien was first out. He installed handrails, then attached the 15.5 kg Enchantillons experiment rack to the handrails by springs and hooks. He also attached electrical wires leading from the rack to Mir's power supply. Enchantillons carried five technological experiments with applications to the Hermes shuttle program. Aleksandr Volkov and Jean-Loup Chrétien then assembled the 240-kg ERA experiment. They attached a mount to handrails on the frustum linking the multiport docking unit to the small-diameter portion of the work compartment. After resolving problems with cables linking ERA to a control panel inside Mir, they attached the folded ERA structure to a support arm on the platform. The structure was designed to unfold to form a flat six-sided structure 1 m deep by 3.8 m across. From inside Mir, Sergei Krikalyov commanded the structure to unfold, but to no avail. Aleksandr Volkov then kicked ERA, causing it to unfold properly. According to Sergei Krikalyov, taking the ERA outside helped relieve the crowding problems.

Other work included Earth observation and experiments in the fields of materials sciences, meteorology, space technology, physiology, psychology, medical sciences and astronomical research, using the Marija reasearch apparatus. The crew performed more than 2000 experiments.

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.

After nearly a year in space, Musa Manarov and Vladimir Titov returned on Soyuz TM-6. They undocked on December 21, 1989, but revised software installed as a result of the Soyuz TM-5 abort overloaded the spacecraft's computer. The landing planned for 06:48 was aborted. A backup software program was used and the Soyuz orbital module was retained through retrofire. The crew finally landed safely on December 21, 1988.


Anatoli Levchenko landed on December 29, 1987 at 09:15:36 UTC with Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft (crewmates: Yuri Romanenko and Aleksandr Aleksandrov).

Photos / Graphics

crew in training crew in training
View from Soyuz TM-4 before docking
Crew Soyuz TM-4 onboard Mir
EVA preparations Manarov Mir
Mir Soyuz TM-4 landing
Soyuz TM-4 recovery  


Last update on May 13, 2016.