2. Serving as the first crewed space station in 1971, Salyut 1 laid the foundations for long-term human habitation outside of our native Earth but at a heavy price
Developing out of the top-secret Soviet military space station program “Almaz”, following the landmark Apollo 11 mission the Soviets shifted focus towards the construction of a space station in order to regain prestige after suffering defeat in the race to the Moon. Beginning construction in early 1970, the space station was launched on April 19, 1971, to become the first space station in Earth’s orbit. On April 24, the first crew for Salyut 1 arrived on board the Soyuz 10 and attempted to dock with the space station. However, due to technical malfunctions, this was unsuccessful and the crew were forced to return to Earth.
On June 6, a replacement crew aboard the Soyuz 11 departed for the station. Arriving the following day, after almost three and a half hours of careful docking the crew were able to enter and man Salyut 1. However, suffering another misfortune, on June 29, after just 23 days and 362 orbits, sustained problems including an electrical fire demanded the mission be aborted. Disembarking aboard Soyuz 11, during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere a pressure valve malfunctioned causing a loss of cabin pressure. Not wearing pressure suits, all three members of the crew were found dead upon landing on June 30.