National Geographic : 1986 Oct
NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERSTEVERAYMER(ABOVE); PAULD. MALEY(FACINGPAGE); PAINTINGBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICARTISTWILLIAMH. BOND The new crew members have brought a green thumb. The tiny greenhouses burgeon with sprouts of onions and lettuce. They have also brought trouble. Soon after Vasyutin takes command, his crewmates observe that he is behaving ab normally-"tense, a bundle of nerves," Sa vinykh confides in his diary. Racked by fever, he remains all day in his sleeping bag. Increasingly the work load falls on the expe rienced but mission-weary Savinykh. He and Volkov persuade Vasyutin to consult with the ground. Around the world Soviet Spaceships passing in the night,Mir and Salyut flew above Washington, D. C., last April (right). With such time exposures, Houston resident PaulD. Maley monitors many Soviet satellites.A cadre of amateursleuths worldwide provides much of the available public information. At the U. S. Space Command (left) in Colorado Springs, a monitorshows Mir's orbit. Alert for missiles fired from Soviet silos, mobile launchers, and submarines, the Space Command tracks some 6,000 space objects, including 150 active Soviet satellites. space-watchers eavesdropping on Salyut transmissions detect scrambled signals; they assume the conversations concern military matters, the usual cause for secrecy. Back from Flight Control come recom mendations from Academician Oleg Ga zenko, the U.S.S.R.'s top space doctor. Vasyutin's mood improves, but anxiety per meates the mission. In the long history of Soviet manned flight, with its rigorous psy chological and physical screenings (even a tooth that can cause trouble is pulled before lift-off), illness has never curtailed of cosmodromes sustains the high launch ratethat characterizesthe Soviet space program. Only Baikonursends satellites into equatorialorbit,while Plesetsk launches them into near-polarpaths. Kapustin Yar launched a single military satellite in 1985. Manned l landingsoccur on the sparsely inhabited steppe northeast of Baikonur.