Encyclopedia Astronautica
Soyuz TMA SA

Russian manned spacecraft module. Operational. First launch 2002.10.30. Reentry capsule.

This improved Soyuz TM re-entry capsule met NASA demands for a capsule that could accommodate ISS crew members in a wider range of body weights and heights than the original Soyuz design. Changes were also made to reduce impact during soft landing. Accommodation was provided for a crew of three in spacesuits.

A digital computer operated the spacecraft, controlled via new amber digital displays in a reduced-height control panel. Other changes and improvements to previous models included an in-line periscope, covers on the portholes that jettisoned after re-entry, enlarged touchdown rockets, an improved parachute, and a high-rate telemetry system. The capsule could carry 100 kg of payload in addition to the crew up to the station, and 50 kg back. The modifications in comparison to the basic Soyuz TM spacecraft were:

  • Three longer Kazbek-UM impact-absorbing crew seats were installed with new four-mode dampers that adjusted the seat response according to the astronaut's mass.
  • Re-arrangement of the equipment in the capsule above and below the seats to accommodate the longer seats and enlarge the passage area through the forward access hatch. The items modified to accomplish this included a new decreased-height control panel, a new cooling-drying ECS subassembly, and a revised data storage system. The SA primary structure right and left of the seat footrests had to be stamped out 30mm deep to allow for the longer seats. The primary structure and the routing of pipes and cables had to be changed to accommodate this. The crew cabin was cleared of projecting items.
  • Two (of six single-mode) soft landing engines (SLE) were replaced with two new three-mode engines (SLE-M) to improve soft landing performance. The touchdown speed was reduced to from 2.6 to 1.4 m/s versus 3.6 / 2.6 for the Soyuz TM. Landing with only the reserve parachute was reduced to 4.0 to 2.4 m/s versus 6.1 to 4.3 m/s for the Soyuz TM.
  • An improved Kaktus-2V gamma-altimeter replaced the Kaktus-1V in the soft-landing system.
As a result of these changes, astronauts of from 150 to 190 cm height, up to 99 cm sitting height, and from 50 to 95 kg mass could be accommodated in the Soyuz TMA capsule (previous limits were 164 to 184 cm height, 94 cm sitting height, and 56 to 85 kg mass).


Crew Size: 2. Habitable Volume: 3.50 m3. Crew: 255 kg (562 lb). RCS Coarse No x Thrust: 6 X 98 N. RCS Propellants: 40 kg (88 lb).

AKA: Spuskaemiy apparat.
Gross mass: 2,950 kg (6,500 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 2,905 kg (6,404 lb).
Payload: 1,355 kg (2,987 lb).
Height: 2.24 m (7.34 ft).
Diameter: 2.17 m (7.11 ft).

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Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Soyuz TMA Russian three-crew manned spacecraft. Operational, first launch 2002.10.30. Designed for use as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. After the retirement of the US shuttle in 2011, Soyuz TMA was the only conveying crews to the ISS. Except for the Chinese Shenzhou, it became mankind's sole means of access to space. More...

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