AKA: Foton (Photon);Salyut 6 EO-6. Launched: 1981-03-12. Returned: 1981-05-26. Number crew: 2 . Duration: 74.73 days.
Transported to the Salyut-6 orbital station cosmonauts V V Kovalenok and V P Savinykh to carry out repairs and preventive maintenance and scientific and technical investigations and experiments. Recovered June 10, 1981 12:38 GMT.
Narrative (adapted from D S F Portree's Mir Hardware Heritage, NASA RP-1357, 1995)
Soyuz T-4 arrived at Salyut 6 on 13 March, 1981, having been preceded by the Progress 12 resupply craft. After unloading the Progress, it was cast off on 19 March, clearing the docking port for Soyuz 39. Soyuz 39 docked on March 23 with the first Mongolian cosmonaut aboard. The EO-6 crew assisted the Intercosmos crew with station equipment and oriented the station according to the needs of the Visiting Expedition's experiments. On March 24 the cosmonauts installed cosmic ray detectors in the work and transfer compartments. On March 26 the cosmonauts performed the Illyuminator ('viewing port') experiment, which studied the degradation of the station's viewports. On March 27 Kovalyonok and Savinykh used the Gologramma ('hologram') apparatus to image a viewing port damaged by micrometeoroids. They repeated this March 28, when they also collected samples of the station's air and microflora and removed the cosmic ray detectors for return to Earth. March 28-29 were largely devoted to studies of Mongolia from space. The Visiting Expedition crew checked out their spacecraft on March 29. The Soviet news service Tass noted that by March 29 Salyut 6 had conducted 20,140 revolutions of Earth. The visiting crew departed the next day, leaving the EO-4 crew alone aboard the station until May 15, 1981
On that day, Soyuz 40 arrived. This was the last flight of the Soyuz ferry model and the last Soyuz spacecraft to dock with Salyut 6. It also ended the first phase of the Intercosmos program by carrying Romanian cosmonaut Dumitriu Prunariu and Soviet cosmonaut Leonid Popov to the station. Prunariu studied Earth's magnetic field. Earth observations had to be delayed until the last day of his flight, when Salyut 6 at last passed over Romania in daylight. During this time the crew also tested the station's orientation system.
The EO-4 crew departed on May 26, leaving the Soyuz T orbital module attached to the station for five days. This procedure was first followed on Soyuz-T 3, though then the module was left attached to the station for only a few hours. Although without a crew, Salyut 6 continued to set space milestones. On 19 June, 1981, Cosmos 1267 docked with the station. Cosmos 1267 was the FGB component of the first TKS manned ferry vehicle launched without a crew on April 25, 1981. Its VA return capsule had separated and landed in the Soviet Union on May 26.
Thereafter Salyut 6 was held in reserve. Salyut 6's replacement, Salyut 7, was launched on April 19, 1982. Salyut 6 remained in orbit, still docked to Cosmos 1267, at an average altitude of 385 km. The aged laboratory remained in orbit until after the conclusion of the joint Franco-Soviet mission to Salyut 7 (June 24-July 2), then was deorbited using the engines on Cosmos 1267. It may have been kept in orbit as a backup for the Franco-Soviet mission in the event Salyut 7 failed or had its launch delayed. Sending Chretien to Salyut 7 seems to have represented a change in plans -- in 1979, a French publication had quoted Vladimir Shatalov, head of cosmonaut training, as saying that a French cosmonaut would visit Salyut 6. The same publication stated in 1981 that Cosmos 1267 had been scheduled to be undocked from Salyut 6 to make ready for the joint Franco-Soviet crew, but that it was more likely that they would dock with Salyut 7.
Manned two crew. Docked with Salyut 6. Transported to the Salyut-6 orbital station the eighth international crew under the INTERCOSMOS programme, comprising V A Dzhanibekov (USSR) and Z. Gurragchi (Mongolian People's Republic) to conduct scientific investigations and experiments.