General Designer, RSC Energia
Vladimir Semyachkin, the general designer for RSC Energia, was responsible for the development of motion control systems and navigation systems for all vehicles and stations that have been developed and are launched into space by Energia. Semyachkin was involved in the early discussions of the joint venture and his participation was continual throughout the Phase 1 Program.
One of the earliest areas addressed by Semyachkin and his colleagues was how to allow the American Shuttle vehicle to dock to the station, taking into account the capabilities of the motion control system on the Mir.
"Many things had to be clarified to the nth degree of detail. We had to understand, for example, the coordinate system used aboard the Shuttle and work out the correspondence between it and the system coordinates used aboard the Mir station. We had to also be able to determine the motion parameters, the values for those parameters, that would allow the Shuttle to dock to the Mir station, a very interesting and very stressful talk," he said in his Oral History.
He also commented on the physical effects the Shuttle exerted on Mir during the approach phase: "[D]uring the Shuttle's approach to a docking port, its jets affect the motion of the Mir. So we, together with our American colleagues, set about solving the problem, and this involved them releasing to us, for example, data including the time line of the jet activations that would be employed during the final phase of the approach. We, on the other hand, have to take this data, and then to perform an assessment we did models for modeling in order to determine how seriously the use of the jets would affect the control of the motion of the Mir station. Thanks to excellent cooperation on both sides, all of these issues were successfully addressed, documents and reports on the modeling were issued, and all of the conclusions that were derived on the ground were confirmed by actual operations on orbit."
Vladimir Semyachkin Oral History (PDF)
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