Soyuz TM-7/'Aragatz'/EO-4

November 26, 1988 - April 27, 1989
(Chrétien: December 21, 1988)

Crew & Mission

Chrétien, Volkov and Krikalev in their training-Sokols.

Soyuz TM-7 was launched on November 26, 1988 with Mir EO-4 crewmembers Aleksandr Volkov and Sergei Krikalev, along with French guest-cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien. The start of the mission was delayed by one week, because French president Jacques Mitterand was not available earlier to attend the launch. As a result, the mission was shortened from four to three weeks. The crews did not complain too much: with six people, it was extremely crowded aboard the station.

The three-man crew arrived at Mir on November 28. Chrétien conducted medical experiments (his mission was called 'Aragatz') for the French space agency CNES and performed a 6-hour spacewalk on December 9 with Volkov. The two cosmonauts deployed the ERA test-structure outside the station and installed a French package of material science samples ("Enchantillons"). Chrétien returned home on December 21 together with EO-3 crewmembers Musa Manarov and Vladimir Titov aboard the Soyuz TM-6 spaceship, leaving the TM-7 as fresh escape vehicle.

Krikalev and Volkov stayed behind with Valeri Polyakov and were to be replaced by the Soyuz TM-8 crew in April. During that mission, Aleksandr Serebrov and Aleksandr Viktorenko were to receive the Kvant-2 module and test a new piece of spacewalking equipment packed aboard: the 'Ikar', which was the Soviet equivalent of the Manned Maneuvering Unit. Technical problems with the new Mir-module, as well as budgetary problems made it impossible to launch TM-8 on time. On April 12, it was announced that Mir would be mothballed. Volkov, Krikalev and Poyakov returned without being relieved by a new crew. They left the station unmanned and landed on April 27, 1989.

TM-7 Sokols

Chr�tien, Volkov and Krikalev in their flight-Sokols.

On their flight Sokols, all three TM-7 cosmonauts were wearing the Aragatz-mission patch on the right sleeve and a second generatio, stylized Mir patch on the front. Volkov and Krikalev were wearing a CCCP-flag (rounded letters, fully embroidered) on the left sleeve and a Glavkosmos-patch on the right chest. The new Glavkosmos organization was responsible for the commercial exploitation of Mir. This was the first (and only) time the patch was worn. Volkov and Krikalev were wearing a Soviet seal on the left chest; Chrétien was wearing the French seal ("Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité") on the left chest, a circular CNES-patch on the right chest and a French flag on his left shoulder.

The CNES-patch worn by Jean-Loup Chrétien (left), the "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" patch (left center), the French flag (right center) and the Glavkosmos patch (right).

Polyakov, Volkov and Krikalev shortly after landing with the Soyuz TM-7 on April 27, 1989. Chrétien had already returned with the TM-4 crew aboard Soyuz TM-6 on December 21, 1988. Awaiting launch of delayed Soyuz TM-8, the crew left Mir unmanned.


Left: Jean-Loup Chrétien in his PK-14 suit. Right: Krikalev, Chrétien and Volkov in their Penguin suits. From this mission on, the seal was placed on the left pocket and the nametag on the upper left breast. This already was the case for the PK-14 suits of the visiting TM-4, TM-5 and TM-6 crews, but main expedition crewmember Polyakov (TM-6) had still been wearing the old configuration (nametag on the upper right breast and seal on upper left breast) on his Penguin.

On their Penguin suits, the Soyuz TM-7 crew were wearing the Aragatz mission patch on the right chest. Volkov and Krikalev had the Soviet seal on the left chest and the CCCP flag with rounded letters on the left shoulder. Chrétien had the "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"-patch on the right chest, the CNES-patch on the right shoulder and the French flag on his left shoulder.


Left: Krikalev wearing jumpsuit with the oval EO-4 mission logo on his chestpocket (Polyakov at right). Right: the same patch, seen on Volkov's suit during training for his next mission.

The Orlan DMA EVA-suits

An Orlan DMA-training model in "French" style at the 1987 Paris Airshow (l) with an old Type-2 Mir patch (a configuration never used in reality), Chrétien during the actual spacewalk in DMA-10 (c) and his partner Aleksandr Volkov wearing DMA-6 (r).

Jean-Loup Chrétien and Aleksandr Volkov performed a spacewalk on December 9, 1988. Both men used the new Orlan DMA EVA-suits. Volkov (in suit DMA-6 with red striping) had the Type-3 Mir patch on his right sleeve, a Soviet seal on the front of the suit and a CCCP-flag (rounded letters) on the left sleeve. Chrétien (in suit DMA-10 with blue striping) was wearing the Type-3 Mir patch on his right sleeve as well and had the Soviet seal covered up by a "Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité" patch. It is unknown to us what flag he was wearing. Probably he had the CCCP-flag covered up by a French flag patch, like he had during training.

Collecting Soyuz TM-7

The Space Commerce Corporation reproduction (left), the Stewart Aviation reproduction (center left), the original patch shown again for comparison (center right) and the original artwork (right).

The original patch is difficult to get. We got ours directly from a dealer in Moscow. Two commercial reproductions exist: one made by Stewart Aviation in England and one made by the Space Commerce Corporation in Texas. The Stewart Aviation version lacks the inner golden circle and uses green thread were it should use light blue; the SCC-version has the inner golden circle, but also has a black background, one star too many and has a circular shape, without the flags and waving hand portruding from the patch.

Reproductions of both the French flag with black-in-yellow (instead of gold) lettering "FRANCE" and the Glavkosmos-patch are available from Stewart Aviation as well.

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