The VSM: Identifying and orienting spacecraft

  Soyuz types
  Orienting Soyuz
  Orienting Mir and modules

Soyuz types

Soyuz distinguishng details
Table 1. Soyuz types differences (see also VRML's below)
Original Soyuz very long docking unit
Soyuz ferry no solar arrays
ASTP Soyuz three-petal docking mecanism, no usual transponders
Soyuz T Aft transponder - two dishes
Soyuz TM Aft transponder - two dishes,
forward transponders replaced with 2 Kurs antennas
(one on top, one on the left side)
link to VRML link to VRML link to VRML link to VRML link to VRML link to VRML
Original Soyuz
(Soyuz-1 - Soyuz-9)
Salyut's Soyuz
Soyuz ferry
(Soyuz-12 - 40
except 16,19)
ASTP Soyuz
Soyuz T
(Soyuz T-1 - 15)
Soyuz TM

Orienting Soyuz

Wide conical "skirt" is the aft end of a craft, this part has white color.

Solar arrays can help to differ top from bottom - upper side is blue and flat, lower is light and ribbed.
photo  photo

Orienting Mir and modules

Modules scheme
View point is in front of the station,
shifted to the right and upwards.

Green arrows show "upwards" direction of each module.

Kvant module

photo Kvant's top is marked with a big mast called Sofora and a smaller one. This direction is also "upward" for the base module.
photo This photo is rather outdated
but it perfectly shows what the Sofora looks like and how big it is.


TKS-based modules (Kvant-2,Kristall,Spektr,Priroda)

photo There are 4 long and 2 short radiators (pointed with yellow arrow on this photo ) on each module. Short ones are placed laterally. So, if you see short radiators between long ones - you see module side. If not - it's top or bottom.

Top of each module is marked by 2 small antennas (pointed with green arrow on the photo ) in the middle of its length near ends of long radiators. They are on long poles and easy to notice. There is also 1 antenna on module bottom, but it's on a short base and hardly visible.

Solar arrays are placed laterally.