The Soviet space program, was the national space program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) actived from 1930s until disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviet Union's space program was mainly based on the cosmonautic exploration of space and the development of the expandable launch vehicles, which had been split between many design bureaus competing against each other. Over its 60-years of history, the Russian program was responsible for a number of pioneering feats and accomplishments in the human space flight, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite (Sputnik 1), first animal in Earth orbit (the dog Laika on Sputnik 2), first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1), first woman in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on Vostok 6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on Voskhod 2), first Moon impact (Luna 2), first image of the far side of the Moon (Luna 3) and unmanned lunar soft landing (Luna 9), first space rover (Lunokhod 1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna 16), and first space station (Salyut 1). Further notable records included the first interplanetary probes: Venera 1 and Mars 1 to fly by Venus and Mars, respectively, Venera 3 and Mars 2 to impact the respective planet surface, and Venera 7 and Mars 3 to make soft landings on these planets.
Soyuz TM-12 was the 12th mission and the ninth long-duration expedition to Mir space station. The mission began on May 18, 1991, 12:50:28 UTC, launching Commander Anatoly Artsebarsky, Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalyov and Research Cosmonaut Helen Sharman, the first British cosmonaut, into orbit. They docked with Mir two days later. During their stay there, cosmonauts performed EVAs, various station repair and maintenance tasks, and carried out scientific experiments in biology, geophysics, space technology, astronomy etc. They were visited by several Progress resupply spacecrafts and welcomed aboard the Soyuz TM-13 crew. Helen Sharman returned on May 26, 1991, in Soyuz TM-11 spacecraft. While Sergei Krikalyov stayed on the station as a part of the next long-duration expedition, Anatoly Artsebarsky landed safely back on Earth on October 10, 1991, 04:12:18 UTC.
The Soyuz programme is a human spaceflight programme initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s. The Soyuz spacecraft was originally part of a Moon landing project intended to put a Soviet cosmonaut on the Moon. It was the third Soviet human spaceflight programme after the Vostok and Voskhod programmes.