Soyuz TM-27 carried the Mir EO-25 crew and French astronaut Leopold Eyharts. NASA and the Russian Space Agency had hoped Soyuz TM-27 could dock with Mir while Endeavour was still there, resulting in an on-board crew of 13, a record which would have stood for years or decades. But the French vetoed this, saying the commotion and time wasted would ruin Eyharts Pegase experimental programme. Soyuz TM-27 docked at the Kvant module port at 17:54 GMT on January 31, 1998, less than five hours before Endeavour landed in Florida.
Solovyov handed over command of Mir to EO-25 commander Musabayev, and the Mir EO-24 crew of Solovyov and Vinogradov together with Eyharts undocked from the forward port of Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19 aboard the Soyuz TM-26 for their return home. They fired their deorbit engines at 08:16 GMT and landed in Kazakstan at 50 deg 11 N, 67 deg 31 E at 09:10 GMT.
AKA: Kristall; Soyuz TM-27 (Eyharts).
First Launch: 1998.01.29.
Last Launch: 1998.02.19.
Duration: 20.69 days.
Solovyov handed over command of Mir to EO-25 commander Musabayev, and the Mir EO-24 crew and Eyharts undocked from the forward port of Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19 aboard the Soyuz TM-26 for their return home. On February 20, the EO-25 crew and Andy Thomas of the NASA-7 mission boarded Soyuz TM-27 and undocked from the Kvant port at 08:48 GMT. They redocked with the forward port on Mir at 09:32 GMT. This freed up the Kvant port for a test redocking of the Progress M-37 cargo ship, parked in a following orbit with Mir during the crew transfer.
Departure Endeavour from Mir:
After a few days toiling to and fro with supplies and equipment Endeavour separated from Mir on 29.01.1998 at 1656 UTC. Before the separation Altair-2 transmitted images from Mir. These were old video recordings of the Endeavour during the approach on 24.01.1998. A few seconds before the undocking Altair-2 was switched off. Altair-2 transmitted the images of the departure and the fly around of the Shuttle between 1747 and 1827 UTC. A part of these images had been made through a porthole of the Priroda module. During this transmission Solovyov reported a malfunction of a ventilator of the CO2 scrubber Vozdukh.
At 16.33.52 UTC, so 23 minutes before the undocking of Endeavour Soyuz-TM27 started from Baykonur with on board the crew for the 25th Main Expedition to Mir and the French guest astronaut Leopold Eyharts. Commander is Talgat Musabayev, who is making his 2d spaceflight. Now as a commander, during his first flight he was on board engineer. This time engineer is Nikolay Budarin, who also makes his 2d flight. He started for the first time in a Soyuz-TM-ship as during his first flight he was delivered to Mir by the Shuttle Atlantis (June 1995). The call sign of the new crew is Kristall.
This freighter had to free the aft docking port (Kvant-1 +X axis) for the Soyuz-TM27 and when it was clear that all went well with that transport ship Progress-M37 separated from Mir on 30.01.1998 at 12.50.30 UTC. Initially there were no plans for a redocking, but as long as the Russians do not make a final decision Progress-M37 will fly autonomously. The advantage of the occupation of the aft docking port by a ship is a better thermo-protection of the docking mechanism of that port and the additional possibility for the crew to get rid off stuff which is no longer needed.
Flight of the Soyuz-TM27:
After the launch, which took place 12 seconds behind schedule, all went well. During the pass in the 3d orbit strong transmissions on all frequencies could be monitored over here. Musabayev, Kristall-1, reported that they meanwhile had entered the BO (life compartment). The pressure was 706 mm. (As always there was a lot of interference from the ground services of a nearby airport using the same frequency 121.750 mc in AM-Wide)
During the next pass Musabayev reported the good performance of the 2nd orbit correction impulse. During the 3rd pass over here he reported that they had resolved a problem with the percentage of CO2 in the air and the so called 'ugli posadki' the angles of re-entry in the atmosphere and the related times if they in case of emergency would be forced to return to earth. Meanwhile Eyharts slept in his sleeping bag in the BO and the Russians continued to work in the SA (landing apparatus). During 30.01.98 the flight went on without problems. An employee of the ground services Rotterdam Airport recognises the language during a Soyuz-TM27 transmission and reacts with a 'dosvidaniya'. This was the first time during all those years in which this phenomenon regularly took place.
Approach and docking Soyuz-TM27 on 31.01.98:
This operation was an excellent performance. All went well from the very beginning until contact. Enjoying the benefit of optimum monitoring possibilities I could make this statement. Communications via Altair-2 started at 1724 UTC during Mir's orbit 68271. The approach was going on far ahead of schedule. At 1725 the distance was 7060M, the approach speed 10.5 M/sec. and the deviations around the 3 axes were minimal. At 1732, distance 4300M with appr. speed 10.2 M/sec.
The operation was executed in the automatic regime with the system Kurs. Musabayev continuously reported details of the operation. He also regularly stated: No emergency instruction. So Kurs worked well and there was no need to take over manually. On 1735 Altair-2 switched over to TV-transmissions and the Mir complex could be seen via a camera in the Soyuz-TM27. At 1750 they again went over to phone with the clear and calm voice of Musabayev. At 17.54.29 UTC the smooth docking took place and immediately both crews reacted with great enthusiasm. Almost always dockings take place a few minutes after disappearance of both objects behind my eastern horizon, so just after the first pass and VHF window for my position.
This time this VHF window showed up after the docking. After abt. 6 minutes after the docking CNN came with a 'live event' of the docking, so in fact not 'live', but somewhat later. This was also the case with the TV-images of the opening of the hatches and the meeting of the 2 crews. I monitored the voices of the enthusiastic crews while the TV-transmissions on a UHF channel went via a tracking station in Russia, so not via Altair-2. I could monitor a lot of joy. After the mutual greetings and congratulations the deputy head of RKA (the Russian NASA), Ostroumov, addressed himself to the crews with a statement of his chief, Koptev. (Congratulations and appreciation for the successful docking operation) Ostroumov also congratulated Musabayev with the birthday of his daughter.
The mission of Leopold Eyharts is Pegase (Pegasus). This mission ends with the departure on 19.02.1998 of Leopold together with Solovyov and Vinogradov in the Soyuz-TM26. (I sincerely hope that the Soyuz-TM26 will perform during the return operations for during her stay within the Mir-complex the systems of Soyuz-TM26 regularly had to support the Mir-complex.
After the departure of Soyuz-TM26 the crew of the 25th Main Expedition and Andy Thomas will make an autonomous flight to redock the Soyuz-TM27 to the forward (Transition section, -X axis) docking port, enabling Progress-M37 to redock there.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
They shifted to the regime of 'reduced power consumption' and among the systems which had to be switched off were both Elektron oxygen generators. During the radio traffic about this SUD failure Solovyov also mentioned the VDU. The VDU is the external thruster in the Sofora boom. Possibly the failure had been caused by a wrong command in which the VDU was involved. For the last time the VDU was used to control attitude during the beginning of the combined flight of Mir and Endeavour. The VDU almost ran out of fuel and will be replaced in the near future.
Due to the fact that the Ts.V.M.-1 remained operational and the gyrodynes did not stop spinning the problem with the SUD could be solved already in the evening of 4.02.98 and did not have a negative effect on the present mission. On 5.02.1998 Altair-2 could be used for communications. Normally a serious attitude problem makes the use of that facility impossible. Leopold Eyharts gave a long TV-interview in which he reported with enthusiasm about his mission. Also the following days Altair-2 was regularly in use for communications and TV-sessions, for instance with the press, family and friends.
In one of the sessions Vinogradov showed a lot of systems and explained their functions. The mood among the 4 cosmonauts, 1 astronaut and 1 spationaute is excellent. There is a lot of joy and they do not complain about their modest housing. A good example of international co-operation. Thus far Solovyov is still in command and he and Vinogradov are responsible for a number of repairs and for a good functioning of the life support systems. Now and then Andy Thomas can be heard when he is in contact with his lead at TsUP in English. I did not yet hear him speaking Russian.
The return of this ship with the crew of the 24th Main Expedition (Solovyov and Vinogradov) and the CNES spationaute is scheduled for 19.02.1998. That day the hatch between the departing men will be closed between 0240 and 0252 UTC. Soyuz-TM26 will separate from Mir between 0553 and 0604 UTC. The landing is planned for 0917 UTC. Data and times of the operations with Soyuz-TM27 (redocking) and the Progress-M37 (return to the complex after the autonomous flight and docking at the aft port) still have to be determined.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Soyuz-TM26 separated from the complex at 05.52.50 UTC. During the autonomous flight all went well. In the night hours Soyuz-TM26 communicated via the eastern tracking stations in Russia. From 0805 UTC until the re-entry in the atmosphere at approx. 0847 UTC the communications could be monitored via Altair-2. The signals from and to Soyuz-TM26 were relayed via the satellite transceiver on board Mir and from there via the Altair-2 geostationary satellite. The engine which had to slow down the velocity of Soyuz-TM26 to achieve re-entry was switched on at 08.16.20 UTC. Solovyov reported the data about the impulses in meters per second and the fuel consumption (SIRT) in kilograms.
The engine was shut off after approx. 260 seconds. At 08.41.35 UTC the program for the separation of the motor compartment and the life compartment was started. The mood of the men on board the descending landing compartment was very good, they could be heard laughing. The last signal from Soyuz-TM26 which could be monitored via Altair-2 was the well known ANAN beacon. Altair-2 remained active for Mir-traffic until 0855 UTC. Musabayev is now in command of the 25th Main Expedition. Budarin reported his attempts to observe and film the descending Soyuz-TM26.
On 20.02.1998 the crew of Mir will enter the Soyuz-TM27 for the redocking flight. Between 0845 and 0930 UTC Soyuz-TM27 will make an autonomous flight from the aft (Kvant-1, +X axis) port to the forward one (-X axis, P.Kh.O. -transition section).
The return of this freighter to the Mir complex (to aft docking port) is scheduled for 23.02.1998.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.