Soyuz TM-29 docked with Mir on February 22 at 05:36 GMT. Since two crew seats had been sold (to Slovakia and France), Afansyev was the only Russian cosmonaut aboard. This meant that Russian engineer Avdeyev already aboard Mir would have to accept a double-length assignment. After the February 27 departure of EO-26 crew commander Padalka and Slovak cosmonaut Bella aboard Soyuz TM-28, the new EO-27 Mir crew consisted of Afanasyev as Commander, Avdeyev as Engineer and French cosmonaut Haignere. Following an extended mission and three space walks, the last operational crew aboard Mir prepared to return. The station was powered down and prepared for free drift mode. The hatch between Mir and Soyuz was closed for the last time at 18:12 GMT on August 27, 1999. Soyuz TM-29 undocked from Mir at 21:17 GMT with Afanasyev, Avdeyev and Haignere aboard. The Mir EO-27 crew landed in Kazakhstan at 00:35 GMT on August 28. Afanasyev had set a new cumulative time in space record, but for the first time since September 1989 there were no humans in space. The only crew that might return to Mir would be one to deorbit it, and beyond that budgets indicated that no more than one Soyuz crew per year could be sent to the International Space Station.
AKA: Derbent; Soyuz TM-29 (Afanasyev, Haignere); Mir Perseus.
First Launch: 1999.02.20.
Last Launch: 1999.08.28.
Duration: 188.85 days.
During the next pass in orb. 74333, 0658-0706 UTC, the hatches between the ship and the station already had been opened and preparations for a TV-report of the meeting of both crews were in progress. From the given commands (Anna-73 and 86) could be derived that the TV-transmissions would take place via the UHF channels. Haignere could be heard giving some impressions about this arrival in comparison with that during his first flight. The opening of the hatches had taken place outside the communications zones and so it was not possible to report the exact time, but obviously this was not long before this pass. The next communication session took place in orb. 74334, 0830-0841 UTC. The crew reported that they had fastened the clamps of the Soyuz-TM29. This activity is necessary to be sure that Soyuz-TM29 does not slip away easily. Other subjects during this session were the combined power supply of Mir and Soyuz-TM29 and the oxygen production with the Elektron in Kvant-1.
Radio traffic Soyuz-TM29 on the 2nd flight day (21.02):
During orb. 18 a short communication session between 0708 and approx. 0711 UTC. Everything went flawlessly. Afanasyev reported that they had adjusted the Globus (the instrument with a globe to enable the crew to see the ground track of their ship on earth). This procedure has been in vogue since the first Vostok flights in the early sixties. Neither Afanasyev nor TsUP had nothing more to report and they switched off the radio equipment.
During the pass in orb. 19, 0840-0845 UTC, the ship could be monitored on all frequencies. With the use of the beacon transmissions on 922.755 mc I could see that the TCA (Time Closest Approach) was 08.42.120 UTC. Afanasyev reported that they were flying over Europa and that they had connected the purification cartridge at 0730 UTC. Then Bella got the microphone for a short conversation with a compatriot, (possibly his wife) at TsUP. He told that all went well, that all systems worked normally, but that he suffered from a headache. (Whether some noise on the frequency bothered me or that he must do something to enhance his Slovak language, I do not know, but it was impossible to determine whether he had a 'severe' or a 'light' headache.) During the still available windows of Soyuz-TM29: 'ani - vidu, ani - slechu', or: not a word has been heard!
A lot more material could be obtained from the radio-communications between Mir and TsUP on 21.02.99. Padalka was literally buried under instructions about the attitude (movements-) control and manoeuvres of the Mir-complex in preparation for the oncoming approach and docking of Soyuz-TM29. The Mir had to make a turn of 180 degrees in the horizontal plane. This manoeuvre, possibly to be executed without gyrodynes, but with steering rockets, had to start on 22.02.1999 at 03.16.48 UTC.
Really a busy day, but nevertheless, the crew got the opportunity to have some private conversations with their relatives.
The Slovak cosmonaut, or astronaut, spacionaut or, that it is: COSMONAUT, Ivan Bella, will execute during his mission the Slovak scientific program Stefanik. This consists of the following items: Dozimetrie (radiation levels), Senso-asymmetrie (whatever that may be), Endotest (possibly hormonstudies), Metabolism , Training and as they say: Prepelica (Japanese quails). Experiments with these birds have been executed on Mir some years ago; not a single bird survived. Let us hope that Bella will have more success. He spoke with a specialist on earth and told that he was happy to be able to start with his work. His headache was almost over and he congratulated everybody who had been involved in the successful docking operation.
For his conversation Bella used the UKW-1, the 143.625 mc. Padalka used for his connection with TsUP the UKW-2, so 130.165 mc. The simultaneous use of both frequencies will be regularly the case until August this year.
The return flight of this ship is scheduled for the night from 27 to 28.02.99 with on board the present mission commander, Padalka, and the Slovak Ivan Bella. They are bound to undock from Mir on 27.02 at 2310 UTC and hope to make a happy landing in Kazakhstan on 28.02.1999 at approx. 0210 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During his arrival on board Mir and his departure Ivan Bella executed the scientific program Stefanik. The program is named after Milan Ratislav Stefanik, a famous Slovak politician, astronomer, fighter pilot and general of the French army in WW-1, first Czechoslovak Secretary of Defense in the then just independent state. His career was pretty short for he died in a plane crash near Bratislava on 4.05.1919. Like Stefaniks' career the stay of Bella on board Mir was also too short to perform all his tasks.
However radio traffic clearly revealed that Bella very quickly had adapted himself to the conditions of weightlessness and that he did not suffer any longer from the headache reported by him during his flight with Soyuz-TM28. He faultlessly communicated in Russian and executed his tasks with enthusiasm. With Tamara Guryeva of IMBP in Moscow he co-ordinated his work with the eggs of the Japanese Quail. (Prepelica in Slovak; Perepel in Russian). Bella had transported to Mir a number of eggs of that bird in the Incubator-T. The chickens in these eggs were scheduled to come out of the shell during the period of Bella's stay on board Mir. After arrival Bella had to transfer the eggs from the Incubator-T to the incubators on board Mir. While doing this he crushed 4 of them, but the other eggs safely were installed in the incubators and the chickens soon came out of their shells. There was a static incubator and one in a slow spinning centrifuge (to create more or less some gravity). Those who saw the light in the first incubator immediately enjoyed life and swallowed food and water. The poor birds who had to grow up in the centrifuge suffered from severe stress due to the darkness and low temperatures. The care for the birds has been taken over by the new crew. The experiment Prepelica is an enhanced continuation of the experiment of that kind executed by Anatoliy Solovyov during his flight in the beginning of this decade. Japanese quails can produce eggs in a high frequency and the birds as will as the eggs are very rich of protein and so very suitable in the food of crews during long duration flights, for instance to Mars and beyond. It was unclear whether a part of the new-born quails would return by Soyuz-TM28.
Bella also executed the other experiments of the Stefanik program. Endotest indeed had something to do with hormone production and the physiology of endocrine glands. For this experiment he had to take blood samples. He also worked on the Dosimetry experiment, which studies the interactions of heavy ions in primary cosmic rays with different materials , i.e. biological tissues, integrated circuits etc. Other experiments were Senso - asymmetry, a study of motion sickness, Trenik (training) to determine the effects on the cardio-vascular system during weightlessness of long and intensive physical training on earth before the flight.
On 24.02.1999 Bella stayed a long time inside the Soyuz-TM28. With Padalka he had to check all systems, also the performance of the communications equipment to be sure that the ship was reliable for the oncoming return flight.
This French spationaute feels himself at home and he already started to execute experiments in the framework of the Perseus program. Partly this program is a continuation of items of former Russian-French programs Aragatz, Antares and Altair. He co-ordinates his activities in this field with French and Russian scientists and specialists in France as well in Russia. During one of his conversations with a Frenchman in Russia he stated that he certainly will use the radio-amateur facilities on board Mir, for instance those installed in the Module Priroda. He also said that there were already arrangements with radio-amateurs in the U.S.A. for ham work during passes over there.
Preparations for the return flight:
This was a heavy burden for Padalka, but it seemed not to have bothered him. He had to train in the Chibis suit for the adaptation of his cardiovascular system a little bit for the gravity conditions on earth. Avdeyev, his faithful servant, assisted him during these activities. Padalka also worked on the stowing into Soyuz-TM28 of cargo to be delivered to earth. All available room had to be used as efficiently as possible. One of the seats in the Soyuz-TM28 can be used to stow experiments, samples (blood, saliva, etc.), and even plants.
During the last week in which there was a double crew on board the radio traffic was very intensive, often on 2 different frequencies, 143.625 and 130.165 mc. at the same time. Radio conversations revealed that there has been a lot of manoeuvring with the attitude of the Mir-complex. Contrary to previous missions with a double crew on board the life support systems of Mir behaved well.
27th Main Expedition to Mir:
This crew consists of Viktor Mikhaylovich Afanasyev, Commander, Sergey Vasilyevich Avdeyev, 1st Board Engineer, and the Cosmonaut-Researcher and 2nd Board Engineer, Jean-Pierre Haignere. They use the call Derbent, so respectively Derbent -1, 2 and 3.
Important operations for the near future:
These will be the launch of the freighter Progress-M41 and the first spacewalk (EVA). The data for these events have not yet been determined.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 28.03.1999 the ONA (the antenna for communications via the geostationary satellite Luch-1/Gelios) was unserviceable. It was impossible to aim the antenna in the direction of the satellite. Now and then during radio-traffic on 143.625 and 130.165 mc an automatic female voice can be heard reporting that, for instance, it will last still a minute until Mir is in range of the ground station, but also when Mir is entering the eclipse. The calculations are made by the Sigma-computer. Last week the UKW-2, 130.165 mc was regularly in use instead of the 143.625 mc. Possibly to avoid cross-modulation with transmissions on the radio-amateur frequencies. For radio-amateur traffic the 145.985 (Phone and Packet Radio) and the 145.940 mc (Phone) are in use. Haignere is a very skilled and active radio-amateur. Often he switches from the 145.985 to the 145.940 mc when Mir comes in range of Moscow. Haignere uses this frequency to speak with his wife Claudie or with Frenchmen over there. Avdeyev also can be heard on that frequency, but for conversations with his wife he tried to arrange the use of a frequency in the 144 mc band. Thus far without results.
Status Mrs van den Berg:
The situation is no longer life threatening. She is now in hospital and will have to stay there for a long time. The future is not predictable so far. To recuperate from the hectic and stressful passed months I take some rest for a while. In about 10 days I hope as good as possible to resume my activities. Herewith I thank those friends who supported me with their sympathy and good wishes.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
1st Spacewalk (EVA) crew 27th Main Expedition Mir:
This EVA to be executed by commander Afanasyev and CNES cosmonaut Haignere will start on 16.04.1999 at 0430 UTC, when they open the outer hatch of the airlock (Sh.S.O.) of Module-D. The planned duration of the EVA is 5 hours and 12 minutes. The cosmonauts will install experiments at the outer surface of the complex and retrieve experiments which had been installed in the past from there. The whole day of 13.04.1999 the crew was working on the spacesuits. They checked the air-tightness and all technical systems. The air-tightness gave no problems, but from the spacesuit of Afanasyev the medical data did not reach the telemetry. TsUP presumed that there was something wrong with the medical data processing unit in Afanasyev's suit. Afanasyev suggested not to bother about this problem, but the medical group was not willing to give permission for the EVA if the problem would not be solved. If such a failure might arise during the EVA they could bear this for it would be difficult to stop the EVA, but they needed medical data at the beginning. So the management ordered Afanasyev to use spacesuit number 5 for the EVA. This means that a part of the checks will have to be repeated and that there is little time to train for the EVA.
On 12.04.1999 Viktor D. Blagov congratulated the crew with the Cosmonauts Day. He expressed the wish that Russian spaceflight would be able to survive and that he hoped the same with the Mir space station. He told the crew that the Service Module for the I.S.S. would be transported to Baykonur in May to enable the launch in late October \ begin November this year. Towards the end of the communication session he informed them about a message he just got from Krasnoyarsk in which was reported that the only geostationary satellite available for Mir-communications, the Luch-1/Gelios standing over 77 degrees East , was unserviceable due to a technical failure. Until the beginning of next year TsUP and Mir do not have such an in fact necessary facility. In the beginning of 2000 TsUP again hopes to be able to make use of a new Luch or Altair, which has to be placed over 16 degrees West.
During a meeting in the Russian Space agency (RKA) in which I took part I asked one of the deputies of Mr. Koptev whether there were plans for such a satellite. He confirmed my question. This geostationary communications satellite will be launched in November or December this year.
I did not cancel my tour to Moscow because of the fact that the doctors and other experts advised me to go and thus to gain strength and relax after the hectic months. And indeed they were right, I now feel better than before my trip. Regretfully the status of my wife who is still in hospital has not changed and predicting the near future is almost impossible.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Afanasyev shows no signs that he is enjoying his flight, on the contrary: he makes a irritated impression. I would not be surprised if he has health problems. He and Avdeyev take care of the good functioning of the systems of the station, especially those for the life support and the operational control, such as the performance of the solar batteries. Afanasyev uses to load commands given to him by TsUP in the on board computer systems and he checks the so called 'ugli posadki', angles of attack for eventual emergency landings. Avdeyev is responsible for the Packet Radio traffic on the service channels and the transmission to earth of files with experimental data.
As far as this can be derived from radio traffic, the mood on board is far from cheerful. Some time ago, Haignere had an argument with Russian physicians. They found some anomalies in the cardiovascular system of Haignere during a medical experiment. Haignere did not share their opinion. He stated that the exercises during that experiment were too strenuous and he demanded to be informed about the limits for such exercises during previous flights of French astronauts. In his opinion there was nothing wrong with his health and he presumed that the anomalies had psychological causes. Regularly technical problems emerged for instance failing ventilators, solar batteries showing incorrect angles towards the sun, bad performance of the air-conditioning and of the power supply systems.
During the last week radio traffic revealed a mysterious leak of air.
The leak seems to be very small for the loss of pressure was not more than 4 mm in 24 hrs. For a long time the cosmonauts tried to find the location of the leak and to be sure they closed all hatches between the base block and the modules. On 12.07.1999 the suspicion fell on the Module Kvant-2 (Module D).
The very last failure: In the night from 8 to 9.07.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev reported that the SEP (Electrical Power Supply system) in the Module Priroda failed at 2136 UTC. Lights, ventilators, experiments and the radio amateur equipment in that module failed. Only the computer used by Haignere was still functioning. During all following passes that night and the passes during the following night there was no radio traffic, so no follow up about this problem. Possibly the crew restored the power supply in Priroda.
To reduce the natural decay of the complex a little bit, occasionally minor orbit corrections had been executed. On 6.05.1999 this was done by the use of the engines of the Progress-M41 and on 23.06.99 the impulses were given by the approach and orientation engines of the ship Soyuz-TM29. On 6.07.99 a correction with the engines of the Progress-M41 was performed, lifting the orbit of Mir a few kilometres upwards.
Communications: Often the 2 VHF-channels, UKW-1 (143.625 mc) and UKW-2 (130.165 mc) were used at the same time for different purposes. For instance Packet Radio or phone conversations by the Russians on UKW-1 and Haignere with his group at TsUP on UKW-2. During TV-sessions via UHF UKW-2 was in use as phone channel. Now and then interference was mentioned between ionospheric experiments (for instance with Ionozond) and VHF traffic.
Radio amateurism: During the period covering this report Jean-Pierre Haignere was still very active with phone using the call R0Mir on 145.985 as well as on 145.940 mc. At AOS of almost every pass the Packet Radio on 145.985 mc could be heard. This lasted until LOS or until the beginning of Haignere's calls by phone. Often the Packet Radio continued during the phone conversations. Haignere handles traffic in French as well as in English and he acts as a very skilled radio amateur. Especially on 145.985 mc the uplink is overloaded by traffic and to be able to make as much QSO-s as possible, he uses only 2 or 3 characters of the calling stations. He also regularly states with whom he wants to communicate and even threatened 'naughty' callers to ban them from answering for a certain period.
When in range of Moscow he switches over to 145.940 mc for conversations with his countrymen over there or with his wife Claudie.
Apart from Phone and Packet Radio the 145.985 mc was also used for a few SSTV transmissions. Now and then Avdeyev can be heard on the amateur frequencies. I did not at all hear Afanasyev over there.
Plans for the near future: Progress-M42: On 14.07.1999 at 1725 UTC launch of the freighter Progress-M42 with the normal cargo plus a special guidance and control computer to steer the complex remote controlled by TsUP during the last unmanned status of the Mir complex. At deadline for this report the launch that day was not sure due the decision of the Kazakh government to suspend all launches from Baykonur due to a dispute with Russia about compensation for pollution by Russian space debris.
The launch of the freighter Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 is crucial, not only for the well-being of the present crew, but also for the forthcoming period in which the complex will fly in the unmanned status.
To enable controllers on earth to control the flight via the special navigation computer to be delivered by Progress-M42 the present crew must be able to install and test that computer.
Without that computer the 'mission impossible' to put the complex on a safe destruction course into the earth's atmosphere would become considerably more 'impossible'. I am sure that the government of Kazakhstan will give permission for the launch of Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 and in that way leave the burden of the responsibility for the decay of the Mir space station where it belongs: on Russia. (remark: When this report went to 'press' the government of Kazakhstan did not yet give the green light for the launch, but preparations for the launch on 14.07.99 were going on and on 12.07 the carrier-rocket and freighter had been rolled out and erected on the start-complex.) 2nd Spacewalk (EVA) crew 27th Main Expedition: This EVA is on schedule for 23.07.1999. Though not officially confirmed now the EVA almost certainly will be executed by Avdeyev and Haignere. They must install a new so called reflector antenna and retrieve from the outer surface of the complex the experiments Spica and Ekzobiologiya.
Thus far the return flight of the Soyuz-TM29 with the present crew is scheduled for the end of August this year.
For an eventual extra, so 28th Main Expedition, in February 2000 we will have to wait, see and hear.
Illness Mrs. van den Berg: I tried to monitor Mir radio traffic as much as possible, but was not able to analyse, verify and report the gathered material as comprehensively as I used to do until May this year. Though we have still a long way to go, the condition of my wife is gradually improving and I hope to be able to restore my normal working methods in the near future.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202 request: My last report was of 16.04.1999, so a number of E-mail addresses might be incorrect now. Please confirm the receipt of this report to enable me to determine which E-mail addresses have been changed.
Everything went flawlessly and already during the first passes for my position the telemetry and beacon transmitters could be monitored.
During the 3rd orbit from 2113 - 2115 UTC in the 166 and 165 mc bands and during the 4th one from 2241 - 2248 UTC in those bands and also on the 922.755 mc.
Progress-M42 has to deliver to Mir 2.5 tons cargo among which water, fuel, food, mail , some experiments, a reflector antenna, which has to be installed outside the complex during a spacewalk and a guiding system to enable TsUP to control the complex remote controlled during unmanned status which will begin on 23 or 28.08.1999.
Estimated time docking: If all continues to go well Progress-M42 will link up with Mir (aft docking port, Kvant-1 +X-axis) on 18.07.99 at 1756 UTC. So appr. 6 minutes after LOS for my position. During the pass of Mir in orbit 76637, 1746-1750 UTC, radio traffic during the final stage of the approach can be monitored.
Progress-M41: This old freighter had to free the aft docking port before the docking of his predecessor and as soon TsUP was sure about the good functioning of all systems of the Progress-M42 , Progress-M41 undocked from Mir on 17.07 at 1120 UTC. When this report 'went to the press' the Progress-M41 was about to make its last two orbits before it should be put on a destruction course for decay in the atmosphere over a designated area in the Pacific East of New-Zealand at 1951 UTC.
Radio amateur traffic: During conversations with radio amateurs on earth on 16.07.99 Haignere enthusiastically mentioned the start of the freighter and the expected docking on Sunday 18.07. He also spoke about the possibility to make images of the approach and the eventual transmission to earth of these images by SSTV. He still uses the 145.985 and 145.940 mc. And sometimes he receives on other frequencies to avoid the noise caused by the enormous number of calls, often by undisciplined amateurs. H. regularly shows his displeasure about this and beseeches them to listen before calling.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The final phase of the operation was going on during the first pass for my position in Mir's orbit 76637, 1746-1751 UTC. Afanasyev reported distances, approach speeds and other crucial data.
At 17.46.58 distance 150 Meters, approach speed 0.1 M/sec. At 17.47.15: 150 M, 0.4 M/sec., deviation somewhat to the left, 1 degree and along Y-axis 2 degrees.
At 17.47.28 moving to the centre, approx. 0.5 degree to the left , down along Y-axis 0.5 degree. Afansyev was still reporting these data during LOS. Last reported distance was 48 Meters, appr. speed 0.27 M/sec.
Opening hatches to the Progress-M42: This took place at 1835 UTC, so very soon after the docking. Afanasyev reported later on that the Progress-M42 was clean, quite a relief for there had been some concerns about this due to the fact that the launch had been put back so often.
Already on 19.07.1999 the crew started the transfer of cargo from the Progress-M42 into the station. The crew also worked on the integration of the engines for docking and orientation of the freighter into the system for the control of the movements of the complex in the Base Block and on the test of this system.
Spacewalks (EVA-s) crew 27th Main Expedition: The delayed arrival of the Progress-M42 did not result in changes of the schedule for the still planned 2 EVA-s. These will be made on 23 and 27.07.1999.
On 23.07 the exit hatch will be opened at 1115 UTC and closed at 1654 UTC.
No decision has been made for the times of the EVA on 27.07.
End of the 27th Main Expedition: The departure of the crew of this expedition has been put back from 23rd until 28.08.1999. This on a request of CNES. As of yet the reasons for this request are not fully clear. Better light conditions on 28.08 than on 23.08.1999 were mentioned, but possibly there are still other reasons.
Communications during 2nd day (17.07) of the flight of Progress-M42: During the 18th orbit telemetry and beacon signals in the 166, 165 and 922.755 mc bands could be monitored between 19.27.40 UTC and 19.32.00 UTC.
During the 19th orbit the signals were very strong between 2058 and 2105 UTC.
With the Doppler effect (dip on 922.755 mc) TCA (time closest approach) could be determined at 21.01.50 UTC There were in the Benelux and England clouds permitted this observers reported good visual observations of Progress-M42 around 2100 UTC.
Last Progress freighter during manned status Mir-space station: More or less the arrival of this last freighter is a historical event.
The eventual Progress which has to give the latest impulse to put the complex on a destruction course (in the beginning of 2000) has to dock during the autonomous flight of the complex.
all flight of freighters, in the beginning the Progresses, later on the Progresses-M.
It is not yet clear how the communications during flights of Russian transport and cargo ships to the International Space Station will be organised. My possibilities depend on those communications, so it might be that for me Progress-M42 has been the very last.
But nevertheless I was able to monitor this flight very well and this made it possible to draft an extensive report.
C.M. van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The exit hatch of the Sh.S.O. (airlock of the Module-D) was opened 9 minutes before the scheduled time. So for a while some profit of time, but all activities during the EVA lasted longer than planned and so did the EVA. The hatch swung open at 1106 UTC and was closed behind the cosmonauts at 1713 UTC, so a duration of 6 hrs and 7 minutes, 28 minutes longer than had been foreseen in the original plan.
The number of tasks was quite substantial and not all of them could be accomplished. One item had been added to the schedule, i.e. the search for an air-leakage in the hull of the module Kvant-2 (Module-D). We still remember how difficult it was to find the leakage in the hull of the module-O (Spektr) during EVA-s and also with the help of gaseous dye markers for observations from departing Shuttles, and so it is not difficult to conclude that this task would be a mission impossible. The fact that the cosmonauts at least had to give it a try clearly indicates that specialists at TsUP consider the leakage, though very small, to be a serious problem. Ultimately they did not find the leakage.
A lot of time was consumed during attempts to deploy a new system for the deployment of antennae for satellites. This antenna was a Russian-Georgian project. The parabolic reflector antenna had to be installed at the Sofora girder and deployed with a remote control.
Afanasyev was able to open the antenna for 80 or 90%. During the following EVA the cosmonauts will try to achieve 100%. If they do not succeed the antenna they will get rid of it.
During the EVA the cosmonauts had to retrieve some experiments from the outer surface. They succeeded to do so with the experiments Exobiology and Dvikon.
Exobiology is a study to determine the possibility for survival in open space of organic samples wrapped up in meteorite-like materials. Dvikon is a study to determine and measure the effects of the exhaust of Mir's engines on materials nearby. Due to lack of time they did not try to retrieve the experiment Spica.
The EVA ended in a great hurry due to a failure of the thermoregulation in the spacesuit of Afanasyev. A filter was overheated.
Communications: A serious handicap for cosmonauts who have to do EVA-s is the fact that there is not a single geostationary communication satellite available. A lot of crucial activities they had to do when they were out of range of ground facilities, for instance the opening of the exit hatch. The communications between Mir and TsUP took place on 143.625 mc (UKW-1) as well as on 130.165 mc (UKW-2). As always during EVA-s 7 kc/s lower than normal.
When Mir came in range during orbit 76715 at 1640 UTC, the hatch was still open. During the first passes within my range TsUP and the cosmonauts experienced a lot of noise caused by cross modulation from air-traffic control centres. So the help of Haignere as a relay station was very useful.
The cosmonauts got orders to close the hatches between the air lock and the P.N.O. and the P.N.O. and P.G.O (respectively the scientific-instrument compartment and the instrument-cargo compartment) of the module which is leaking air, Module-D.
3rd EVA: This EVA is scheduled for 28.07.1999 between 1020 and 1530 UTC.
Which of the Russians will make this EVA together with Haignere was not yet known during the hard disc preparation of this report.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The EVA was made on 28.07.1999 from 0937 UTC (opening hatch) until 1459 UTC (closure hatch), so 5 hrs and 22 minutes. The simple fact that the EVA could be made within the planned 5 hrs and 30 minutes was an indication that all went very well.
The first task was to resume the attempts to achieve the full deployment of the Georgian-Russian reflector antenna. This was a success. The enormous antenna, a little bit looking like an ellipse, has a diameter between 6.4 and 5.2 Meters. The experiment was just an engineering operation to test a new system for the antenna deployment by remote control. So not to use the antenna for communication purposes now. In the future this system has to be implemented for antennae used on navigation satellites. As soon as everybody was convinced that the system was able to be used flawlessly, the antenna was disconnected and pushed away for a short autonomous flight in space. Not without showing some pride, the Georgian specialists stated that this was the launch of the 1st Georgian sputnik.
The smooth course of this operation enabled the Russians to perform a lot of still awaiting tasks.
They installed the experiments Indicator and Sprut-4 and changed the cassettes of the Migmas ion spectrometer. They also retrieved some experiments from the outside of the complex, i.e. the Danko-M and the Ekran-D frame.
Communications during and after the EVA: Again TsUP and the cosmonauts had to use the short communication windows via ground facilities.
Nevertheless nice images of the activities with the reflector antenna reached earth. These were made by Haignere. The French enthusiast assisted the spacewalkers and relayed radio traffic with TsUP. To TsUP he reported about those parts of the operation which took place when Mir was not in range of stations on earth.
During the first pass of Mir for my position in orbit 76792, 1404 UTC, the EVA was still going on and I heard that Avdeyev asked Afanasyev to shake firmly something which was not co-operating. He also spoke about hot electrical contacts and he asked Afanasyev to salvage a screwdriver. He also was struggling along with a not properly fixed platform.
In the next pass (orb. 76793, 1535 UTC) radio traffic still came via the usual lower frequencies. Avdeyev reported how he secured the good closure of the exit hatch. One by one he closed the locks or latches to be sure that the hatch was closed hermetically. (This hatch is still a main concern for the Russians.) TsUP asked Haignere to report the air pressure in the complex. H. answered that this pressure did not change.
During later communication sessions dense radio traffic revealed that there was a lot of attention for the airtightness in the Module-D, especially between the compartments and the airlock. TsUP ordered Afanasyev to switch on the meter for the equalisation of the pressure in the airlock to electrical control and to close the pressure equalisation valve between the airlock and the PNO (instrument and scientific compartment). TsUP said that an airtightness check had to be done today, but Afansyev proposed to do that tomorrow. Haignere added that this was dangerous and not comfortable. TsUP cancelled the instruction and stated that they accepted Afanasyev's proposal. So there was no need to transfer the air pressure meter to electric control.
Radio-amateurism: As soon as the situation permitted Haignere again went back to his passion: radio-amateurism. He opened with a message to all radio-amateurs: The EVA has been accomplished, the reflector antenna has been deployed splendidly and launched into open space. The experiment with the antenna lead by the Georgian republic was very important and the success was a good moral support for the spacewalkers, who, though tired, were happy and in a good condition.
Last week during the flight of Columbia (STS-93), Haignere told radio-amateurs along this latitude that there had been a radio-amateur contact between Mir and Columbia. He told that he spoke with his colleague Tognini and that the commanders of both space objects had exchanged good wishes, greetings and congratulations. Regretfully I missed that contact myself due to the low inclination of the orbit of Columbia (28.5 degrees).
Almost always in vain, Haignere asked radio-amateurs to practise more discipline and to listen carefully before calling. Sometimes he was upset and left the band.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The cause of the computer failure was a wrong command from TsUP. The crew was not very impressed and apart from the operation to restore the functioning of the gyrodynes, they continued a number of experiments and Haignere remained busy with his radio-amateur passion. TsUP altered the working schedule for the next days, using the interruption in the functioning of the attitude control to put forward the integration of the new control and navigation system (BUPO) in the Propulsion Control System of the complex. To make this integration possible, much of propulsion system had to be switched off, and so this 'failure' was utilised in a positive way.
BUPO: This is the Russian abbreviation for the new control unit. The name is Unit for Control, Docking and Orientation (Blok Upravleniya Prichalivaniya i Orientatsii). As far as I could derive from radio traffic, they concluded this work already on 31.07.99. On 2.08.1999 the crew conducted tests of the new system. That day the gyrodynes were spinning again at full speed.
It always lasts some time to gather the necessary details to know how a new system works. Several news bulletins gave the impression that the BUPO replaced the old central computer TsVM-1. But this computer, and also the SUD (movements control system), which controls the functioning of the gyrodynes, are still operational. BUPO has to secure a safe flight when the station has no crew on board.
According to the modest information at my disposal at this point, BUPO can replace the crew when the attitude control by gyrodynes fails. Thus far the crew used to take over that control by commanding steering rockets and the VDU roll control thruster, thus restoring the attitude and the correct angles of the solar batteries towards the sun. One of the first actions of the crew when the normal attitude control fails, has been the switching off of all energy consuming systems. BUPO should be able to do that when there is no crew on board.
The 'P' is an indication that this system will enable TsUP to control approach and docking operations. It stands for 'mooring' or 'docking' (Prichalivaniye). This might mean that BUPO can replace the crew when during docking operations, the automatic Kurs system fails. In the beginning of the year 2000 such an operation has to be executed. Then the 'tanker' Progress-M43, containing 4 fuel tanks, has to be docked at Mir for the final operation: giving the impulse to put the Mir-complex on a destruction course into the atmosphere. So if the Russians can not find the funds to send an extra crew (eventual Mir's Main expedition nr. 28, by Soyuz-TM30), TsUP might via BUPO secure the docking of the tanker.
Mir-routine: The cosmonauts energetically continue to execute experiments. If you did not know better, you might get the impression that Mir's exploitation would still last for a long time. Haignere does all what is necessary to conclude the Perseus program, he still executes experiments like Alice-2 and Genesis.
A few days ago Avdeyev installed equipment for the execution of the experiment Volna for the study of the efficiency of capillary intake gadgets in fuel tanks. Afanasyev worked on an experiment named Linza. Apart from these technological experiments the normal series were mentioned, giving all kinds of spectrometers and other devices the opportunity to sing their swan song.
But the fact that the crew will leave the space station before long more and more emerges in the radio traffic. The crew already is training in the Chibis suit, always a standard training for crews about to return to earth and they undergo extra medical checks, especially of the cardio-vascular system. Meanwhile they are replacing equipment, for instance a few days ago some accumulator batteries.
During radio-amateur conversations Haignere told that they have to do a lot of work during the last weeks of their mission. One of the main tasks is to prevent that an eventual extra crew will arrive in a chaos.
They will load all waste, especially human waste and garbage, in the Progress-M42 and they will have to prepare all on board systems for the flight of Mir in the unmanned status. He also spoke about the extra exercises they have to do to be ready to meet the earthly gravity conditions.
Communications: During the last weeks the radio traffic is very dense. The crew regularly uses 2 different channels: 143.625 and 130.165 mc. Via one channel they speak with TsUP, via the other channel they exchange Packet Radio traffic or hold a second conversation. The transceiver for radio-amateur traffic is almost always red-hot, especially when Haignere is using it. He continues to express his displeasure about the lack of discipline among radio-amateurs who fail to listen before calling.
If the dense working schedule of the cosmonauts makes this possible, there will be a lot of radio-amateur activities during the last 2 weekends, possibly also with SSTV images.
Eventual extra expedition next year: Optimists are sure that such a mission will take place. If so this will be the 28th Main Expedition to Mir, the crew of which will fly to Mir on the Soyuz-TM30. The members of the present crew are not optimistic: Avdeyev and Haignere are not sure that such a mission is possible. At TsUP there is some hope, but the most used expression there is: 'ne veroyatno' (unlikely).
For Russia another mission is more important. Nowadays 2 crews are training for a flight to the International Space Station in December 1999 to be there when the Service Module (Zvezda) will arrive there.
That crew must be there for the eventual manual docking of Zvezda if the automatic mode fails. The first crew consists of Padalka and Budarin, the stand-in crew of Korzun and Treshchov.
The return flight of the present and probably last crew with the Soyuz-TM29 is scheduled for 28.08.1999. Regretfully this decision is irreversible.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The Soyuz-TM29 will separate from the Mir-complex on 27.08.1999 at 2112 UTC.
The estimated landing time is on 28.08.1999 at 0030 UTC.
(Due to the difference in local times in Russia, the operation will take place on 28.08.99 in that country.) Indications imminent return flight: During radio-communications, the main part of the subjects is related to all that what has to be done to prepare the definitive closure of the hatches between Mir and Soyuz-TM29.
Nevertheless the cosmonauts regularly still mention experiments on which they are working or which have to be concluded.
On 30.07.99 Avdeyev got an answer on a question about the definitive closure of the module Priroda. This is scheduled for 23.08.1999 with the last possible option on 25.08.1999. Avdeyev had to know this for a lot of equipment has to be stowed in that module during the unmanned status of the station. Avdeyev asked TsUP what they should do in case one of the units in Priroda had to be switched back on. TsUP said they had this matter under control.
The crew is very active to prepare their bodies for the gravity conditions after return, by intensive physical exercises and working with the Chibis pressure suit.
On 13.08.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev had a long conversation with ex-cosmonaut and RKK Energiya training chief, Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov, in which they exchanged congratulations for an anniversary.
Aleksandrov had tried to gather a great number of RKK's employees to be present during this conversation, but most of them had left for their dacha's or other nice places, while others attended a meeting at NASA about the ISS. Possibly the anniversary was the 43rd one of RKK Energiya, originally founded as OKB-1 on 14.08.1956. One of the subjects during this conversation was the place where Afanasyev and Avdeyev would be during their rehabilitation period. They will undergo this rehabilitation in different places: Avdeyev in Kislovodsk, Afanasyev at the Black sea beach.
Solar eclipse on 11.08.1999. That day the Mir-station crossed the shadow of the total eclipse 2 times. The first time this was in orbit 77011 (at about 1000 UTC) and in orbit 77012 (the second at about 1145 UTC). Between 1010 and 1021 UTC, when a partial eclipse could be observed over here in the Netherlands, Afanasyev was reporting his observations. Just after AOS (Acquisition of Signal), he told TsUP that was continuing his camera work. While he saw the horizon, he could see the shadow of the eclipse moving over the earth in the direction of that horizon. He met with some problems due to a structure blocking his sight. Sometimes he changed the position of his video camera. Avdeyev added to these reports that he saw Europe under the shadow. Afanasyev went to a window in the Base Block to make better images.
At 1020 UTC Mir started to send the recorded images to earth via a UHF-channel.
Afanasyev and Avdeyev did not see the sun itself during the eclipse through their windows. Haignere had more luck and could see the eclipse itself, as well as the shadow. During the pass in orb. 77012 at 1147 UTC he enthusiastically reported his observations.
Perseids: I did not hear anything about eventual observations by the Mir crew of this yearly meteorite stream.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
On 23.08 the SO, the docking compartment attached to the module Kristall, was conserved and closed. The conservation of the module Priroda had been put back to 25.08.99, which means that thereafter no experiments can be executed with equipment installed in that module.
The experiments Dakon (convection experiment) and Alice-2 (a fluid experiment) have been active until 24.08. Observations with the Lidar Alisa were concluded on 19.08.99 and the gathered data were copied to cassettes for retrieval to earth.
Fortunately on request by CNES the return of the crew had been put back from 23 to 28.08, for there still has a lot of work to be done.
The freighter Progress-M42, docked to the complex, is fully loaded with all what is superfluous. Among them also containers with urine. This urine cannot be used any more to regenerate technical water, for the SRVU, the system for this regeneration, had also to be switched off. The most important part of the activities in this stage is the switching off of all systems which are not needed during the unmanned status. For instance on 24.08 the cosmonauts had to check whether the furnace Krater had been switched off.
In the next months the Progress-M42 will now and then alter the orbit of the Mir complex. This happened also at least 3 times during the past week and this increased the altitude of Mir to approx. 359/353 KM.
After Priroda also the modules Kvant-2 and Kristall will be conserved.
The small air leakage in the module Kvant-2 has not been located thus far and a gradual decrease of the pressure in that module can be expected. I do not know if the module Kristall will be closed. The module Spektr cannot be conserved, for this module is not operational as of 27.06.1997.
Extra air seal checks have to be done on equipment which has valves to outer space. (For instance the Vozdukh CO2 scrubbers, draining CO2 into open space, and the Electrons doing the same with the hydrogen, a by-product of the electrolyse process for the oxygen production.) So there must be some concern about the module Kvant-2. On 25.08 the cosmonauts got orders to report regularly the air pressure inside the P.G.O. (instrument and cargo compartment of the Kvant-2).
Radio traffic reveals that the cosmonauts are working under great pressure. During the disc-preparation of this report there were only 2 days left for all what still has to be done, inclusive items like the checks of the systems of the return vehicle Soyuz-TM29, the execution of a number of physical exercises and medical checks. Now and then I am inclined to presume that the return must be put back some days (if this is operationally possible).
Radio traffic is also dedicated to the selection of what the cosmonauts will have to bring back to earth and which has to be stowed into the descent module (SA) of the ship Soyuz-TM29. It will be pretty tight in there! Press conference: On 21.08.1999 there were 2 press conferences at TsUP.
Main subject was an evaluation of the results of the 27th Main Expedition to Mir. The communications windows were pretty short and so the questions and answers had to be very short. The crew fulfilled all their tasks. Haignere was very pleased with his Perseus program, in which he also worked with earlier installed equipment from CNES as well as from the German DLR, such as the Titus furnace and many devices for geophysical- and ionospheric research.
Commander Afanasyev told that he did not like that Mir would fly unmanned so long. In one of the press conferences also the eventual 28th final Main expedition was mentioned. Thus far this is still unsure and depends on the funding.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
On board the crew of the 27th Main Expedition to Mir. This concluded the last manned period which lasted from 6.09.89. (I neglected the very short unmanned period during redockings of Soyuz-ships) Nearly 3 hours before the crew left the Mir-space station and closed the hatches behind them. With a TV camera, which had been installed in the P.Kh.O. (transition section) on 19.08.1999, remote controlled by TsUP, transmissions were made of the crew entering the Soyuz-TM29 and the closure of the outer hatch by Afanasyev (at 1815 UTC).
The landing at a distance of approx. 80 KM east of Arkalyk took place after 2 autonomous orbits on 28.08.99 at 00.34.54 UTC.
As always during return operations when no geostationary communication satellite is available (Altair-1 and Altair-2 are out of order), there would be no radio traffic within my range if the landing had taken place in time. But nevertheless I was ready to monitor traffic if the Russians would put back the descent until the 2nd or 3rd opportunity.
This happened during the return flights of Soyuz-TM5 with Lyakhov/Makhmond and the Soyuz-TM6 with Titov/Manarov/Chretien. In both cases I got downlink from the ship (and comments from the Mir-crew) on 121.750 mc. So I did what almost everybody could do that night: follow the live events via CNN. CNN got TV images of the crew still on board Mir and boarding the Soyuz-TM29 and de undocking and spring controlled moving away. These images came via relays from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka. There were no live TV images from the descent operation and the landing. Even those who attended the operation at TsUP did not see anything. The Russians had to pay too much and also CNES did not want to meet the demands.
So CNN continued broadcasting irrelevant items and the unavoidable hotels, so I had to tap other sources to be sure that it was not necessary to remain on duty for eventual radio communications due to a delay. As soon as I heard that the landing had taken place in time, I sank down on my bunk. Though I was satisfied that the brave men of Mir 27 had returned to earth in good health, I fell asleep with mixed feelings.
My short night's rest ended precisely at 0624 UTC. Without setting my alarm-clock, my inner alarm woke me up at the beginning of Mir-s pass for my position in orbit 77275. Belief it or not but I stumbled to my communications gear and monitored the radio-amateur frequencies 145.985 and 145.940 mc. Like thousands of radio-amateurs all over the world, I hoped that the Packet Radio installation on board still was operational.
Regretfully this was not so. In fact, I should have known so, during the last radio-amateur sessions there was not a single indication that these transmissions would continue.
TsUP was willing to give permission only if they would have the possibility to switch off the system when needed.
Mir-routine during the last days: The amount of radio-traffic was enormous until and inclusive 26.08.99. The cosmonauts waited with the conservation of the modules Kvant-2 (module-D) and Kristall (module-T) until the evening of 26.08.99. The main part of that day was dedicated to the replacement of equipment (mainly filters of the life support systems) and all kinds of checks, for instance the valves of the gyrodynes. Connections in the Base Block and in the module Kvant-1 (module-E) had to be disconnected, and the Elektron oxygen generator in Kvant-1 was switched off. This all emerged in radio conversations with TsUP from where many specialist fired a lot of instructions or demands at the cosmonauts and so every minute of these working days was overloaded. On 26.08.99 Haignere spent more than 3 hours for the preparation of equipment which he had to bring back to earth. For me it turned out better than expected that the workload did not result in stress (as far as I could hear) or unpleasant incidents. In his contacts with the French consultative group, Haignere now and then used the word 'panique'.
For me the last day of possible radio-traffic, 27.08.99, was an anticlimax. I sharply listened out on all frequencies during windows for my position, but there was no traffic at all on the service channels.
Only a few radio-amateur transmissions, for instance SSTV images, Packet Radio, some phone from Haignere and at last but not least greetings from Avdeyev in English.
Communications during the last pass for my position on 26.08.99: Afanasyev: We connected that cable. TsUP refers to radiogram nr. 9962.
Avdeyev: I am reading this radiogram now. TsUP: we are waiting for telemetry.
Avdeyev: We changed the BMP (Unit for the detection of noxious admixtures) in the Base Block with that one of Module Kristall.
Avdeyev: On your command we will switch on the ZRU (device for loading and unloading of accumulator batteries).
Then Haignere takes over and has a long conversation with his wife Claudie. He says that he is a little bit tired. He hopes that the weather in the landing zone will be good. It has been rainy over there and normally there is only one rainy day a year, he would not be amused if this would be so during the landing. Claudie sets him at ease: there are just some clouds and the temperature is 16 degrees C.
Jean-Pierre says that 16 degrees makes it necessary to order a sweater.
During this conversation Avdeyev breaks in for a while to say hello to Claudie and also we will meet soon! Unmanned status Mir-space station: Regularly I will adjust the predictions and check whether there is telemetry in the 166 and 165 mc bands. And of course I will be alert for an eventual rescue mission. Such a mission will be inevitable if something inside the Mir-complex is going wrong.
In a few days TsUP will switch off the Ts.V.M.-1, the main computer, and stop the gyrodynes. Thus the complex will come in the free drift and the BUPO (Unit for control, docking and orientation) has to take over (or did this already).
Let us keep our fingers crossed! Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202