Soyuz TM-29 docked with Mir on February 22 at 05:36 GMT. Since two crew seats had been sold (to Slovakia and France), Afanasyev was the only Russian cosmonaut aboard. On February 27 EO-26 crew commander Padalka and Slovak cosmonaut Bella returned to earth aboard Soyuz TM-28. They undocked from the Kvant rear docking port at 22:52 GMT, landing in Kazakhstan on February 28 at 02:14 GMT.
AKA: Derbent; Soyuz TM-29 (Bella).
First Launch: 1999.02.20.
Last Launch: 1999.02.28.
Duration: 7.91 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.