Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mir NASA-3


Crew: Linenger. Linenger relieved Blaha as NASA resident on the Mir station. Backup crew: Foale.

STS-84 Atlantis docked with Mir at 03:55 GMT on January 14. STS-81 transferred 2,715 kg of equipment to and from the Mir, the largest transfer of items to that date. During the docked phase, 640 kg of water, 515 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,000 kg of Russian logistics, and 120 kg of miscellaneous material were transferred to Mir. At 02:16 GMT January 19, Atlantis separated from Mir after picking up John Blaha, who had arrived aboard STS-79 on September 19, 1996, and dropping off Jerry Linenger, who was to stay aboard Mir for over four months. The Shuttle backed off along the -RBAR (i.e. toward the Earth) to a distance of 140 m before beginning a flyaround at 02:31 GMT. Most of the flyaround was at a distance from Mir of 170 m. The first 'orbit' around Mir was complete at 03:15, and the second was completed at 04:02 GMT. Then the Orbiter fired its jets to drift away from the orbit of Mir.

STS-84 Atlantis docked with the station on May 17 at 02:33 GMT. Jerry Linenger, who had begun his stay on Mir in mid-January aboard STS-81, would return aboard STS-84. Michael Foale would be left at the station for his stint as the American crew member of Mir. The crew transfered to Mir 466 kg of water, 383 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,251 kg of Russian equipment and supplies, and 178 kg of miscellaneous material. Returned to Earth aboard Atlantis were 406 kg of U.S. science material, 531 kg of Russian logistics material, 14 kg of ESA material and 171 kg of miscellaneous material. Atlantis undocked from Mir at 01:04 GMT on May 22. After passing up its first landing opportunity due to clouds over the landing site, the Shuttle fired its OMS engines on the deorbit burn at 12:33 GMT on May 24. Atlantis landed at 13:27 GMT at Kennedy Space Center's runway 33.

AKA: Atlantis; STS-81 (Linenger).
First Launch: 1997.01.12.
Last Launch: 1997.05.24.
Duration: 132.17 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Blaha Blaha, John Elmer (1942-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-29, STS-33, STS-43, STS-58, Mir NASA-2. Flew 361 combat missions in Vietnam. More...
  • Ivins Ivins, Marsha Sue (1951-) Jewish-American engineer mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-32, STS-46, STS-62, STS-81, STS-98. NASA flight engineer. More...
  • Baker, Mike Baker, Michael Allen 'Mike' (1953-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-43, STS-52, STS-68, STS-81. More...
  • Linenger Linenger, Dr Jerry Michael (1955-) American physician mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-64, Mir NASA-3. More...
  • Foale Foale, Dr Colin Michael 'Mike' (1957-) British-American physicist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-45, STS-56, STS-63, Mir NASA-4, STS-103, ISS EO-8; 373 days in space. Appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Operations in 2004. More...
  • Wisoff Wisoff, Peter Jeffrey Kelsay 'Jeff' (1958-) American physicist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-57, STS-68, STS-81, STS-92. Was married to astronaut Tammy Jernigan. More...
  • Jett Jett, Brent Ward Jr (1958-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-72, STS-81, STS-97, STS-115. More...
  • Grunsfeld Grunsfeld, Dr John Mace (1958-) American physicist mission specialist astronaut 1992-2010. Flew on STS-67, STS-81, STS-103, STS-109, STS-125. More...

See also
Associated Flights
  • STS-81 Crew: Baker Mike, Grunsfeld, Ivins, Jett, Wisoff. Transferred 2,715 kg of equipment to and from Mir. More...
  • STS-84 Crew: Clervoy, Collins Eileen, Kondakova, Lu, Noriega, Precourt. Delivered to Mir and returned to earth 2500 kg of payload. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mir The Mir space station was the last remnant of the once mighty Soviet space programme. It was built to last only five years, and was to have been composed of modules launched by Proton and Buran/Energia launch vehicles. These modules were derived from those originally designed by Chelomei in the 1960's for the Almaz military station programme. As the Soviet Union collapsed Mir stayed in orbit, but the final modules were years late and could only be completed with American financial assistance. Kept flying over a decade beyond its rated life, Mir proved a source of pride to the Russian people and proved the ability of their cosmonauts and engineers to improvise and keep operations going despite all manner of challenges and mishaps. More...

Mir NASA-3 Chronology


1997 January 12 - . 09:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-81.
  • STS-81 - . Call Sign: Atlantis. Crew: Baker, Mike; Jett; Wisoff; Grunsfeld; Ivins; Linenger. Payload: Atlantis F18 / Spacehab Double Module. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Baker, Mike; Jett; Wisoff; Grunsfeld; Ivins; Linenger. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: Mir NASA-2; Mir EO-22; STS-81; Mir NASA-3. Spacecraft: Atlantis. Duration: 10.20 days. Decay Date: 1997-01-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 24711 . COSPAR: 1997-001A. Apogee: 380 km (230 mi). Perigee: 343 km (213 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 91.80 min. After a night launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the Shuttle docked with Mir at 03:55 GMT on January 14. STS-81 transferred 2,715 kg of equipment to and from the Mir, the largest transfer of items to that date. During the docked phase, 640 kg of water, 515 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,000 kg of Russian logistics, and 120 kg of miscellaneous material were transferred to Mir. Returned to Earth aboard Atlantis were 570 kg of U.S. science material, 405 kg of Russian logistics and 98 kg of miscellaneous material. At 02:16 GMT January 19, Atlantis separated from Mir after picking up John Blaha, who had arrived aboard STS-79 on September 19, 1996, and dropping off Jerry Linenger, who was to stay aboard Mir for over four months. The Shuttle backed off along the -RBAR (i.e. toward the Earth) to a distance of 140 m before beginning a flyaround at 02:31 GMT. Most of the flyaround was at a distance from Mir of 170 m. The first 'orbit' around Mir was complete at 03:15, and the second was completed at 04:02 GMT. Then the Orbiter fired its jets to drift away from the orbit of Mir. NASA's first Shuttle mission of 1997 came to a close with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 14:22 GMT on January 22 (after the first opportunity was waved off due to cloud cover at the Cape).

1997 January 14 - .
  • Mir News 340: Atlantis/Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-2; Mir EO-22; STS-81; Mir NASA-3. Atlantis (mission STS-81) has been launched on 12.01.1997 at 09.27.33 UTC for her 5th docking mission. At 0950 UTC Atlantis was within our range and commander Baker could be heard on 259.700 Mc AM/W in a short contact with Houston via Zaragossa in Spain. The rendezvous operations will begin on 14.01.1997 at 2212 UTC. Atlantis arrives near Mir on 15.01 at 0247 UTC and will dock 15.01 at 0353 UTC. Let us hope that the docking will take place a few minutes earlier for the window during the first pass of both enormous objects within our range will close at 0352 UTC. Hard mate will take place on 15.01 at 0427 UTC and the hatches will be opened on 15.01 at 0537 UTC. John Blaha will conclude his experimental activities on board Mir with some experiments related to the docking and immediately thereafter he will be relieved by Jerry Linenger. Blaha will remain in space for a while as payload specialist on board Atlantis and Linenger will continue his flight as 2d Board Engineer/researcher in Mir.

    Radio traffic: If they stick to the same frequencies as in the past we can expect radio traffic on 121.750, 130.165 and 143.625 Mc. Extensive use of the American TDRS-s after the docking van be expected. Possibly the Russians will now and then use their (almost) geostationary satellites Altair-1 and 2. During the 4th docking mission (STS-79 in Sept. 1996, most communications took place via the American TDRS-s.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 January 15 - .
  • Mir News 341: Atlantis links up with Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-2; Mir EO-22; STS-81; Mir NASA-3. The soft docking took place on 15.01.1997 at 03.54.57 UTC so almost 2 minutes later than planned. Radio communications revealed that Houston preferred to perform the docking when both objects were in daylight. In comparison with the last docking mission (STS-79) there was more radio traffic on the Mir-frequencies. This had been caused by some problems the Shuttle had with communications with Houston. During the first pass of both objects in Mir's orbit nr. 62313 the approach was in its final phase. At 035106 UTC Korzun reported that the 'final approach' was going on, that permission for the docking had been given and that the distance between Mir and Atlantis was abt 6.5 Meters. During the next pass over here in orb. 62314 again a lot of radio traffic conducted by Korzun and Blaha. Blaha told his 'successor' Linenger that Houston had asked to inform Atlantis that they had to connect an antenna for communications with Houston. The Mir crew was in the SO (docking compartment at the Kristall module) and had already opened the hatch from that side. This had taken place at 052918 UTC. The opening of the hatch between Shuttle and Mir was far behind schedule due the above mentioned communication problems. In the SO the Mir-trio was cutting capers and making gestures to urge Baker to open the hatch. The permission to open that hatch should have been given at 054321 UTC. Possibly they wished to blow a lot of fresh air in the fusty Mir-atmosphere before opening. At last the hatch swung open at 055754 UTC and Baker and Korzun met each other and he and the rest of the Shuttle crew invaded Mir. After the welcome ceremony the first activity was the transfer of the seat liner for Linengers place in the Soyuz-TM24. When this work had been accomplished Linenger was a crew member of Mir. Officially this was at 0945 UTC. In orbit 62315 Mir communicated with TsUP Moscow via Altair-1. In the beginning they transmitted recordings of the approaching Atlantis and later on images of both crews in Mir. After the transmission of images they continued this contact with speech. In this period the huge Atlantis/Mir combination could be seen passing almost through the zenith as a very clear star. This was at 070012 UTC.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 January 20 - .
  • Mir News 342: Atlantis/Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-2; Mir EO-22; STS-81; Mir NASA-3. During the period in which Atlantis and Mir were linked together the American TDRS-facilities were in use for the bulk of radio communications, thus anticipating the communication procedures of the future International Space Station Alpha. The Russians used their facilities only to discuss matters regarding the Mir-complex itself. With a few exceptions the Atlantis also took care for the movements (attitude) control of the huge space combination.

    Atlantis separated from the Mir:

    Atlantis undocked from the Mir on 20.01.1997 at 02.15.44 UTC. At 0357 UTC the engines of the Atlantis gave the separation burn for the ride home. After the undocking Atlantis remained in the free drift until the distance permitted firing of steering rockets. During the 2 flights of Atlantis around the Mir-complex no images have been transmitted from Mir. These had been recorded and transmitted to Earth later that day via Altair-1. Among them good images, for instance Atlantis flying away from under a Mir solar panel and several views of Atlantis moving away with a sight of the Earth in the background.

    Soyuz-TM25: The next important operation will be the launch of Soyuz-TM25 from Baykonur on 10.02.1997 at 1409 UTC. Soyuz-TM25 will bring the 23d Main Expedition (Tsibliyev and Lazutkin) and the German astronaut Ewald to the Mir. (Stand-in crew: Musabayev, Budarin and Schlegel)

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 January 22 - .
1997 January 28 - .
  • Mir News 343: Soyuz-TM25 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-22. This ship with the crew for the 23d Main Expedition (M.E.) to Mir, Tsibliyev and Lazutkin, and German's Mir'97 astronaut Reinhold Ewald is on schedule for launch from Baykonur on 10.02.1997 at 1408 UTC. The call signs of this crew are Sirius-1, 2 and 3. If all goes according to plan Soyuz-TM25 will dock at Mir on 12.02.1997 at abt 1553 UTC. Ewald will stay on board for 18 days and return to Earth with the relieved crew of the 22d M.E., Korzun and Kaleri. During the Mir'97 mission DLR's GSOC in Oberpfaffenhofen will be able to communicate directly with Mir via VHF-channels, but possibly also via the quasi-stationary Cosmos-2054 (Altair-1) over 16 degrees W.L. On 4 and 5.12.1996 GSOC in Oberpfaffenhofen tested communications via Altair-1 and meanwhile the intention to use this possibility during Mir'97 and future Euromir missions has been officially confirmed.

    Mir-routine: The American astronaut Linenger started with his experimental programs. He is very pleased to be on board Mir and had less problems as his countrymen during previous flights in finding things for his work. Of course he did not found all he needs, but obviously the experience of his predecessors led to improvements in that field. He emphasised

    Hij legt by zijn experimenten erg de nadruk op lichamelijke oefeningen, waarbij hij zich behoorlijk inspant. De samenwerking met zijn Russische collega's is uitstekend. Linenger is ook goed ingewerkt door zijn voorganger Blaha. Voor wat betreft zijn werkplanning en de manier, waarop de resultaten van zijn experimenten de geleerden op aarde moeten bereiken, heeft hij aan de Amerikaanse consultatieve groep op het TsUP by Moskou een aantal voorstellen gedaan.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 February 10 - .
  • Mir News 344: Launch Soyuz-TM25 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-22. This ship with on board the relief crew for the 23d Main Expedition (M.E.) to Mir and the German astronaut Reinhold Ewald, who will in co-operation with the Russians execute the Mir-97 program, has been launched from Baykonur on 10.02.1997 at 14hrs 09mins 30secs UTC. The call sign of the crew is Sirius (so Sirius-1, 2 and 3). The commander is Tsibliyev, now making his 2d flight in space and the board-engineer is Lazutkin who did not fly thus far.

    Progress-M33: There must always be a free docking port for the new ship. Before the flight of the Soyuz-TM24 the Russians undocked the Progress-M as soon as they were sure that the systems of the new ship were functioning normally, so at abt 1 day after launch. Some orbits after the undocking the freighter entered the earth's atmosphere and burnt up. To begin with the Progress-M32 the Russians changed this routine and the Progress-M32 flew autonomously until 18.08.96, redocked to the complex and left Mir and burnt up in the atmosphere on 20.11.1996. The Progress-M33 separated from Mir's aft (Kvant-1 +X axis) on 6.02.1997 at 12hrs 13mins 56secs and will make an autonomous flight until the beginning of March '97.

    Soyuz-TM24: This ship had been docked at the forward docking port (transition section - P.Kh.O. -X axis). This port has been chosen for the docking of the Soyuz-TM25. In the future the Russians refrain from the use of the approach system Kurs in Soyuz-TM and Progress-M ships. This decision has been taken due to problems about the delivery of that system between RKK Energiya and the factory NPO Kharton in Kharkov, Ukraine. On 7.02.1997 at 16hrs 28mins 01secs the Soyuz-TM24 separated from Mir and manned by Korzun, Kaleri and Linenger made an autonomous flight concluded by the docking of that ship at the aft (Kvant-1 +X axis) docking port that day at 16hrs 51mins 27secs. Undoubtedly this has been quite an experience for Jerry Linenger who came by Atlantis and will return with the shuttle.

    Dockings of Soyuz-TM ships will be executed manually by the commander and those of unmanned Progress-M freighters will be done by the crew on board Mir by the use of the Remote Control system TORU.

    ETA (expected time of arrival) of Soyuz-TM25 at Mir:

    Soyuz-TM25 has to dock to the Mir's forward (P.Kh.O. -X axis) docking port on 12.02.1997 at abt. 1550 UTC. This is 3 minutes after the first pass for both objects over Western Europe. During this pass (1541-1547 UTC) we can expect communications about the approach on 121.750 mc FM-N and the 143.625 mc.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 February 10 - . 14:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.
1997 February 12 - .
  • Mir News 345: Soyuz-TM25 docked at Mir-complex - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir 97; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23; Mir EO-22. Without significant problems Soyuz-TM25 docked at the aft (+X axis) of Mir on 12.02.97 at 15.51.13 UTC. During this operation the Russians still used the system Kurs. The automatic mode worked well from the beginning and only in a distance of 5 M. Tsibliyev had to take over manually due to a slight deviation along the X axis (roll). After some little corrections he accomplished a soft 'kasaniye' (touch). During the first pass of both objects for our position (orb. 62758) 1541-1548 UTC approach traffic could be monitored on 121.750 mc, but the full Altair-1/Mir window (1510-1618 UTC) was in use for this traffic. In fact Soyuz-TM25 used for communications with TsUP 2 relay facilities: Mir and Altair-1. In this traffic Tsibliyev and Lazutkin (Siriusy) as well as Korzon (Fregat) could be heard. The moment of the soft docking could be derived from the word 'congratulations' spoken by one of the cosmonauts. During the next pass (orb. 62759), 1720-1726 UTC, the hatch had already been opened and the pass thereafter (orb. 62760/61) the new crew was inside Mir.

    Communications Soyuz-TM25: 3 hours after launch on 10.2.97 (orb. 2, 1712-1714 UTC) the transmissions of the ship could be monitored on the well known frequencies with Tsibliyev on 121.750 mc with TsUP. During the next pass (1841-1848 UTC) he reported the good results of the 2 orbit corrections. He also mentioned some problems with a TV-installation or a screen. Apart from some interference by the ground services of a near by airport (also using 121.750 mc, but AM-W) the signals came in loud and clear. Also during the second day (11.02.1997) traffic could be heard during all passes for our position.

    Communications Mir: On 8.02.1997 DLR's GSOC in Oberpfaffenhofen (Germany) and Mir tested the direct link via the quasi-geostationary comsat Altair-1 over 16dgs West. Good images and audio from inside Mir demonstrated that the test was a great success. They also checked the performance of the so called BDD (Betriebstechnik Deutschland Direkt). This is an interface assembly for direct data exchange between specialists on earth and Reinhold Ewald during experiments in the framework of the Mir-97 program. A few days later it was clear that the direct link between GSOC and Mir will be a normal routine until 2.03.1997 (the end of Mir-97).

    PS: A tragic event in my family caused delay in the mailing of this report.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202 E-mail: cmvdberg@worldaccess.nl


1997 February 22 - .
  • Mir News 346: Mir'97 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir 97; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23; Mir EO-22. Dr. Reinhold Ewald amuses himself well on board of the Mir space station. He uses as his private domain the Module Kristall (T). His American colleague Linenger has his private quarter in the Module Spektr (O). He is sleeping there , has room for personal belongings and he found a free surface on the wall to fasten some photographs. Thus far I do not know the temporary private quarters of Tsibliyev and Lazutkin. Korzun will remain in command of the complex until his departure on 2.03.1997. Ewald discusses the experiments which he has to execute during this mission with Sigmund Jähn (at TsUP) or with Hans Schlegel (in GSOC). From the radio traffic could be derived that Ewald is successfully executing the program although now and then something goes wrong. This was the case with an experiment planned for 19.02.1997: In the framework of a medical experiment he had to drink 200 ml tomato-juice with salt, but bad quality of the juice made this impossible. The experiments with the Titus-oven, the French Alice-2 installation (studies of the characteristics of liquids) and MEDEX (medical experiments) have been successfully executed thus far.

    Anniversaries: On 20.02.1997 Tsibliyev celebrated his 43d birthday. Exactly 11 years ago the Base block of Mir was launched. . Problems with a gyrodyne: On the eve of these anniversaries the crew had to solve a difficult problem. On 19.02.1997 during the pass in orbit 62876 (1521-1527 UTC) TsUP gave Korzun data, which had to be loaded in the system Svet for the movements control of the complex. Korzun asked what the reason was. TsUP informed him that Telemetry showed the malfunction of a gyrodyne in Kvant-2 (Module-D). In the evening and night the crews solved the problem.

    Communications: Contrary to the expectations the German GSOC Oberpfaffenhofen seldom uses the possibility for direct links with Mir via the (almost) geostationary Altair-1 (Cosmos-2054). Apart from the 143.625 mc, Ewald regularly uses the so called UKW-2 (VHF-2) on 130.165 mc for communications with his consultants (Sigmund Jähn) at TsUP and (Hans Schlegel) in GSOC. Now and then Linenger can be heard on that frequency with the American consultative group at TsUP . The 145.800 mc is the downlink frequency for Packet radio or phone. Mostly Korzun can be heard here. A few times Ewald uses this facility for contacts with German radio-amateurs. He uses the call sign DL2Mir. In the simplex mode he sometimes can be heard on 145.925 mc.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202 E-m: cmvdberg@worldaccess.nl


1997 February 24 - .
  • Mir News 347: FIRE ON BOARD OF THE Mir-SPACE STATION - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir 97; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23; Mir EO-22. Radio traffic during VHF windows for our position in the morning of 24.02.1997 revealed that something serious had happened on board Mir. Somewhat earlier there was already an indication: a direct TV-link from Mir with Oberpfaffenhofen via Altair-1 for this morning did not take place. During the 3d pass for our position (orb. 62943, 1341-1348 UTC) the cloven hoof came out: in a conversation with his consultants on earth Ewald reported about a fire on board. This fire broke out last night. An oxygen cartridge caught fire and a grey smoke spread out in all parts of the complex. Korzun and Kaleri fought against the fire with extinguishers and the others tried to push back the smoke. All crew members had to wear gas-masks. This lasted two and a half hours the maximum endurance of those masks. The extinction water caused a high humidity and the temperature of the atmosphere was higher than normal. Ewald did not get smoke or just a little bit in his longs and to remain on the safe side he swallowed coal- and vitamin tablets and milk products. He was very tired but he did not think that this had been caused by something like pollution, but by the lack of sleep. He went asleep at 6 o'clock in the morning and woke up 4 hours later. Jerry Linenger was very busy collecting air samples for pollution tests. He also tried to determine the amount of formaldehyde. The crew of six was in the Base Block when the fire began in an adjacent room. Russian toxicologists are analysing telemetric data about Mir's on board atmosphere. The crew already collected urine- and saliva samples and later on they got instructions to collect blood samples and to do additional medical tests. In the course of the day a TV press conference was on schedule and a lot of journalist were waiting in Oberpfaffenhofen. Ewald told that the events had caused such a mess in the station that it was not convenient to have that TV session today. As a palliative Ewald answered some questions about the nightly occurrences and his statements almost fully confirmed the information gathered by me for this report.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 March 2 - .
  • Mir News 348: Soyuz-TM24 made happy landing - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir 97; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23; Mir EO-22. On 2.03.1997 at 0644 UTC the return capsule of the Soyuz-TM24 made a safe landing in Kazakhstan not far from Arkalyk (47degr49min North; 69degr24min East). At abt 4 mins later the first helicopter of the search- and rescue team reached that position. The return operation and landing took place without problems. During the return operation Soyuz-TM24 communicated via the Eastern tracking stations in Russia and probably Altair-2 over 96 dgs East. Obviously Altair-1 was (or: is?) not operational.

    Last week of Mir'97 and Main Expedition Mir 22:

    The fire in the night from 22 to 23.02 put its stamp on this last week due to the pollution of the Mir's atmosphere during the first days and the extra attention the crew had to give to the damaged oxygen-generator and cables. For a long time there was the smell caused by the fire. One of the cosmonauts spoke about the smell of 'roasted turkey'. Some crew members suffered from some irritation of the bronchia, a dry throat and sleeping problems. Nobody was hurt with the exception of Korzun who had a very small burn on his hand. Ewald had already executed the majority of the Mir'97 experiments and the events did not significantly influence that program. German project managers were satisfied about the successful results and conclusion of the mission. During this week there has been a lot of radio traffic on 2 frequencies simultaneously: the Russians used 143.625 mc and Ewald and Linenger 130.165 mc. For some planned TV sessions, i.e. for the RTL children's programme Captain Bluebear and about a contest for drawings by children with the wife of the German President Herzog they did not use the geostationary satellites but direct TV transceivers on lower frequencies. For phone during these sessions Ewald used the UKW-2 130.165 mc.

    Siriusses: The new crew, Tsibliyev and Lazutkin, the 23d M.E. to Mir, and Jerry Linenger will have to do a lot of work in the near future. In fact there are still a lot of experiments in the framework of Mir'97 to be done: this had been planned and this work got the designation Mir'97E, the letter 'E' standing for 'Extension'.

    Progress-M33: This old freighter is still flying autonomously until her 2d docking at Mir. That will take place on 4.03.97. Tsibliyev got orders to control the approach and docking manually with the remote-control system TORU. There has also been an instruction to leave Progress-M33's hatch closed after docking. Kaleri asked TsUP to consider the possibility to open the hatch and to use the still available room in the spherical part of Progress-M33 to stow stuff no longer needed: especially the considerable amount of human waste. During the long period with a crew of 6 the quantity of this increased enormously.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 March 2 - .
1997 March 4 - .
  • Mir News 349: Set-backs - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Two serious disadvantages vex Russian spaceflight:

    1. Progress-M33:

    The redocking of this freighter at the Mir complex planned for 4.03.1997 at 0750 UTC did not take place. During the first pass of both objects here in Mir's orb. 63065, 0733-0739UT, radio traffic revealed that the docking was not possible. Tsibliyev reported that the Progress-M33 did not do what she had to do and that he did not have a continuous image on his screen of the approaching ship. So he was unable to aim her with the system TORU. He was able to give some commands, for instance to reduce the speed of Progress-M33. Progress-M33 passed Mir in a distance of appr. 220 - 230 Meters. The cosmonauts now and then had visual observations of the Progress-M33, but not continuously and it was difficult to determine the distances via the portholes as there were no reference points. Radio traffic during following passes confirmed the failure. Progress-M33 was flying near Mir in a distance of appr. 1 KM. A commission headed by V. Solovyov is trying to find the cause of the failure and to find a solution. Tomorrow they hope to announce if and, if so, when the second attempt will take place.

    2. Geostationary communications for the Mir-space station:

    At the moment Mir does not have the possibilities to communicate via Altair-1 (Cosmos-2054) and Altair-2 (Luch-1). Altair- 1 came in a so called sun-pointing attitude and is no longer under control. This happened once in the past and then the satellite restored the normal attitude itself. Whether this will be possible this time or not is not sure. Mir also cannot use the 2d geostationary satellite over 96 degrees East. The Antares transceiver for Mir's uplink to the geostationary satellites is unserviceable and has to be replaced. The Russians hope to send a new Antares to Mir by Progress-M34. So the communication situation is very poor at the moment: in fact even worse than before the deployment of Luches for Mir. In the past tracking ships filled up the gaps, but these ships are not operational now. The possibility to use American tracking stations (Wallops, White Sands and Dryden) does not give enough solace.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1997 March 7 - .
  • Mir News 350: SITUATION ON BOARD Mir REMAINS PRECARIOUS - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. After the loss of one Solid Fuel Oxygen Generator in the night from 23 to 24.02 the crew has been struggling along to keep the mini-atmosphere on board of the space station suitable for the needs of human beings. On 5.03 one of the Elektrons (possibly the 2d Elektron is out of order and has to be repaired with spare parts to be delivered by the next supply ship) showed a malfunction and so the crew had to use a part of the oxygen reserved for spacewalks to bridge the period until the repair of that Electron. They managed to get this Elektron operational again in the afternoon. The crew is very busy to secure the working of the life systems and this fact can be derived from radio traffic during every possible pass. Among the additional measures to maintain a liveable situation on board a lot of air hoses have been deployed to enhance the air circulation through the whole complex.

    Communications: As it is not possible to communicate via the geostationary satellites every possible VHF-pass via tracking stations in Russia and the United States is fully utilised. In this way I can obtain a lot of information, but in fact this is rather poor in comparison to that what can be derived during the long sessions via Altair-1. For TV-sessions the Russians now use the direct links on lower frequencies via tracking stations. These sessions are shorter and have a rather poor quality, mostly black/white and often the accompanying speech goes via the normal VHF-downlink.

    Progress-M33: It has been decided not to try a second attempt to redock Progress-M33 at Mir. The Progress-M33 will be put on a destruction course on 11 or 12.03.1997 and burn up in the atmosphere over a designated area in the Pacific East of New-Zealand.

    Progress-M34: The Russians are still waiting for the disposal of a rocket for this launch. This certainly will not be earlier than 25.03.1997. They hope to launch the Progress-M34 on 6.04.1997. Among a lot of other supplies this Progress has to deliver a replacement for the Antares transceiver (uplink to Luches) and spare parts and materials for the repairs of the defective life support systems.

    Spacewalk (EVA): The Russians still hope that Tsibliyev and Linenger will be able to do an EVA. For the time being 17.04.1997 is on schedule.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1997 March 21 - .
  • Mir News 351: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Gradually the passes of Mir for our area shifted to the night hours, but nevertheless a lot of radio traffic could be monitored since the last Mir-report. This traffic revealed that the only system for the production of oxygen is the solid fuel oxygen generator. The crew co-ordinates the use of the so called 'shashki' (disks) with TsUP and daily abt 3 of those 'cartridges' are 'burnt'. In the beginning they still tried to activate the only operational Elektron to generate oxygen from 'technical' water, but possibly the gas-analysers reported that the quality of the production did not reach the desired standards and they had to stop these attempts. They seem to have enough 'shashki' until the arrival of new supplies but they cannot use all available cartridges. They got orders to refrain from the use of those produced in the years after the decay of the Soviet Union.

    Progress-M34: The launch of this badly needed freighter is on schedule for 6.04.1997. It is not sure whether or not spare parts (filters a.s.o.) are ready before that launch. The Progress-M34 will also have to deliver a new Antares transmitter for communications via the now only available Altair (nr. 2) satellite.

    Communications: The present position of Altair-2 is over 94 degrees East. For docking operations of Soyuz-TM ships and shuttles, but also for the communications during EVA-s and the morale of the crew a position more to West, for instance in the slot of Altair-1 (Cosmos-2054) would be more suitable.

    Movements control: On 19.03.1997 during the pass in orbit 63298, Tsibliyev reported a malfunction of an Omega angular rate sensor. At 0448 UTC the SUD (movements control system) showed a failure and the complex came in an inexplicable rotation. Apart from one the gyrodynes were still working, but obviously unable to correct the stations attitude. During the next pass (in orb. 63300, 0856-0906 UTC) the crew got orders to shut down the gyrodynes. The station came in a so called free drift and from there the attitude had to be corrected by steering jets. These events caused a decrease of electrical power due to bad orientation of the solar batteries towards the sun. So for some hours the crew had to restrain power consumption. Next day's radio traffic revealed that the situation was almost under control. The crew worked hard to make another Omega sensor operational and doing so they met a lot of problems with the deployment of cables.

    Jerry Linnenger: In contradiction to the beginning of his mission contacts of Jerry with the American consultative group at TsUP Moscow could not be monitored for some weeks.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 3 - .
  • Mir News 352: Progress-M34 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. The launch of this freighter from Baykonur is on schedule for 6.04.1997 at 1904 UTC. If this start will take place and the flight to the Mir complex will be successful docking can be expected on 8.04.1997 at abt. 1730 UTC. Progress-M34 has to deliver new supplies of fuel, oxygen, water, food and repair materials. Progress-M34 will also bring 2 spacesuits for spacewalks (EVA's) of a new type. Originally the Russians planned to have a new Antares transmitter (for communications via the geostationary satellite) ready for the flight with Progress-M34, but possibly they cannot make that and that means that this transmitter will be delivered at Mir by the shuttle Atlantis in May.

    Mir-routine: Mir's passes for our position take place during the night hours and in this period all communications are handled by the tracking stations in the USA Dryden and Wallops and the OKIK's in the East of Siberia. For the oxygen production the crew is fully dependent on the so called 'shashki', the lithium perchlorate cartridges. Daily they 'consume' 2 or 3 cartridges. The 2 Elektron systems could not be repaired and so the crew has to wait for new Elektrons to be delivered by Atlantis.

    Altair-2 (23426 - 94082A): This geostationary satellite recently still over a sub-satellite point over 95 degrees East has been brought in a somewhat higher orbit. Now the period is more than 1436 minutes. This means that the sub-satellite point is slowly moving to the West. if all goes according to plan Altair-2 will reach a position over 16 degrees West in the 26 week of May.

    1st Spacewalk (EVA) Tsibliyev and Linenger: This EVA is on schedule for 29.04.1997.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 6 - . 16:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.
  • Progress M-34 - . Payload: Progress M s/n 234. Mass: 7,156 kg (15,776 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: RAKA. Manufacturer: Korolev. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned logistics spacecraft. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Spacecraft: Progress M. Duration: 86.60 days. Completed Operations Date: 1997-07-02 06:31:45 . Decay Date: 1997-07-02 06:31:45 . USAF Sat Cat: 24757 . COSPAR: 1997-014A. Apogee: 393 km (244 mi). Perigee: 375 km (233 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 92.20 min. Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. It carried supplies for the Mir station and repair equipment for Mir's oxygen generators, replacement oxygen-generating 'candles' and a pair of new spacesuits. Docked with Mir at the rear Kvant module port on 8 Apr 1997 17:30:03 GMT. The Mir complex raised its orbit by 5 km on 15 Apr 1997 at 12:00 GMT, using Progress M-34's engine. Undocked on 24 Jun 1997 10:22:50 GMT. It was then used to perform a redocking test using newly developed remote-control procedures which were to replace the automatic system that Russia could no longer afford to buy from Ukraine. At 25 Jun 1997 09:18 GMT Mir commander Tsibliev was remotely commanding the approach of Progress to the Kvant module. This involved guiding the Progress via a television monitor. The Progress was difficult to see against the cloudy earth background at the time of the attempted docking. It went off course and collided with a solar array on the Spektr module and then the module itself. A large hole was made in a solar panel, one of the radiators was buckled, a hole was punched into Spektr's hull, and the module began to depressurize. This was not a slow leak - the crew heard a hissing sound and felt their ears pop. They disconnected the power cables leading from Mir to the main station and closed the hatch on the core module transfer section that led to Spektr. The Spektr module became fully depressurized, remaining docked to Mir with its docking hatch open. The loss of electrical connection between Spektr's solar panels and the main station cut the available power supply to the station, crippling its operations until later repairs reconnected the electrical lines. Tsibliev was also the pilot on a previous orbital collision, when he banged Soyuz TM-17 into Mir in Jan 1994. After the return of the crew to earth he was found to be to blame for the incident, although the fines assessed were later dismissed. The Progress M-34 cargo ship was backed to a safe distance from the station and was destroyed in reentry on 2 Jul 1997 06:31:50 GMT. Total free-flight time 9.90 days. Total docked time 76.70 days.

1997 April 7 - .
  • Mir News 353: Launch Progress-M34 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. The Progress-M34 was launched from Baykonur on 6.04.97 at 16.04.05 UTC. This was according to plan. Until now (morning of 7.04.97 UTC) the flight of Progress-M34 is proceeding well. During the 4th and 5th orbit the necessary orbit corrections have been executed. If all will go as planned the Progress-M34 will dock to the aft (Kvant-1) docking port (+X axis) on 8.04.1997 at abt. 1729 UTC.

    Radio traffic Progress-M34: In the evening of 6.04.1997 the transmitters of Progress-M34 could be monitored in the 166, 165 and 922 mc bands between 2039-2042 UTC and 2209-2213 UTC. Radio traffic Mir: During the last nights there has been a lot of radio traffic. The windows during hours in which the crew normally is sleeping were needed badly to co-ordinate with TsUP matters regarding a lot of technical problems.

    Significance of the freighter Progress-M34: These days the Mir-space station goes through a very critical phase. A lot of failures harass the Mir-complex during the last weeks and in particular the problems regarding the maintenance of an acceptable atmosphere on board in fact passed admissible limits. The only way to produce oxygen is the use of the lithium perchlorate cartridges. The crew cannot use the whole available supply of these so called 'shashki' 2 or 3 of which they consume daily. The series of cartridges to which the 'naughty' one belonged and that caused a fire some weeks ago cannot be used. That means that there is only a supply for a few days. Progress-M34 has to deliver the necessary cartridges to ensure the oxygen supply until the docking of Atlantis in her mission STS-84 in May. Atlantis can also bring to Mir a replacement for the Elektron system. By electrolysis the Elektron can generate oxygen from waste water, for instance water distilled from urine. Possibly the Atlantis will also deliver a new Vozdukh, the system to absorb carbonic acid (CO2) from the air on board. This Vozdukh broke down in the night from 3 to 4 April 1997 and could not be repaired. The failure of that Vozdukh was the last one in a long sequence of set-backs. Fate of the Mir-station as a manned complex is hanging by a thread. If the docking of Progress-M34 to the complex fails the crew will have to return to Earth by Soyuz-TM25 within a few days.

    Docking procedure: This time there is still the possibility to execute the approach and docking in the automatic mode by the system Kurs. If the first attempt to dock in this way fails Tsibliyev has to take over and dock Progress-M34 manually by the system TORU. In 1994 the cosmonaut Malenchenko secured the continuation of the manned flights on Mir with the TORU-docking of Progress-M24. Perhaps Tsibliyev will have to take the same responsibility tomorrow. Radio traffic in the evening of 6.04 revealed that among the activities for 7.04 there would be the checking and training with TORU. Altair-2 (23426 - 94082A): During the 'snail-paced' move of this geostationary satellite from East to West she is not operational and will not be used for Mir-TsUP communications. It might be possible that Altair-2 equal to her predecessor Altair-1 has a service beacon on 11.380 GHz. If so we might be able to catch up a sign of life of this satellite before she reaches the position over 16 dgs West. .

    C.M. v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 9 - .
  • Mir News 354: Progress-M34 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Without problems the freighter Progress-M34 linked up with the Mir-complex. The soft docking, the so called 'kasaniye' (touch) took place on 8.04.97 at 17.30.01 UTC. The approach and docking took place in the automatic mode by the use of the system Kurs. The Progress-M34 docked at the aft (Kvant-1 +X axis) docking port. During the 1st pass of Mir and Progress-M34 (orbits 63618/34) between 1721-1726 UTC it was obvious that the approach was going on. The crew did not report many details of the approach apart from the distance: 150 M. Tsibliyev was on the alert to take over manually by the system TORU, but he met problems with the image on the screen, which he needed for that operation. In co-ordination with TsUP he even consulted the on board documentation to resolve that problem if necessary. So that what I could derive from radio traffic did not convince me that the approach was successful. Moreover LOS for my position was 4 minutes before the actual docking. During the next orbit (63619 - 1856-1903 UTC) it was obvious that the docking had been successfully accomplished: of the 2 hatches between the Kvant-1 and Progress-M34 the crew already had opened the hatch on the side of Mir. They had to wait with the opening of the Progress-M34 hatch until the airseal checks had been completed. The next orbit everything had been opened and the crew already had deployed an air hose between the 2 objects. The mix of the oxygen coming from Progress-M34 with that of Mir did not give any problems.

    Mir-routine: So for the time being the exploitation of the Mir-space station as a manned complex has been secured. Now there are sufficient lithium perchlorate cartridges to ensure the oxygen production until the arrival of Atlantis in May. Progress-M34 delivered a lot of spare parts and reparation material , but whether these are sufficient to do something on the defective Elektron oxygen machines is not sure. Let us hope that there is now enough material to do something on other defective and faltering systems. The failure of the CO2 absorption filter Vozdukh emerged less than a week ago so it is unlikely that the Russians were able to deliver with Progress-M34 anything for the reparation. Apart from the lithium perchlorate cartridges Progress-M34 brought a tank with 50 KG pure oxygen.

    Compliments: The Russians deserve our serious compliments for the fact that they again solved a lot of almost hopeless problems and thus made the continuation of the co-operation with NASA in the IRS Alpha precursor program possible. The history of the Russian people that suffered so much ("mnogostradal'nogo Russkogo naroda") gave the Russians the instinct to survive during the most inclement circumstances and in spaceflight they regularly proved that they know how to use that quality.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 19 - .
  • Mir News 355: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Immediately after the opening of the hatches to Progress-M34 the crew began to unload the most important stuff for direct use. They used a part of the new arrived pure oxygen supply and new lithium perchlorate 'disks' for oxygen production. Radio traffic revealed that the cosmonauts without delay had started the repair of the Elektron system in Module-D (Kvant- 2). On 11.04 this Elektron was activated, but after a few minutes during which oxygen was produced it switched itself off. On the days to follow the crew regularly worked on this system and to undo the last failure they even used a part of the unserviceable Elektron in Module-E (Kvant-1).

    The urgent work on the Elektron caused a considerable work overload of the crew. These days the astronaut Linenger is often deployed to assist in this repair work for which he has to refrain from a part of his American experiments. A few times the work on the Elektron had to be suspended for the execution of repair work with a higher priority. This had to do with a lot of leakage in the heating- and cooling circuits in the Base Block and Kvant-1.

    The leaks in the cooling loops in Kvant-1 caused the outflow of cooling liquid (ethylene glycol) and the decrease of the pressure within that circuit. A sufficient cooling is also needed for the functioning of the carbon dioxide (CO2) absorber Vozdukh. For the neutralisation of CO2 in Mir's atmosphere there is another alternative. Progress-M34 delivered for that purpose canisters lithium hydroxide. Meanwhile the Elektron in Module-D and the Vozdukh CO2 scrubber are functioning. The problems with the life support systems on board caused a high humidity and consequently a lot of condensation. Twice a day Tsibliyev can be heard reporting pulse rates, blood pressures, skin temperatures and blood oxygen saturation of all crew members.

    Orbit correction: Using the engines of the Pr-M34 the orbit of the Mir-station had been corrected on 15.04.19997 at 12.46.01 UTC. Apogee and Perigee changed from 397.16/381.63 KM to 402.54/389.51 KM.

    Solar orbit: Within a few days Mir will enter a so called solar orbit. During this period Mir will continuously remain in sunlight. Then it will be more difficult to control the on board temperatures. Tsibliyev said that physically the crew is able to sustain this inconvenience, but that he has some concerns about the equipment of the complex.

    1st Spacewalk (EVA) Mir Main Expedition 23/ NASA 4: This EVA is (or possibly meanwhile: was) on schedule for 29.04.1997. The EVA will be executed if the repair work can be accomplished before a determined deadline.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 25 - .
  • Mir News 356: 1st Spacewalk (EVA) Mir 23/NASA 4 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Vo chto by to ni stalo. This is the Russian analogue for 'At any cost'. Monitoring radio traffic during the last days I realised that those responsible for this Mir/NASA expedition decided to stick to the EVA on 29.04.97 and this made me use this expression as a sub-title for my report about that EVA. In fact I expected that the long sequence of serious technical problems and consequently the enormous strain for the crew justified the cancellation or at least a suspension of that EVA. Officially has been announced that the situation on board is almost back to normal and that the health condition of Tsibliyev and Linenger is such that they can do that EVA. The EVA is on schedule for 29.04.1997 at 0450 UTC (opening of the hatch) and will last 5 hours and 30 minutes. Using spacesuits of a new design delivered to Mir by the freighter Progress-M34, Tsibliyev and Linenger will install American experiments at the outer surface of Kvant-2 (Module-D) and the SO (the docking compartment at the Kristall (Module-T). They also will retrieve similar experiments which had been installed there in the past. Today the 'spacewalkers' trained for that EVA. In the past the preparations for EVA's started a long time before the planned date en during the last few days crews always fully concentrated on the oncoming EVA. They always got 1 or 2 days off to enable them to start the EVA as fit as possible. This time the preparations started only a few days ago and they had to use a part of the time for maintenance and repair activities. The cosmonauts are very tired and they yearn for a day off. Another problem during this EVA is the communications infrastructure. There is no Luch available. Altair-2 is still moving to the West and not operational at the moment. In the very beginning when there were no geostationary satellites available for Mir-TsUP (or: Salyut - Zarya) communications Russia had a fleet of tracking ships all over the world. Of this fleet only 4 ships are left, 2 of which are operational, but they have to remain in St Petersburg until there are means for exploitation. It is true that TsUP has the possibility to use Dryden and Wallops in the USA and Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany, but that is not enough to fill up all the gaps in the infrastructure. Telemetry monitoring during EVA's is essential. If all goes well Tsibliyev and Linenger can be heard while they are on their way back to the airlock of Module-D during Mir's orbit 63941 between 1000 and 1030 UTC on 29.04.

    During a short interview with an American radio station Linenger on 23.04.1997 told, that they had a rough time, but that they succeeded in restoring the situation almost back to normal and that they all were doing fine. About the leakage of the cooling system in Kvant-1 and the eventual influence of ethylene glycol on the health of the crew he said that the effects in the long run are still unknown.

    Solar orbit: In my MirNEWS.355 I suggested that the next period in which the Mir- complex would remain permanently in the sun was to begin in a 'few' days. This was an error. The next solar-orbit period will be in the first week of June.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 29 - .
  • Mir News 357: 1st Spacewalk (EVA) Mir 23/NASA 4 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. This EVA passed of successfully and without problems. Tsibliyev and Linenger opened the hatch of the airlock of Kvant-2 on 29.04.1997 at 0510 UTC and closed this after the EVA at 10.08.30 UTC. Duration: 4 hrs 57 mins and 10 secs. The cause of the slight delay is still unknown. The fact that the EVA lasted much shorter than the planned 5 hrs 30 mins was no indication that they had been forced to return earlier but they just accomplished their tasks well within the duration which had been foreseen. These tasks consisted of the installation of the OPM (Optical Properties Monitor) at the outer surface of the SO (docking compartment at the Kristall module). Having this done they moved by the crane Strela to the Kvant-2 where they retrieved the American experiments PIE (Partial Impact Experiment) and the MSE (Mir Sample Experiment). These experiments will be brought back to earth by the Atlantis in May this year. The last task was the installation on Kvant-2 of the Benton Radiation Dosimeter. This instrument will measure the intensity of the radiation between 51.6 dgs North and 51.6 dgs South. The areas between these latitudes will be covered by the IRS, which will orbit in the same inclination (51.6 dgs) as Mir. During the first pass for our location in orbit 63941 (0958- 1010 UTC) the EVA was in its final phase. The both 'space-walkers' already were in the airlock, which they had entered at 0930 UTC. During radio windows they worked with tranquillising music in the background. Radio traffic revealed that Tsibliyev and Linenger had a lot of fun and acted fully relaxed. The EVA was successful and they did not meet any problems. The new type of the Orlan DMA spacesuit was used for the first time and during the pass in orbit 63942 (1133-1145 UTC) Tsibliyev reported his satisfaction about the improvements. He told that his good experience with this spacesuit during training in the hydrolab now has been proven in practice. The suit is very flexible, and especially the gloves are very good: it is much easier to use your fingers. And Tsibliyev has the right to judge this for he did 5 EVA's during his mission in 1993. During the EVA Lazutkin remained on board where he watched the systems, made films of his colleagues, helped them with advice and communications. If the present good luck of the Mir exploration will not vanish Lazutkin will do 2 EVA's together with Tsibliyev during this Mir 23d Main expedition.

    Admiration: All those responsible for the achievements of today: the crew, but also the flight control and consultative groups in Korolyov and Houston deserve our admiration for the way in which they showed their skill and this example of excellent international co-operation. They had the courage to execute this difficult operation just a week after a long period in which the operational life of the Mir space station was hanging by a thread. Let us entrust the work on future space flight projects in their hands!

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 April 29 - . 05:10 GMT - .
1997 May 11 - .
  • Mir News 358: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. The successful spacewalk (EVA) gave the crew the elixir they badly needed. In the period after the EVA the lion's share of the activities had to consist of the preparations for the arrival of Atlantis on mission STS-84 on 17.05 (wind and weather permitting). Of course they do a lot in this respect, but repairs and the struggle to restore failing systems almost overtax the cosmonauts.

    They had to replace a number of essential parts of the SRV-U (the system for regenerating water from urine). Also the system SRV-K, to make water from condensation had to be mended. A few days they had to spend a lot of time on the 2 KOB-systems. One of those systems showed a repeatedly pressure decrease. They needed a pressure hose for the repair and tried out some hoses they found. At last they connected one that fitted and solved the problem by the separation of both systems. They postponed the search for the leaks in the KOB-1 and 2 and the cooling loop in Kvant-1 until after the departure of Atlantis.

    For the co-ordination of all activities and to get the necessary advice from TsUP all VHF-windows are needed and used. They also communicate via Dryden and Wallops in the USA and Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany, even during holidays. Sometimes a failure emerges spontaneously during VHF-conversations. For instance 11.05 during the pass in orbit 64127 at 0639 UTC TsUP ordered Tsibliyev to switch off the cycling of the solar panels and when he did so the SOI (possibly the system for orientation and stabilisation) stopped. The reserve system (SOI-2) immediately took over. During the last days special attention had to be paid to the movements- (attitude-) control systems. The external thruster in the Sofora mast (VDU) has been used, possibly to take care for the stabilisation during a reset procedure for the gyrodynes.

    Preparations for the arrival of Atlantis: Especially Jerry Linenger is very busy with the selection and the arrangement of that what he has to deliver on Earth. The Russians also do so with the help of checklists. The main bulk of cargo for return consists of samples and software of experiments, but there is also a lot of defective and used equipment and parts of systems.

    Altair-2: This geostationary satellite (23426 - 94082A) accomplished its walk from 96 dgs East to 17 dgs West, but did not make a stand. To stabilise the satellite over the calculated sub-satellite point (between 16 and 17 dgs West) the VKS (Russian Space Forces) have to correct the orbit such that the period will become 1436 minutes ) on day 128 the period was still 1438 minutes.

    Mission STS-84 Atlantis: The main purpose of this mission is the delivery of Mike Foale and the relief of Jerry Linenger for return to Earth. As soon as Mike Foale's 'seat liner' has been transferred to Mir (in fact via Mir to Soyuz-TM25) Mir mission will get the designation Mir23/NASA5. If, wind and weather permitting, Atlantis will blast off on 15.05 the following schedule can be used: Launch 15.05 at 0808 UTC, opening hatches 17.05 0428 UTC. Undocking 22.05 at 0405 UTC Landing 24.05 at 1153 UTC.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1997 May 15 - . 08:07 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-84.
  • STS-84 - . Call Sign: Atlantis. Crew: Precourt; Collins, Eileen; Clervoy; Lu; Noriega; Kondakova; Foale. Backup Crew: Titov, Vladimir. Payload: Atlantis F19 / Spacehab Double Module. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Precourt; Collins, Eileen; Clervoy; Lu; Noriega; Kondakova; Foale; Titov, Vladimir. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-84; Mir NASA-4; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Spacecraft: Atlantis. Duration: 9.22 days. Decay Date: 1997-05-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 24804 . COSPAR: 1997-023A. Apogee: 393 km (244 mi). Perigee: 377 km (234 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 92.30 min. Atlantis blasted off on a night launch to Mir, docking with the station on May 17 at 02:33 GMT. Jerry Linenger, who had begun his stay on Mir in mid-January aboard STS-81, would return aboard STS-84. Michael Foale would be left at the station for his stint as the American crew member of Mir. The crew transfered to Mir 466 kg of water, 383 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,251 kg of Russian equipment and supplies, and 178 kg of miscellaneous material. Returned to Earth aboard Atlantis were 406 kg of U.S. science material, 531 kg of Russian logistics material, 14 kg of ESA material and 171 kg of miscellaneous material. Atlantis undocked from Mir at 01:04 GMT on May 22. After passing up its first landing opportunity due to clouds over the landing site, the Shuttle fired its OMS engines on the deorbit burn at 12:33 GMT on May 24. Atlantis landed at 13:27 GMT at Kennedy Space Center's runway 33.

1997 May 24 - .
1997 May 25 - .
  • Mir News 359: Chronicle - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-84; Mir NASA-4; Mir NASA-3; Mir EO-23. Just before the beginning of Atlantis mission STS-84 I left my 'station' for a badly needed vacation. For those who use my 'MirNEWS-series' as a chronicle I decided to draft a short summary of that mission. The information therein I derived from different sources.

    Atlantis STS-84 mission largely accomplished successfully: Launch Atlantis on 15.05.97; flawless docking with Mir on 17.05.97. Michael Foale relieved his colleague Jerry Linenger. Mir's mission will be named : Mir 23 / NASA 5. Both crews succeeded in transferring mutually all what had to be transferred within the 5-day period. Adding a 6th 'docking day' was not needed.

    Mir was plentifully provided with an extra supply of water and oxygen en the replacement equipment and spare parts to postpone for a very long time the definitive termination of the ageing space station. The most important equipment for that purpose was the new oxygen machine Elektron, which had to be installed in the Module-D (Kvant-2). The old Elektron which had been repaired some weeks ago and has been operational in Module-D has been reinstalled in the former spot in Kvant-1 to be used as a reserve. The delivered supply of oxygen enables the crew to refrain for a long period from the use of the Elektrons. Defective equipment, for instance the old Elektron, which could not be repaired, has been brought back to earth for analysis.

    Originally there has been a plan to deliver a new Antares transmitter for communications via the geostationary Altair-2 (now in position over 16 degrees West). Information about this plan is still unclear and even sometimes contradictory. Communications: During the combined flight the communications also to and from Mir had been handled to a large extent via the American TDRS-facilities. Mir communicated directly with tracking stations on Russian territory using VHF frequencies.

    After the launch of Atlantis on 15.05 Eileen Collins could be heard on 259.7 mc between 0826 and 0829 UTC when she via a tracking station in Spain reported the 'power down of the APU'. Shortly after the stabilisation of Altair-2 over 16 degrees West there has been word that the satellite had a transmitter failure and that the Russians would do all what was possible to reactivate this transmitter. Due to my absence I was not able to monitor 10.830 Ghz.

    During my stay in Budapest I met a 'colleague' and he told me that he received somewhat like a 'wide band' signal on that frequency, probably a test signal by the VKS (Russian space forces). This was on 19.05. Later on and until the afternoon of 21.05 the transponder transmitted a continuous carrier without modulation. Another colleague in Western Europe monitored the wideband signal and recorded this. Meanwhile there came some information about the Antares transmitter on board Mir.

    The installation of a new Antares has been put back until the arrival of a needed part which has to be delivered by Progress-M35 (launch 22.06, docking 24.06). Conclusion: Altair-2 is operational. The problem is still on board Mir. Mir-routine: The 3 crew members on board Mir again have to do the job alone. Just before the arrival of Atlantis they repaired the defective water regeneration systems (SRV-K condensation and SRV-U urine) .

    Before a profound analysis on Earth of the quality of the water regenerated by the SRV-K they are not allowed to drink this water. They are satisfied about the new supply of oxygen and the relative high pressure of the atmosphere on board: 780 mm. One of the first priorities is the search and elimination of a leakage in the cooling loop VGK.

    The passes of the Mir-station for our position take place during the night hours. So for a short period there will be not much radio traffic via VHF unless something special happens during these night hours. I will remain on the alert!

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


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