Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mir NASA-6


Crew: Thomas Andrew. Thomas relieved Wolf as NASA resident on the Mir station. Backup crew: Voss.

Penultimate Shuttle mission to Mir. Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as the resident NASA astronaut. Endeavour docked with the SO module on Mir at 20:14 GMT on January 24, 1998. Despite fit problems with his Sokol emergency spacesuit, Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as a Mir crew member on January 25. Endeavour undocked from Mir on January 29 at 16:57 GMT and made one flyaround of the station before departing. STS-91 Discovery docked with the SO module on Mir at 17:00 GMT on June 4 to pick up Thomas. NASA equipment was retrieved from the station, and Discovery undocked at 16:01 GMT on June 8, and landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 18:00 GMT on June 12.

AKA: Endeavour; STS-89 (Thomas Andrew).
First Launch: 1998.01.23.
Last Launch: 1998.06.12.
Duration: 140.63 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Dunbar Dunbar, Dr Bonnie Jeanne (1949-) American engineer mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-61-A, STS-32, STS-50, STS-71, STS-89. Engineer. Was married to astronaut Ronald Sega. More...
  • Voss Voss, James Shelton 'Jim' (1949-) American test pilot mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-44, STS-53, STS-69, STS-101, ISS EO-2. US Army More...
  • Wilcutt Wilcutt, Terrence Wade 'Terry' (1949-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-68, STS-79, STS-89, STS-106. US Marine Corps More...
  • Thomas, Andrew Thomas, Dr Andrew Sydney Withiel (1951-) Australian-American engineer mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-77, Mir NASA-6, STS-102, STS-114. More...
  • Reilly Reilly, Dr James Francis II 'JR' (1954-) American geologist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-89, STS-104, STS-117. More...
  • Wolf Wolf, Dr David Alexander 'Bluto' (1956-) Jewish-American physician mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-58, Mir NASA-5, STS-112, STS-127. More...
  • Edwards Edwards, Joe Frank Jr (1958-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-89. Grew up in Lineville and Roanoke, Alabama. Flew combat missions over Lebanon in 1983 More...
  • Anderson Anderson, Michael Phillip (1959-2003) African-American physicist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-89, STS-107. Perished in Columbia shuttle disintegration during re-entry. More...
  • Sharipov Sharipov, Saliszan Shakirovich (1964-) Tatar-Russian pilot cosmonaut. Flew on STS-89, ISS EO-10. First Uzbek astronaut. SU Air Force. More...

See also
Associated Flights
  • STS-89 Crew: Anderson, Dunbar, Edwards, Reilly, Sharipov, Wilcutt. First Uzbek astronaut. First flight of Block IIA SSME engines. Penultimate Shuttle mission to Mir. More...
  • STS-91 Crew: Chang-Diaz, Gorie, Kavandi, Lawrence, Precourt, Ryumin. First shuttle flight with super light-weight external tank. Final shuttle-Mir mission. Recovered NASA astronaut Andy Thomas from Mir and took Russian space chief Valeri Ryumin to Mir for an inspection tour. 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-6 Chronology


1998 January 23 - . 02:48 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-89.
  • STS-89 - . Call Sign: Endeavour. Crew: Wilcutt; Edwards; Reilly; Anderson; Thomas, Andrew; Dunbar; Sharipov. Payload: Endeavour F12 / Spacehab Double Module. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Wilcutt; Edwards; Reilly; Anderson; Thomas, Andrew; Dunbar; Sharipov. Agency: NASA Houston. Manufacturer: Douglas. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: Mir NASA-5; Mir EO-24; STS-89; Mir NASA-6. Spacecraft: Endeavour. Duration: 8.82 days. Decay Date: 1998-01-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 25143 . COSPAR: 1998-003A. Apogee: 382 km (237 mi). Perigee: 359 km (223 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.00 min. Penultimate Shuttle mission to Mir. Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as the resident NASA astronaut. Endeavour docked with the SO module on Mir at 20:14 GMT on January 24, 1998.

    Payloads included:

    • Orbiter middeck: CEBAS (German/US biological module with fish and snails); dinosaur skull (part of a museum educational program)
    • Bay 1: Tunnel Adapter
    • Bay 3: Orbiter Docking System/External Airlock
    • Bay 4-7: Transfer Tunnel
    • Bay 8-12: Spacehab Double Module (payloads included supplies for Mir, X-ray crystallography detector planned for the International Space Station)
    • Bay 13P: Getaway Special GABA carrier with G-141, G-145 (German materials processing experiments)
    • Bay 13S: Getaway Special GABA carrier with G-093 (University of Michigan fluid dynamics experiment), G-432 (Chinese materials processing experiment)

    Despite fits problems with his Sokol emergency spacesuit, Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as a Mir crew member on January 25. Endeavour undocked from Mir on January 29 at 16:57 GMT and made one flyaround of the station before departing and landing at Kennedy Space Center's runway 15 at 22:35 GMT on January 31.


1998 January 26 - .
  • Mir News 404: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-5; Mir EO-24; STS-89; Mir NASA-6. During the weekend of 17.01.98 Solovyov and Vinogradov entered the airlock (Sh.S.O.) of the Module-D (Kvant-2) and showed images of the outer hatch and its malfunctioning locks. One of those locks was seriously damaged. The repair of this hatch will be done by the next crew for a special spanner is needed which has to be made on earth and delivered to Mir by that crew. The Russians can work inside the Sh.S.O. not wearing a space suit for the air in the Sh.S.O. is leaking away very slowly. Endeavour (STS-89): During the launch of Endeavour on 23.01 at 0248 UTC the Mir was over Western Europe.

    As the crew was not able to see the launch they slept. Appr. 19 minutes later Endeavour came in range of Western Europa and via the 259.700 mc (AM-W) Terrence Wilcutt could be heard reporting some facts to Houston via a tracking station in Spain. During the periods in which Endeavour and Mir could communicate directly on VHF both objects were out of our range. A short time before the docking images from Mir with the approaching Shuttle could be seen via Altair-2. This was not very much: 2 huge projectors and a few obstacles. In a very short transmission CNN transmitted the same images. (Not much attention by CNN for the Clinton sensation had a higher priority)

    Communications Mir after the docking:

    Via VHF channels a lot of interesting traffic. The docking took place on 24.01.98 at 20.14.15 UTC. Just before the docking there was a short pass for Western Europe (Mir's orbit 68163, 2008-2010 UTC) with an elevation of 1 degree. No traffic on 143.625 or 130.165 mc could be monitored then. During the pass in orbit 68164, 2140-2149 UTC, Solovyov could be heard on those 2 frequencies. He reported that at his side all was ready to open the hatches after airseal checks, equalisation of the pressures with the 'vestibule' of the docking compartment (SO) and the installation of protection caps.

    At the side of the Shuttle these procedures lasted longer and we had to wait until appr. 2225 UTC before we could see how both commanders met each other. During the pass in orbit 68165, 2314-2324 UTC, Solovyov reported that the hatches were open and that the joint crew had been instructed how to escape in case of emergency.

    Working days during the combined flight: Both crews will stick to the Houston working day.

    On 25.01.1998 during Mir's orbit 68179 (2007-2050 UTC) Altair-2 was in use for Mir-TsUP-M traffic. Meanwhile Andy Thomas had relieved David Wolf as a Mir-crew member. Andy belonged to the Mir crew after the installation of his 'seat-liner' in the Soyuz-TM26. That ship serves as a lifeboat in case of emergency and the seat-liner (the Russians speak about 'lozhement') must guarantee a safe landing for him. After a conversation about this seat-liner Mir transmitted video-images. The first images showed a totally disoriented salamander, followed by those of the approaching Endeavour, again the poor salamander and at last the opening of the hatch and capers of a happy David Wolf.

    But.... there was a problem: the spacesuit especially made for Thomas did not fit. He could not get in it and so he tried the suit of David Wolf. Again a problem: the fingers of his gloves were too long, the Americans said 15 centimetre, but in Solovyov's opinion this was not more than 7 centimetres. Solovyov convinced TsUP-M that this was not a problem for it was possible to correct the size of the gloves by the use of special tape (or: ribbons). Nevertheless for some time the Americans considered the possibility to take Andy back to earth this week. After 2 long communication sessions and a visit to Soyuz-TM26 of Terry Wilcutt they gave Andy permission to fulfil his mission on board Mir.

    Soyuz-TM27:

    On 29.01.98, so the day on which Endeavour will undock from Mir, the Soyuz-TM27 will be launched from Baykonur at 1633 UTC. The docking at Mir's aft (Kvant-1 +X ) docking port is planned for 31.01.98 at 1813 UTC. The main crew of Soyuz-TM27 (and the crew for the 25th Main Expedition to Mir) will consist of Talgat Musabayev (commander) and Nikolay Budarin (flight engineer). They will bring CNES guest astronaut Leopold Eyharts to Mir. Eyharts will remain 3 weeks on the Mir and after his stay return to earth together with Solovyov and Vinogradov in the Soyuz-TM26. The relief crew has the call sign: Kristall.

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


1998 January 29 - . 16:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.
  • Soyuz TM-27 - . Call Sign: Kristall. Crew: Musabayev; Budarin; Eyharts. Backup Crew: Afanasyev; Treshchev; Haignere. Payload: Soyuz TM 11F732 s/n 76. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin; Eyharts; Afanasyev; Treshchev; Haignere. Agency: RAKA. Manufacturer: Korolev. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mir EO-25; Mir Pegase; Mir NASA-5; Mir EO-24; STS-89; Mir NASA-6. Spacecraft: Soyuz TM. Duration: 207.53 days. Decay Date: 1998-08-25 . USAF Sat Cat: 25146 . COSPAR: 1998-004A. Apogee: 373 km (231 mi). Perigee: 363 km (225 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 91.90 min. Soyuz TM-27 carried the Mir EO-25 crew and French astronaut Leopold Eyharts. NASA and the Russian Space Agency had hoped Soyuz TM-27 could dock with Mir while Endeavour was still there, resulting in an on-board crew of 13, a record which would have stood for years or decades. But the French vetoed this, saying the commotion and time wasted would ruin Eyharts Pegase experimental programme. Soyuz TM-27 docked at the Kvant module port at 17:54 GMT on January 31, 1998, less than five hours before Endeavour landed in Florida.

    Solovyov handed over command of Mir to EO-25 commander Musabayev, and the Mir EO-24 crew and Eyharts undocked from the forward port of Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19 aboard the Soyuz TM-26 for their return home. On February 20, the EO-25 crew and Andy Thomas of the NASA-7 mission boarded Soyuz TM-27 and undocked from the Kvant port at 08:48 GMT. They redocked with the forward port on Mir at 09:32 GMT. This freed up the Kvant port for a test redocking of the Progress M-37 cargo ship, parked in a following orbit with Mir during the crew transfer.


1998 January 31 - .
1998 February 1 - .
  • Mir News 405: Mir-ENDEAVOUR - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-25; Mir Pegase; Mir NASA-5; Mir EO-24; STS-89; Mir NASA-6. During the combined flight the 'Russian segment' continued to maintain direct communications with TsUP Moscow. During previous flights the Mir-crew regularly used the American communication facilities. Now they used their geostationary sat. Altair-2 more often. In the early beginning of the combined flight there were technical problems on board of Endeavour and for a short period the Mir-complex controlled the attitude of the huge combination. Due to the high fuel consumption the attitude control was given back to the Endeavour. Now and then the Russians discussed the recent problems with the space suit of Andy Thomas. In their opinion a bad co-ordination between American and Russian experts in this field caused a lot of unnecessary fuss.

    Departure Endeavour from Mir:

    After a few days toiling to and fro with supplies and equipment Endeavour separated from Mir on 29.01.1998 at 1656 UTC. Before the separation Altair-2 transmitted images from Mir. These were old video recordings of the Endeavour during the approach on 24.01.1998. A few seconds before the undocking Altair-2 was switched off. Altair-2 transmitted the images of the departure and the fly around of the Shuttle between 1747 and 1827 UTC. A part of these images had been made through a porthole of the Priroda module. During this transmission Solovyov reported a malfunction of a ventilator of the CO2 scrubber Vozdukh.

    Launch Soyuz-TM27:

    At 16.33.52 UTC, so 23 minutes before the undocking of Endeavour Soyuz-TM27 started from Baykonur with on board the crew for the 25th Main Expedition to Mir and the French guest astronaut Leopold Eyharts. Commander is Talgat Musabayev, who is making his 2d spaceflight. Now as a commander, during his first flight he was on board engineer. This time engineer is Nikolay Budarin, who also makes his 2d flight. He started for the first time in a Soyuz-TM-ship as during his first flight he was delivered to Mir by the Shuttle Atlantis (June 1995). The call sign of the new crew is Kristall.

    Progress-M37:

    This freighter had to free the aft docking port (Kvant-1 +X axis) for the Soyuz-TM27 and when it was clear that all went well with that transport ship Progress-M37 separated from Mir on 30.01.1998 at 12.50.30 UTC. Initially there were no plans for a redocking, but as long as the Russians do not make a final decision Progress-M37 will fly autonomously. The advantage of the occupation of the aft docking port by a ship is a better thermo-protection of the docking mechanism of that port and the additional possibility for the crew to get rid off stuff which is no longer needed.

    Flight of the Soyuz-TM27:

    After the launch, which took place 12 seconds behind schedule, all went well. During the pass in the 3d orbit strong transmissions on all frequencies could be monitored over here. Musabayev, Kristall-1, reported that they meanwhile had entered the BO (life compartment). The pressure was 706 mm. (As always there was a lot of interference from the ground services of a nearby airport using the same frequency 121.750 mc in AM-Wide)

    During the next pass Musabayev reported the good performance of the 2nd orbit correction impulse. During the 3rd pass over here he reported that they had resolved a problem with the percentage of CO2 in the air and the so called 'ugli posadki' the angles of re-entry in the atmosphere and the related times if they in case of emergency would be forced to return to earth. Meanwhile Eyharts slept in his sleeping bag in the BO and the Russians continued to work in the SA (landing apparatus). During 30.01.98 the flight went on without problems. An employee of the ground services Rotterdam Airport recognises the language during a Soyuz-TM27 transmission and reacts with a 'dosvidaniya'. This was the first time during all those years in which this phenomenon regularly took place.

    Approach and docking Soyuz-TM27 on 31.01.98:

    This operation was an excellent performance. All went well from the very beginning until contact. Enjoying the benefit of optimum monitoring possibilities I could make this statement. Communications via Altair-2 started at 1724 UTC during Mir's orbit 68271. The approach was going on far ahead of schedule. At 1725 the distance was 7060M, the approach speed 10.5 M/sec. and the deviations around the 3 axes were minimal. At 1732, distance 4300M with appr. speed 10.2 M/sec.

    The operation was executed in the automatic regime with the system Kurs. Musabayev continuously reported details of the operation. He also regularly stated: No emergency instruction. So Kurs worked well and there was no need to take over manually. On 1735 Altair-2 switched over to TV-transmissions and the Mir complex could be seen via a camera in the Soyuz-TM27. At 1750 they again went over to phone with the clear and calm voice of Musabayev. At 17.54.29 UTC the smooth docking took place and immediately both crews reacted with great enthusiasm. Almost always dockings take place a few minutes after disappearance of both objects behind my eastern horizon, so just after the first pass and VHF window for my position.

    This time this VHF window showed up after the docking. After abt. 6 minutes after the docking CNN came with a 'live event' of the docking, so in fact not 'live', but somewhat later. This was also the case with the TV-images of the opening of the hatches and the meeting of the 2 crews. I monitored the voices of the enthusiastic crews while the TV-transmissions on a UHF channel went via a tracking station in Russia, so not via Altair-2. I could monitor a lot of joy. After the mutual greetings and congratulations the deputy head of RKA (the Russian NASA), Ostroumov, addressed himself to the crews with a statement of his chief, Koptev. (Congratulations and appreciation for the successful docking operation) Ostroumov also congratulated Musabayev with the birthday of his daughter.

    Pegasus:

    The mission of Leopold Eyharts is Pegase (Pegasus). This mission ends with the departure on 19.02.1998 of Leopold together with Solovyov and Vinogradov in the Soyuz-TM26. (I sincerely hope that the Soyuz-TM26 will perform during the return operations for during her stay within the Mir-complex the systems of Soyuz-TM26 regularly had to support the Mir-complex.

    Soyuz-TM27:

    After the departure of Soyuz-TM26 the crew of the 25th Main Expedition and Andy Thomas will make an autonomous flight to redock the Soyuz-TM27 to the forward (Transition section, -X axis) docking port, enabling Progress-M37 to redock there.

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


1998 February 9 - .
  • Mir News 406: Failure attitude control system - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Pegase; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-24; Mir EO-25. On 4.02.1998 during Mir's pass in orbit 68334, 1848-1856 UTC, Solovyov reported that at 1831 UTC he had got the warning: Check the SUD and that the complex was now in the so called 'Indikatornyy Rezhim' meaning that Mir was flying in the 'free drift'. Due to the fact that time was running out he asked for advice from TsUP. TsUP asked for 'format' and 'regime'. S. gave Format 1, Indicated regime, operation rotation. The gyrodynes were still spinning and the Ts.V.M.-1 (Main computer) remained operational.

    They shifted to the regime of 'reduced power consumption' and among the systems which had to be switched off were both Elektron oxygen generators. During the radio traffic about this SUD failure Solovyov also mentioned the VDU. The VDU is the external thruster in the Sofora boom. Possibly the failure had been caused by a wrong command in which the VDU was involved. For the last time the VDU was used to control attitude during the beginning of the combined flight of Mir and Endeavour. The VDU almost ran out of fuel and will be replaced in the near future.

    Due to the fact that the Ts.V.M.-1 remained operational and the gyrodynes did not stop spinning the problem with the SUD could be solved already in the evening of 4.02.98 and did not have a negative effect on the present mission. On 5.02.1998 Altair-2 could be used for communications. Normally a serious attitude problem makes the use of that facility impossible. Leopold Eyharts gave a long TV-interview in which he reported with enthusiasm about his mission. Also the following days Altair-2 was regularly in use for communications and TV-sessions, for instance with the press, family and friends.

    In one of the sessions Vinogradov showed a lot of systems and explained their functions. The mood among the 4 cosmonauts, 1 astronaut and 1 spationaute is excellent. There is a lot of joy and they do not complain about their modest housing. A good example of international co-operation. Thus far Solovyov is still in command and he and Vinogradov are responsible for a number of repairs and for a good functioning of the life support systems. Now and then Andy Thomas can be heard when he is in contact with his lead at TsUP in English. I did not yet hear him speaking Russian.

    Soyuz-TM26:

    The return of this ship with the crew of the 24th Main Expedition (Solovyov and Vinogradov) and the CNES spationaute is scheduled for 19.02.1998. That day the hatch between the departing men will be closed between 0240 and 0252 UTC. Soyuz-TM26 will separate from Mir between 0553 and 0604 UTC. The landing is planned for 0917 UTC. Data and times of the operations with Soyuz-TM27 (redocking) and the Progress-M37 (return to the complex after the autonomous flight and docking at the aft port) still have to be determined.

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


1998 February 19 - .
  • Mir News 407: Soyuz-TM26 made safe landing - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Pegase; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-24; Mir EO-25. The Soyuz-TM26 with on board the relieved crew of the 24th Main Expedition to Mir (Solovyov and Vinogradov) and the CNES astronaut Leopold Eyharts made a soft landing not far from the city Arkalyk in Kazakhstan on 19.02.98 at 0910 UTC. The weather in the landing area was bad, though there was a slight improvement in the hour before the landing they had to land in a blizzard. So the search- and rescue operation lasted relatively long and to avoid collision only one helicopter had been directed to the landing position.

    Return operation:

    Soyuz-TM26 separated from the complex at 05.52.50 UTC. During the autonomous flight all went well. In the night hours Soyuz-TM26 communicated via the eastern tracking stations in Russia. From 0805 UTC until the re-entry in the atmosphere at approx. 0847 UTC the communications could be monitored via Altair-2. The signals from and to Soyuz-TM26 were relayed via the satellite transceiver on board Mir and from there via the Altair-2 geostationary satellite. The engine which had to slow down the velocity of Soyuz-TM26 to achieve re-entry was switched on at 08.16.20 UTC. Solovyov reported the data about the impulses in meters per second and the fuel consumption (SIRT) in kilograms.

    The engine was shut off after approx. 260 seconds. At 08.41.35 UTC the program for the separation of the motor compartment and the life compartment was started. The mood of the men on board the descending landing compartment was very good, they could be heard laughing. The last signal from Soyuz-TM26 which could be monitored via Altair-2 was the well known ANAN beacon. Altair-2 remained active for Mir-traffic until 0855 UTC. Musabayev is now in command of the 25th Main Expedition. Budarin reported his attempts to observe and film the descending Soyuz-TM26.

    Soyuz-TM27:

    On 20.02.1998 the crew of Mir will enter the Soyuz-TM27 for the redocking flight. Between 0845 and 0930 UTC Soyuz-TM27 will make an autonomous flight from the aft (Kvant-1, +X axis) port to the forward one (-X axis, P.Kh.O. -transition section).

    Progress-M37:

    The return of this freighter to the Mir complex (to aft docking port) is scheduled for 23.02.1998.

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


1998 February 19 - .
1998 February 21 - .
  • Mir News 408: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. On 19.02.1998, just after the return of the relieved crew and Eyharts to earth the new crew reported a malfunction of the separation system of the SRV-U (the system to regenerate water out of urine). In co-ordination with an expert on earth Budarin coped with this unpleasant repair job.

    Redocking of Soyuz-TM27 from aft to forward port:

    This operation took place on 20.02.1998 between 0847 and 0932 UTC during a window in which the Soyuz-TM27 via Mir could communicate with TsUP via Altair-2. Musabayev steered the Soyuz-TM27. In fact this was not a flight around the Mir-complex but after the undocking of Soyuz-TM27 at 08.47.45 UTC Musabayev brought his ship in a safe station keeping distance from the complex. He reported the distances in meters. The maximum distance was reported approx. 60 meters. As soon as Soyuz-TM27 was far enough from Mir the complex executed a rotation of 180 degrees in the horizontal plane (Z-axis).

    In this way the aft docking port turned away and Soyuz-TM27 came in a position right in front of the forward (-X-axis, transition section) port. This meant just a minimal fuel consumption for Soyuz-TM27. Regretfully something went wrong with the communications. From the outset there was a very stable link via Altair-2, but this ceased at 09.06.10 UTC. At that moment Mir and Soyuz-TM27 were not yet in range of Russian tracking stations and so the crew and TsUP were unable to contact each other. The window for the use of Altair-2 was open until 0933 UTC. The communications via Altair-2 were not restored before 0933 UTC and so later on they had to use 121.750 mc for direct contact with Russian tracking stations.

    Here they also encountered problems. For the crew an unpleasant experience. The official statement spoke about the fact that there had been something wrong with the relay between Mir and Altair-2. Probably wrong commands for the transmitter selection played a role. At 0932 UTC Musabayev manually accomplished the soft touch. This touch was so smooth that a surprised Andy Thomas was still waiting for the 'bump' when the docking had already taken place. After returning on board Mir they met other problems: the crew had to work on the life support systems. They switched on the Elektron oxygen generators in Module D as well as in Module-E (Kvant-1). There were problems with a Vozdukh CO2 scrubber, a pressure meter in the Kvant-1 and an air pressure equalisation valve in the transition section (P.Kh.O.).

    Progress-M37 (fingers crossed please!):

    The redocking of this freighter at the aft docking port is scheduled for 23.02.1998 at about 0930 UTC. On 21.02.1998 the crew started tests of the TORU, the system to guide Progress-M37 manually from inside Mir. It is not clear yet with the TORU system or that TORU will only be standing by in case the automatic KURS-system fails . Budarin spoke about a number of 'insignificant anomalies'. He asked for better instructions for the camerawork during the planned operation. In his opinion good video recordings are essential and he referred to the problems Tsibliyev and Lazutkin had. Due to the insufficient recordings it had been easier to blame them for that what happened last June.

    Whatever the method for the approach will be: the automatic or manual mode it will be an exciting event. During the estimated docking time Mir and Progress-M37 are in my range and there is also a window via Altair-2. And believe me: I will be alert!!

    Progress-M37 23 February 1998

    Progress-M37 flawlessly docked at the aft docking port (+X axis Kvant-1) at 09.43.27 UTC. Approach and docking were executed in the automatic mode by the system Kurs. Before the final phase of the approach Musabayev extensively tested the TORU system. At 09.04.30 UTC he reported that he switched off the TORU system and that the result of the test was positive. Opening of the hatch is scheduled for 1020 - 1030 UTC. More details in my next MirNEWS-report.

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


1998 February 23 - .
  • Mir News 409: Progress-M37 redocked at Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. The docking took place on 23.02.1998 at 09.42.27 UTC (in my Progress-M37 message I wrote 09.43.27, sorry, slip of the finger!). Approach and docking were executed in the automatic mode with the system Kurs. During the final phase of the operation Musabayev was ready to take over the control manually with the system TORU. The window for traffic via Altair-2 was in use from 0857 UTC until the docking. Musabayev reported about what they did in relation to the approach operation. At 0858 UTC Musabayev reported that he could see the lights of the Progress-M37. Later on he reported what he could see via monitors of the Kurs and TORU systems. At 0859 UTC M. started a test of TORU. The system worked well and reacted faultlessly on all commands. When he switched off TORU at 0905 UTC he reported that the test results were positive. Hereafter he continued to follow the movements of Progress-M37 and he reported the distances and approach speeds.

    At 0910 UTC audio communications via Altair-2 stopped and from that moment Altair-2 transmitted images of the Mir-complex seen via a camera in the Progress. At that moment the distance was 220 meters and the approach speed 0.8 M/sec. At 0930 UTC, Mir still could be seen via Altair-2, communications continued via VHF. Also the transmitters of Progress-M37 on 922.755 and in the 166 and 165 mc bands could be heard. TCA for my position was 09.30.40 UTC. During this VHF-window the crew got permission for the docking and at LOS at 0937 UTC the distance between Mir and Progress-M37 was 162 meters with an approach speed of 0.94 M/sec. Fortunately it was reported that the docking had been successful.

    During the next window of Altair-2 the transponders were switched on at 1023 UTC and Musabayev tried to get in touch with TsUP. He repeatedly called TsUP, but did not get any reaction. Just before Altair-2 switched off there was a short link at 1047 UTC.

    Smell: After the opening of the hatch of Progress-M37 some orbits later a strong terrible smell came out the freighter. Possibly a bag or container with garbage had gone open. The crew decided to set the hatch to the Progress ajar.

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


1998 March 2 - .
  • Mir News 410: 1st Spacewalk (EVA) 25th Main expedition Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. This EVA will be made on 3.03.1998. Opening hatch: 0130 UTC; closure hatch: 0720 UTC. Musabayev and Budarin will go to the outer surface of Module Spektr to install a handrail necessary for future repair work over there.

    Communication schedule for the EVA:

    (times in UTC) VHF (out of range Western Europe) 0139-0203, Altair-2: 0231-0246, VHF (out of range Western Europe): 0313-0336, Altair-2: 0408-0423, VHF (out of range Western Europe): 0447-0511, Altair-2: 0544-0557, VHF (via Munich, Germany): 0617-0627 and another VHF facility, with range of Western in the period from 0621-0627, Altair-2: 0720-0756. So just after the estimated closure of the hatch Mir will communicate via Altair-2. Hereafter the normal VHF-windows, so not via Altair-2. &but from 1049-1059 via Wallops in the USA.

    Soyuz-TM26:

    The exact landing time of Soyuz-TM26 on 19.02.1998 was: 09.09.30 UTC.

    Progress-M38:

    At deadline for this report the launch of this freighter from Baykonur was scheduled for 14.03.1998 at 2240 UTC. (15.03.1998 at 0140DMV, Moscow Decree Time = Msc Winter Time)

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


1998 March 3 - .
  • Mir News 411: Spacewalk (EVA) cancelled - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. After the EVA preparations in the P.N.O. (Instrument- and Scientific Compartment) the cosmonauts entered the Sh.S.O. (the unserviceable airlock) and tried to open the locks of the outer hatch. The opening of the hatch, so the beginning of the EVA, was planned for 0130 UTC. At this moment Mir was out of my range. Traffic via Altair-2 began at 0232 and lasted until 0246 UTC, so not the full window for Mir-Altair-2 was used. At 0232 UTC Musabayev and Budarin (M. and B.) were still in the Sh.S.O. as their attempts to open the airlock had failed. To open the hatch they had to unlock 10 locks. They unlocked 9 of them, but the last one had been fixed so tightly that B. had to use extreme strength to do that.

    Doing this he broke all 3 available spanners. Immediately after getting in touch with TsUP M. reported that they last of the 10 locks hampered the continuation of the operation and that B. had broken all 3 spanners. The heads of the spanners broke off and floated away. M. told that the started repressurising the P.N.O. to enable them to take off their spacesuits. He added that this day was not a festive day at all. During the next communication session M. and B. were in the P.N.O. and had taken off their spacesuits. They did not immediately react on calls from TsUP and so Andy Thomas spoke with TsUP. He did this in reasonable and certainly comprehensible Russian.

    A few minutes later M. and B. were back in the Base Block and they asked when they could make the next EVA. They said that it was possible to do that successfully if they had the right tools. If necessary they were prepared to do this immediately. TsUP did not give permission to do that and stated that the next EVA could be made after the delivery of new spanners with the Progress-M38, the start of which is scheduled for 15 March ( UTC 14.03.98 at 2240 UTC).

    TsUP ordered M. to prepare a video session during the next window via Altair-2. M. asked whether TsUP wished to see the hatch and that this was difficult to perform. TsUP wished to see the broken spanners. During the session in orbit 68748 (0545-0557 UTC) Budarin showed the broken spanners and explained what happened. During this TV session the crew congratulated the TV-organisation of Kazakhstan with the 40th anniversary. Due the limited use of the Altair-2 windows during vacuuming I was not able to determine the period during which the cosmonauts were in vacuum.

    Mir-routine:

    On 26.02.1998 during a pass in which Mir used the tracking station Wallops they reported a smoke incident. More about this incident Musabayev reported after coming in range off the first Russian tracking station. There was not an emergency situation for the smoke was not caused by a fire. It was just an overheated ventilator in the BMP, a detector and/or scrubber for "noxious micro particles in the Mir-atmosphere";. The instrument or device had been switched off and a purification process had been started.

    Officially the incident was evaluated as a "non issue" for there had been no danger for the crew and it did not harm the health of the crew. Later on there have been reports about a slightly higher percentage of carbon monoxide in Mir's air. During the next day TsUP told Musabayev that they had got information that Andy Thomas did not feel well. Musabayev stated that Andy said that he felt well. Nevertheless TsUP ordered M. to look for a so called &"oxygen prophylactic mask"; which Andy had to put on for a certain period.

    When the smoke started Andy was training on the treadmill in the module Kristall. He went from there to the Priroda and could see the smoke in the Base Block.

    Preparations EVA:

    The working hours on 27 and 28.02.1998 were used for checking EVA equipment and spacesuits and for the training for the EVA itself.

    Future spacewalks:

    The EVA's for this month and for next April have been put back until further notice. It is clear that the present situation is very problematic: it is not possible to do EVA's even if this, in case of calamities outside the complex, might be necessary. All ports of the old airlock (the P.Kh.O., or transition section) are occupied (4 modules and the Soyuz-TM27).

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


1998 March 3 - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-1 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Internal Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0658 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. Summary: Inner and outer airlocks of Kvant-2 module were depressurised for EVA. However the crew could not open the outer hatch, repaired on 2 January 1998 by Solovyov and Vinogradov. The planned EVA was cancelled..

1998 March 14 - . 22:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.
  • Progress M-38 - . Payload: Progress M s/n 240. Mass: 7,007 kg (15,447 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: RAKA. Manufacturer: Korolev. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned logistics spacecraft. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Progress M. Duration: 61.05 days. Decay Date: 1998-05-15 . USAF Sat Cat: 25256 . COSPAR: 1998-015A. Apogee: 379 km (235 mi). Perigee: 372 km (231 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 92.10 min. Progress M-38 was specially modified to carry the second VDU (Vynosnaya Dvigatel'naya Ustanovka, External Engine Unit) propulsion unit. The VDU was mounted externally on a special structure between the cargo module and the service module, replacing the OKD fuel section present on normal Progress vehicles. The crew spacewalks to extract the VDU from Progress and place it on the end of the Sofora boom extending from the Kvant module. The VDU was used to provide attitude control capability for the station. By 03:20 GMT on March 15 1998 Progress M-38 had successfully completed its first two orbital manoeuvres. It replaced Progress M-37 at the docking port on the Kvant module, with a successful docking on March 16 1998 at 22:45 GMT. Undocked May 15 at 1844 UTC, freeing up the docking port on the Kvant module for Progress M-39. Deorbited over Pacific May 15, 1998.

1998 March 15 - .
  • Mir News 412: Progress-M38 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. The launch of this freighter from Baykonur took place on 14.03.1998 at 22.45.55 UTC (for Moscow already 15.03.1998 01.45.55 DMV -Moscow Decree Time). During the pass in the 3rd orbit I monitored the Telemetry transmitters of this ship between 0321-0324 UTC. During the pass in the 4th orbit the Telemetry transmitters (166 and 165 mc) and the beacon on 922.755mc could be heard between 0450 and 0458 UTC. TCA for me was at 0453 UTC.

    The most important cargo is the VDU. This is the external thruster which has to be installed in the Sofora mast on Kvant-1 during one of the EVA's in the future. The new VDU will replace the old one which almost run out of fuel. Under the cargo is a new lock for the EVA hatch of Module-D, the necessary tools for the repair of that hatch and of course the normal cargo: food, post and some other convenient items for the crew. Progress-M38 has to dock at the Kvant-1 aft docking port (+X-axis) on 17.03.1998 at about 0027 UTC. In principle approach and docking will be executed in the automatic mode with the system Kurs.

    Progress-M37:

    Today (15.03) Progress-M37 will separate from Mir to be put on a destruction course for burning up in the atmosphere over a designated area East of New-Zealand.

    Mir-routine:

    Last week the cosmonauts worked on the installation of the new BKV-3, the a.c. From 10.03 the BKV-3 is regularly operational and this resulted in decreasing of the almost unbearable high temperatures in the Base Block. The temperature of approx. 35 dgs C. decreased to 28 dgs C. The good functioning of the a.c. makes it possible to use this installation for the filtering of the surplus of condensation secreted by the Vozdukh CO2 scrubber. Thus this condensation can be used for water regeneration purposes and has no longer to be blown into open space.

    To make this possible the Vozdukh in the Base Block had to be modified by a so called 'dehumidifier'. This device is now installed in the neighbourhood of the Vozdukh but it was difficult to find a place for it. Meanwhile something went wrong with he thermal control in the module Priroda, which had a negative effect on some experiments of Andy. After the repair or replacement of a pump the temperatures in Priroda could be controlled again.

    The work was far from easy and they could not always find the necessary parts and equipment for the mounting. This often debauched into discussions with experts on earth. Musabayev normally being in a good mood now and then got upset. He stated that already from the first week the burden of work was too high. There was a great difference between planning and the reality of time schedules for their work in space. On 4.03.1998 he stated that this was the first day they got enough sleep. He emphasised that if you force the crew too much there will be a risk of fatal mistakes. (And indeed during this mission a number of mistakes have been reported. )

    Not only the Russians, but also Andy Thomas complained about matters he did not appreciate. He had no problems with his direct 'leads', but with some organisations. Regularly Andy repeated his complaint that he did not receive his personal E-mails. Last week this resulted in the despatch of a stream E-mails, reaching him by uplink Packet Radio transmissions, also via Altair-2.

    Andy reported problems with the American experiment COCULT. The flow of liquids to feed cells of this experiment was full of air-bubbles. He tried to solve this problem but did not succeed. In conversations with his consultative group he emphasised that he does all what is possible to fulfil the American experimental program, but that he attaches great value to the execution of his physical exercises.

    The forthcoming launch of Progress-M38 and the departure on 15.03.1998 of the old Progress-M37 were mentioned now and then. The crew tried to load as much as possible waste and equipment which was no longer needed in the Progress-M37. Musabayev reported that it was not possible to load the old BKV-3 in that freighter. He gave a higher priority to the dismissal of waste containers, lots of old rags, biological- and domestic garbage.

    More or less the lot of work on the life support systems superseded the attention for the forthcoming departure of the Progress-M38. Only yesterday (14.03) they spoke about the TORU (remote controlled steering of Progress-M from inside Mir), which has to be operational in case the automatic system Kurs should fail.

    On 9.03.1998 a planned communication session of Mir with TsUP via Altair-2 did not take place. Something went wrong with the uplink from Russia to Altair-2. Musabayev who was calling continuously was almost desperate. He needed an urgent advice about immunisation. For me it was interesting to hear how a cosmonaut feels when he thinks that he has been abandoned by earth. During the first communication session via VHF he said that they almost 'suffered an infarct'.

    .

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


1998 March 17 - .
  • Mir News 413: Progress-M38 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Successful docking at Mir; The docking took place on 17.03.1998 at 00.31.17 UTC. The last 20 Meters and the docking itself were manually executed by Musabayev with the system TORU. From 0000 UTC the operation could be monitored via Altair-2. Musabayev observed the manoeuvres of the Progress-M38. All went according to calculations. The system Kurs was in use, but Musabayev and Budarin were at the control panel of the TORU system ready to take over if necessary. The crew followed the operation via several systems: the monitor of the TORU, the LIV-camera, via a camera on board of the Progress-M38 and also visually.

    Andy Thomas made images with a video-camera. Musabayev reported all distances, approach speeds, deviations along the 3-axes and also that there were no 'emergency instructions' so Kurs was STILL functioning well. At 0015 UTC the link via Altair-2 ceased and a few minutes later the VHF window opened. At 0024 UTC just before LOS for my position the distance to Mir was still 150 Meters with an approach speed of 4 CM/sec. All went well until the distance of 40 Meters. Then Kurs showed fluctuations which might be an indication that the Kurs system was no longer reliable.

    Musabayev decided to switch over to the manual guidance by TORU and from 20 Meters he steered Progress-M38 to the aft docking port (+X-axis) and accomplished a perfect docking. During the pass in the next orbit the air seal checks were still going on. Via VHF-2 (130.165 mc) Andy Thomas spoke with his leads and he said that there had been no surprises. When Progress-M38 was docking he had felt a slight bump. At 0206 UTC the crew was opening the hatch.

    Progress-M37:

    This old freighter separated from Mir on 15.03.1998 at 19.16.01 UTC and burned up in the atmosphere east of New-Zealand at 23.03.46 UTC. 1st Spacewalk (EVA) crew 25th Main Expedition. For the time being on schedule for 1.04.1998. A final decision will be made soon.

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


1998 March 27 - .
  • Mir News 414: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Progress-M38 has been regularly used to support the attitude control of the Mir-complex. The crew had to cope with problems with the a.c. (BKV-3) and a cooling loop. The Elektron oxygen generator in the Kvant-1 module could not be used continuously due to a power supply problem. The crew accomplished the repair of the BMP (trace contaminants removal unit).

    The crew asked TsUP to reduce the number of communication sessions via VHF channels, for instance those via the tracking stations in the USA. They regularly had to interrupt their activities in other modules and had to go to the Central Post. They preferred to have not more than 1 session every 3 hours. The head of TsUP, Solovyov, who was about to go on leave, had another opinion. Possibly there is a compromise: the facilities in the USA (Wallops, White Sands and Dryden) might mainly be used by Andy Thomas.

    During a lot of long TV-sessions via Altair-2 much attention was dedicated to the 2nd anniversary of the permanent presence of an American astronaut on board Mir. There also was a session with Spain in which the crew congratulated BMW. Musabayev said that he would be very pleased to take a seat behind the steering wheel of one of their new models.

    There have been a lot of extensive medical checks, for instance E.C.G.-s during physical exercises. Musabayev told TsUP where he and Budarin use to sleep: Budarin near the porthole at the end of module Priroda, which also was the sleeping place of Vinogradov. M. himself sleeps in his cabin in the Base Block, but when it is too hot over there he moves to the SO (docking compartment) of module Kristall.

    Musabayev now and then presses TsUP to review the work planning. In a conversation with TsUP Budarin said the complex is used below its value. This is irritating for the crew: things have not been completed in time.

    Forthcoming spacewalks (EVA's):

    The first EVA will take place on 1.04.1998 between 1320 and 1910 UTC. To be sure that the hatch can be opened without problems Musabayev and Budarin will have to accomplish repair works on the locks of the hatch. If all went according to plan they did this today (Friday, 27.03.1998). The 2nd and 3rd EVA are provisionally planned for 6 and 11.04.1998.

    Some remarks:

    1. The present bad health of my wife might have a negative effect on my monitoring and reporting of Mir-operations in the near future.

    2. A number of my E-mail relations still use my old E-mail address. Thus far E-mails with the old address seem to reach me, but this will not last for ever. So please, if you still use that old address correct this in: cmvdberg@wxs.nl

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


1998 April 1 - . 13:35 GMT - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-2 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.28 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. Summary: The Kvant-2 hatch had been fixed from within and was used for the EVA. Objective was to repair the damaged Spektr solar panel. Handrails were installed near the panel but the crew could not complete the work before the scheduled time ran out..

1998 April 2 - .
  • Mir News 415: 1st Spacewalk (EVA) 25th Main Expedition to Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. The EVA started (hatch opening between airlock Sh.S.O. and open space) 15 minutes later than planned at 1335 UTC. Budarin needed more time to open the locks of the hatch. Also considerably later than planned, the hatch closed behind Musabayev and Budarin at 2015 UTC. So a duration of 6 hrs and 40 mins. There have been reports about a duration of 4 hrs: a mistake or April 1 prank. All available windows via the geostationary Altair-2 were used for radiotelephony.

    The information about the opening and closure of the hatch, taking place outside those windows, was reported by Musabayev afterwards. The cosmonauts worked energetically. Musabayev observed Budarin, instructed him what to do and warned him if he moved to fast or came too close to obstacles. He also now and then spoke with Andy Thomas to tell him how and from where to make photographs and video. Andy regularly reported temperatures inside Mir varying between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius. (Unclear what kind of temperatures)

    Meanwhile the spacewalkers enjoyed the cool temperatures in their spacesuits. For their transport M. and B. used the Strela crane. The package with the handrails which they had to install at the outside of the Spektr module had been placed outside Mir during one of the EVA's of Solovyov. They spoke about the 'Solovyov package'. Unpacking, deploying and installing of these handrails lasted much longer than was expected and so there was no time left for the reinforcement of the damaged solar panel of Spektr by a beam. They also had to install 2 foot restraints for future work at Spektr. They succeeded in stalling just one of those restraints.

    At approx. 1912 UTC there was a gruesome event: Budarin called Musabayev, but he did not get a reaction. After a few minutes the voice of M. showed up again. He reported that he had switched off the power supply of his spacesuit by accident. Thus he lost all functions: cooling, communication, ventilation, distillation, etc.

    After restoring the power supply he reported sequentially the good functioning of his systems. (Whether this has been a April 1 prank or not, I do not know, but it made my flesh creep). 7 Minutes after the closure of the hatch which took place at 2015 UTC the window for Altair-2 communications opened again. M. reported the time of the closure. From that moment on the long sequence of repressurising, airseal checks and post EVA activities could be monitored. Towards the end of this window the cosmonauts were back in the Base Block and they managed to transmit some video images made by Andy Thomas during the EVA.

    When the EVA and the repressurisation were still going on, there were some VHF-windows. (As always during EVA's lower in the band, 143.618 mc) I could monitor these signals simultaneously with those via Altair-2. Due to the longer path of the signals via Altair-2 there was a very clear echo-effect. And again there was the well-known interference (a kind of cross-modulation) from an air traffic control centre. These signals also were relayed via Altair-2. Sometimes this traffic bothered the cosmonauts. When the cosmonauts came back in the PGO (Instrument and cargo compartment) from the PNO (Instrument and scientific compartment) the applause from the people at TsUP could be heard in the background.

    2nd EVA of the 25th Main expedition to Mir:

    This EVA is scheduled for 6.04.1998 from 1155 UTC for a duration of approx. 6 hrs.

    Main task:

    Splinting the damaged solar panel on the Spektr module.

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


1998 April 6 - . 13:35 GMT - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-3 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.18 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. The crew succeeded in completing repair of the damaged Spektr solar panel. However the EVA was cut short when Mission Control in error commanded the Mir to drift. This was then misdiagnosed as a depletion of fuel of the VDU orientation engine, and the crew was ordered back into the station.

1998 April 7 - .
  • Mir News 416: 2nd Spacewalk (EVA) 25th Main Expedition Mir. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. The EVA took place on 6.04.1998 between 1127 and 1550 UTC (duration 4 hrs 23 mins.) The crew accomplished the main task: the strengthening of the lateral structure of the damaged solar panel on Module Spektr. They succeeded in fastening the 1.5 meters long splint. The cosmonauts had to use every effort and the work lasted longer than planned.

    They had to work under very unfavourable circumstances. Due to a malfunction of a ground facility for the Altair-2 satellite they did not have this satellite at their disposal and the quality of the communications via tracking stations was bad. So in fact two reasons to cut short the EVA: tired cosmonauts and unwarranted communication gaps. But the cosmonauts did not want to stop and the authorities on earth badly needed an EVA which was 100% successful.

    And then there emerged a 3rd reason to stop: the roll (movement along the X-axis) of the station had to be adjusted to align the complex with the sun. This had to be done with the VDU (the external thruster in the Sofora mast). The experts still expected to have some drops of fuel, but there was nothing left. It was impossible to use an alternative: the thrusters of the module Priroda, as the only person who could give the command for that operation, Andy Thomas, was not trained to do so.

    The unfavourable angle of the complex towards the sun was risky for a lack of power supply might influence the functioning of the gyrodynes and cause other imponderabilia.

    So the spacewalkers got orders to return to the air-lock and do that quickly, because they had to be on board to be able to take measures to take care of the attitude correction.

    During the first direct pass over my position (orbit 69286, 1556-1603 UTC) the cosmonauts were in the air-lock and had already started the pressurising process. It was clear that the cosmonauts were very tired: they were breathing heavily and they could hardly speak.

    The cosmonauts had to go to the Base Block as soon as possible for the attitude correction.

    The original plan foresaw in work at the Rapana girder and the old VDU. They had to postpone that work until the 3rd EVA.

    The geostationary Altair-2 is operational again. On 7.04.1998 during orbit 69300 there was a long TV-session in which the 3 cosmonauts could be seen while a cheerful Musabayev was reading out good wishes and congratulations. Possibly the international participants in the excursion by the Bauman institute were able to attend this session during their visit at TsUP.

    3rd EVA:

    This EVA is on schedule for 11.04.1998 from 1005 UTC. Planned duration: approx. 6 hours.

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


1998 April 11 - . 09:55 GMT - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-4 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.27 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. Summary: The cosmonauts began a series of three EVA's to install the new VDU station orientation engine (delivered by Progress M-38) into the Sofora boom. On this first spacewalk they disconnected the old engine (in use for six years) and pushed it into space..

1998 April 12 - .
  • Mir News 417: 3rd Spacewalk (EVA) crew 25th Main Expedition Mir. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. This EVA took place on 11.04.1998 from 0955-1620 UTC, so with a duration of 6 hrs and 25 mins. Everything went according to plan. A piece of good luck on the eve of the celebration of the Day of Manned Spaceflight. The cosmonauts started the EVA with the utmost confidence and favourable circumstances. They could rely on the use of Altair-2 for communications. If it would be necessary to reset the gyrodynes, thrusters of the Priroda module could be used for attitude control.

    During orbit 69360 the cosmonauts were in the air-lock preparing the opening of the hatch. At 0918 UTC the pressure was 9 mm and Budarin was loosening the locks of the exit hatch. The communications window closed at 0927 UTC. At 0955 UTC, so out of range of Altair-2, the cosmonauts opened the hatch and started the successful operation. When the Altair-2 window opened at 1015 UTC they already had covered a considerable distance and reached positions not far from the Sofora girder.

    Musabayev continuously advised Budarin about his movements and how he had to steer the Strela boom, but also warned him for obstacles, for instance solar panels. Musabayev did not forget Andy Thomas who was on duty inside Mir. He asked him whether he was seeing them or not and told him to make videos and photos. A minor glitch was the bad performance of Budarins receiver, but he solved this problem by using his back-up system. Sometimes the cosmonauts had to unwrap safety lines and cables, but this did not hamper the progress of the EVA. Their mood was excellent and they even had time to enjoy the good sight of the Sahara and other territories on earth.

    At 1225 UTC (in orbit 69362) it was clear that they almost achieved the main goal of the EVA: dismantling and pushing away the old VDU (the external thruster in the top of the Sofora boom). At 1227 UTC Musabayev told Andy that he had to be ready to observe and film a very special event: the launch into open space of the VDU. Don't go away during the next 5 minutes. It lasted somewhat longer before TsUP gave permission for the actual push as they had to be sure that all cables and safety lines were disconnected. Exactly at 1235 UTC this permission came and Musabayev told Andy at 12.35.20 UTC: we push him away, 1, 2, 3, 4 Do you see him moving away? For a while Andy could see the jettisoned VDU, but was not able to keep the leaving VDU in sight somewhat longer. Musabayev did not like this and did not hide that verbally. Let us hope that Andy neither heard nor understood this.

    The plan for this EVA foresaw in a second launch. After removing for retrieval of an experiment (an indicator) from the Rapana structure they had to dismantle this structure and dispatch it into open space. I did not hear anything of this second launch during communication windows. Later on it became clear that this plan had been cancelled . The cosmonauts also repaired an outlet valve of the Elektron oxygen generator in Module E (Kvant-1).

    The old VDU is in orbit as an autonomous satellite and will decay, possibly in a year or so.

    Now and then TsUP recommended the cosmonauts to return in time and finally they got an order to return to the air-lock. This part of the operation, again with the instructions of Musabayev for Budarin and the repressurisation of the air-lock took place relatively quickly and without problems.

    Not long after their return inside Mir the cosmonauts transmitted a part of the videos made by Andy during the EVA and also the launch of the VDU.

    As long as the new VDU is not operational the control of the roll will be done by steering rockets of the Priroda module.

    The next 2 EVA's are scheduled for 17 and 22.04.1998. Times will be published on 14.04.1998.

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


1998 April 17 - .
  • Mir News 418: 4th Spacewalk (EVA) crew 25th Main Expedition - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. This arduous, but successful EVA was made on 17.04.1998 between 07.40.22 UTC (opening hatch) and 14.12.30 UTC (closing hatch) so 6 hrs 32 minutes. The schedule foresaw in opening at 0725 UTC. A few minutes after this moment Budarin accomplished opening of the locks of the exit hatch, but then something went wrong with the transceivers in Budarins spacesuit. Musabayev could see the moving lips of Budarin and even tried to determine what B. was saying, but this is not the way to communicate during an EVA, so if they would not be able to resolve this problem the EVA had to be cancelled. But all went well: by switching from the main to the reserve radio set and back and by switching off and on the contact with Budarin was fully restored.

    From this moment on the operation proceeded according to plan. Musabayev used a new spacesuit and he had to accustom himself to the other gloves and sleeves. The transfer of Musabayev and the packages with equipment was done with the use of the Strela boom steered by Budarin. The operation started with the dismantling of 2 truss structures: the Rapana and the so called 3rd truss . The 3rd truss was folded up and installed on the outer surface of the Kvant-1 module. The original plan to jettison the Rapana into open space was abandoned and this truss also was parked horizontally on the outer surface. (Obviously they refrained from this launch to keep the Rapana available for future use.)

    Then the cosmonauts went to the Progress-M38 and unlocked the bolts which had been prevented the new VDU from autonomous adventures. Further the VDU was raised by telecommands from earth. The VDU had to be inclined from the Progress-M38 to an angle of 35 degrees. The cosmonauts had to help the VDU to reach that angle for the automatic regime did not function during the last few degrees. When the inclination reached 35 degrees the cosmonauts secured the VDU in that starting point for their work during the 5th EVA.

    Andy Thomas documented the whole EVA from inside Mir regularly advised by Musabayev.

    Communications: The main part of the communications took place via Altair-2. There was only phone, so no images of the EVA were relayed (at least not via Altair-2) during the EVA itself. Sometimes the transmissions were interrupted for technical reasons. After one interruption the signal was very poor. During later sessions the quality was excellent. When Mir came within VHF range the transmissions could be monitored simultaneously via the direct way and via the long way through Altair-2 as well. After the EVA everybody was satisfied. The spacewalkers were tired. Musabayev said that their hands and wrists were very tired, but he added that this was quite normal and within the acceptable limits.

    5th EVA: This EVA is still scheduled for 22.04.1998. The cosmonauts are determined to accomplish the installation of the VDU during that EVA.

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


1998 April 17 - . 07:40 GMT - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-5 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.27 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. Summary: Installation of the new VDU station orientation engine assembly was completed at the end of the Sofora boom..

1998 April 22 - .
  • Mir News 419: 5th Spacewalk (EVA) Mir-crew 25th Main expedition - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Very quickly the spacewalkers accomplished the procedures before the EVA: checks of the spacesuits and all systems and pressurising of the suits and vacuuming of the air-lock (Sh.S.O.). As usual Budarin started with the opening of the locks of the exit hatch. On 22.04.1998 at 0534 UTC, so 6 minutes earlier than planned the crew opened the hatch.

    At 0546 UTC both spacewalkers and their instrument package were in open space. They closed the hatch again behind them at 1155 UTC, so a duration of 6 hrs 21 mins, somewhat longer than scheduled. All went extremely smooth without set-backs. It was clear that the men enjoyed their work. Now and then Musabayev asked Andy to make video images. Andy stated that he felt himself like a real cameraman.

    Budarin even instructed Andy how to change a water tank of the Elektron oxygen generator. The crew installed the new VDU in the top of the Sofora boom and connected the cables. Between 1028 and 1046 UTC Musabayev reported the numbers of the cables he had connected. At 1048 UTC he told TsUP that they had accomplished their tasks. There had been an order or request to do something else, but TsUP told them to do this during a next EVA (so possibly there will be a 6th one, for instance for the retrieval of experiments from outside.) Still in the air-lock Musabayev asked Andy to rewind the videotape to the beginning to be ready to transmit images of the EVA to earth as soon as possible. They did so somewhat later and probably these images will reach us via a number of television stations.

    The success of the EVA has been confirmed by the very praising words of the Head of TsUP , V.A. Solovyov, who is normally rather scarce with compliments.

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


1998 April 22 - . 05:34 GMT - .
  • EVA Mir EO-25-6 - . Crew: Musabayev; Budarin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.27 days. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Musabayev; Budarin. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Mir. Summary: Two truss structures on the Kvant module and the new Sofora VDU station orientation engine assembly was unlatched from Progress M-38..

1998 April 28 - .
  • Mir News 420: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. After the last of the 5 EVA-s the Russians restarted their own experiment programs, which did not get much attention during the busy EVA period. This caused a lot of work for Musabayev and Budarin who got many radiograms with instructions and requests. M. told TsUP to send them clear and accurate instructions.

    Meanwhile experts of DLR and ESA in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich (Germany) were ready to continue the experiments with the BDD (Betriebstechnik Deutschland Direkt). These experiments started during the mission Mir-97 and had to be discontinued due to the failure of Altair-1. The team in Oberpfaffenhofen was ready for the operation. On board Mir the crew still had to work on cables and systems. The former DDR cosmonaut Sigmund Jaehn had heard rumours saying that M. and B. were reluctant to execute the BDD experiments. Musabayev emphatically denied this: on the contrary, he and his colleague liked to do this very much and he promised to do all what was necessary to be ready in the benefit of the good friendship with their German partners. He immediately started his cable work.

    The first communication session in the BDD framework took place on 24.04.98 at 1649 UTC. The first attempts resulted in phone and images with a very good quality. All what could be heard and seen was very interesting.

    In those transmissions from Mir via Altair-2 the TV-uplink images could be seen with the equipment and team in Oberpfaffenhofen including Hans Schlegel. It was a demonstration of an excellent international co-operation: a Kazak, a Russian, an Australian American, and on earth a number of Germans, among them a former D.D.R. cosmonaut . 3 languages could be heard: Russian, German and English.

    In excellent German Andy Thomas spoke with Hans Schlegel. And it was clear that Musabayev had picked up a lot of the German language from the community of former Volga-Germans in his native country: he easily uses phrases like Gott sei Dank, Wie geht es Ihnen and Auf Wiedersehen.

    There had been plans to continue the experimental BDD operation on Monday, 27.04, but that had to be cancelled: the TV screen on board Mir remained dark!.

    During the communication window, which had been intended for BDD contact Altair-2 was operational and stand-by.

    So everybody was satisfied on Tuesday, 28.04.1998 when at 1402 UTC Altair-2 was transmitting loud and clear. The operators in the Russian tracking station for Altair-2 (Medvezhje Ozero -Bears Lake- near Moscow) aimed one of the antennae of the satellite in the direction of Munich and immediately a very good communication session could be established. The colour(!) images from Mir, but also via Mir from Oberpfaffenhofen were excellent. Between the team on earth and the crew there was some confusion about which floppy disk with the BDD program had to be used. Was it BDD nr. 1 or 3? They showed each other the disks they had and the texts on these disks were clearly readable. The people behind the keyboards and screen in Oberpfaffenhofen also could be seen. Musabayev showed the screen of a laptop, with data of the BDD program.

    The Altair-2 window for BDD use was open until 1440 UTC and exactly at that moment the Bears lake people aimed the antennae again in their own direction and the signal became weaker and for some minutes it was difficult to understand what Musabayev said. After a while Musabayev switched over to the phone mode and all was as before. So the antenna manoeuvre did not harm the satellite. (Thus far I do not know the cause of the failure of Altair-1 in 1997. During the Mir-97 period Altair-1 came in a so called sun-pointing attitude. Whether this had something to with the antenna manoeuvres or with the age of the satellite is still a question for me.)

    During the rest of this week more BDD operations are planned. (Experiments executed by experts on earth without interfering by the crew, for instance with the Titus furnace, and data-transmission activities.)

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


1998 May 11 - .
  • Mir News 421: BDD - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. On 30.04.1998 Altair-2 was used for the last time for experiments in the framework of the BDD (Betriebstechnik Deutschland Direkt). The participants (the Mir crew and the team in Oberpfaffenhofen) obviously struggled with some software problems and the system is not ready yet. Fortunately the manoeuvres with the Altair-2 antennae (towards Oberpfaffenhofen and back to Moscow) had no consequences for the performance of Altair-2. Afterwards Altair-2 often has been used for phone- and TV-communications.

    VDU:

    This new external thruster has been fully implemented in the attitude control of the Mir-complex. When the gyrodynes have to be reset to their initial settings, the VDU takes over the control of the roll (movements around the X-axis). The fact that the VDU has been used could be derived from radio traffic. When the cosmonauts load a quaternion command the VDU will be used. (Quaternion is the coefficient of 2 vectors)

    BKV-3:

    This a.c. is not always obedient. Many times the cosmonauts had to switch off the BVK-3 after switching on.

    Mir-routine:

    Apart from dealing with technical problems of the life support systems, for instance the overheating of a heat circuit, causing the melting down of pieces of pipes and small leakage in the SRVK (system for water regeneration from condensation), the crew was able to go on with some experiments.

    During a TV-session for a Russian radio program on 7.02.1998, the cosmonauts demonstrated their work on a Russian-American metal melting experiment with the Optizon furnace and how carefully they had to handle the loading of experimental ampoules into that furnace. During this session they put 9 of those ampoules into the furnace.

    Answering questions about spacewalks (EVA-s) Musabayev confirms something which I reported in my MirNEWS.415. (Thus far I did not find any official confirmation or reference on this matter). He acknowledges that during his 1st EVA he had switched off by accident the power supply of this spacesuit resulting in the malfunction of all systems in that suit: no cooling or heating, no circulation, no communications.. This unpleasant situation lasted no more than 20 seconds but for him and those observing his activities this seemed to last ages.

    During a TV-session with family and friends on 3.05.1998 Musabayev asked them to tell the management that all is well on board and that they could skip all the nonsense reported by amateurs about bad situations on board.

    On 7.05.1998 during a session for a Russian radio program Musabayev gave his personal opinion about the significance of the Denj Pobedy. (Victory Day). He presented himself as commander of the Russian space station Mir, emphasising that his nationality was Kazakh so coming from one of the countries which in the past belonged to the Soviet Union, a country now being one of the nearby abroad. Nevertheless he was proud of that what his former countrymen achieved in World War 2 and he even memorised the famous Panfilov division.

    In an admirable way he associated some facts: by this victory the Soviet people paved the way for the launches of the first Sputnik and the Russian Yuriy Gagarin. In fact this victory was completed by the meeting of Soviet and American troops at the river Elbe. In this respect he remarks the present co-operation between Russians and Americans on board of space station Mir, emphasising that co-operation in such a way between peoples is a condition for a safe and everlasting peace. He, with his Kazakh nationality, is commander of the Russian space station Mir in a good and fruitful co-operation with a Russian on board engineer and an American astronaut. So this mission is in the benefit of mankind and so the work on board of the future International Space Station will be.

    Forest fires:

    For us on Earth astronauts and cosmonauts regularly observe how badly mankind treats our blue planet. They often express their disturbance and alarm about what they see. These observations cannot be compared with findings via unmanned satellites. On 8.05.1998 Andrew Thomas asks his lead in TsUP Moscow to pass a report to the appropriate people in the United States about heavy fires all over Yucatan and Honduras. This peninsular area is so covered up by smoke that it is impossible to distinguish the coast lines and contours of the countries over there. He underlines that he never in his life had seen smoke with such an intensity and that it is amazing that the people over there are fully burning down their countries.

    Progress-M38:

    In preparation for the departure and decay of the Progress-M38 in the evening of 16.05.1998 the cosmonauts stow as much garbage and useless goods and equipment in this old freighter. In fact this freighter is not fully suited for that purpose due to the modification necessary for the delivery of the new VDU thruster. Tsup has sent a list with instructions for the stowage, but the cosmonauts want to add a lot more: bags with used underwear and rags, containers with human waste, empty oxygen balloons of spacesuits, they even still have to get rid of remnants from previous expeditions. The man at TsUP is not authorised to give permission to do that, for there are plans to do some manoeuvres with Progress-M38 after undocking and before decay. In fact the crew has to observe these manoeuvres visually. The cosmonauts say that this is always difficult, such slight movements of some degrees are difficult to observe and often the freighter quickly disappears over the horizon.

    Progress-M39:

    The launch from Baykonur is scheduled for 14.05.1998 at 2212 UTC. If all goes according to plan Progress-M39 has to dock at Mir on 16.05.1998 at about 2350 UTC, so approx. 6 minutes after our LOS (Loss of signal) behind the eastern horizon for both objects.

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


1998 May 14 - . 22:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U.
  • Progress M-39 - . Payload: Progress M s/n 238. Nation: Russia. Agency: RAKA. Manufacturer: Korolev. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned logistics spacecraft. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Progress M. Duration: 167.08 days. Decay Date: 1998-10-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 25340 . COSPAR: 1998-031A. Apogee: 373 km (231 mi). Perigee: 360 km (220 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 91.90 min. Summary: Docked with Mir at the Kvant port at 23:51 GMT on May 16 1998, bringing supplies and scientific experiments to the station. Undocked 09:28 GMT on August 12 1998 in order to clear the port for Soyuz TM-28. Deorbited over Pacific Ocean on October 29, 1998..

1998 May 17 - .
  • Mir News 422: Progress-M39 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. This launch took place from Baykonur on 14.05.1998 at 22.12.59 UTC (for Moscow already 15.05.1998). During the 3rd pass of Progress-M39 for our position it was clear that all went well. The Telemetry transmitters in the 166 and 165 mc bands could be monitored here between 0248 and 0251 UTC. During the 4th pass the signals in the 166 and 165 mc bands were very strong, those of the 922.755 mc beacon weaker than normal between 04.16.55 and 04.22.00 UTC. TCA (Time Closest Approach) was at 04.19.52 UTC. During flight day 2 the passes still took place during the night hours. I preferred to sleep that night. One of my English Kettering group friends monitored the Progress-M39 transmissions thus convincing us that the bird was still alive. In the course of Progress-M39-s flight day 1 the crew of Mir were involved in the following activities: 1st: Checking the TORU remote control system and performing some training with this system. 2nd: Observations of the departing Progress-M38.

    Progress-M38:

    This old freighter was separated from Mir-s aft docking port on 15.05.1998 at 1844 UTC. As of 1914 UTC TsUP executed some manoeuvres with the autonomously flying Progress-M38. The cosmonauts had to observe and film 4 impulses of the engines of Progress-M38. This happened during a window via Altair-2 and Musabayev reported his findings to a Georgiy at TsUP. In the beginning Progress-M38 flew in front of Mir with a gradually increasing distance. Now and then the cosmonauts lost sight of the freighter, but between 1944 and 1952 UTC a number of observations were possible. At 19.51.03 UTC, just before one of the impulses they again lost sight of Progress-M38. At the moment of the burn at 19.51.38 UTC Progress-M39 was exactly below Mir and the crew were able to see the fan-shaped flames coming out of the Progress-M38. Further plans foresaw in the despatching of Progress-M38 on a destruction course after the safe docking of Progress-M39 at the Mir-complex.

    Approach and docking of Progress-M39:

    On 16.05.98 at 23.50.34 UTC Progress-M39 docked at the aft (Kvant-1) docking port. Approach and docking took place in the automatic mode by the system Kurs. The communications via Altair-2 started at 2310 UTC. At that moment the distance was 4400 Meters, closing speed 12.8 M/sec. Only problem was that one of the displays did not work. Musabayev reported all movements, distances and closing rates. At 23.16.10 UTC the distance was 1980 Meters, closing rate 5.7 M/s. From that moment on M. started testing TORU. He reported the response of TORU on his commands and at 23.18.52 UTC he stated that the test had been accomplished and that the results were positive. At 23.22.30 UTC phone communications via Altair-2 stopped and a kind of test image emerged on my screen without any images of the station or ship. The phone channel parallel to the TV-channel was open, but not in use. At 2342 UTC the VHF downlink came in. M. was still reporting the data of the operation. Earlier he had said that he would continue reporting and recording this even if there should be an interruption of communications. The approach was still under the control of Kurs, but M. was ready to take over by TORU. He regularly stated: all is going well, no panic, no emergency, no instructions. The VHF window closed at 23.42.50 UTC at a distance of 148 Meters. At 23.46.45 UTC Phone was back via Altair-2, but the report of the 'kasaniye' (first contact) reached TsUP via VHF out of my range. Just before Altair-2 was switched off Musabayev reported that the recorder had been turned off. I waited for the next VHF window. Altair-2 communications were not resumed. During the window in orbit 69918 , 0114-0123 UTC, M. reported that all was well and that they continued the post docking operation according to schedule (cyclogram) and Board Documentation. Then I went to bed, I was too tired to wait longer and used my time switch for the passes still to come. During the pass in orb. 69919, 0247-0257 UTC M. reported that the air-seal checks did not give problems and that they already had opened the hatches to Progress-M39. There came a very strong airstream out of the freighter with the nice smell of apples. All was clean and the first object they had seen in the Progress-M39 was a huge guitar. No radio traffic during the following passes.

    Misunderstanding in MirNEWS.421:

    I mistakenly took the planned melting of an Optizon sample as something to do with one of the station's KOB loops. Please forget the sentence with this subject. My apologies for the caused confusion and thanks to those American friends who have put me back on the right track.

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


1998 May 31 - .
  • Mir News 423: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. After the docking of Progress-M39 at Mir the cosmonauts started the unloading of that freighter while Andy Thomas already started the packing of approx. 30 bags with things which will go to Earth with the Discovery. Andy also tried to accomplish some of his experiments. Passes for our position took place during the night hours. The crew also used the Altair-2 geostationary satellite for phone- and TV-communications in which interviews and private conversations, for instance Andy with his relatives and Musabayev with the Kazakh ambassador in Moscow. On 19.05.1998 Altair-2 was used for a so called tele-bridge between Mir and the communications centre Burum (in the Dutch province Fryslan) with pupils from a grammar school in the city of Groningen. Communications started long after the scheduled time, but the cosmonauts and the children very much enjoyed the happening. The crew continued medical, and other experiments. Andy had to undergo an extensive test of his cardio-vascular system in relation to his oncoming return into earth-gravity conditions. Musabayev took care for the proper connections of sensors and the right commands in co-ordination with a lady-specialist on earth. Now and then minor technical problems with the life-support systems and power supply (a malfunctioning accumulator in Module-D) emerged during radio-conversations. The crew solved all problems and nothing seemed to hamper the STS-91 mission so far. Regularly there were problems with the exchange of radiograms by Packet Radio and often the crew had to fall back on the old RTTY (radio-teletype system), even via Altair-2. Obviously not all Russian tracking stations can handle Packet Radio. Often the crew relies on the tracking facility Petropavlovsk Kamchatka for Packet Radio links.

    Now and then the crew speaks about the BDD (Betriebstechnik Deutschland Direkt). This system enables European scientists to execute experiments directly via Altair-2 without interference of the Russians. This is possible via the DLR tracking station Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich (Germany). Possibly the experiments with this system have been suspended or concluded. Sigmund Jaehn, the former DDR cosmonaut and now a DLR employee so far acted as co-ordinator of that system. During one of the sessions via Altair-2 Musabayev asked TsUP to forward a request to Houston. The guitar, which was delivered to Mir by Progress-M39 was a present for him from his fellow-countrymen. He would like to take the guitar back to earth, but that is impossible with the Soyuz-TM27. So he hopes to get late permission to send the guitar to earth with the Discovery. Whether he got this permission or not is not known yet. The room for cargo in Discovery this time is also very limited (single instead of a double Spacehab module).

    Failure of attitude control computer:

    After a very long time this problem again disturbed the Russians. On Saturday, 30.05.98, this computer failed, causing the well-known chain reaction, i.e. deterioration of the proper angles of sunlight on the solar panels, the reduction of power-supply, and so on. The crew had to use the attitude control possibilities of the Soyuz-TM27 to correct the station's attitude as efficient as possible to regain a part of the needed power-supply. This happened during my absence and when I came home late Saturday night I heard that something was wrong during a nightly pass. Regretfully I missed the previous passes for using my time-switch had been impossible: the meteo-office had predicted heavy thunderstorms. After all my precautions had been superfluous for the bad weather did not reach my position.

    On 31.05.1998 the crew replaced the attitude control computer and started tests.

    At deadline for this report I had no further information.

    Expected launch time Discovery for Mission STS-91: Still scheduled for 2.06.1998 at about 2210 UTC. At deadline for this report there was still 'go' for this launch. If so it is worthwhile for listeners in Western-Europe to listen between 2225 and 2235 UTC on the air traffic control frequency 259.700 mc (AM-wide). At this moment the shuttle does not have the possibility to use the TDRS and traffic with Houston is possible via a tracking station in Spain.

    Here some old news for the statistics:

    Progress-M38: This old freighter separated from Mir on 15.05.1998 at 1841 UTC. (So 3 minutes earlier than reported in MirNEWS.422). The original plan to maintain Progress-M38 in orbit until the safe docking of Progress-M39 had been abandoned. Progress-M38 entered the dense layers of the atmosphere on 16.05.98 at 2220 UTC and decayed over a designated area in the Pacific East of New Zealand.

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


1998 June 2 - . 22:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-91.
  • STS-91 - . Call Sign: Discovery. Crew: Precourt; Gorie; Lawrence; Chang-Diaz; Kavandi; Ryumin. Payload: Discovery F24 / Spacehab. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Precourt; Gorie; Lawrence; Chang-Diaz; Kavandi; Ryumin. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-91; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Spacecraft: Discovery. Duration: 9.83 days. Decay Date: 1998-06-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 25356 . COSPAR: 1998-034A. Apogee: 373 km (231 mi). Perigee: 350 km (210 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 91.80 min. The final shuttle-Mir mission, STS-91 recovered NASA astronaut Andy Thomas from the Mir station and took Russian space chief and ex-cosmonaut Valeri Ryumin to Mir for an inspection tour of the ageing station. This was the first test of the super lightweight Aluminium-Lithium alloy external tank, designed to increase shuttle payload to the Mir / International Space Station orbit by 4,000 kg. At 22:15 GMT Discovery entered an initial 74 x 324 km x 51.6 deg orbit, with the OMS-2 burn three quarters of an hour later circulising the chase orbit. Discovery docked with the SO module on Mir at 17:00 GMT on June 4. NASA equipment was retrieved from the station, and Discovery undocked at 16:01 GMT on June 8, and landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 18:00 GMT on June 12.

1998 June 3 - .
  • Mir News 425: Communications - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-91; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Just a few minutes after logging in and sending away my MirNEWS.424 my spectrometer showed the well-known 'peak' on 10.830GHz indicating that Altair-2 was in use for Mir-TsUP communications. For me the final confirmation that Mir's gyrodynes were maintaining the station's orientation. So Altair-2 can be used during the approach of Discovery, the combined operations and during the separation and fly around on 8.06.1998. Possibly the Altair-2 is the only way for the transmission of TV-images during the STS-91 mission for Discovery has problems with the transmission of images due to a failure of the Ku-band antenna. This antenna is not able to transmit data and reports, but has no receiving problems.

    The crew of Discovery uses the S-band possibilities for phone- and other communications. It might be possible that, as soon as this message reaches the users the Ku-band problem in Discovery has been solved, but if this is not the case let us hope that the Russians will extend the use of Altair-2 for communications.

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


1998 June 3 - .
  • Mir News 424: STS-91; Discovery. Start 2.06.1998 2206 UTC. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-91; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. Planned docking time at Mir: 4.06.1998 at 1659 UTC. (For Western Europe): During the final stage of the approach of Discovery to Mir both objects will be in our range during Mir's orbit 70210, 1649-1657 UTC. Then radio traffic might be possible on the following channels: 143.625 mc (Mir-TsUP Moscow), 130.165 mc (Mir-Discovery) and 121.750 mc (not likely). Traffic from Mir via Altair-2 with TV-images of the approaching Shuttle are also possible during that orbit between 1613 and 1707 UTC if this satellite will be used for that purpose. And there is a chance that images from the Shuttle of the Mir complex via a TDRS and relayed by CNN reach us if the editors do not attach a higher priority to other subjects.

    Attitude control problems solved:

    During the period in which the Mir crew was solving these problems the attitude control was done by small thrusters of the Mir complex itself and Soyuz-TM27. The replacement of the attitude control computer by a new or by an old spare one did not help. TsUP transmitted to Mir the needed software. After loading this into the computer the word 'error' appeared on the screen. After the replacement of the Omega star tracker in the Kristall module or switching over to a reserve one the attitude control was activated again and worked well.

    In the morning of 2.06.1998 the Russians successfully concluded the necessary tests and they started to activate the 11 gyrodynes. In the course of 2.06.1998 all gyrodynes spun at their maximum speed thus securing the accurate attitude control badly needed for the approach and docking of Discovery on 4.06.1998. Moreover Russian experts had stated that approach and docking also were possible when the attitude control was done by thrusters, but thus far this had not been necessary during previous Shuttle operations and consequently this has never been tried out.

    During the period in which the crew was repairing and testing the attitude control systems radio traffic could be monitored far into the night. During these communications Musabayev got commands from TsUP and loaded these into the systems Svet and Simvol.

    Altair-2:

    A considerable time there were no communications via this geostationary satellite. This is quite normal in periods in which the attitude cannot be maintained by the gyrodynes.

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


1998 June 5 - .
  • Mir News 426: Discovery docked at Mir on 4.06.1998 at 1658 UTC. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-91; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. P>Communications during the final stage of the approach and the docking itself went via Altair-2. The traffic started at 1628 UTC with phone between Mir and TsUP. The TV-transmissions started at 1633 UTC. Discovery could be seen through a camera on board Mir, but it was difficult to determine the progress of the approach. The image of the shuttle was partly covered by one of Mir's solar panels. The 2 portholes of Discovery's flight deck could be seen. The Ku-band antenna of Discovery was still out of order, so CNN could only give us the images which came from Mir. The VHF window was open between 1649 and 1657 UTC. The transmitters were switched on, but not in use for phone.

    During the pass in the next orbit (70211, 1823-1835 UTC) the airseal checks had been done. Communications went via 143.625 as well as 130.165 mc. Musabayev was sitting near the hatch to Discovery and he and Budarin tried to establish a TV-link with TsUP. Altair-2 was not active and from the commands (for instance Anna-86) could be derived that the TV-link went via a UHF-channel and a tracking station in Russia. It lasted a long time before the TV-link was ready and TsUP received images. At 1828 UTC the hatches were open and Musabayev and Precourt could meet each other. Andy Thomas tried to meet his Discovery colleagues as soon as possible and Musabayev warned him to be careful. Just before LOS a lot of enthusiasm and laughter could be heard. During the pass in orb. 70212/213, 1959-2010 UTC, there was only Telemetry and Packet. Phone and images could be monitored via Altair-2 during the next pass (70214, 2113 UTC). Both crews were having diner together. Musabayev had said that he and his crew did not eat for 15 hours. The Discovery crew did not have a meal for 12 hours.

    Radio-amateur traffic:

    R0Mir transmitted the following CQ Packet Radio message:

    QUOTE

    I AM ABUT TO END MY TIME ON Mir AND I WANT TO THANK ALL THE HAM OPERATORS AROUND THE WORLD WHO HAVE SENT MESSAGES. I HOPE IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE VOLUME OF TRAFFIC HAS MADE INDIVIDUAL RESPONSES IMPOSSIBLE BUT WE REALLY ENJOY YOUR MAIL. VOICE HAS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT PARTICULARLY OVER THE US AND EUROPE. TOO MANY TALKING AT ONCE. IN THE SHORT TIME I HAVE LEFT I WILL TRY TO DO VOICE, BUT ASK THAT REPEAT CALLERS STAY OFF THE AIR SO THAT I CAN GIVE NEW CALLERS A CHANCE FOR A CONTACT.

    BEST WISHES TO ALL OF YOU. ANDY THOMAS

    UNQUOTE

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


1998 June 9 - .
  • Mir News 427: Communications - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-91; Mir NASA-6; Mir EO-25. The crew of Discovery was not able to restore the transmissions of TV images via the Ku-band. Nevertheless the Russians did not increase the use of their geostationary satellite. An American press release characterised the Russian Altair-2 system as a Spartan system. Unfortunately the Russians did not seize the opportunity to show the possibilities of that Spartan system by putting this system at the disposal of the STS-91 mission for public relation purposes, i.e. TV-live events, also from the Shuttle itself. Possibly there also have been problems with that system for on 6.06.1998 something was wrong with a TV-link between TsUP and a tracking station. During a press-conference only voice communications were possible.

    The TV-reports from Mir of which only a few reached us via CNN were relayed by tracking stations inside Russia via UHF-channels. This could be derived from the use of the command code Anna-86 during VHF communications. These video links lasted shorter than those via Altair-2 and the quality was not so good and sometimes only black and white images were possible. From the Russian segment of the combination Discovery-Mir the Russians communicated with TsUP via their own VHF-channels. Discovery used for voice communications with Houston the S-band channel via the TDRS-es. During one of the communication windows on 5.06.98 Musabayev tried to get in contact with TsUP for a long time. He asked Charlie Precourt to warn TsUP Moscow via one of the American channels and this helped. The last months the Mir-crew regularly called TsUP in vain for long periods, even via Altair-2. Deteriorated motivation of the Capcoms at TsUP?

    Andy Thomas:

    On 5.06.98, so 1 day after the docking of Discovery, Andy settled himself into the Shuttle and became a member of STS-91's crew. He regularly showed up inside the contours of the Mir-complex, but did no longer communicate from there with TsUP Moscow. Valeriy Viktorovich Ryumin: This leading designer of RKK Energiya and former Salyut-6 cosmonaut needed only a few days extra to bring his spaceflight record up to 365 days, so a full year. On 5.06.1998 he passed this limit and both crews celebrated this jubilee on board Mir. Musabayev offered for this opportunity guitar music. All styles were possible: Beatles, Russian- or Kazakh folk songs, even that of Vysotskiy. For Ryumin as a high-ranking official of RKK Energiya it was an excellent opportunity to execute an extensive inspection of Mir's systems.

    Musabayev and Budarin were very pleased that this earthling could see by his own eyes the situation about which cosmonauts so often complained. He was displeased about the enormous mess within the station. In his opinion the abundance of useful, but also of superfluous and useless things, makes the work for cosmonauts, in particular new ones, extremely difficult. Behind a panel he found a lot of rubbish and he asked TsUP permission to get rid of that. Among this rubbish were some cables and TsUP did not give him this permission. He grumbled a little bit, but did not press the matter for he himself had ordered that cosmonauts always have to stick to decisions from flight control. During conversations with TsUP about technical matters Musabayev sometimes referred to Ryumin. For instance about the problems they had with the installation of camera's to document the departure of the Discovery. The brackets near certain portholes to fix these camera's did not fit. Ryumin said that the man at TsUP had to write this down in his report in red capital letters.

    I have been listening to the voices of cosmonauts for some decades and it was a real sensation to hear this old stager again via my headphones. It felt as if a time machine had put me back 20 years.

    Module Spektr:

    Almost for a year the experts are struggling along with the 1000 dollar question how to locate the leakage in the hull of the Spektr module. Previous attempts to find these leakage by pumping fluorescent gasses through Spektr were unsuccessful. Mission STS-91 gave the last opportunity to try this again. The first test was executed on 6.06.1998 during the VHF-pass in orbit 70242, between 1756 and 1807 UTC. Budarin opened the valve of Spektr's hatch and inflated the fluorescent gasses into the module. Musabayev gave a count down so that everybody on board of Discovery could be alert with camera's and at portholes. During the test Budarin reported the pressures inside Spektr. These values were relatively low, not more than 55 MM mercury. Precourt reported that nothing could be seen with the naked eye. The test was repeated after the undocking of Discovery on 8.06.98. At 1124 UTC Discovery was station keeping right in front of the Mir-station while Musabayev and Budarin repeated the procedure and again Precourt reported that they did not see anything.

    Let us hope that analyses on earth of the video recordings and photographs will help.

    Departure of Discovery:

    During the undocking communications went via VHF-channels. This took place during the pass in orbit 70272 (1554-1602 UTC). After some camera problems the images were transmitted via tracking stations in Russia. Altair-2 was not active. During the following orbit (70273) Altair-2 was active and images could be seen of the autonomously flying Discovery. The crew also transmitted video recordings of the farewell party just before the closing of the hatches to Discovery. Altair-2 stopped transmitting at 17.23.40 UTC, so just before the separation burn of Discovery, which took place at 1724 UTC. From 1732 UTC Mir communicated via the VHF channels in the 143 and 130 mc bands.

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


1998 June 12 - .
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