Soyuz TM-28 docked at 10:56 GMT on August 15 with the rear (Kvant) port of the Mir space station, which had been vacated at 09:28 GMT on August 12 by Progress M-39. The EO-25 crew, Musabayev and Budarin, landed with Baturin on Aug 25, leaving the EO-26 crew of Padalka and Avdeyev on the station. As only one final Soyuz mission to Mir was planned, with two of the seats on that Soyuz pre-sold to Slovak and French experimenters, the return crew of Soyuz TM-28 was subject to constant replanning and revision. On February 8, 1999, at 11:23 GMT Padalka and Avdeyev undocked from Mir's -X port in Soyuz TM-28, and redocked at the +X Kvant port at 11:39 GMT, freeing up the front port for the Soyuz TM-29 docking. Soyuz TM-29 docked with Mir on February 22 at 05:36 GMT. Since two crew seats had been sold (to Slovakia and France), Afansyev was the only Russian cosmonaut aboard. This meant that Russian engineer Avdeyev already aboard Mir would have to accept a double-length assignment. After the February 27 departure of EO-26 crew commander Padalka and Slovak cosmonaut Bella aboard Soyuz TM-28, the new EO-27 Mir crew consisted of Afanasyev as Commander, Avdeyev as Engineer and French cosmonaut Haignere. Following an extended mission and three space walks, the last operational crew aboard Mir prepared to return. The station was powered down and prepared for free drift mode. The hatch between Mir and Soyuz was closed for the last time at 18:12 GMT on August 27, 1999. Soyuz TM-29 undocked from Mir at 21:17 GMT with Afanasyev, Avdeyev and Haignere aboard. The Mir EO-27 crew landed in Kazakhstan at 00:35 GMT on August 28. Afanasyev had set a new cumulative time in space record, but for the first time since September 1989 there were no humans in space. The only crew that might return to Mir would be one to deorbit it, and beyond that budgets indicated that no more than one Soyuz crew per year could be sent to the International Space Station.
AKA: Altair; Soyuz TM-28 (Avdeyev).
First Launch: 1998.08.13.
Last Launch: 1999.08.28.
Duration: 379.62 days.
The docking at the aft docking port (+X-axis) of the Mir complex is scheduled for 15.08.1998 at 1037 UTC.
To free the docking port for the arrival of Soyuz-TM28 the freighter Progress-M39 separated from Mir on 12.08.1998 at 09.28.55 UTC. The autonomous flight of Progress-M39 will last until 29.08.1998 when Progress-M39 has to redock to the then again available docking port.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the pass in the next orbit (71335, 1218-1229 UTC) the crew prepared the TV-report of the opening of the hatches and the meeting of the 2 crews. It could be derived from the given communication commands that the images of that event would be transmitted on a UHF-channel and via Russian tracking stations, so not via Altair-2. Just before the complex disappeared behind my eastern horizon the crews got permission to open the hatches and to greet each other. This time the Russians refrained from the normal routine to have the first human contact between the 2 commanders due to the presence of the VIP Baturin. He got the honour to be the first crew member to float from Soyuz-TM28 into Mir and embrace his CIS-countryman, Musabayev. This took place at 1230 UTC.
From that moment on the crew of the Mir-space station consists of 5 persons and this will undoubtedly draw a heavy toil on the life support systems of the complex. Technically the situation on board was not 100% before the docking: the power supply is not fully restored and the station seems to fly in the free drift (they spoke about 'indikatornyy rezhim', but whether the gyrodynes are fully spinning or not has not been confirmed) and Musabayev got orders to economise power consumption and to switch off all superfluous equipment.
Until his departure Musabayev will remain commander of both crews. During all communication sessions on 15.08.1998 it was clear that Musabayev acquits himself of that task. Meanwhile Budarin occupied himself with radio-amateurism on 145.985 mc. He tried to get in touch with Russian radio-amateurs.
During the last pass in which Mir was able to communicate via a Russian tracking station with TsUP (orb. 71339, 1704-1715 UTC) Musabayev called in vain and he decided to give his message blindly (hoping that TsUP would hear him anyway). He reported that they had reinstalled Baturin's seat liner (from Soyuz-TM28 to Soyuz-TM27). The BKV-3 (a.c.) worked after he had tried to switch it on 3 times. The humidity was quoted as 11.3, the gas composition in the station as: CO2 4.5 , oxygen 203 and water 11.2. Pressure 797 MM.
Communications during flight Soyuz-TM28:
13.08.1998: After the launch the signals of the Soyuz-TM28 could be monitored here for the first time between 1415-1420 UTC. A very stable Padalka reported the results of the 1st and 2nd impulses: 1st 1384 during 32 seconds, 2nd 696 for 16 seconds. The SIRT (system for the measurement of the fuel consumption) gave after the 1st impulse 745 KG, after the 2nd one 728 KG (remaining fuel). During the following passes he reported that all went well, they were in a good mood and health and all systems worked nominally. There were only problems with a recording experiment. The device of that experiment did not give the right figures. Baturin had been shooting video images. Good signals in the 166 and 165 mc bands and on 922.755 mc.
During the pass between 1547 and 1552 UTC again good signals on all frequencies. TCA (dip in 922.755 mc signal) was at 154915 UTC. Padalka still very stable reported the good functioning of all systems. They had done something with the orientation in relation to the power supply and they got a good power reading between 25 and 26. The TV-test they had done was positive. They felt well and enjoyed the flight.
14.08.1998: Good signals on all frequencies and Padalka again sounded like a skilled cosmonaut. All parameters were normal and the only problem was a recording device about which Padalka long and extensively reported.
Soyuz-TM27: The return flight of the crew of the 25th Main Expedition to Mir (Musabayev and Budarin) and the cosmonaut-researcher-politician Baturin is scheduled for 25.08.1998. The Soyuz-TM27 will undock from Mir at 0220 UTC descend was announced as 0526 UTC.
26th Main Expedition to Mir: The crew of this ME is Padalka and Avdeyev. According to information now available (confirmed by a reliable source) this crew will remain on board Mir until June 1999. So if there will be no changes anymore the 26th ME is the last one to Mir.
In the period after MirNEWS.432 a number of technical problems emerged. Radio communications revealed that the complex had been flying in free drift (indikatornyy rezhim), which caused a sharp decrease in power supply on 11.08.1998. That day all superfluous systems had to be switched off and for a while only 2 lamps were burning: one in the Base Block and one near the P.Kh.O. (transition section). There were also airseal problems. Musabayev had to check a rubber bearing of a hatch with his fingers. To secure a good atmosphere on board the crew used oxygen from a tank in the Progress-M39. The crew also repeatedly tested the Kurs antenna on Kvant-1 and they had to change cable connections of this system. Not long before the launch of Soyuz-TM28 they had to repeat such a test which seemed to have been positive.
On 12.08.1998 Musabayev launched a long tirade in which he relieved his feelings. He has great problems with the activities of journalists who, in his opinion, are not really interested in the cosmonauts as such. Only when something goes wrong they are on it like a bird and then they blame the crew for that. He characterises a lot of their publications as nonsense and even swinishness. He emphasises that this expedition, the 25th, was a very fruitful one. While the Mir-station is operational for 12.5 years their expedition performed 50% of all melting experiments in the furnaces, for instance almost all what had to be done with the Optizon furnace. They accomplished experiments which could not be done by previous expeditions. In the 190 days of their mission they were not able to work according the formular 23 for 2 days and for this the crew was even not to blame. They also solved a lot of technical problems and he refers to the repair of the SUD (attitude control system) on the eve of the arrival of a Shuttle.
The fact that life on board Mir is still possible is thanks to their work for they installed the new VDU (external thruster). They did a lot of cardio vascular experiments, which still had to be executed.
My personal opinion about this argumentation is the following: I do not want to compare this expedition with other ones. But I agree with Musabayev: he was in command of a magnificent expedition.
First day with 2 crews on board:
On 16.08.1998 during the first pass Padalka asked TsUP whether they had seen something in the Telemetry and he supposed that they wished to speak to them. TsUP confirmed this and ordered Padalka to switch over to the 2nd regime for this conversation. From this moment on monitoring had no sense due the computerised scrambling of the speech. For a very long time, I dare to say for years, they had not used this routine.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Communications during the autonomous flight. For these communications tracking stations in Russia were in use. I did not monitor traffic via the geostationary satellite Altair-2. There has been reported that at least one session via an SR was scheduled and also that between 0435-0531 UTC this relay was in use and during the final phase of the descent this took place parallel with direct communications via tracking stations. My calculations for traffic via Mir and Altair-2 gave the window 0416-0510 UTC so possibly the window between 0435-0531 UTC was for another SR. I thought about the Luch-1 (1995-054A - 23681) over 76 degrees East, but in my opinion this SR ceased transmissions long ago. However its expected operational life was estimated to be 5 years.
This transport ship is still docked at the aft (Kvant-1) docking port. In fact this ship also has to serve as a life boat. So if emergency forces the crew to leave the complex in a hurry they have to board Soyuz-TM as quick as possible. That is why the Soyuz-TM has to be redocked from the aft to the forward (P.Kh.O. - transition section) -X axis port. This operation during which Padalka and Avdeyev will be on board of the Soyuz-TM28 is scheduled for 27.08.1998 between 0544-0608 UTC. This will be during Mir's orbit nr. 71520, 0559-0602 UTC. Regretfully the elevation for observers in Western Europe will be very low 0 - 1 degree.
This freighter is still flying some hundred kilometres in front of Mir. The plan is to redock this freighter at the aft (Kvant-1) +X axis port on 29.08.1998. Progress-M39 has to remain docked at that port until the arrival of the next freighter. It will last a long time before this freighter will be launched and it might even be possible that this launch will not take place due to the lack of funding. The Progress-M39 makes the thermo regulation of the Kvant-1 module easier and protects the aft docking port against extreme temperatures. Meanwhile the space still available in the cargo compartment of the Progress-M39 can be used for the disposal of garbage and no longer needed equipment.
During the last 10 days in which Mir had 2 crews on board they had to work regularly on the life systems. There were problems with the CO2 scrubber Vozdukh in the Base Block. After some repair attempts they had to use spare parts from the Vozdukh in the Kvant-1 module. Especially Musabayev and Budarin had to use every effort for apart from working on the life supporting systems they had to prepare themselves for the return flight. They started to load that what they had to bring with them to earth one day before their departure. It lasted also long before they started their exercises in the Chibis, a pressure suit to give the blood circulation the impression of earthly gravity.
Musabayev told TsUP that there was only little room on board of their ship. So he asked TsUP to restrict their luggage to the necessary items and to leave all what might be superfluous on board Mir. He also proposed to put samples of experiments, cassettes and disks in the container without extra packing. TsUP partly granted this idea. During the last days Baturin could be heard discussing his experiments. He spoke about Intrazvuk, Phantom and Interior. I did not hear much of Avdeyev. Perhaps he was too busy to get accustomed with the present state of the station and equipment. As of today (25.08) Padalka is commander of the Mir station. During the last days he sometimes assisted Musabayev in this field.
This computer scrambled system for speech about which I reported in my MINEWS.434 was rarely in use during the last days.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Communications during this operation was via the VHF channel of Soyuz-TM28 on 121.750 mc. For listeners in Western Europa there was a short pass during an elevation of 1 degree. Nevertheless such a lot of traffic could be monitored between 0600 and 0603 UTC that it was clear that the operation proceeded flawlessly. At 06.00.20 UTC Padalka reported that they had finished the fly around and that the Soyuz-TM28 was station keeping on the X-axis. They had the target dish exactly in the centre and were able to see the docking port. The fuel consumption had been very low and the SIRT indicated that there still was 463 KG available. Padalka reported that he did not want to wait and that he was about to approach and dock. At 06.02.30 UTC the distance to Mir was 15 M.
Traffic during the pass in orbit 71521, 0731-0741 UTC, made it clear that the redocking had been successful. The cosmonauts were back on board of Mir. They switched back on all the systems they had switched off before the operation. An air hose had been deployed from the base block to the Soyuz-TM28 and they started the conservation of that ship. During the following passes these activities were still going on.
The new crew: This crew, that of the 26th Mir Main Expedition, presents themselves as if they already were on board for months. Every time I am surprised that cosmonauts making their first spaceflight very quickly adjust themselves to the new situation and demonstrate that they fully have things in hand. Those who selected and trained these cosmonauts did their work well. (This time Padalka is making his first flight, Avdeyev his 3rd.)
On 13.08.1998 something went wrong with this geostationary satellite over 16 degrees West. During the transfer of data of the relaksatsiya experiment from Mir to TsUP the antenna actuator failed. The communications stopped for the antenna of Altair-2 was no longer aimed at the ground station Shcholkovo near Moscow. A provisional damage assessment seems to justify the conclusion that Altair-2 might be lost.
Luch-1/Gelios (95054A - 23680): This relay satellite is placed over 77 degrees East. After the launch on 11.10.1995 it was reported that this satellite would be used for the data , telephony and Television relays for Russian manned space flight. Observers in Eastern Europe who can 'see' this satellite better than we in the west, reported that they never heard or saw anything from that object. Just like Altair-2 Luch-1 has been registered as a military satellite.
Unbelievably soon after the failure of Altair-2 the Russians inserted Luch-1 in the communications chain for Mir -TsUP traffic. After a test communication in the morning of 15.08.1998 the first regular relay of phone and TV between Mir and TsUP could be realised some orbits later. The Russian Television complex Ostankino in Moscow serves as tracking station for Luch-1.
Ostankino is able to handle phone and TV relays to and from Mir, but modifications have to be implemented to do the same with Telemetry (and possibly Packet Radio).
For spacewalks (EVA's), docking and descent operations the position over 16 degrees West is better than that over 77 degrees East. Also NASA preferred 16 degrees West during Phase 1 of Shuttle/Mir and after the failure of Altair-1 in the beginning of 1997 they asked the Russians to transfer Altair-2 from 96 degrees East to 16 degrees West.
More about communications:
I just have learned that the Mir voice relay sites at NASA's bases in the US will remain in operation, at NASA's expense, per a decision by Frank Culbertson to demonstrate US generosity.
The loss of Altair-2 means that the amount of information monitored by me will decrease. I now am depending on that what I can monitor via the VHF-channels.
For some weeks the Russians have problems with the transfer of radiograms by Packet Radio via the service frequencies. Probably the problem has something to with the uplink from a number of tracking stations in Russia. In this period they use for the transfer of radiograms the old RTTY system.
There are no problems with the Packet Radio in the radio-amateur band. Recently they used the 145.985 mc for that purpose, but now they regularly can be heard on 145.940 mc.
The redocking of this freighter was scheduled for 29.08.1998 but has been put back. Now this operation is now planned for 1.09.1998. Based on calculations I think that this will take place at about 0400 UTC. The plan is to execute the approach and docking in the automatic mode by the system Kurs, but Padalka and Avdeyev prepared the TORU, the remote control system for eventual use. Padalka will be ready to take over manually if necessary and maybe he has a chance to earn his 3rd manual docking bonus. For us in Western Europe the elevation during the pass in which the objects are in range during the final phase of the approach (orb. Mir 71596, 0350-0353 UTC) is only 1 degree.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This geostationary satellite is now and then in use for Mir - TsUP communications.
Thus far 'ni slukhu ni dukhu' (not a word has been heard) from this satellite.
1st spacewalk (EVA, in fact an IVA) Main expedition to Mir nr. 26:
Padalka and Avdeyev will make this Internal Spacewalk on 15.09.1998. They will work inside the Module Spektr to check and repair sockets for the solar panels. One of the 3 still effective solar batteries cannot be turned to the right sun angle. This panel now delivers only a little bit of power. Restoration of the rotation possibility might increase the energy from this panel. Every extra Watt is badly needed.
Officially has been stated that this freighter is still scheduled for launch in the midst of October 1998.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
In this period, but also thereafter, not much was reported about technical failures. Now and then the CO2 scrubber, Vozdukh, in the Base Block received extra attention and the BKV-3, the a.c., was less capricious and mostly functioned without hiccups after it had been switched off and on some times. The internal pressure of the system remained the problem.
Meanwhile the passes of the Mir-complex for Western Europe shifted to the night. So not much radio traffic can be monitored. Observers in Finland and Sweden confirmed that Luch-1/Gelios is used for Russian manned spaceflight and produces very strong signals. To be able to do somewhat with those signals they have to do a lot of experimental work before they can do with Luch-1 what we could do with Altair-1 and later on with Altair-2. One of them has a dish with a diameter of 3.5 Meter and via a channel not in use for Mir-TsUP traffic, he produced nice pictures of a Proton launch relayed by Luch-1/Gelios.
Until 2.09.98 the 145.940 mc was in use for Packet Radio. As of 2.09 Packet Radio they use 145.985 mc again.
1st Spacewalk (internal Spacewalk) crew Main Expedition Mir nr. 26:
After 3.09.98 most attention of the cosmonauts was dedicated to the preparations for the Internal spacewalk scheduled for half September. Until 15.09.98 the crew used some days to check spacesuits and equipment, but also to prepare the complicated procedures in relation to the disconnection of cables in order to close some hatches of the P.Kh.O. during the IVA. The internal spacewalk (IVA) inside the module Spektr will be executed in the night from 15 to 16.09.98. The IVA will last approx. 3 hrs, but the times still have to be confirmed. Possibly the hatch between the P.Kh.O. (transition section) and Spektr will be opened on 15.09.1998 at 2100 UTC. Radio traffic during the preparations and the IVA itself will be handled via the Eastern tracking stations in Russia and the Luch-1/Gelios satellite. During some small windows radio communications might be monitored in Western Europe during the first passes of the Mir-complex, to begin with that in orbit 71828, 2247-2255 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the pass in orbit 71828, 2251-2257 UTC, when Mir came in range for the first time after the IVA, radio traffic revealed that the cosmonauts had accomplished the IVA itself and that they already worked on preparations to check the restored cable connections.
During the following pass on 16.09.98 between 0021-0031 UTC they discussed this cable work before continuing the reactivation of those systems which had been switched off during the IVA and the conservation of the ship Soyuz-TM28. During the pass between 0156-0207 UTC this work was still in progress and they already had conserved the Soyuz-TM28, deployed air hoses and programmed computers with commands , among which those for the attitude control by gyrodynes. After this pass with a stable air pressure in the complex (735MM) the cosmonauts went asleep.
Results of the IVA:
Officially has been reported that experts are almost sure that the IVA was a success. On 16.09.98 after a 7 hrs sleep the crew will start to execute several tests. If these tests are positive and the solar battery can be aimed to the most effective solar angle the power supply of the complex will be much better than be before the IVA.
Eventual 2nd Spacewalk:
For this expedition 4 spacewalks had been planned, but 2 of them have been cancelled due to the bad economical situation. When the 2nd one will be made is still unsure, but this certainly not take place before the end of December 1998.
The launch of this freighter is still scheduled for 15.10.1998. Progress-M40 will carry the Znamya 2.5. This huge solar reflector has to be deployed after the departure of Progress-M40 from Mir. This experiment is expected on 21.02.1999. After 7 autonomous orbits of Progress-M40 the cosmonauts will transmit remote control commands to deploy and to aim the reflector sail.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Results 1st spacewalk of the present crew: After this spacewalk, an internal one inside the Module Spektr on 15.09.98, there was still the question if the repair of cable connections to interfaces of the 3 undamaged solar batteries resulted in an improved power supply. They achieved their goal: the solar batteries can be turned to the most effective sun angles, thus fully restoring the available power supply of the complex.
On 29.09.1998 during the pass in orbit 72045, 1854-1856 UTC, strange sounds could be monitored. Possibly this involved an experiment with an alarm signal and a female computer voice declared, that the 'operative systems were not normally charged and that there was a test in progress to transmit data.' During that test the letters DE in Morse code were transmitted.
Officially the launch of this freighter is still on schedule for 15.10.1998, but spokesmen at TsUP expect that this launch will be put back, possibly until 25.10.1998. TsUP itself is waiting for a decision about the launch date. No further information or a confirmation about the possibility that this Progress-M would carry the experiment Znamya 2.5 (the solar reflector), as recently declared by a reliable RKK Energiya source, could be obtained thus far.
The last few weeks the radio-amateur station on board Mir continues to use the frequency 145.985 mc for Packet Radio only, as far as could be determined in Western Europe. It might be possible that the present crew is not interested in phone communications or does not like the crowded uplink over Western Europe. The geostationary satellite Altair-2 remained silent. Antenna number 4, used for the downlink to Russia of the received video and phone signals from Mir, can no longer be aimed automatically. Reported was that it is possible to aim this antenna manually, but whether this had been done could not be established nor confirmed by other sources.
A number of radio-amateurs in Finland and Sweden, involved in sleuthing and monitoring geostationary satellites, picked up traffic from Mir to TsUP via Luch-1/Gelios over 77 degrees East . They reported that the signals are very strong and of a high quality. Regretfully they cannot do much with these signals due to the fact that they only understand their mother's language. Some of them use computer translation programs for their E-mail correspondence.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the full period after my previous MirNEWS (440) , TsUP and the crew regularly discussed problems regarding the oxygen production for Mir's mini atmosphere. Every day the cosmonauts were engaged in the functioning of the Elektron oxygen generators. These systems did not fail, but it was clear that the crew did not trust the automatic functioning of them, and took over manually at every given moment. The crew did not have problems with the BKV-3, the air conditioner. Recently this system showed glitches when the cosmonauts switched it on.
On 3.10.1998 the attitude control was discussed. There was no failure, the crew spoke about the SUD (system for control of movements). From the given commands and the use of the indication Quaternion (a coefficient of 2 vectors) could be derived that for a while the attitude was not under control by the gyrodynes. Possibly a reset operation took place. Regularly the gyrodynes have to be reset to the starting point.
On 5.10.1998 TsUP told the crew that there had been a session of the Contract Commission. The session was a rather tumultuous one, because among other things they discussed problems experienced by the previous expedition (Musabayev and Budarin). The man at TsUP evaluated the results of that session as 'favourable'. Somebody of that commission (possibly named Rodionov) had ordered TsUP to pass on to the present Mir-crew that the 'leadership was highly pleased with the work of the crew'. If Padalka and Avdeyev might have problems they immediately could pass these to him. The man had also promised to follow radio-communications as much as possible.
On 6.10.1998 Avdeyev discussed with TsUP an audio measurement experiment. In the beginning this was not so successful, this in contrary to the execution of the same experiment in the past. Avdeyev just started the adjustment of parameters and later discussions made it clear that the experiment was running well. Padalka asked for an advice about the Holter experiment (an American cardio-vascular experiment).
On 7.10.1998 the same audio experiment (possibly Intrazvuk) was accomplished. That day the cosmonauts discussed the inventory of the French experiments on board Mir.
On 8.10.1998 the cosmonauts showed a great interest in the protest demonstrations which had taken place the day before. It was clear that they agreed 100% the demands of the demonstrators. TsUP gave a short report about the demonstrations, the numbers of the participants (more than our media told us), the many red (communist) and blue (trade-union) flags and the fact that even army chiefs were there. Padalka asked the man at TsUP if he had received his salary. The man said that he had indeed received it.
On 9.10.1998 there was some confusion about a number of Telemetry connections. The data of some life system channels did not reach TsUP and TsUP was not able to give commands and data inquiries via the 'uplink'. The cosmonauts repeatedly interchanged a number of connections and thus solved the problem. TsUP supposed that the problem was caused during the expedition of Solovyov and Vinogradov.
On 10.10.1998 TsUP spoke about the possibility that the CO2 amount in Mir's atmosphere was too high. Telemetry gave a value of 5.9. Padalka said that nothing was wrong and that they still felt excellent. Avdeyev checked the Vozdukh CO-2 filter and did not find anomalies. Later the value had been increased to 6.0 and the crew took counter measures by using ventilators to blow the air through the whole complex. This did not help. To decrease the CO2 amount the crew got orders to adjust the Vozdukh scrubber in the Base Block.
In MirNEWS.440 the possibility of the delay of the launch of this freighter had been reported. Meanwhile there has been confirmed that the launch has been put back from 15.10 to 25.10.1998 due to funding problems. The launch on 25.10, a Sunday, was chosen for ballistic reasons.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
In the period after MirNEWS.441 the cosmonauts continued to execute many experiments. About these experiments more in one of the next reports. Almost 'too close for comfort': On 14.10.1998 TsUP informed the crew about a passing object this day at 22.40.57 UTC . The shortest distance would be 4.6 KM on a course of 265 degrees and on a Pitch (Y-axis) of minus 82.44 degrees. The cosmonauts seemed not to be impressed by this warning. After many attempts to get more details about that object a friend in Russia gave me the following information: Calculations showed that on 14.10.1998 at 188.8.131.52 UTC the rocket stage of the Lacrosse-2 (NORAD index number 21148) had passed Mir in a distance of 4.5 KM.
1st Spacewalk (EVA) 26th Main Expedition to Mir:
According to the last information derived from radio conversations this EVA will be made on 10.11.1998. The cosmonauts Padalka and Avdeyev will work in open space to install an experiment for the French expedition at the outer surface of the Mir-complex. The original plan foresaw in an EVA around 15.11.1998, but this had to be put forward due to the Leonids, a meteorite stream which has its maximum on 17.11.1998. An EVA close to this date would endanger the safety of the 'spacewalkers'.
The transmission of this report was delayed due to a failure in the system of my provider.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the following pass in orb. 4, 1019-1026 UTC, the elevation for my position was 79 degrees and so the signals in the 166 and 165 mc bands and the transmitter on 922.755 mc were loud and clear. TCA (Time Closest Approach) was at 10.21.34 UTC.
Today ( UTC) this old freighter has to leave the aft docking port (Kvant-1, -X-axis) to free this port for Progress-M40. The undocking is scheduled for 25.10.1998 at 2300 UTC. Progress-M39 will not immediately fly away from Mir, but will remain for a while and execute a number of manoeuvres. During this operation the cosmonauts will execute experiments and make video images via a porthole. This will take place on 26.10.1998 between 0103-0108 UTC when the distance between Mir and Progress-M39 is shortest. After 0108 UTC the Progress-M39 will get the fly away impulse and after a few orbits she will decay over a designated area of the Pacific east of New-Zealand.
Docking Progress-M40 at Mir:
The docking at the aft (Kvant-1, -X-axis) port of Mir is scheduled for 27.10.1998 at 0539 UTC. This will be 4 minutes after both objects disappeared behind our (the Hague's) eastern horizon and after LOS (Loss of signal) of the pass in orbit 72476, between 0503 and 0535 UTC, with an elevation of only 2 degrees.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the next pass in orb. 72477, 0702-0712 UTC, it was clear that the docking had been a success and that the hatches to the Progress-M40 already were open. These had been opened between 0620 and 0630 UTC. The crew enjoyed a nice wintry smell of the air which reached them from the Progress-M40. The cosmonauts already had installed the protection caps and TsUP gave them permission to load some orientation commands in the control computer. They also loaded commands for the aiming of the ONA (the narrow beam antenna for contact with the geostationary satellite). This had something to do with the fact that communications via Luch-1/Gelios had not been satisfactory. The cosmonauts also started unloading the Progress-M40.
During passes of Progress-M40 on 26.10.1998 the transmitters in the 166, 165 and 922.755 mc bands easily could be monitored.
TsUP reported that the mini-sputnik, almost the same as the Sputnik-40 and the promised gear for SSTV experiment could not be transported to Mir with this Progress-M. Other items, for instance the experiments for the French- and Slovak expeditions and a French device for the measurement of meteorite streams had a higher priority.
2nd Spacewalk (EVA), (the 1st one was an IVA, the internal spacewalk in the Spektr):
The French sensors for the detection of meteorites must be installed at the outer surface of the Mir-complex. This EVA was put forward to have this experiment operational during the Leonid meteorites around 17.11.1998. The EVA will be made in the night from 10 to 11.11.1998 and will last approx. 5 hours. A second task during this EVA will be the dismantling and retrieving of Russian experiments from outside.
This old freighter undocked from Mir on 25.10.1998 at 23.03.24 UTC. Indeed the Russians manoeuvred a lot with this ship after the undocking. The ship flawlessly responded on steering commands and the crew made video-images and measurements with spectrometers. On 29.10.1998 at about 0630 UTC deorbit impulses will be given for burning up over a designated area in the Pacific East of New Zealand.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Meanwhile confirmation could be obtained that the mini-sputnik (Spoutnik-41) and the equipment for the SSTV (slow scan TV) system was delivered at the Mir-station by Progress-M40. My 'doubts' about this cargo in MirNEWS.444 were caused by the fact that these items had not been written in the copy of the cargo-list of my spokeswoman at TsUP. There was only a note about the Sputnik in the Board Documentation of Progress-M40. So I asked deputy head of RKK Energiya, S.K. Gromov, and he assured me that both items had been delivered at Mir. He also told me that the mini-Sputnik will be jettisoned into open space during the spacewalk (EVA) in the night from 10 to 11.11.1998.
Possibly the SSTV system will be become operational in the course of December 1998. Probably for this purpose the frequency 437.975 FM will be used in the Simplex mode.
This air conditioner regularly has to be switched off some minutes or even within a minute after switching on. The former crew has also been continuously annoyed by this kind of failure. The cause of the failure has something to do with the pressure in the system. Sometimes the alarm can be heard via the downlink when the cosmonauts have switched on the BKV-3 on TsUP's request.
This EVA will be made in the night from 10 to 11.11.1998. (From 10.11 at about 2200 UTC until 11.11.1998 at about 0300 UTC. Activities during EVA: The installation on the outer surface of the complex of a French instrument to catch micro meteorites, the dismantling and retrieval of Russian experiments from the outside and the manual launch of the mini-Sputnik (Spoutnik-41) into open space. The persons involved in this experiment are still arguing about the denomination of the satellite: the choose is between Spoutnik-41, RS-17-2 or RS-18.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the first pass of the Mir-complex in orbit 72708, on 10.11 at 2353 until 11.11 at 0001 UTC the cosmonauts were still in open space. They were about to return to the exit hatch. During the 2nd pass in orb. 72709, 11.11 from 0127-0139 UTC, Padalka and Avdeyev were in the airlock of Module-D. They switched their spacesuits over from the autonomous regime to that of the on-board systems.
During the next pass (orb. 72710, 0302-0314 UTC) they worked in the neighbouring compartment, the P.N.O. , the Instrument and scientific compartment, to return to the inside of the complex. For Padalka this was the first 'real' EVA. He already made an IVA, an internal EVA inside the Spektr module. Spoutnik-41 (or; RS-18): Immediately after entering open space the crew launched this little radio-amateur satellite. During all passes of the Mir-station the signals of that satellite could be monitored via 145.815 mc. The signals were bleeps (duration approx. 5 seconds), some c/w carrier tones, and short statements spoken by young people in French, English and Russian. Sp-41 is flying a little bit ahead of Mir and gradually the distance will increase.
During the Leonids (the dust cloud behind the comet Tempel-Tuttle) in the period around 17.11.1998 the cosmonauts will hide in the Soyuz-TM28 during periods in which this might be dangerous. The highest intensity is expected on 17.11.98 at 1943 UTC. In the Soyuz-TM28 the cosmonauts are protected against the incoming fragments by the whole axial length of the complex (the Base Block, the module Kvant-1 and the Progress-M40). They also have the radial positioned modules Kvant-2, Kristall, Priroda and Spektr as extra umbrellas. During their stay in the Soyuz-TM28 they might use the 121.750 mc to report observations and, as in the past befell for instance during some Perseid rains, eventual 'hits'.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
After the Spacewalk (EVA) of the Mir crew in the night from 10 to 11.11.1998 there were no special operations to report and the Leonid meteorite rain around 17.11.98 did not bring the expected sensation which astronomers promised us. In the period for which the astronomers predicted the highest density the crew were on board of the transport ship Soyuz-TM28. Your scribe decided to remain on duty to be sure of the most reliable monitoring of downlink traffic via the ships channel 121.750 mc. The radio silence was complete and after 3 passes and long periods of gazing into the universe he decided to do what the cosmonauts obviously already had done: to go to sleep.
Quite a difference with the Perseid rain around 12.08.1993, when Tsibliyev and Serebrov had to observe and count the flashes. The high rate of flashes made counting impossible. Tsibliyev reported a number of 'hits' and the fact that the station had suffered war-injuries.
So Mir is still alive and all is going well with the 26th Main Expedition. The cosmonauts worked on a lot of experimental programs in the well known fields: In the astrophysical field they worked with the roentgen spectrometer Buket (to determine the radiation conditions, for instance gamma radiation along Mir-s trajectory) and the magnetic spectrometer Mariya to measure neutron streams and to study the earth's ionosphere. The altitude of the Mir-complex gradually decreases which enables them to study the differences in condition of several layers of the ionosphere. In the geophysical field the Lidar Alisa was used for remote sensing of areas in Siberia. With the Optizon furnace melting experiments were executed. The cosmonauts performed biological experiments (the growth of plants) with the greenhouse Svet. Among the technical activities were checks of measurement instruments, the functioning of the water- and oxygen systems, and the study of the performance of a solar battery outside the Kristall module, which had been installed during the last EVA.
The crew also spent some time looking for hard- and software for the French Pegasus expedition in 1999. A part of this equipment and programs was delivered to Mir by the freighter Progress-M40.
Decreasing apogee and perigee of Mir's orbit: The natural drag causes a decrease of Mir's altitude by a couple of 100 Meters every day. On 21.09.98 ap/per were resp. 370 and 360 KM; on 3.12.1998 these values were 358.1 KM and 347.7 KM.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
These days the Mir-space station is flying on a sun orbit. So Mir remains in sunlight continuously and does not fly in eclipses at all. This means an extra burden for the thermoregulation of the complex. It is very warm on board, but the cosmonauts have not complained about this inconvenience thus far.
Elektron (oxygen generator):
For some weeks during communication sessions the crew reported on the internal pressure of one of the Elektrons. The values they reported were between 1.1 an 1.3. This value should remain not much higher than 1.1. After replacement of a unit or part of that Elektron, they no longer reported these values.
The crew executed a lot of experiments and most of their working hours were used for these activities. Less time was spent on maintenance and repair work of the life systems, for instance they refuelled the hydraulic thermoregulation system of the Kvant-2 module. They also had to repair electronic parts of experimental equipment (power units, interfaces, cables a.s.o.).
Among the executed experiments were the study of plant growth in the greenhouse Svet, the determination of optical characteristics of the earth's atmosphere with the photometer EFO-2, and with the magnetic spectrometer Mariya the study of high energetic particles in space and in the radiation belts of the earth.
Regularly the furnaces Krater, Gallar and Optizon passed in review. And the cosmonauts spoke about Ionozond, Dakon, Doze, Sigma and Alisa.
The cosmonauts also had to undergo medical checks while training on the home trainer (velo-ergometer) and the treadmill. A few times the electro cardio cassette sounds were transmitted via the VHF phone channel.
Mood on board:
Almost no complaining or dissatisfaction could be derived from radio traffic, but there also was neither exuberance nor cheerfulness. With TsUP, Padalka settles his matters in an efficient, clear and in a business-like way. Rarely Avdeyev gets the opportunity to use his nice Russian to bring up something, but even then Padalka quickly reconquers the microphone. During passes within my range, I did not hear reactions from the cosmonauts on the beginning of the ISS-assembly. Without comments they listened to the news about the ISS, relayed to them by TsUP .
The experiment with this solar reflector after the undocking of Progress-M40 will, if nothing changes, take place a few days before the launch of the Soyuz-TM29 with the 27th Main Expedition to Mir on 22.02.1999.
No more EVA's are planned for the present (26th M.E.) crew.
Now and then the Luch-1/Gelios satellite over 77 degrees East is in use for Mir-TsUP communications. And just like during the use of the old Altairs, this does not always go smoothly. For instance on 20.12.1998 family and friends gathered at TsUP for an Television session with Mir, but after 20 or 30 seconds the communications stopped.
And to conclude: For you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
2-line elements determined after the orbit correction it was possible to calculate accurate passes of the complex again.
On 25.12.1998 the cosmonauts asked for the new Apogee and Perigee of Mir. TsUP said that these values were 372 and
361 KM. Possibly the last 2-lines will only be valid for a short period for there might follow a 2nd correction on 26 or 28.12.1998. Radio traffic and radio observations did not confirm that there was a correction on 26.12 so let us wait and hear if this will take place on 28.12.1998.
A high ranking official in Korolyov assured me that the reboost of the Mir-complex has nothing to do with an eventual
prolongation of the exploitation after June 1999, but was executed for ballistic reasons. The rumours about plans to extend
Mir's operational life are unfounded and the plan to bring Mir back in the earth's atmosphere after June 1999
is still fully in force.
The undocking of this freighter from Mir is scheduled for 4.02.1999. After some autonomous orbits Progress-M40 will jettison and deploy a solar reflector for the execution of the Znamya 2.5 experiment.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The crew worked on a kind of inventory of the intensity and possible interference or disturbances caused by electromagnetic fields produced by equipment in the living quarters of Mir's base block.
A great deal was similar to those in previous reports. In general again experiments in the geophysical, biological, astrophysical, technological and medical fields. Again the geophysical experiments with the Ionozond for the study of the ionosphere of earth and the propagation of radio waves in space, and a study for the prediction of earthquakes. And remote sensing of the earth's surface with Alisa in the Module Priroda to make spectrographic images of the continents, water reservoirs and the ocean bottom at great depths and of clouds.
In the technological field the furnaces, for instance Titus and a furnace with sections Onyx-1 and 2, were in use for melting and other experiments. Astrophysical equipment was used for the study of electrical charged particles. Medical experiments consisted of checks during exercises by the cosmonauts on the home trainer and the treadmill. They also worked with a device for the electrical stimulation of the muscles during exercises.
In this period Mir is passing during the night hours and so there is almost no traffic via the VHF channels during passes within my range. For Packet Radio the 145.985 mc radio amateur frequency is still in use. Now and then the SSTV modulation can be heard on this frequency.
The experiment with the solar reflector from Progress-M40 will take place on 4.02.1999.
The launch of this transport ship with the crew of the 27th Main Expedition and the French spacionaute is scheduled for 20.02.1999.
Eventual extension of Mir's operational life:
In spite of the increasing rumours, which also are getting stronger, the fate of Mir is still unsure. The Head of the R.K.A. Koptev did not yet sign the documents about the program after June 1999, which are already lying on his desk. Thus far the Russian government failed to give a financial guarantee demanded by an unknown enterprise which is willing to invest in the prolongation of Mir's operational existence. For those yearning for such an extension encouraging news: To remain on the safe side the Russians already have crews for the period after June 1999.
Zalyotin/Kaleri, stand in crew: Sharipov/Vinogradov. And: Possibly the French mission will be extended until August 1999. So 6 months instead of 3.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 3.02.1999 at about 2200 UTC (for Moscow time already 4.02) Progress-M40 will separate from Mir and remain in a distance of a couple of 100 Meters. The Mir crew will control the Progress-M40 with the TORU system and push the packages with the Znamya 2.5 sail in open space. By spinning the freighter around her X-axis the centrifugal forces will unfold and open the packages. These forces will also have to maintain the reflector sail unfolded in right angles towards sun and earth.
Mir and Progress-M40 and possibly the light beam can be seen in Western Europa somewhere between 1700 and 2000 UTC on 4.02.1999. Due to Mir's orbit correction on 2.02.1999 it is not yet possible to calculate exact predictions the passes in which Mir/Progress-M40 are still in sunlight and we in the earth's shadow. As soon as I have the Kepler elements after the correction I will issue a small Mir-report with times and other details (azimuth and elevation) for my position. The reflector beam will cause a spot of approx. 6 KM in diameter, but this spot will move very fast: approx. 8 KM/second
After the 24 hours which will be used for this experiment the freighter will be put on a destruction course into the atmosphere and burn up over a designated area in the Pacific Ocean East of New-Zealand.
Daily between 0500-2000 UTC the cosmonauts executed the prescribed programmes. This was not very exciting, but also not boring. They paid attention to a number of well known experiments such as: the French Fiziolab (medical), Ionozond (sensing the ionosphere in the benefit of the ionospheric stations in Narafominsk and Rostov), the Greenhouse, Portapress (blood circulation), Relaksatsiya (the study of the influence on molecules of products of combustion for which now and then small impulses of the engines were needed), Silay (the study of small particles from outer space resulting in minor flashes in the eyes of the cosmonauts), etc.
Apart from these and their experiments they had to do maintenance work, for instance the replacement of a ventilator of the Gas Analyser, mending the system for the transfer of urine, the installation and dismounting of experimental equipment and the separation of water in one of the Elektron oxygen generators. Regularly the crew reported the pressure in Mir's atmosphere: always approx. 705 MM mercury.
They also now and then checked the pressure in the Spektr module. Another regular reported measurement was the radiation level on board. This was always done by Avdeyev who used the Doza system. The values (doses) were given in ug-s and the velocities in mg-s per hour.
Now and then the geostationary satellite Luch-1/Gelios was in use for instance for TV-transmissions, but also for a TV-link in which high speed data transfer took place. On 25.01.99 TsUP told the crew that the DLR was very pleased with the data of the Titus experiments transmitted by Mir and directly received by DLR. The Mir crew promised to transmit more. (Unclear whether the Germans received these signals via the 166, 165, 636 or 638 mc/s telemetry channels or via the Luch-1/Gelios. Theoretically GSOC in Oberpfaffenhofen must be able to 'see' Luch-1)
Avdeyev often used the amateur radio frequency 145.985 mc/s for several modes: Packet Radio, Phone and SSTV images. Now and then Avdeyev, using call sign R0Mir, transmitted for phone on a somewhat lower frequency around 145.970 mc/s. He made his calls in Russian as well in English.
Preparations Znamya 2.5:
A lot activities in this field during the last days. For instance just before drafting this report TsUP spoke with the crew about the observations during the undocking and the deployment of the Znamya 2.5 sail. Padalka will control the TORU from the base block and Avdeyev will execute observations and make images with through a porthole (nr. 5 in Module-D or the porthole in the PSO).
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Thus far this experiment is still scheduled for 4.02.1999. The experiments starts immediately after the undocking of Progress-M40. All operations of Mir and Progress-M40 will be executed in the framework of that experiment. After undocking the Znamya 2.5 reflector will be deployed very soon (after approx. 30 minutes). One and a half hour later the observations of the light spot on earth will begin over Kazakhstan.
The orbit of the Mir space station has been corrected on 1 and 2.02.1999. That is why it lasted so long before it was possible to calculate the passes in which both objects (Mir and Progress-M40 with the unfolded sail) will come within our range.
The latest 2-line elements, so after the last orbit corrections are:
Mir 16609U 86017A 99033.62215070 -.00705684 00000-0 -60986-2 0 1783 16609 51.6621 313.1101 0015148 80.9915 279.1017 15.70324883740230
For my position in the Hague (Kijkduin) this will be on 4.02.1999 between 1745 and 1752 UTC. The maximum elevation of 78 degrees will take place at 1747 UTC. For us in the west of the Netherlands Mir and Progress-M40 emerge at the horizon in the direction of 275 degrees, and will proceed to the T.C.A. (time closest approach) on 78 degrees in the direction of 176 degrees. Then Mir and Progress-M40 will fly away and disappear after the horizon in the direction of 102 degrees.
Using the remote control system (TORU) the crew of Mir will try to aim the reflector to the ground track between Liege in Belgium and Frankfurt in Germany between 1750 and 1754 UTC. So we hope to something before that period during the pass 2 minutes before and 2 minutes after TCA.
We in the Netherlands have another pass from 1918-1927 UTC with a maximum elevation of 28 degrees at 1922 UTC, but then the cosmonauts will sleep. They wake up again at 2230 UTC to work with Znamya 2.5 during some passes over Canada and the U.S.A. After the departure of Progress-M40 at about 0209 UTC and jettisoning Znamya 2.5 4 minutes later the crew will sleep on 5.02.1999 between 0230 and 1030 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
It was clear the Russians were not happy with the enthusiasm and attention before and that some of them would prefer a little bit soviet-like publicity: so exuberant joy when a risky attempt was successful , but silence after a failure.
What went wrong? Just when Padalka transmitted the command to unfold the reflector packages, the Progress-M40 got a command from earth to deploy a Kurs antenna. One slip of the reflector got stuck behind this antenna and the unfolding process stopped. After the retraction of the antenna and a motor burn of the Progress-M40 the reflector came free, but a second attempt to deploy the reflector with the centrifugal forces of the spinning around its X-axis Progress-M40 failed. After analyses and nightly deliberations the Russians decided to blow off the experiment and to put the Progress-M40 on a destruction course.
On 4.02.1999 at 09.59.32 UTC the freighter separated from the aft (Kvant-1) docking port of Mir.
On 5.02.1999 at 1016 UTC Progress-M40 got the impulse to bring it back into the atmosphere. At 1110 UTC Progress-M40 burnt up over a designated area in the Pacific East of New-Zealand.
These began with the reception between 1302 and 13.03.30 UTC of the 922.755 mc beacon and telemetry transmitter of Progress-M40. This was for me the prove that Progress-M40 was flying autonomously. Mir's radio conversations during the following passes of Mir and Progress-M40 made it clear that the experiment was not proceeding according to plan. Padalka reported hat he had switched off several systems and obviously the crew transferred the control of Progress-M40 to TsUP.
Avdeyev continuously reported to TsUP the distances between Mir and Progress-M40 with the times. During the pass in orbit 74054, 1439-1440 UTC, he reported that at 13.54.40 UTC the distance had been 4090 Meters. At about 1439 UTC the distance was approx. 2 KM. For the measurements Avdeyev had to soar from port-hole to port-hole. Regularly he reported that it was difficult to track and to observe the Progress-M40 due to the sunlight shining in his eyes and now and then Mir's solar panels hampered him. Possibly Avdeyev had to report the distances to the man at TsUP who controlled the Progress-M40.
Now and then the UKW-2 (130.165 mc) was in use for communications. During the pass in orb. 74055, (1606-1615 UTC) he continued to report the distances. One of my friends, radio-amateur Hans van Dijk (NL number 10204), picked up images of the Progress-M40 transmitted to earth with SSTV on 145.985 mc.
The failure of the experiment was discussed during radio traffic. Padalka did not make a fuss about this, but he was disappointed about the fact that the crew had not been able to carry out their work. He expressed his satisfaction about the fact that the control of Progress-M40 with the TORU and the transfer of commands for the experiment worked flawlessly. He regretted the fact that they had installed all equipment to film and photograph the events in vain. He joked that they might be able to try it again in 6 years. About this all and the plans with this experiment for the next day he had a conversation with Flight control chief V.A. Solovyov.
During the communication window in orb. 74057/58, 1915-1926 UTC, the crew, certainly unintended, startled the flight controller at TsUP by switching off the transmitter. This man possibly thought that something was wrong (in fact a free flying freighter not far from Mir!) and reacted immediately. Avdeyev told him that all was well on board.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the last stage of the redocking Mir and Soyuz-TM28 were in my range and the cosmonauts could be heard via 121.750 mc. The moment of the 'touch' (kasaniye) was reported by Padalka. The autonomous flight lasted shorter than planned. Padalka executed the approach and docking in the manual mode. Avdeyev reported that the fuel consumption measured by the SIRT had been 407 Kilograms. They spoke about 'flying around' but in fact the Soyuz-TM28 hovered while the Mir complex made a 180 degrees turn in the Z-axis plane just waiting until the aft port came in front of that ship.
During the pass in orb. 74116, 1313-1320 UTC, the cosmonauts again used the 143.625 mc. They were inside the station and had installed the clamps to attach Soyuz-TM28 firmly to Kvant-1. The crew almost recovered the Mir-station into the status it had before the redocking. They use the Russian word 'raskonservirovatj', so to undo the 'conservation'. Meanwhile they had 'conserved' the Soyuz-TM28, so they had put this in the 'stand by' or 'inactive' mode. Before the redocking the had 'de-conserved' that ship.
In the period in which the Mir-station is unmanned a lot of systems are switched off. If for instance the redocking fails and the cosmonauts have to return to earth the station must remain alive. Among the systems switched off are almost all life support systems, which consume a lot of energy, for instance the BKV-3 (the a.c.), the Elektron oxygen generator, the BMP (a unit to purify the air of unwanted products), the Vozdukh (the CO-2 scrubber) and the S.R.V.K. (the system to regenerate condensate into water). The crew also switched on again the greenhouse (oranjerie).
The reactivation of these systems was reported in that pass. They had to leave the Elektron 'off'. Padalka reported the start of the program to turn the solar panels to the most effective angles towards the sun.
Mir-routine in relation to the redocking:
During the last days there were indications about the oncoming redocking operation, for instance the necessity to clean up the Kvant-1 and on 7.02.1999 the crew got instructions about the procedures during this operation. Even the undocking time was mentioned 1420 DMV -Decree Moscow Time-, so 1120 UTC, but nothing was said about the day.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
It is almost sure that this crew will be the last relief crew for the Mir space station.
Heading towards Mir with Soyuz-TM29 are Viktor Afanasyev, captain, making his 3rd spaceflight, the CNES spacionaute, researcher and board-engineer, Jean-Pierre Haignere, in space for the 2nd time and de Slovak cosmonaut-researcher Ivan Bella. Bella will return to earth in the Soyuz-TM28 together with the present Mir-captain, Padalka. Bella's mission will last 10 days. In that period the 26th M.E. to Mir will be relieved by the 27th, consisting of Afanasyev, Sergey Avdeyev and Haignere.
Communications during the first flight day of Soyuz-TM29:
Mir was the first to come within my range during orbit 74310, 0606-0608 UTC. The elevation was somewhat more than 0 degree and the short contact with TsUP was merely dedicated to the successful launch of Soyuz-TM29. TsUP asked the crew of Mir whether they already were preparing themselves for the oncoming meeting. Padalka stated that they already were cleaning up the station. TsUP told them that Soyuz-TM29 successfully reached the calculated orbit and that the crew had finished the tests of the Kurs approach system. They did not meet any problems.
Now I had to wait for the first pass of Soyuz-TM29 itself. During the 2nd orbit between 0720 and 0722 UTC, Afanasyev, using his call sign Derbent-1, reported that all went well and he left the task to report to TsUP a series of data of the ships systems to Haignere, Derbent-2.
30 minutes later Mir came in range. To be prepared for the period in which the station has to accommodate 5 men the Mir-crew was already involved in checking and adjusting systems for the production of oxygen.
And on its 3rd pass Soyuz-TM29 showed up between 0849 and 0856 UTC with strong signals on all frequencies. TCA (Time Closest Approach) at 08.51.40 UTC could be derived from the beacon signal on 922.755 mc. The circular saw sounding rattles of the Telemetry transmitters in the 166 and 165 mc bands were very strong. On 121.750 mc Afanasyev reported a number of interesting data. These had to do with the 2 orbit corrections: the first one had been executed at 0753 UTC and the second one just started during this communication session. Regretfully the reports of Afanasyev were jammed by transmissions from the ground services of the Airport Rotterdam, the position of which is at spitting distance from my station. There they also use, though in AM-Wide, the 121.750 mc.
After radio traffic between Mir and TsUP between 0911 and 0922 UTC the strong signals of Soyuz-TM29 again could be monitored during its 4th orbit, 1019-1028 UTC. Using the Doppler effect on 922.755 mc I could determine the TCA as 10.24.17 UTC.
A calm Afanasyev told TsUP that the 'boys' (mal'chiki), so Haignere and Bella, went into the B.O. (life compartment) to eat somewhat. (Very good for if you suffer from space disease you do not like food). Being in the B.O. Haignere speaks with TsUP. He asks TsUP to pass a series of birthday congratulations. In the first place to everybody about the 13th (and possibly the last) birthday of the Mir, so in fact of the base block, and to the cosmonauts Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov, Mikhail Fulier (now flying from Baykonur to Moscow) and last but not least the good old Vasiliy Vasilyevich Tsibliyev.
If all continues to go well we will be able to hear the transmissions of Soyuz-TM29 during the 2nd flight day. .
Expected docking Soyuz-TM29 at Mir's forward (-X axis -Transition Section) docking port on 22.02.1999 at 0551 UTC. So long after the first pass of both objects for Western Europe. (in the Netherlands between 0524 and 0527 UTC with an elevation of a little bit more than 1 degree).
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the next pass in orb. 74333, 0658-0706 UTC, the hatches between the ship and the station already had been opened and preparations for a TV-report of the meeting of both crews were in progress. From the given commands (Anna-73 and 86) could be derived that the TV-transmissions would take place via the UHF channels. Haignere could be heard giving some impressions about this arrival in comparison with that during his first flight. The opening of the hatches had taken place outside the communications zones and so it was not possible to report the exact time, but obviously this was not long before this pass. The next communication session took place in orb. 74334, 0830-0841 UTC. The crew reported that they had fastened the clamps of the Soyuz-TM29. This activity is necessary to be sure that Soyuz-TM29 does not slip away easily. Other subjects during this session were the combined power supply of Mir and Soyuz-TM29 and the oxygen production with the Elektron in Kvant-1.
Radio traffic Soyuz-TM29 on the 2nd flight day (21.02):
During orb. 18 a short communication session between 0708 and approx. 0711 UTC. Everything went flawlessly. Afanasyev reported that they had adjusted the Globus (the instrument with a globe to enable the crew to see the ground track of their ship on earth). This procedure has been in vogue since the first Vostok flights in the early sixties. Neither Afanasyev nor TsUP had nothing more to report and they switched off the radio equipment.
During the pass in orb. 19, 0840-0845 UTC, the ship could be monitored on all frequencies. With the use of the beacon transmissions on 922.755 mc I could see that the TCA (Time Closest Approach) was 08.42.120 UTC. Afanasyev reported that they were flying over Europa and that they had connected the purification cartridge at 0730 UTC. Then Bella got the microphone for a short conversation with a compatriot, (possibly his wife) at TsUP. He told that all went well, that all systems worked normally, but that he suffered from a headache. (Whether some noise on the frequency bothered me or that he must do something to enhance his Slovak language, I do not know, but it was impossible to determine whether he had a 'severe' or a 'light' headache.) During the still available windows of Soyuz-TM29: 'ani - vidu, ani - slechu', or: not a word has been heard!
A lot more material could be obtained from the radio-communications between Mir and TsUP on 21.02.99. Padalka was literally buried under instructions about the attitude (movements-) control and manoeuvres of the Mir-complex in preparation for the oncoming approach and docking of Soyuz-TM29. The Mir had to make a turn of 180 degrees in the horizontal plane. This manoeuvre, possibly to be executed without gyrodynes, but with steering rockets, had to start on 22.02.1999 at 03.16.48 UTC.
Really a busy day, but nevertheless, the crew got the opportunity to have some private conversations with their relatives.
The Slovak cosmonaut, or astronaut, spacionaut or, that it is: COSMONAUT, Ivan Bella, will execute during his mission the Slovak scientific program Stefanik. This consists of the following items: Dozimetrie (radiation levels), Senso-asymmetrie (whatever that may be), Endotest (possibly hormonstudies), Metabolism , Training and as they say: Prepelica (Japanese quails). Experiments with these birds have been executed on Mir some years ago; not a single bird survived. Let us hope that Bella will have more success. He spoke with a specialist on earth and told that he was happy to be able to start with his work. His headache was almost over and he congratulated everybody who had been involved in the successful docking operation.
For his conversation Bella used the UKW-1, the 143.625 mc. Padalka used for his connection with TsUP the UKW-2, so 130.165 mc. The simultaneous use of both frequencies will be regularly the case until August this year.
The return flight of this ship is scheduled for the night from 27 to 28.02.99 with on board the present mission commander, Padalka, and the Slovak Ivan Bella. They are bound to undock from Mir on 27.02 at 2310 UTC and hope to make a happy landing in Kazakhstan on 28.02.1999 at approx. 0210 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During his arrival on board Mir and his departure Ivan Bella executed the scientific program Stefanik. The program is named after Milan Ratislav Stefanik, a famous Slovak politician, astronomer, fighter pilot and general of the French army in WW-1, first Czechoslovak Secretary of Defense in the then just independent state. His career was pretty short for he died in a plane crash near Bratislava on 4.05.1919. Like Stefaniks' career the stay of Bella on board Mir was also too short to perform all his tasks.
However radio traffic clearly revealed that Bella very quickly had adapted himself to the conditions of weightlessness and that he did not suffer any longer from the headache reported by him during his flight with Soyuz-TM28. He faultlessly communicated in Russian and executed his tasks with enthusiasm. With Tamara Guryeva of IMBP in Moscow he co-ordinated his work with the eggs of the Japanese Quail. (Prepelica in Slovak; Perepel in Russian). Bella had transported to Mir a number of eggs of that bird in the Incubator-T. The chickens in these eggs were scheduled to come out of the shell during the period of Bella's stay on board Mir. After arrival Bella had to transfer the eggs from the Incubator-T to the incubators on board Mir. While doing this he crushed 4 of them, but the other eggs safely were installed in the incubators and the chickens soon came out of their shells. There was a static incubator and one in a slow spinning centrifuge (to create more or less some gravity). Those who saw the light in the first incubator immediately enjoyed life and swallowed food and water. The poor birds who had to grow up in the centrifuge suffered from severe stress due to the darkness and low temperatures. The care for the birds has been taken over by the new crew. The experiment Prepelica is an enhanced continuation of the experiment of that kind executed by Anatoliy Solovyov during his flight in the beginning of this decade. Japanese quails can produce eggs in a high frequency and the birds as will as the eggs are very rich of protein and so very suitable in the food of crews during long duration flights, for instance to Mars and beyond. It was unclear whether a part of the new-born quails would return by Soyuz-TM28.
Bella also executed the other experiments of the Stefanik program. Endotest indeed had something to do with hormone production and the physiology of endocrine glands. For this experiment he had to take blood samples. He also worked on the Dosimetry experiment, which studies the interactions of heavy ions in primary cosmic rays with different materials , i.e. biological tissues, integrated circuits etc. Other experiments were Senso - asymmetry, a study of motion sickness, Trenik (training) to determine the effects on the cardio-vascular system during weightlessness of long and intensive physical training on earth before the flight.
On 24.02.1999 Bella stayed a long time inside the Soyuz-TM28. With Padalka he had to check all systems, also the performance of the communications equipment to be sure that the ship was reliable for the oncoming return flight.
This French spationaute feels himself at home and he already started to execute experiments in the framework of the Perseus program. Partly this program is a continuation of items of former Russian-French programs Aragatz, Antares and Altair. He co-ordinates his activities in this field with French and Russian scientists and specialists in France as well in Russia. During one of his conversations with a Frenchman in Russia he stated that he certainly will use the radio-amateur facilities on board Mir, for instance those installed in the Module Priroda. He also said that there were already arrangements with radio-amateurs in the U.S.A. for ham work during passes over there.
Preparations for the return flight:
This was a heavy burden for Padalka, but it seemed not to have bothered him. He had to train in the Chibis suit for the adaptation of his cardiovascular system a little bit for the gravity conditions on earth. Avdeyev, his faithful servant, assisted him during these activities. Padalka also worked on the stowing into Soyuz-TM28 of cargo to be delivered to earth. All available room had to be used as efficiently as possible. One of the seats in the Soyuz-TM28 can be used to stow experiments, samples (blood, saliva, etc.), and even plants.
During the last week in which there was a double crew on board the radio traffic was very intensive, often on 2 different frequencies, 143.625 and 130.165 mc. at the same time. Radio conversations revealed that there has been a lot of manoeuvring with the attitude of the Mir-complex. Contrary to previous missions with a double crew on board the life support systems of Mir behaved well.
27th Main Expedition to Mir:
This crew consists of Viktor Mikhaylovich Afanasyev, Commander, Sergey Vasilyevich Avdeyev, 1st Board Engineer, and the Cosmonaut-Researcher and 2nd Board Engineer, Jean-Pierre Haignere. They use the call Derbent, so respectively Derbent -1, 2 and 3.
Important operations for the near future:
These will be the launch of the freighter Progress-M41 and the first spacewalk (EVA). The data for these events have not yet been determined.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 28.03.1999 the ONA (the antenna for communications via the geostationary satellite Luch-1/Gelios) was unserviceable. It was impossible to aim the antenna in the direction of the satellite. Now and then during radio-traffic on 143.625 and 130.165 mc an automatic female voice can be heard reporting that, for instance, it will last still a minute until Mir is in range of the ground station, but also when Mir is entering the eclipse. The calculations are made by the Sigma-computer. Last week the UKW-2, 130.165 mc was regularly in use instead of the 143.625 mc. Possibly to avoid cross-modulation with transmissions on the radio-amateur frequencies. For radio-amateur traffic the 145.985 (Phone and Packet Radio) and the 145.940 mc (Phone) are in use. Haignere is a very skilled and active radio-amateur. Often he switches from the 145.985 to the 145.940 mc when Mir comes in range of Moscow. Haignere uses this frequency to speak with his wife Claudie or with Frenchmen over there. Avdeyev also can be heard on that frequency, but for conversations with his wife he tried to arrange the use of a frequency in the 144 mc band. Thus far without results.
Status Mrs van den Berg:
The situation is no longer life threatening. She is now in hospital and will have to stay there for a long time. The future is not predictable so far. To recuperate from the hectic and stressful passed months I take some rest for a while. In about 10 days I hope as good as possible to resume my activities. Herewith I thank those friends who supported me with their sympathy and good wishes.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
1st Spacewalk (EVA) crew 27th Main Expedition Mir:
This EVA to be executed by commander Afanasyev and CNES cosmonaut Haignere will start on 16.04.1999 at 0430 UTC, when they open the outer hatch of the airlock (Sh.S.O.) of Module-D. The planned duration of the EVA is 5 hours and 12 minutes. The cosmonauts will install experiments at the outer surface of the complex and retrieve experiments which had been installed in the past from there. The whole day of 13.04.1999 the crew was working on the spacesuits. They checked the air-tightness and all technical systems. The air-tightness gave no problems, but from the spacesuit of Afanasyev the medical data did not reach the telemetry. TsUP presumed that there was something wrong with the medical data processing unit in Afanasyev's suit. Afanasyev suggested not to bother about this problem, but the medical group was not willing to give permission for the EVA if the problem would not be solved. If such a failure might arise during the EVA they could bear this for it would be difficult to stop the EVA, but they needed medical data at the beginning. So the management ordered Afanasyev to use spacesuit number 5 for the EVA. This means that a part of the checks will have to be repeated and that there is little time to train for the EVA.
On 12.04.1999 Viktor D. Blagov congratulated the crew with the Cosmonauts Day. He expressed the wish that Russian spaceflight would be able to survive and that he hoped the same with the Mir space station. He told the crew that the Service Module for the I.S.S. would be transported to Baykonur in May to enable the launch in late October \ begin November this year. Towards the end of the communication session he informed them about a message he just got from Krasnoyarsk in which was reported that the only geostationary satellite available for Mir-communications, the Luch-1/Gelios standing over 77 degrees East , was unserviceable due to a technical failure. Until the beginning of next year TsUP and Mir do not have such an in fact necessary facility. In the beginning of 2000 TsUP again hopes to be able to make use of a new Luch or Altair, which has to be placed over 16 degrees West.
During a meeting in the Russian Space agency (RKA) in which I took part I asked one of the deputies of Mr. Koptev whether there were plans for such a satellite. He confirmed my question. This geostationary communications satellite will be launched in November or December this year.
I did not cancel my tour to Moscow because of the fact that the doctors and other experts advised me to go and thus to gain strength and relax after the hectic months. And indeed they were right, I now feel better than before my trip. Regretfully the status of my wife who is still in hospital has not changed and predicting the near future is almost impossible.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Afanasyev shows no signs that he is enjoying his flight, on the contrary: he makes a irritated impression. I would not be surprised if he has health problems. He and Avdeyev take care of the good functioning of the systems of the station, especially those for the life support and the operational control, such as the performance of the solar batteries. Afanasyev uses to load commands given to him by TsUP in the on board computer systems and he checks the so called 'ugli posadki', angles of attack for eventual emergency landings. Avdeyev is responsible for the Packet Radio traffic on the service channels and the transmission to earth of files with experimental data.
As far as this can be derived from radio traffic, the mood on board is far from cheerful. Some time ago, Haignere had an argument with Russian physicians. They found some anomalies in the cardiovascular system of Haignere during a medical experiment. Haignere did not share their opinion. He stated that the exercises during that experiment were too strenuous and he demanded to be informed about the limits for such exercises during previous flights of French astronauts. In his opinion there was nothing wrong with his health and he presumed that the anomalies had psychological causes. Regularly technical problems emerged for instance failing ventilators, solar batteries showing incorrect angles towards the sun, bad performance of the air-conditioning and of the power supply systems.
During the last week radio traffic revealed a mysterious leak of air.
The leak seems to be very small for the loss of pressure was not more than 4 mm in 24 hrs. For a long time the cosmonauts tried to find the location of the leak and to be sure they closed all hatches between the base block and the modules. On 12.07.1999 the suspicion fell on the Module Kvant-2 (Module D).
The very last failure: In the night from 8 to 9.07.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev reported that the SEP (Electrical Power Supply system) in the Module Priroda failed at 2136 UTC. Lights, ventilators, experiments and the radio amateur equipment in that module failed. Only the computer used by Haignere was still functioning. During all following passes that night and the passes during the following night there was no radio traffic, so no follow up about this problem. Possibly the crew restored the power supply in Priroda.
To reduce the natural decay of the complex a little bit, occasionally minor orbit corrections had been executed. On 6.05.1999 this was done by the use of the engines of the Progress-M41 and on 23.06.99 the impulses were given by the approach and orientation engines of the ship Soyuz-TM29. On 6.07.99 a correction with the engines of the Progress-M41 was performed, lifting the orbit of Mir a few kilometres upwards.
Communications: Often the 2 VHF-channels, UKW-1 (143.625 mc) and UKW-2 (130.165 mc) were used at the same time for different purposes. For instance Packet Radio or phone conversations by the Russians on UKW-1 and Haignere with his group at TsUP on UKW-2. During TV-sessions via UHF UKW-2 was in use as phone channel. Now and then interference was mentioned between ionospheric experiments (for instance with Ionozond) and VHF traffic.
Radio amateurism: During the period covering this report Jean-Pierre Haignere was still very active with phone using the call R0Mir on 145.985 as well as on 145.940 mc. At AOS of almost every pass the Packet Radio on 145.985 mc could be heard. This lasted until LOS or until the beginning of Haignere's calls by phone. Often the Packet Radio continued during the phone conversations. Haignere handles traffic in French as well as in English and he acts as a very skilled radio amateur. Especially on 145.985 mc the uplink is overloaded by traffic and to be able to make as much QSO-s as possible, he uses only 2 or 3 characters of the calling stations. He also regularly states with whom he wants to communicate and even threatened 'naughty' callers to ban them from answering for a certain period.
When in range of Moscow he switches over to 145.940 mc for conversations with his countrymen over there or with his wife Claudie.
Apart from Phone and Packet Radio the 145.985 mc was also used for a few SSTV transmissions. Now and then Avdeyev can be heard on the amateur frequencies. I did not at all hear Afanasyev over there.
Plans for the near future: Progress-M42: On 14.07.1999 at 1725 UTC launch of the freighter Progress-M42 with the normal cargo plus a special guidance and control computer to steer the complex remote controlled by TsUP during the last unmanned status of the Mir complex. At deadline for this report the launch that day was not sure due the decision of the Kazakh government to suspend all launches from Baykonur due to a dispute with Russia about compensation for pollution by Russian space debris.
The launch of the freighter Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 is crucial, not only for the well-being of the present crew, but also for the forthcoming period in which the complex will fly in the unmanned status.
To enable controllers on earth to control the flight via the special navigation computer to be delivered by Progress-M42 the present crew must be able to install and test that computer.
Without that computer the 'mission impossible' to put the complex on a safe destruction course into the earth's atmosphere would become considerably more 'impossible'. I am sure that the government of Kazakhstan will give permission for the launch of Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 and in that way leave the burden of the responsibility for the decay of the Mir space station where it belongs: on Russia. (remark: When this report went to 'press' the government of Kazakhstan did not yet give the green light for the launch, but preparations for the launch on 14.07.99 were going on and on 12.07 the carrier-rocket and freighter had been rolled out and erected on the start-complex.) 2nd Spacewalk (EVA) crew 27th Main Expedition: This EVA is on schedule for 23.07.1999. Though not officially confirmed now the EVA almost certainly will be executed by Avdeyev and Haignere. They must install a new so called reflector antenna and retrieve from the outer surface of the complex the experiments Spica and Ekzobiologiya.
Thus far the return flight of the Soyuz-TM29 with the present crew is scheduled for the end of August this year.
For an eventual extra, so 28th Main Expedition, in February 2000 we will have to wait, see and hear.
Illness Mrs. van den Berg: I tried to monitor Mir radio traffic as much as possible, but was not able to analyse, verify and report the gathered material as comprehensively as I used to do until May this year. Though we have still a long way to go, the condition of my wife is gradually improving and I hope to be able to restore my normal working methods in the near future.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202 request: My last report was of 16.04.1999, so a number of E-mail addresses might be incorrect now. Please confirm the receipt of this report to enable me to determine which E-mail addresses have been changed.
Everything went flawlessly and already during the first passes for my position the telemetry and beacon transmitters could be monitored.
During the 3rd orbit from 2113 - 2115 UTC in the 166 and 165 mc bands and during the 4th one from 2241 - 2248 UTC in those bands and also on the 922.755 mc.
Progress-M42 has to deliver to Mir 2.5 tons cargo among which water, fuel, food, mail , some experiments, a reflector antenna, which has to be installed outside the complex during a spacewalk and a guiding system to enable TsUP to control the complex remote controlled during unmanned status which will begin on 23 or 28.08.1999.
Estimated time docking: If all continues to go well Progress-M42 will link up with Mir (aft docking port, Kvant-1 +X-axis) on 18.07.99 at 1756 UTC. So appr. 6 minutes after LOS for my position. During the pass of Mir in orbit 76637, 1746-1750 UTC, radio traffic during the final stage of the approach can be monitored.
Progress-M41: This old freighter had to free the aft docking port before the docking of his predecessor and as soon TsUP was sure about the good functioning of all systems of the Progress-M42 , Progress-M41 undocked from Mir on 17.07 at 1120 UTC. When this report 'went to the press' the Progress-M41 was about to make its last two orbits before it should be put on a destruction course for decay in the atmosphere over a designated area in the Pacific East of New-Zealand at 1951 UTC.
Radio amateur traffic: During conversations with radio amateurs on earth on 16.07.99 Haignere enthusiastically mentioned the start of the freighter and the expected docking on Sunday 18.07. He also spoke about the possibility to make images of the approach and the eventual transmission to earth of these images by SSTV. He still uses the 145.985 and 145.940 mc. And sometimes he receives on other frequencies to avoid the noise caused by the enormous number of calls, often by undisciplined amateurs. H. regularly shows his displeasure about this and beseeches them to listen before calling.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The final phase of the operation was going on during the first pass for my position in Mir's orbit 76637, 1746-1751 UTC. Afanasyev reported distances, approach speeds and other crucial data.
At 17.46.58 distance 150 Meters, approach speed 0.1 M/sec. At 17.47.15: 150 M, 0.4 M/sec., deviation somewhat to the left, 1 degree and along Y-axis 2 degrees.
At 17.47.28 moving to the centre, approx. 0.5 degree to the left , down along Y-axis 0.5 degree. Afansyev was still reporting these data during LOS. Last reported distance was 48 Meters, appr. speed 0.27 M/sec.
Opening hatches to the Progress-M42: This took place at 1835 UTC, so very soon after the docking. Afanasyev reported later on that the Progress-M42 was clean, quite a relief for there had been some concerns about this due to the fact that the launch had been put back so often.
Already on 19.07.1999 the crew started the transfer of cargo from the Progress-M42 into the station. The crew also worked on the integration of the engines for docking and orientation of the freighter into the system for the control of the movements of the complex in the Base Block and on the test of this system.
Spacewalks (EVA-s) crew 27th Main Expedition: The delayed arrival of the Progress-M42 did not result in changes of the schedule for the still planned 2 EVA-s. These will be made on 23 and 27.07.1999.
On 23.07 the exit hatch will be opened at 1115 UTC and closed at 1654 UTC.
No decision has been made for the times of the EVA on 27.07.
End of the 27th Main Expedition: The departure of the crew of this expedition has been put back from 23rd until 28.08.1999. This on a request of CNES. As of yet the reasons for this request are not fully clear. Better light conditions on 28.08 than on 23.08.1999 were mentioned, but possibly there are still other reasons.
Communications during 2nd day (17.07) of the flight of Progress-M42: During the 18th orbit telemetry and beacon signals in the 166, 165 and 922.755 mc bands could be monitored between 19.27.40 UTC and 19.32.00 UTC.
During the 19th orbit the signals were very strong between 2058 and 2105 UTC.
With the Doppler effect (dip on 922.755 mc) TCA (time closest approach) could be determined at 21.01.50 UTC There were in the Benelux and England clouds permitted this observers reported good visual observations of Progress-M42 around 2100 UTC.
Last Progress freighter during manned status Mir-space station: More or less the arrival of this last freighter is a historical event.
The eventual Progress which has to give the latest impulse to put the complex on a destruction course (in the beginning of 2000) has to dock during the autonomous flight of the complex.
all flight of freighters, in the beginning the Progresses, later on the Progresses-M.
It is not yet clear how the communications during flights of Russian transport and cargo ships to the International Space Station will be organised. My possibilities depend on those communications, so it might be that for me Progress-M42 has been the very last.
But nevertheless I was able to monitor this flight very well and this made it possible to draft an extensive report.
C.M. van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The exit hatch of the Sh.S.O. (airlock of the Module-D) was opened 9 minutes before the scheduled time. So for a while some profit of time, but all activities during the EVA lasted longer than planned and so did the EVA. The hatch swung open at 1106 UTC and was closed behind the cosmonauts at 1713 UTC, so a duration of 6 hrs and 7 minutes, 28 minutes longer than had been foreseen in the original plan.
The number of tasks was quite substantial and not all of them could be accomplished. One item had been added to the schedule, i.e. the search for an air-leakage in the hull of the module Kvant-2 (Module-D). We still remember how difficult it was to find the leakage in the hull of the module-O (Spektr) during EVA-s and also with the help of gaseous dye markers for observations from departing Shuttles, and so it is not difficult to conclude that this task would be a mission impossible. The fact that the cosmonauts at least had to give it a try clearly indicates that specialists at TsUP consider the leakage, though very small, to be a serious problem. Ultimately they did not find the leakage.
A lot of time was consumed during attempts to deploy a new system for the deployment of antennae for satellites. This antenna was a Russian-Georgian project. The parabolic reflector antenna had to be installed at the Sofora girder and deployed with a remote control.
Afanasyev was able to open the antenna for 80 or 90%. During the following EVA the cosmonauts will try to achieve 100%. If they do not succeed the antenna they will get rid of it.
During the EVA the cosmonauts had to retrieve some experiments from the outer surface. They succeeded to do so with the experiments Exobiology and Dvikon.
Exobiology is a study to determine the possibility for survival in open space of organic samples wrapped up in meteorite-like materials. Dvikon is a study to determine and measure the effects of the exhaust of Mir's engines on materials nearby. Due to lack of time they did not try to retrieve the experiment Spica.
The EVA ended in a great hurry due to a failure of the thermoregulation in the spacesuit of Afanasyev. A filter was overheated.
Communications: A serious handicap for cosmonauts who have to do EVA-s is the fact that there is not a single geostationary communication satellite available. A lot of crucial activities they had to do when they were out of range of ground facilities, for instance the opening of the exit hatch. The communications between Mir and TsUP took place on 143.625 mc (UKW-1) as well as on 130.165 mc (UKW-2). As always during EVA-s 7 kc/s lower than normal.
When Mir came in range during orbit 76715 at 1640 UTC, the hatch was still open. During the first passes within my range TsUP and the cosmonauts experienced a lot of noise caused by cross modulation from air-traffic control centres. So the help of Haignere as a relay station was very useful.
The cosmonauts got orders to close the hatches between the air lock and the P.N.O. and the P.N.O. and P.G.O (respectively the scientific-instrument compartment and the instrument-cargo compartment) of the module which is leaking air, Module-D.
3rd EVA: This EVA is scheduled for 28.07.1999 between 1020 and 1530 UTC.
Which of the Russians will make this EVA together with Haignere was not yet known during the hard disc preparation of this report.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The EVA was made on 28.07.1999 from 0937 UTC (opening hatch) until 1459 UTC (closure hatch), so 5 hrs and 22 minutes. The simple fact that the EVA could be made within the planned 5 hrs and 30 minutes was an indication that all went very well.
The first task was to resume the attempts to achieve the full deployment of the Georgian-Russian reflector antenna. This was a success. The enormous antenna, a little bit looking like an ellipse, has a diameter between 6.4 and 5.2 Meters. The experiment was just an engineering operation to test a new system for the antenna deployment by remote control. So not to use the antenna for communication purposes now. In the future this system has to be implemented for antennae used on navigation satellites. As soon as everybody was convinced that the system was able to be used flawlessly, the antenna was disconnected and pushed away for a short autonomous flight in space. Not without showing some pride, the Georgian specialists stated that this was the launch of the 1st Georgian sputnik.
The smooth course of this operation enabled the Russians to perform a lot of still awaiting tasks.
They installed the experiments Indicator and Sprut-4 and changed the cassettes of the Migmas ion spectrometer. They also retrieved some experiments from the outside of the complex, i.e. the Danko-M and the Ekran-D frame.
Communications during and after the EVA: Again TsUP and the cosmonauts had to use the short communication windows via ground facilities.
Nevertheless nice images of the activities with the reflector antenna reached earth. These were made by Haignere. The French enthusiast assisted the spacewalkers and relayed radio traffic with TsUP. To TsUP he reported about those parts of the operation which took place when Mir was not in range of stations on earth.
During the first pass of Mir for my position in orbit 76792, 1404 UTC, the EVA was still going on and I heard that Avdeyev asked Afanasyev to shake firmly something which was not co-operating. He also spoke about hot electrical contacts and he asked Afanasyev to salvage a screwdriver. He also was struggling along with a not properly fixed platform.
In the next pass (orb. 76793, 1535 UTC) radio traffic still came via the usual lower frequencies. Avdeyev reported how he secured the good closure of the exit hatch. One by one he closed the locks or latches to be sure that the hatch was closed hermetically. (This hatch is still a main concern for the Russians.) TsUP asked Haignere to report the air pressure in the complex. H. answered that this pressure did not change.
During later communication sessions dense radio traffic revealed that there was a lot of attention for the airtightness in the Module-D, especially between the compartments and the airlock. TsUP ordered Afanasyev to switch on the meter for the equalisation of the pressure in the airlock to electrical control and to close the pressure equalisation valve between the airlock and the PNO (instrument and scientific compartment). TsUP said that an airtightness check had to be done today, but Afansyev proposed to do that tomorrow. Haignere added that this was dangerous and not comfortable. TsUP cancelled the instruction and stated that they accepted Afanasyev's proposal. So there was no need to transfer the air pressure meter to electric control.
Radio-amateurism: As soon as the situation permitted Haignere again went back to his passion: radio-amateurism. He opened with a message to all radio-amateurs: The EVA has been accomplished, the reflector antenna has been deployed splendidly and launched into open space. The experiment with the antenna lead by the Georgian republic was very important and the success was a good moral support for the spacewalkers, who, though tired, were happy and in a good condition.
Last week during the flight of Columbia (STS-93), Haignere told radio-amateurs along this latitude that there had been a radio-amateur contact between Mir and Columbia. He told that he spoke with his colleague Tognini and that the commanders of both space objects had exchanged good wishes, greetings and congratulations. Regretfully I missed that contact myself due to the low inclination of the orbit of Columbia (28.5 degrees).
Almost always in vain, Haignere asked radio-amateurs to practise more discipline and to listen carefully before calling. Sometimes he was upset and left the band.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The cause of the computer failure was a wrong command from TsUP. The crew was not very impressed and apart from the operation to restore the functioning of the gyrodynes, they continued a number of experiments and Haignere remained busy with his radio-amateur passion. TsUP altered the working schedule for the next days, using the interruption in the functioning of the attitude control to put forward the integration of the new control and navigation system (BUPO) in the Propulsion Control System of the complex. To make this integration possible, much of propulsion system had to be switched off, and so this 'failure' was utilised in a positive way.
BUPO: This is the Russian abbreviation for the new control unit. The name is Unit for Control, Docking and Orientation (Blok Upravleniya Prichalivaniya i Orientatsii). As far as I could derive from radio traffic, they concluded this work already on 31.07.99. On 2.08.1999 the crew conducted tests of the new system. That day the gyrodynes were spinning again at full speed.
It always lasts some time to gather the necessary details to know how a new system works. Several news bulletins gave the impression that the BUPO replaced the old central computer TsVM-1. But this computer, and also the SUD (movements control system), which controls the functioning of the gyrodynes, are still operational. BUPO has to secure a safe flight when the station has no crew on board.
According to the modest information at my disposal at this point, BUPO can replace the crew when the attitude control by gyrodynes fails. Thus far the crew used to take over that control by commanding steering rockets and the VDU roll control thruster, thus restoring the attitude and the correct angles of the solar batteries towards the sun. One of the first actions of the crew when the normal attitude control fails, has been the switching off of all energy consuming systems. BUPO should be able to do that when there is no crew on board.
The 'P' is an indication that this system will enable TsUP to control approach and docking operations. It stands for 'mooring' or 'docking' (Prichalivaniye). This might mean that BUPO can replace the crew when during docking operations, the automatic Kurs system fails. In the beginning of the year 2000 such an operation has to be executed. Then the 'tanker' Progress-M43, containing 4 fuel tanks, has to be docked at Mir for the final operation: giving the impulse to put the Mir-complex on a destruction course into the atmosphere. So if the Russians can not find the funds to send an extra crew (eventual Mir's Main expedition nr. 28, by Soyuz-TM30), TsUP might via BUPO secure the docking of the tanker.
Mir-routine: The cosmonauts energetically continue to execute experiments. If you did not know better, you might get the impression that Mir's exploitation would still last for a long time. Haignere does all what is necessary to conclude the Perseus program, he still executes experiments like Alice-2 and Genesis.
A few days ago Avdeyev installed equipment for the execution of the experiment Volna for the study of the efficiency of capillary intake gadgets in fuel tanks. Afanasyev worked on an experiment named Linza. Apart from these technological experiments the normal series were mentioned, giving all kinds of spectrometers and other devices the opportunity to sing their swan song.
But the fact that the crew will leave the space station before long more and more emerges in the radio traffic. The crew already is training in the Chibis suit, always a standard training for crews about to return to earth and they undergo extra medical checks, especially of the cardio-vascular system. Meanwhile they are replacing equipment, for instance a few days ago some accumulator batteries.
During radio-amateur conversations Haignere told that they have to do a lot of work during the last weeks of their mission. One of the main tasks is to prevent that an eventual extra crew will arrive in a chaos.
They will load all waste, especially human waste and garbage, in the Progress-M42 and they will have to prepare all on board systems for the flight of Mir in the unmanned status. He also spoke about the extra exercises they have to do to be ready to meet the earthly gravity conditions.
Communications: During the last weeks the radio traffic is very dense. The crew regularly uses 2 different channels: 143.625 and 130.165 mc. Via one channel they speak with TsUP, via the other channel they exchange Packet Radio traffic or hold a second conversation. The transceiver for radio-amateur traffic is almost always red-hot, especially when Haignere is using it. He continues to express his displeasure about the lack of discipline among radio-amateurs who fail to listen before calling.
If the dense working schedule of the cosmonauts makes this possible, there will be a lot of radio-amateur activities during the last 2 weekends, possibly also with SSTV images.
Eventual extra expedition next year: Optimists are sure that such a mission will take place. If so this will be the 28th Main Expedition to Mir, the crew of which will fly to Mir on the Soyuz-TM30. The members of the present crew are not optimistic: Avdeyev and Haignere are not sure that such a mission is possible. At TsUP there is some hope, but the most used expression there is: 'ne veroyatno' (unlikely).
For Russia another mission is more important. Nowadays 2 crews are training for a flight to the International Space Station in December 1999 to be there when the Service Module (Zvezda) will arrive there.
That crew must be there for the eventual manual docking of Zvezda if the automatic mode fails. The first crew consists of Padalka and Budarin, the stand-in crew of Korzun and Treshchov.
The return flight of the present and probably last crew with the Soyuz-TM29 is scheduled for 28.08.1999. Regretfully this decision is irreversible.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The Soyuz-TM29 will separate from the Mir-complex on 27.08.1999 at 2112 UTC.
The estimated landing time is on 28.08.1999 at 0030 UTC.
(Due to the difference in local times in Russia, the operation will take place on 28.08.99 in that country.) Indications imminent return flight: During radio-communications, the main part of the subjects is related to all that what has to be done to prepare the definitive closure of the hatches between Mir and Soyuz-TM29.
Nevertheless the cosmonauts regularly still mention experiments on which they are working or which have to be concluded.
On 30.07.99 Avdeyev got an answer on a question about the definitive closure of the module Priroda. This is scheduled for 23.08.1999 with the last possible option on 25.08.1999. Avdeyev had to know this for a lot of equipment has to be stowed in that module during the unmanned status of the station. Avdeyev asked TsUP what they should do in case one of the units in Priroda had to be switched back on. TsUP said they had this matter under control.
The crew is very active to prepare their bodies for the gravity conditions after return, by intensive physical exercises and working with the Chibis pressure suit.
On 13.08.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev had a long conversation with ex-cosmonaut and RKK Energiya training chief, Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov, in which they exchanged congratulations for an anniversary.
Aleksandrov had tried to gather a great number of RKK's employees to be present during this conversation, but most of them had left for their dacha's or other nice places, while others attended a meeting at NASA about the ISS. Possibly the anniversary was the 43rd one of RKK Energiya, originally founded as OKB-1 on 14.08.1956. One of the subjects during this conversation was the place where Afanasyev and Avdeyev would be during their rehabilitation period. They will undergo this rehabilitation in different places: Avdeyev in Kislovodsk, Afanasyev at the Black sea beach.
Solar eclipse on 11.08.1999. That day the Mir-station crossed the shadow of the total eclipse 2 times. The first time this was in orbit 77011 (at about 1000 UTC) and in orbit 77012 (the second at about 1145 UTC). Between 1010 and 1021 UTC, when a partial eclipse could be observed over here in the Netherlands, Afanasyev was reporting his observations. Just after AOS (Acquisition of Signal), he told TsUP that was continuing his camera work. While he saw the horizon, he could see the shadow of the eclipse moving over the earth in the direction of that horizon. He met with some problems due to a structure blocking his sight. Sometimes he changed the position of his video camera. Avdeyev added to these reports that he saw Europe under the shadow. Afanasyev went to a window in the Base Block to make better images.
At 1020 UTC Mir started to send the recorded images to earth via a UHF-channel.
Afanasyev and Avdeyev did not see the sun itself during the eclipse through their windows. Haignere had more luck and could see the eclipse itself, as well as the shadow. During the pass in orb. 77012 at 1147 UTC he enthusiastically reported his observations.
Perseids: I did not hear anything about eventual observations by the Mir crew of this yearly meteorite stream.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
On 23.08 the SO, the docking compartment attached to the module Kristall, was conserved and closed. The conservation of the module Priroda had been put back to 25.08.99, which means that thereafter no experiments can be executed with equipment installed in that module.
The experiments Dakon (convection experiment) and Alice-2 (a fluid experiment) have been active until 24.08. Observations with the Lidar Alisa were concluded on 19.08.99 and the gathered data were copied to cassettes for retrieval to earth.
Fortunately on request by CNES the return of the crew had been put back from 23 to 28.08, for there still has a lot of work to be done.
The freighter Progress-M42, docked to the complex, is fully loaded with all what is superfluous. Among them also containers with urine. This urine cannot be used any more to regenerate technical water, for the SRVU, the system for this regeneration, had also to be switched off. The most important part of the activities in this stage is the switching off of all systems which are not needed during the unmanned status. For instance on 24.08 the cosmonauts had to check whether the furnace Krater had been switched off.
In the next months the Progress-M42 will now and then alter the orbit of the Mir complex. This happened also at least 3 times during the past week and this increased the altitude of Mir to approx. 359/353 KM.
After Priroda also the modules Kvant-2 and Kristall will be conserved.
The small air leakage in the module Kvant-2 has not been located thus far and a gradual decrease of the pressure in that module can be expected. I do not know if the module Kristall will be closed. The module Spektr cannot be conserved, for this module is not operational as of 27.06.1997.
Extra air seal checks have to be done on equipment which has valves to outer space. (For instance the Vozdukh CO2 scrubbers, draining CO2 into open space, and the Electrons doing the same with the hydrogen, a by-product of the electrolyse process for the oxygen production.) So there must be some concern about the module Kvant-2. On 25.08 the cosmonauts got orders to report regularly the air pressure inside the P.G.O. (instrument and cargo compartment of the Kvant-2).
Radio traffic reveals that the cosmonauts are working under great pressure. During the disc-preparation of this report there were only 2 days left for all what still has to be done, inclusive items like the checks of the systems of the return vehicle Soyuz-TM29, the execution of a number of physical exercises and medical checks. Now and then I am inclined to presume that the return must be put back some days (if this is operationally possible).
Radio traffic is also dedicated to the selection of what the cosmonauts will have to bring back to earth and which has to be stowed into the descent module (SA) of the ship Soyuz-TM29. It will be pretty tight in there! Press conference: On 21.08.1999 there were 2 press conferences at TsUP.
Main subject was an evaluation of the results of the 27th Main Expedition to Mir. The communications windows were pretty short and so the questions and answers had to be very short. The crew fulfilled all their tasks. Haignere was very pleased with his Perseus program, in which he also worked with earlier installed equipment from CNES as well as from the German DLR, such as the Titus furnace and many devices for geophysical- and ionospheric research.
Commander Afanasyev told that he did not like that Mir would fly unmanned so long. In one of the press conferences also the eventual 28th final Main expedition was mentioned. Thus far this is still unsure and depends on the funding.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
On board the crew of the 27th Main Expedition to Mir. This concluded the last manned period which lasted from 6.09.89. (I neglected the very short unmanned period during redockings of Soyuz-ships) Nearly 3 hours before the crew left the Mir-space station and closed the hatches behind them. With a TV camera, which had been installed in the P.Kh.O. (transition section) on 19.08.1999, remote controlled by TsUP, transmissions were made of the crew entering the Soyuz-TM29 and the closure of the outer hatch by Afanasyev (at 1815 UTC).
The landing at a distance of approx. 80 KM east of Arkalyk took place after 2 autonomous orbits on 28.08.99 at 00.34.54 UTC.
As always during return operations when no geostationary communication satellite is available (Altair-1 and Altair-2 are out of order), there would be no radio traffic within my range if the landing had taken place in time. But nevertheless I was ready to monitor traffic if the Russians would put back the descent until the 2nd or 3rd opportunity.
This happened during the return flights of Soyuz-TM5 with Lyakhov/Makhmond and the Soyuz-TM6 with Titov/Manarov/Chretien. In both cases I got downlink from the ship (and comments from the Mir-crew) on 121.750 mc. So I did what almost everybody could do that night: follow the live events via CNN. CNN got TV images of the crew still on board Mir and boarding the Soyuz-TM29 and de undocking and spring controlled moving away. These images came via relays from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka. There were no live TV images from the descent operation and the landing. Even those who attended the operation at TsUP did not see anything. The Russians had to pay too much and also CNES did not want to meet the demands.
So CNN continued broadcasting irrelevant items and the unavoidable hotels, so I had to tap other sources to be sure that it was not necessary to remain on duty for eventual radio communications due to a delay. As soon as I heard that the landing had taken place in time, I sank down on my bunk. Though I was satisfied that the brave men of Mir 27 had returned to earth in good health, I fell asleep with mixed feelings.
My short night's rest ended precisely at 0624 UTC. Without setting my alarm-clock, my inner alarm woke me up at the beginning of Mir-s pass for my position in orbit 77275. Belief it or not but I stumbled to my communications gear and monitored the radio-amateur frequencies 145.985 and 145.940 mc. Like thousands of radio-amateurs all over the world, I hoped that the Packet Radio installation on board still was operational.
Regretfully this was not so. In fact, I should have known so, during the last radio-amateur sessions there was not a single indication that these transmissions would continue.
TsUP was willing to give permission only if they would have the possibility to switch off the system when needed.
Mir-routine during the last days: The amount of radio-traffic was enormous until and inclusive 26.08.99. The cosmonauts waited with the conservation of the modules Kvant-2 (module-D) and Kristall (module-T) until the evening of 26.08.99. The main part of that day was dedicated to the replacement of equipment (mainly filters of the life support systems) and all kinds of checks, for instance the valves of the gyrodynes. Connections in the Base Block and in the module Kvant-1 (module-E) had to be disconnected, and the Elektron oxygen generator in Kvant-1 was switched off. This all emerged in radio conversations with TsUP from where many specialist fired a lot of instructions or demands at the cosmonauts and so every minute of these working days was overloaded. On 26.08.99 Haignere spent more than 3 hours for the preparation of equipment which he had to bring back to earth. For me it turned out better than expected that the workload did not result in stress (as far as I could hear) or unpleasant incidents. In his contacts with the French consultative group, Haignere now and then used the word 'panique'.
For me the last day of possible radio-traffic, 27.08.99, was an anticlimax. I sharply listened out on all frequencies during windows for my position, but there was no traffic at all on the service channels.
Only a few radio-amateur transmissions, for instance SSTV images, Packet Radio, some phone from Haignere and at last but not least greetings from Avdeyev in English.
Communications during the last pass for my position on 26.08.99: Afanasyev: We connected that cable. TsUP refers to radiogram nr. 9962.
Avdeyev: I am reading this radiogram now. TsUP: we are waiting for telemetry.
Avdeyev: We changed the BMP (Unit for the detection of noxious admixtures) in the Base Block with that one of Module Kristall.
Avdeyev: On your command we will switch on the ZRU (device for loading and unloading of accumulator batteries).
Then Haignere takes over and has a long conversation with his wife Claudie. He says that he is a little bit tired. He hopes that the weather in the landing zone will be good. It has been rainy over there and normally there is only one rainy day a year, he would not be amused if this would be so during the landing. Claudie sets him at ease: there are just some clouds and the temperature is 16 degrees C.
Jean-Pierre says that 16 degrees makes it necessary to order a sweater.
During this conversation Avdeyev breaks in for a while to say hello to Claudie and also we will meet soon! Unmanned status Mir-space station: Regularly I will adjust the predictions and check whether there is telemetry in the 166 and 165 mc bands. And of course I will be alert for an eventual rescue mission. Such a mission will be inevitable if something inside the Mir-complex is going wrong.
In a few days TsUP will switch off the Ts.V.M.-1, the main computer, and stop the gyrodynes. Thus the complex will come in the free drift and the BUPO (Unit for control, docking and orientation) has to take over (or did this already).
Let us keep our fingers crossed! Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202