Mir in space
Credit: RKK Energia
AKA: Mir EO-12;Rodnik (Spring - water spring);Soyuz TM-15 (Avdeyev, Solovyov). Launched: 1992-07-27. Returned: 1993-02-01. Number crew: 2 . Duration: 188.90 days.
Russian astronauts Solovyov and Avdeyev and French astronaut Tognini were inserted into an initial 190 x 200 km orbit inclined 51.6 deg. Later on July 27 they maneuvered to a 223 x 343 km orbit, and on July 28 docked with Mir in its 405 x 410 km orbit. Aleksandr Solovyov and Sergey Avdeyev undocked from the Mir complex aboard Soyuz TM-15 on February 1 and landed the same day in Kazakhstan after six months in space at 03:58 GMT.
Narrative (adapted from D S F Portree's Mir Hardware Heritage, NASA RP-1357, 1995)
Soyuz TM-15 arrived on 29 July. Aboard were the EO-12 crew of Anatoli Solovyov and Sergei Avdeyev, together with Michel Tognini, the third Frenchman to visit a space station. He conducted ten experiments using 300 kg of equipment delivered by Progress-M flights. The EO-11 crew returned to earth together with Tognini aboard Soyuz TM-14 on 9 August, 1992. The EO-12 began work with their major assignment, installation of the VDU thruster unit on the station.
Progress M-14 arrived at the station on 14 August. The modified Progress-M spacecraft docked at the Kvant port. In place of a tanker compartment, it carried a 700-kg VDU thruster unit designed to be installed atop the Sofora girder mounted on Kvant. The unit was designed to improve Mir's attitude control capabilities. Commands from the TsUP automatically unloaded the VDU unit on September 2.
Avdeyev and Solovyov moved the VDU to the work site and prepared the Sofora girder on September 3. EVA duration was 3 hr, 56 min. On September 7 the cosmonauts bent Sofora back on a hinge at one-third of its length to make its top more accessible, and laid a control cable along the girder. They also removed the remnants of the Soviet flag placed on the mast during its assembly in 1991. It had been reduced to shreds by UV degradation and orbital debris and meteoroid impacts. EVA duration was 5 hr, 8 min. On September 11 the cosmonauts attached the VDU unit atop the Sofora girder and hoisted it into position by straightening the girder. The EVA lasted 5 hr, 44 min.
On a September 15 EVA Solovyov and Avdeyev retrieved solar cell and materials samples and moved the Kurs rendezvous antenna on Kristall so it could be used by Soyuz TM-16. The cosmonauts released the 16.5-kg MAK-2 satellite from the Mir base block's experiment airlock on November 20. Its purpose was to study Earth's ionosphere. The derelict 550-kg Cosmos 1508 satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1983, passed within 300 m of Mir on November 8.
On January 26, 1994 Soyuz TM-16 arrived and created a unique Mir configuration when it docked with the lateral APAS-89 docking unit on Kristall. This tested the unit for future operations. EO-13 mission commander Manakov was paying his second visit to Mir. Alexandr Poleshchuk was on his first mission. On January 28 the cosmonauts carried out Rezonans tests on the Mir complex, which at this time weighed more than 90 tons (its heaviest ever) and included seven separately launched spacecraft. The EO-12 crew of Avdeyev and Solovyov return to Earth on February 1. The Soyuz TM-15 descent module lowered to Earth beneath low clouds, touched down, and rolled partway down a hillock. It came to rest 150 m from a frozen marsh.
Mir Expedition EO-12. Russian astronauts Solovyov and Avdeev and French astronaut Tognini were inserted into an initial 190 x 200 km orbit inclined 51.6 deg. Later on July 27 they maneuvered to a 223 x 343 km orbit, and on July 28 docked with Mir in its 405 x 410 km orbit.
Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. Progress M-38 was specially modified to carry the first VDU (Vynosnaya Dvigatel'naya Ustanovka, External Engine Unit) propulsion unit. The VDU was mounted externally on a special structure between the cargo module and the service module, replacing the OKD fuel section present on normal Progress vehicles. The crew spacewalked to extract the VDU from Progress and place it on the end of the Sofora boom extending from the Kvant module. The VDU was used to provide attitude control capability for the Mir station. Docked with Mir on 18 Aug 1992 00:20:48 GMT. Undocked on 21 Oct 1992 16:46:01 GMT. Destroyed in reentry on 21 Oct 1992 23:12:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 2.35 days. Total docked time 64.68 days.
This EVA started on 3.09.92 at 1330 UTC (opening hatch airlock Module-D) and ended at 1749 UTC. This EVA is the 1st one in a series to install the VDU (External Movements Control Motor) in the Sofora girder of Kvant-1. The cosmonauts achieved the goals of this EVA. They worked on the container in which the motor was delivered by the freighter Progress-M14. The cosmonauts will continue this work on 7.09.92. It had been expected that during this EVA the cosmonauts would haul down the Soviet flag still waving in the top of the Sofora girder. They only replaced the flag, but certainly will remove it during one of the next 3 or 4 EVA's.
During the EVA's OM Peter monitored the traffic from the Altair satellite. This traffic will be analysed later.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
After the installation of the VDU (Movements Control Motor) in the Sofora girder the cosmonauts got time to work on other matters. They produced semi-conductor materials in the ovens of the Kristall-module and executed a lot of geophysical observations. They made photo's and spectographic images of the earth surface in a number of CIS-republics. These images will help scientists to get more information about the ecological situation of agricultural areas and water basins. With the Krater-5 oven in the Kristall module they on 23.09.92 continued experiments which had been started by the French cosmonaut Tognini. Among these experiments the Superconconduction. This experiments last 130 days. Under high critical temperatures crystallisation of the materials Barium and Copper.
Movements control of the complex: About the functioning of the VDU (external movements control motor) the cosmonauts did not speak a lot. A spokesman of TsUP declared that this VDU was functioning normally. (This has been denied later on. It was impossible to use the VDU due to software problems.)
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
Disagreements between Russia and the Ukraine about the Black- sea fleet, the Crimea, monetary matters and the former Soviet army on Ukraine's territory for a long time threatened the functioning of the tracking station Yevpatoriya and other radio stations. Half a year ago Yevpatoriya almost had to cease operations due to lack of money. The French government subsidised the station on request of French astronomers who feared that they would lose the input of the satellite Granat, carrying French experiments under control of Yevpatoriya. During recent EVA-s now and then communications between Mir and TsUP were interrupted. As of 21.09.92 no traffic could be heard on 143.625 mc. This traffic came back on 29.09.92. Thus far there has been no telemetry on 166 and 165 mc, so possibly the Russians now use a temporary facility on Russian territory.
The Ukrainian government privatised the tracking station Yevpatoriya and forced the staff to be sworn in. Russian has to pay an enormous amount of money for the continuation of Yevpatoriya's services. Russia is not inclined to do so and is trying to find alternatives. As long as the Ukraine does not receive money for the station there is no money to pay the wages of the staff. On 1.10.92 the staff went on strike. Possibly TsUP is now supported by a temporary station on Russian territory for during the passes in orbits nr. 37878, 37879 and 37880 traffic was relayed during the window of Yevpatoriya. There still has been no Telemetry on the normal channels in the 166 and 165 mc bands. Some officials in Kalingrad near Moscow uttered the suggestion to put back in operation one or more tracking ships to fill up the gap caused by the 'radio silence' of Yevpatoriya.
PROGRESS-M14: This freighter is still attached to the aft (Kvant-1) docking port of the complex. The undocking and decay of Progress-M14 has been planned for 22.10.92. The return capsule will have to make a soft landing while Progress-M14 will burn up.
PROGRESS-M15: Thus far the launch of this freighter was expected to take place on 5.10.92, but this is impossible due to the delayed departure and decay of its predecessor.
VDU (EXTERNAL MOVEMENTS CONTROL MOTOR in Sofora girder):
A spokesman of NPO-Energiya declared that this VDU is perfect in technical respects, but that it has not been used so far. Scientist are computing calculations for the oncoming functioning of the VDU.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. Docked with Mir on 29 Oct 1992 19:05:51 GMT. Undocked on 4 Feb 1993 00:44:53 GMT. After completion of the Znamya and autonomous operation experiments, destroyed in reentry on 7 Feb 1993 06:43:20 GMT. Total free-flight time 5.32 days. Total docked time 97.24 days.
Manned two crew. Mir Expedition EO-13. Transported to the Mir manned orbital station a crew of the thirteenth main expedition comprising the cosmonauts G M Manakov and A F Poleschuk.The Soyuz carried the APAS androgynous docking system instead of the usual probe system.
Aleksandr Solovyov and Sergey Avdeyev undocked from the Mir complex aboard Soyuz TM-15 on February 1 and landed the same day in Kazakhstan after six months in space at 03:47 GMT. Soyuz TM-15's flight was an in-orbit record for a Soyuz spaceship - 188 days 21 h 39 m.