AKA: Mir EO-24;Rodnik. Launched: 1997-08-05. Returned: 1998-02-19. Number crew: 2 . Duration: 197.73 days.
Mir Expedition EO-24. The Soyuz docked manually at 17:02 GMT August 7. Over the next six months the crew undertook seven internal and external spacewalks to repair the crippled space station. Solovyov and Vinogradov together with French astronaut Eyharts (launched aboard Soyuz TM-27) undocked from the forward port on Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19, 1998, fired their deorbit engines at 08:16 GMT and landed in Kazakhstan at 50 deg 11 N, 67 deg 31 E at 09:10 GMT.
On Aug 6, after initial maneuvers, Soyuz TM-26 was in a 241 x 279 km x 51.6 deg orbit vs Mir's 386 x 392 km x 51.6 deg orbit. Progress M-35 undocked from Mir at 11:46 GMT to clear the aft Kvant docking port. The Soyuz docked manually at 17:02 GMT August 7 (the automatic system was capable but the pilot gets a cash bonus for a successful manual docking). Soyuz TM-25 remained at the front docking port.
Following the departure of Soyuz TM-25, Soyuz TM-26 with the crew aboard undocked from the Kvant module at August 15 at 13:29 GMT, and redocked with the forward Mir port at 14:13 GMT. The Progress M-35 cargo ship was to redock with the Mir station at the Kvant port. The first docking attempt was called off on August 17 because wrong instructions were sent to the Progress. Meanwhile, the crew repaired the Elektron oxygen generator. Progress M-35 successfully redocked with Mir at 12:53 GMT on August 18. The Mir computer crashed just before the docking, and the station drifted out of attitude, causing the Progress automatic docking system to shut down; however, commander Solovyov completed the docking by manual remote control. The computer was repaired by August 19.
Solovyov and Vinogradov began their internal spacewalk to repair the breached Spektr module on Aug 22. Vinogradov worked inside the Spektr module while Solovyov helped him from the transfer compartment (perekhodniy otsek), the central node where all the big modules and the Soyuz transport craft are docked. Foale spent the spacewalk in the descent craft of the Soyuz, with the two hatches of the Soyuz habitation module between him and the depressurized transfer node.
Depressurization of the transfer node was begun at 09:59 GMT, but when a leak in Vinogradov's glove was found a repressurization was ordered. He swapped the glove for a spare, following depressurization, the hatch to Spektr was opened at 11:14 GMT. By 13:00 GMT the cables had been connected to the hatch and Vinogradov began unsuccessfully searching for the hull puncture. By 14:00 GMT he was out of the module and work to seal the hatch was underway. Repressurization was completed at 15:03 GMT.
Problems with Mir's primary and backup oxygen systems were quickly fixed on August 25. Power from Spektr and Kristall's solar panels resumed, but problems keeping the panels oriented towards the sun continued.
Solovyov and Foale failed to locate any punctures in Spektr during an otherwise successful spacewalk on September 6. The hatch of the Kvant-2 module was opened at 01:07 GMT and closed at 07:07 GMT. The spacewalkers used the Strela crane to transfer from the Kvant-2 to Spektr. Solovyov cut away insulation to inspect the area around the radiator and solar panel mounting.
The Mir crew moved briefly to the Soyuz transport on September 15 during a 500 m pass by the inert MSTI-2 satellite (a US SDIO satellite which operated between May and September 1994 testing infrared missile launch trackers).
An attempt to undock Progress M-35 from the Kvant module on October 5 failed when a clamp was inadvertently left attaching Progress M-35 to Kvant. After clearing the problem Progress M-35 successfully undocked at 12:03 GMT on October 7.
Solovyov and Vinogradov carried out a 6h38min internal spacewalk on October 20, during which they worked inside the depressurized Mir base block transfer compartment and the damaged Spektr module to connect new cables to the Spektr module, restoring the capability to point the Spektr solar arrays. NASA astronaut David Wolf remained inside the station.
During an EVA on November 3 the Mir crew removed an old solar panel from Kvant. The solar panel was retracted on command, removed from the Kvant module, and stowed on the exterior of the core module. The outer Kvant-2 hatch did not seal correctly after the EVA, and the inner hatch was used to seal the station. The Sputnik-40 1/3-scale model of PS-1 ("Sputnik" ) was hand-launched during the EVA into a 383 x 391 km x 51.6 deg orbit..
Solovyov and Vinogradov carried out another EVA on November 6, with hatch open at 00:12 GMT and close at 06:29 GMT. The Kvant-2 interior compartment was used as the airlock. The Russian MSB-SO solar array, which has been stored on the outside of the SO module since its delivery to the station by Atlantis on mission STS-74 was installed on the Kvant module replacing the elderly MSB-4. The Kvant-2 airlock hatch was thought to be sealed after the EVA, but the ShSO (Airlock special compartment) of Kvant 2 was still leaking. The PNO (Instrument-science compartment), the next room in, continued to be used as the airlock until a new outer hatch seal could be delivered by the next Progress cargo ship.
Progress M-36 undocked from Mir on December 17 at 06:02 GMT and flew out to a range of 700 m. The X-Mir Inspector miniature satellite, built by Daimler-Benz Aerospace, was deployed at 07:35 to take pictures of Mir, but its navigation system failed and it drifted away from the station. Progress M-37, launched on December 20, brought new supplies to the station, including the seal to repair the outer Kvant 2 airlock hatch.
Solovyov and Vinogradov made a 3h 6min spacewalk on January 9 to recover some equipment and begin repairs to the leaking Kvant-2 airlock hatch; they found a bolt on the hatch was not tight, causing a 10-mm gap. Following the repair the hatch was still leaking slightly. Solovyov and Wolf made a 3-hour EVA on January 14 to inspect the station exterior.
Despite problems with his Sokol emergency spacesuit, Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as the US Mir crew member on January 25. Shortly before Endeavour's undocking with Wolf aboard, Soyuz TM-27 was launched carrying a new Mir crew, including French astronaut Leopold Eyharts.
Solovyov and Vinogradov together with Eyharts undocked from the -X port on Mir at 05:52 GMT on Feb 19 aboard Soyuz TM-26. The spacecraft fired its deorbit engines at 08:16 GMT and the craft landed in Kazakhstan at 50 11N, 67 31E at 09:10 GMT.
The perfect launch took place on 5.08.1997 at 15.35.59 UTC. On board the crew for the 24th Main Exp. to Mir, Anatoliy Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov . Call sign: Rodniki, so Rodnik-1 and Rodnik-2. During the first pass in orb. 2 (1838-1841 UTC) very weak signals on beacon- and telephony frequencies. During the pass in orb. 3 (2007-2011 UTC) very good reception on all frequencies. Solovyov could be heard in a conversation with TsUP. He reported a technical anomaly in the BO (life compartment): a hose (or: tube) was not connected to an air purification unit, which caused an increased amount of CO2 in the mini-atmosphere on board. He told TsUP that he had connected that hose immediately and that the system was functioning normally. Again good signals in the window in orb. 4 (2138-2147 UTC) during which Solovyev repeated his report about that hose.
During the passes in the evening of 4.08.1997 the crew reported that they were working on the malfunctioning Elektron oxygen generator in Kvant-1. (The Elektron in Kvant-2 is not operational due to power shortages). During a long communication session via Altair-2 in the morning of 5.08.1997 the crew was still co-ordinating the repair work on the Elektron. After the departure of Progress-M35 for a 10 day lasting autonomous flight lithium perchlorate cartridges have to be used for the production of oxygen. This will be not very convenient during the period in which 5 men are on board (7-14.08.97).
An eventual delay of the Soyuz-TM26 launch due to the problems with the Elektrons has not been taken into consideration.
In MirNEWS.374 I gave an estimated time for the docking of Soyuz-TM26 on 7.08.97 as 1723 UTC. In that report I remarked that this time considerably deviated from the normal routine: dockings a few minutes after LOS of the first pass of both objects for our position. Inquiries in the Ballistic Section of the Keldysh institute of the R.A.N. learned that there had been a misprint in a Russian message about the estimated docking time. The estimated docking time is: 07.08.97 at 1703 UTC, so in accordance with the normal routine.
The supply ship Progress-M35 has to free the docking port (+X-axis) for the arrival of the Soyuz-TM26 and will do this on 6.08.97 at 1144 UTC. The autonomous flight of Progress-M35 will last until 16.08.97. On that day Progress-M35 will dock (in the automatic regime with the system Kurs) at the same docking port after the redocking of Soyuz-TM26 to the forward (-X-axis) the day before. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This transport ship docked at the aft port of Mir on 7.08.1997 at 17.02.08 UTC. During the docking operation communications took place via Altair-2. The approach was in the automatic mode with the system Kurs. When Mir and Soyuz-TM26 came within my VHF-range Solovyov could be heard reporting distances, approach speeds and deviations in course. Everything went perfect until appr. 1700 UTC when a slight upward deviation forced Solovyov to take over manually. The 'Kurs' failure did not get much attention due to the euphoria after the 'successful' docking.
Opening of the hatches:
The hatches swung open during the pass in orb. 65507 at 1832 UTC. Normally this is a smooth and orderly procedure but this time there were some problems with the TV-link. Cheerfully both crews met each other. During the pass in orb. 65508, 2006-2013 UTC, TsUP and Solovyov discussed the conservation of the Soyuz-TM26 and some technical items. The session was concluded by the transfer of radiograms from Earth to Mir by Packet Radio.
Communications during the 2d flight day of Soyuz-TM26:
In all passes good reception on all frequencies. In a conversation with someone on Earth Vinogradov told that he somewhat suffered from space sickness during the first flight day and in the morning of the 2d one, but after eating somewhat substantial he recovered and was now feeling well.
Progress-M35: This supply ship undocked from Mir on 6.08 at 11.46.45 UTC.
Thus far Tsibliyev and Lazutkin did not succeed in repairing the Elektron oxygen generator in Kvant-1. There are some options to solve the problem: 1. With a spare part to be delivered by Atlantis in September, or 2. to try to find a way to deliver power to the Elektron in the now curtailed module Kvant-2. For the time being oxygen has to be generated by the heating of lithium perchlorate cartridges. Not so convenient with 5 men on board.
(as far as known at deadline for this report) : Return of Tsibliyev and Lazutkin with their Soyuz-TM25 on 14.08.1997. (In my opinion a return of the relieved crew as soon as possible due to the oxygen problems would be a logical decision).
The redocking of Soyuz-TM26 with on board Solovyov, Vinogradov and Foale from aft to forward docking port (P.Kh.O.) on 15.08. 1997.
The return and docking in the automatic mode (Kurs) of Progress-M35 at the aft docking port on 16.08.1997. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This ship separated from on 14.08.97 at 08.55.58 UTC and flew away at 09.01.57 UTC.
The return capsule (S.A.) of Soyuz-TM25 made a safe landing on 14.08.97 at 12.17.10 UTC at a distance of appr. 160 KM S.E. of Dzjeskazgan in Kazakhstan. The landing took place later than estimated and CNN did not bring the landing as 'live event'. For a long time TsUP could not give the exact spot where the S.A. came down. The radio traffic in which the farewell ceremony took place, and in which the relieved crew went on board Soyuz-TM25 and closed the hatches took place via the facilities of White Sands and Wallops in the U.S.A. and the tracking stations in the East of Russia.
When Mir and Soyuz-TM25 entered daylight at abt. 1118 UTC communications with TsUP were established via Altair-2 in which Mir relayed traffic from and to Soyuz-TM25 via Altair-2 to TsUP. At abt. 1122 UTC Tsibliyev reported the beginning of the de-orbit burn. He reported continuously the results of the impulses in meters/sec and at 1126 UTC he said that the de-orbit burn had stopped. He went on reporting details of the descent process and at 1145 UTC he announced the separation of the BO (life compartment) and the instrument/motor module from the SA (descent module) in 3 minutes. This took place at 1148 UTC just before the 3 objects entered the dense layers of the atmosphere.
The BO and Instrument/motor block burnt up and the SA came in the plasma wave. Radio contact ceased and contrary to previous return flights did not come back via Altair. The voices of the men on board Mir could be heard. Foale said that he had seen the Soyuz-TM25 disappearing below them. Altair-2 was switched off at 1201 UTC.
Plans for tomorrow (15.08): Redocking of Soyuz-TM26 with on board the 3 crew members of Mir from the aft to the forward docking port. After undocking from Mir Soyuz-TM26 will hover and wait until Mir turned 180 dgs so that the forward (P.Kh.O.) port will be in front of Soyuz-TM26. During this operation lasting from abt. 1322-1410 UTC the crew will carry out an extensive photo- and video observation for damage assessment.
Progress-M35: As far as known at deadline for this report Progress-M35 will redock at Mir's aft docking port on 17.08.97 at abt 1330 UTC. (So not as suggested in previous reports on 16.08.1997).
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Following a mission that seemed to consist of an endless series of collisions, breakdowns, fires, and other emergencies, the EO-23 crew handed over the station to EO-24 and on August 14 entered Soyuz TM-25 landed in Kazakstan at 12:17 UTC, 170 km SE of Dzezkazgan. The Soyuz landing rockets failed to fire on touchdown, giving one of the roughest landings experienced by a returning Mir crew.
The redocking of this 'old' supply ship at the Mir complex did not take place on 17.08. During the first 3 passes of both objects it was obvious that Progress-M35 was continuing her autonomous flight. During the second pass the deputy head of mission control, Viktor Blagov, told the crew about changes in the work schedule for the next 2 days. The IVA would remain on schedule for 20.08.97.
Reason postponement: The data for the approach of Progress-M35 today transmitted by TsUP to the Progress-M35 turned out to be wrong and Progress-M35's OBC shut itself off. At deadline for this report the docking of Progress-M35 at Mir was (still) planned for 18.08 at 1257 UTC.
Soyuz-TM26: The redocking of this transport ship from the aft to the forward docking port took place on 15.08.97 between 13.29.20 and 14.13.04 UTC. At 1327 UTC, so just before separation, radio traffic from Soyuz-TM26 via Altair-2 could be heard. The safety clamps of the docking mechanism had been loosened and the program was proceeding according to plan. At 13.29.20 UTC Solovyov reported the separation and the fact that Soyuz-TM26 was slowly moving away from Mir. S. steered Soyuz-TM26 in the manual mode to be able to adjust the attitude of the ship in such a way that Vinogradov and Foale could make good images of the 'damage areas'.
At 13.29.51 UTC Altair-2 transmitted an image of the whole complex seen by a camera of the ship. At 13.35.59 UTC S. reported the proceedings of the flight. He asked Foale whether he already was doing his photo- and video work and asked him for instructions to adjust the ship's attitude for the best images. Communications via Altair-2 ceased at 13.42.58 UTC, but a few minutes later S. could be heard via 121.750 mc (1401-1409 UTC). 4 minutes later S. accomplished a perfect docking at the forward (P.Kh.O. - transition section) port of the complex.
Back on board Mir S. told TsUP that the images they had made were very good and certainly useful for analyses. In a conversation with Earth Foale told that they intended to transmit these images to TsUP on 18.08 and he was sure that TV stations all over the world would retransmit these. (The TV shots which already had been shown by TV stations came from short direct links with Russian tracking stations.)
Elektron: Already on the day of the return of the relieved crew Vinogradov succeeded in restoring the Elektron oxygen generator in Kvant-1. It was very difficult to reach the spot where he had to clean Elektron. A white-brown jelly-like substance had stopped up a pipe inside Elektron and had to be cleaned. After purging this pipe he was able to restart Elektron and after 1 orbit Solovyov reported that Elektron was working normally. As far as could be derived from radio traffic Elektron still does thus far.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
In the morning of Monday 18.08 Mir transmitted to Earth video films and images made during the redocking of Soyuz-TM26 on 15.08. These transmissions took place during a Mir-Altair-2 window between 0542-0628 UTC. At 0601 UTC the crew stopped transmitting images and switched over to the co-ordination of IVA preparations with TsUP. During these activities the IVA was still scheduled for 20.08. This day Progress-M35 returned to the complex and docked at the aft docking port at 12.52.47 UTC. 10 Seconds later both objects disappeared behind the eastern horizon.
Radio traffic during the beginning of the final phase of the docking operation went via Altair-2. Progress-M35 was at a distance of 800 M from Mir and the approach speed was 11.31 cm/sec. The crew of Mir observed the approaching supply-ship on a display of the LIV camera. A few minutes before the objects came in my range Altair-2 had been switched off and at 1246 UTC traffic went on via 143.625mc. S. reported distances and approach speeds. At 125045 UTC the distance was 12 M. At a distance of appr. 4 M. at 125156 UTC Kurs did not work. (Later on it turned out that Kurs had switched itself off at a distance of 20 M due to an irregularity in the attitude of Mir).
After the docking of Progress-M35 I did not get time to relax for Geoff Perry told me that TsUP just had informed the press about a failure of the main OBC of Mir, the Ts.V.M.-1. Very often such failures happened before and it always causes a breakdown of the SUD (attitude control). The SUD is responsible for the good functioning of the gyrodynes and consequently these gyroscopes cry off. Commander Solovyov experienced a Ts.V.M.-1 failure in 1995 when he and Budarin made an autonomous flight with Soyuz-TM21 during the departure of Atlantis from Mir. S. immediately docked his ship, went aboard Mir and restored the Ts.V.M.-1.
During all available passes in the evening Mir and TsUP discussed the problems. A specialist on Earth uttered the possibility that there was something wrong with the Ts.M.O. (central exchange module), an interface of the Ts.V.M.-1. He told the crew how to find that module and he gave them instructions for the repair. Foale told one of his countrymen in Moscow about his experiences during the final approach of Progress-M35. Through the viewer of his video camera he saw the Progress-M35 coming in very fast and he realised that something was wrong. He said: oh, no not again.. At that moment Progress-M35 slowed down and stopped and Solovyov took over manually.
Foale emphasised that Progress-M35's computer had switched off Kurs due to divergence in the attitude of Mir. This was for Solovyov the signal to switch over to manual control. S. performed a perfect docking: in fact the Kurs system as well as the TORU remote control worked well. Situation in the evening of 19.08.97: The crew used the Soyuz-TM26 for the stabilisation of Mir's attitude and in the course of 19.08 the solar panels delivered twice as much energy as they did on 18.08. Meanwhile the Ts.V.M.-1 has been repaired and was ready for tests. At this point it was not known whether attitude control of the complex was provided by gyrodynes. .
The crew resumed preparations for the IVA now planned for Friday 22.08.97 or Saturday 23.08.97. ECG's of the 'spacewalkers' have been transmitted to Earth and Solovyov as well as Vinogradov had already put on their spacesuits and checked the communication facilities and the electrical contacts of these suits.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Internal Spacewalk (IVA) accomplished on 22.08.97 from 1114-1430 UTC. Some minor technical irregularities caused a delay of more than 2 hours. The crew worked according to a checklist (cyclogram). This checklist contained hundreds of items. The activities according to this checklist continued when the Mir was out of range of tracking stations or the geostationary Altair-2. This time Altair-2 was in use for phone conversations only. Altair-2 was active long before the IVA began, for instance during orbit 65734 from 0640-0732 UTC. The crew donned their spacesuits and Foale went on board Soyuz-TM26.
According to plan the preparations for the IVA had to be concluded and the hatch to Spektr had to be opened during the window in orb. 65735, 0826-0910 UTC. A valve (KVD) between the P.Kh.O. and one of the modules (possibly module-T) could not be closed which caused a delay of about 1 hour.
In orbit 65736 (0958-1043 UTC) all went well and at 1015 UTC the pressure in P.Kh.O. (serving as airlock for this IVA) was 50 mm. At that moment the pressure in the space suit of Vinogradov decreased due to a leak in his left glove. The crew immediately repressurised the P.Kh.O. They did this before the end of the window and Vinogradov could put on a spare glove. At 1114 UTC when the Mir was out of range the hatch to Spektr had been opened.
Orbit 65737, 1135-1216 UTC.:
IVA going on. All went well. Solovyov had joined Vinogradov inside the module. Vinogradov had already connected cables at the connectors of the new hatch and except for a single cable he did not met problems. During this window and the following one (orb. 65738/39, 1310-1400 UTC) V. and S. inspected the interior of Spektr and retrieved a lot of thus far not specified items from there. During these activities they consulted Foale. Vinogradov reported that he saw ventilators and pumps which were still working. He and S. did not find traces of exploded monitors or test-tubes. They did not succeed in finding places where the hull of Spektr had been penetrated. At last V. and S. left the Spektr to prepare the closure of the hatch. Foale , keeping a log book, reported that the hatch had been closed at 1430 UTC.
After repressurising the P.Kh.O. in orb. 65740 (1448-1528 UTC), Foale joined his colleagues over there. In a short statement he expressed his admiration for the achievements of his crew mates and those on Earth who had been working on this operation. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Vinogradov worked hard on the deployment of cables from the Spektr hatch to other modules and gradually he succeeded in restoring a part of the power supply for the modules Kvant-2 and Kristall. The 3 undamaged solar panels of Spektr delivered power, but rotation to achieve maximum solar illumination is not yet possible. Solovyov struggled along to keep Elektron in Kvant-1 operational and he also used power for the restoration of the Elektron in Kvant-2. On 25.08 Elektron in Kvant-1 shut itself off and the TGK (the solid fuel oxygen generator) did not work due to a defective firing pin. Before the outbreak of the usual press panic the cosmonauts had already repaired the TGK and Elektron in Kvant-1. The power supply is partly restored in Kvant-2 and Kristall: the lights are burning, the heating functions again and the drying process is going on.
Solovyov and Foale were convinced that they would get green light for the EVA on 6.09 and they started the preparations. Several times they donned their Orlan-M suits, checked all systems and took a stock of all the equipment needed for the EVA. Foale saw a film of his EVA training with Budarin in TsPK. He and S. also reviewed the so called 'cyclogram' of the EVA. The training of Foale during which Solovyov was instructor served also as a test to determine whether Foale will be able to do the EVA or not.
The Altair-2 is regularly in use for communications between Mir and TsUP. They use this satellite for phone as well as for TV. On 1, 2 and 3.09 they showed images of their training, also with their space suits on, but also now and then video films of the interior and the outer surface of the complex. If on 4.09.1997 a positive decision will be taken the EVA will be made on 6.09.97. Opening of the hatch: 0055 UTC; planned duration 5 hrs 40 mins. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The EVA began on 6.09 at 0107 UTC (hatch open) and ended at 0707 UTC (hatch closed). Everything went well. Directed by the old hand Solovyov (this was his 10th EVA!) Foale did all what he was supposed to do. His main job was the operation of the Strela , the crane to transport Solovyov to Spektr. Regularly instructed by Solovyov he did this in a perfect way. Vinogradov observed the 'spacewalkers' from inside Mir, helped them with advice and made images using video- and other camera's. After 0230 UTC the Russians used every 'window' of Altair-2, but mainly for phone only. Towards the end of the first window there was a short video transmission in which images made by Vinogradov could be monitored. The inspection of the outer surface of Spektr lasted longer than planned.
Solovyov reported about the damages suffered by Spektr. One solar panel and some radiators were severely damaged. Support struts were broken or buckled. Solovyov did not find holes or punctures. The planned installation of a cap for the outlet valve for a Vozdukh CO2 scrubber in the Base Block has been put back until another EVA.
During the EVA everybody was in a good mood. Although Solovyov had a difficult task to perform , even now and then his gasping could be heard, he was fully in control of the situation. Before entering the air-lock Foale had dismantled an American radiation dosimeter for retrieval.
At abt. 0702 UTC both 'spacewalkers' entered the air-lock and at 0704 UTC Foale got orders to close the hatch. Initially the hatch could not be closed, but after using some extra effort Foale could report at 0707 UTC that he had succeeded. Solovyov confirmed this after seeing an indicator showing the sign 'hatch closed'.
This time for the Russians MOLODTSY and for Foale: WELL DONE.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This old supply-ship has been keeping watch at the aft (Kvant-1) docking port as of 18.08, the day of the redocking. Due to the well-known priorities the crew has not paid any attention to this ship until 8.09.97. One of the first tasks of the this day was the opening of the hatch and the inspection of Progress-M35's interior. The main function of the Progress-M35 was the protection of the docking mechanism of Kvant-1 against the sun. The freighter has still room in which garbage and other no longer needed material can be stowed. During the first pass for our position in orb. 65998 (0522 UTC) preparations for the opening of the hatch were going on. The crew got permission to open the hatch after the air seal checks. During the next pass in orb. 65999 ( the Russians consider this orbit to be number 66000) the hatch had already been opened but Solovyov had set this ajar for the smell which came out of the Progress-M35 was far from a 'kurort smell'. The crew however had to cease all activities with the Progress-M35 due to other concerns.
Main Computer failure:
In the pass in orb. 65999 TsUP wants to discuss the air seal check with Vinogradov. V. interrupts TsUP with the statement that a few minutes ago (exactly 0700 UTC) the Ts.V.M.-1 had shut itself down. After this report followed the usual chain reaction: the SUD (system for movements- or attitude control) stopped and Foale reported that this was also the case with the SUD in Module-D (Kvant-2). Systems like SRV-U (regeneration of water from urine) and Elektron had to be switched off. TsUP gave orders to burn 3 lithium perchlorate cartridges for oxygen generation. (Solovyov stated repeatedly that the delivery of a new supply of those cartridges during mission STS-86 is badly needed.) Foale reported that the angle of the solar panels to the sun was unfavourable, but that the complex though inclining a little bit on one side, was stable. In passing TsUP stated that they have a jubilee: the 66000th orbit of Mir's Base Block. This statement did not evoke joyful reactions or congratulations.
In spite of the complicated situation on board there was some excitement: the 'scapegoats of the space era' ,Tsibliyev and Lazutkin, visited TsUP and had a short conversation with their colleagues in space. Foale, the crewman with a great sense of humour, told Tsibliyev that his 'darling' the SUD, again chucked the thing. After a short conversation with these 2 poor guys on earth about the fact that they would depart for a vacation, the crew set back to work.
About the computer:
The crew restarted the computer, but failed to find the cause of the failure. So they switched the computer off. A specialist told Vinogradov that there must be a spare Ts.M.O. on board which eventually could be used to replace the present Ts.M.O. (Central Module for Data exchange). The failure of the Ts.V.M.-1 during the redocking operation of the Progress-M35 had probably been caused by a defective Ts.M.O. In the course of the day it was obvious that the crew had everything under control and that the repair of the computer was successfully proceeding. During the night Solovyov was on duty to keep his eye on the situation and to assist TsUP during the reloading of the repaired computer. In the morning of 9.09 Solovyov was still on duty during the first pass over here in orbit 66013, 0427 UTC.
Depending on the state of the SEP (Power supply system) they would power up the rest of the gyrodyne's this day. During the next pass Vinogradov was on duty and Solovyov tried to get some rest in his sleeping bag. Already 6 gyrodyne's were spinning, the Elektron had been switched on, lights were burning and ventilators were buzzing again. Vinogradov reported about the problems he had met while powering up the computer. He had met the same problems like Lazutkin a few weeks ago.
At the beginning of the next day (10.09) it was obvious that the situation had been stabilising gradually. All available gyrodyne's were functioning and the crew could eventually restart experiments. The main activity consisted of the reanimation of the Module Priroda. The interior of this module will be dried with hot air. To blow this hot air into the module air-hoses are used.
Next spacewalk (EVA):
After the arrival of Progress-M36 in the beginning of October.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Drying out of this module lasted longer than expected. In the evening of 11.09 Vinogradov collected 8 litres of condense water.
This module is dry. This is not the case with the SO (docking compartment) attached at Kristall. The crew supposed that they have to dry out this SO in the same way as they do with Priroda.
On 14.09 TsUP asks Vinogradov whether the crew already used condensation for drinking water. Analyses of water samples delivered on earth on 14.08 should justify the potable use of water from condensation. Vinogradov said that they did not thus far, but that they have used this water for the refilling of the Elektron.
On 14.09 at 1028 UTC the crew got orders to switch off the Ts.V.M.-1 (Main OBC). Telemetry indicated that 2 of the 3 channels (possibly interfaces) of that computer produced incorrect data. Due to the better charged accumulators this time the usual 'chain-reaction' was not as abrupt as during Ts.V.M.-1 failures in the past. Nevertheless the SUD, the attitude control, switched itself off and the gyrodynes slowed down and stopped. The Elektron, which consumes 1 kW was switched off. The complex came in the so called 'free drift'.
When on 15.09 the station passed over here for the 3d time in orb. 66107 (0509 UTC) the cosmonauts had switched on the Ts.V.M.-1 as well as the SUD. This was only for a short period. Later on both systems were 'off'. The cosmonauts got permission to dismantle the computer and to replace some parts and/or accessories. At TsUP considerations were going on about the replacement of this computer by a reserve which has been in stock for a long time if the repairs might fail. At last the decision was taken to have the whole computer replaced and so the crew did. In the evening the cosmonauts rebooted the 'new' computer. In the night from 15 to 16.09 Solovyov was on duty while experts at TsUP loaded data in the computer. As soon as the computer was operational the attitude of the complex could be stabilised.
On 16.09 at 02.15.03 UTC the orientation was restored in such a manner that recharging of the accumulators could begin. Radio traffic revealed that the situation was normalising. A number of systems, among which the Elektron, remained off. For oxygen production the cosmonauts continued to use 'disks' (lithium perchlorate cartridges). The pressure of Mir's atmosphere was 618 mm mercury.
More computer news:
Progress-M36 has to deliver a brand-new computer in October this year.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 22.09 at 0123 UTC the crew was waked up by the alarm signal: Check the SUD (attitude control). When they did they saw that the Ts.V.M.-1, the main computer had switched itself off. Solovyov reported this to TsUP during the pass over here in orbit 66214, 0130-0140 UTC. The first system to be switched was again the oxygen generator Elektron.
During the pass in orb. 66215, 0305-0316 UTC, S. reported that initially the attitude of the complex was not so good. The complex is flying the so called free drift. The supply from the solar panels decreased to a level of 200 Amperes.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Atlantis was launched on a mission to the Russian Mir space station. The TI rendevous terminal initiation burn was carried out at 17:32 GMT on September 27, and Atlantis docked with the SO (Docking Module) on the Mir complex at 19:58 GMT. The crew exchange was completed on September 28, with David Wolf replacing Michael Foale on the Mir crew. On October 1 cosmonaut Titov and astronaut Parazynski conducted a spacewalk from the Shuttle payload bay while Atlantis was docked to Mir. They retrieved four MEEP (Mir Environmental Effects Payload ) exposure packages from Mir's SO module and installed the Spektr solar array cap. The MEEP experiments had been attached to the Docking Module by astronauts Linda Godwin and Rich Clifford during Shuttle mission STS-76 in March 1996. In addition to retrieving the MEEP, Parazynski and Titov were to continue an evaluation of the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER), a small jet-backpack designed for use as a type of life jacket during station assembly.
Atlantis undocked from Mir at 17:28 GMT on October 3 and conducted a flyaround focused on the damaged Spektr Module to determine the location of the puncture in its hull. The Mir crew pumped air into the Spektr Module using a pressure regulator valve, and the Shuttle crew observed evidence that, as expected, the leak seemed to be located at the base of the damaged solar panel. Final separation of Atlantis from Mir took place around 20:28 GMT. After two landing attempts were waved off on October 5 due to heavy cloud cover, the crew fired the engines to deorbit at 20:47 GMT on October 6 and landed at Kennedy Space Center at 21:55.
Compared to computer failures in the past the crew was able to restore the situation very quickly. In the night from 22 to 23.09 the crew successfully rebooted the same computer which they had replaced last week. The computer which failed on 22.09 had been stored for a long period in a cold and wet module.
The following day the crew restarted a number of gyrodynes. Another failure they had to cope with was a malfunctioning ventilator of the Vozdukh, the CO2 filter. The replacement of this ventilator was easy, but the crew lost much time in finding a spare. The crew changed their sleep schedule to prepare for the arrival of Atlantis and for the period in which Atlantis will be attached to Mir. To be sure that the computer will remain operational the crew used an air duct for cooling. The gyrodynes functioned normally on 24.09 and so did the Vozdukh. During a direct TV-session in the early morning of 25.09 Foale commented images from the interior of the Base Block and explained the problems with the computer. He also showed some video-recordings of his EVA on 6.09.
Launch of Atlantis for mission STS-86:
On 26.09 at 0234 UTC Atlantis was launched while Mir flew over Europa and communicated with TsUP. The crew was listening to a direct report of the launch. No reaction could be monitored for Mir disappeared over the horizon.
Exactly 19 minutes after the launch (0253-0300 UTC) Atlantis was in our range and communicated with Houston via a tracking station in Spain. Wetherbee reported a minor failure which he should ignore. So he did with some other minor problems. He assured Houston to keep an eye on those matters.
In the course of 27.09 one of the channels of the computer behaved in a strange way. This lasted only a few milliseconds. A long time before the rendezvous Atlantis and Mir were in range of each other enabling both crews were to communicate via direct VHF-channels. Regretfully this all took place out of our range. At abt. 1900 UTC Atlantis reached a point at 200 Metes below Mir. From there by the use of the R-bar (or radial vector) approach she gently drifted to Mir with only a few little corrections with steering rockets by Wetherbee. After altering his approach due to a minor deviation of the attitude of the Mir-complex he flawlessly docked Atlantis at Mir. The Russians reported this success with the words 'kasaniye and zakhvat' (touch and capture). After a few minutes followed the hard mate and the airtight checks. The equalisation gave some problems: Foale felt pain is his ears and in Spacehab an alarm indicated that the equalisation was proceeding too quickly.
For me it was a pleasure to hear Titov again from Mir. Almost 9 years ago he left Mir after being in space for 366 days. (He then returned to earth together with Jean Loup Chretien, who had been in Mir for almost a month.)
On the first full day of the Atlantis/Mir link-up Wolf replaced Foale as a member of the Mir crew, when Wolf's seat liner for his seat in the Soyuz-TM26 had been installed in this ' ferry- and rescue vehicle'. Wolf will use the Module-D as his working- and living quarters. He will sleep in the airlock of that module.
Radio traffic Mir:
During the Atlantis/Mir link-up Mir will use the communications facilities of the Shuttle as well as the normal Mir frequencies. The Shuttle is also equipped with the 130.165 mc, the so called VHF-1. On board of the Shuttle this channel is AB-2. In the night from 28 to 29.09 Mir communicated with TsUP Moscow on 143.625 mc. During this traffic TsUP reported that the Shuttle was flying in 'free drift'. This took place in the framework of an attitude control experiment. During the next pass for our position at abt. 2200 UTC the Shuttle was in control of the attitude again.
This EVA will be made by Parazynski and Titov and is scheduled for 1.10 between 1844-2334 UTC (date and timeline not yet fully confirmed). The astronauts will retrieve a container with the MEEP experiment and 'park' a cap which might be necessary for the repair of Spektr's hull. In fact this will be an American EVA and the astronauts will enter open space through the airlock of the Shuttle. During the windows in which Atlantis/Mir is in range it might be worthwhile to monitor Shuttle's EVA frequency 279.000 mc (mode AM-Wide).
Installation of the new computer:
Possibly this computer will be installed during the Atlantis/Mir link-up. A final decision still has to be taken. If so this will be done after the EVA. If circumstances demand this the link-up of Atlantis and Mir can be extended by 24 hours.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The communications to and from the Mir during the link-up period of Atlantis and Mir demonstrated what we can expect when of the International Space station the Russian and American segments will be operational. For matters regarding the whole complex the American side will take care for the communications and traffic between the Russian segment and TsUP-M will only concern Russian matters (experiments, maintenance, advice, etc.) The lion's share of the communications went via Atlantis. During windows in which the Mir was able to communicate via Russian tracking facilities they only handled Russian matters. The communications between Mir and Atlantis took place via an intercom system. Sometimes Atlantis also took care of the Packet Radio traffic for Mir. During the link-up Mir seldom used the Altair-2 facility. Images of the approach of Atlantis and the EVA of Parazynski and Titov made from inside Mir were directly transmitted to earth via Russian tracking stations on UHF frequencies. Sometimes the comments on those images went via the VHF channel. On 28.09 Altair-2 was in use for the relay of video-recordings.
This freighter blasted off from Baykonur on 5.10.1997 at 15.08.57 UTC. All went well. The Progress-M36 will deliver the normal cargo: water, food, fuel, experiments and a spare computer. Among the repair material is a special glue ('germetik') to be used during the repair of the Spektr. Progress-M36 is expected to dock at Mir's aft docking port (Kvant-1 +X axis) on 7.10 at 1642 UTC.
On 5.10 during the 3d orbit (1944-1946 UTC) Telemetry was heard in the 165 and 166 mc bands. During the 4th orbit (2114-2119 UTC) the signals in the 165 and 166 mc were very strong. The transmitter on 922.755mc was active during that pass. TCA was at 21.15.54 UTC
This old freighter is no longer needed and will separate from Mir on 6.10 at 1124 UTC for a short autonomous flight and decay in the atmosphere over a designated area in the Pacific East of New Zealand at 1424 UTC.
A small copy of Sputnik-1 will also be delivered by Progress-M36. During the next EVA of Solovyov and Vinogradov on 16.10.1997 this Sputnik will be 'launched' manually. This satellite will send 'bleeps' on a frequency in the 2 Meter amateur band to recall the launch of the first artificial earth satellite on 4.10.1957.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The undocking of this freighter failed on 6.10 at 1124 UTC. Cause was a human error: the crew had forgotten to remove a clamp from the docking mechanism (the Russian word is 'styazhka', a clamp or spanner to tighten the docking). The Russians decided to postpone the undocking until 7.10. On 7.10.1997 at 12.03.47 UTC Progress-M35 separated from Mir and after a short period in which Progress-M35 hovered at a distance of 10 Meters Progress-M35 moved away for a short autonomous flight. The decay in the atmosphere over a designated area in the Pacific East of New Zealand will take place at 1734 UTC.
The docking of this freighter at Mir has been put back until 8.10.1997 at 1713 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 8.10 at 17.07.40 UTC, so 7 minutes earlier than planned, this freighter docked at Mir's aft docking port (+X axis). Approach and docking took place in the automatic mode by the system Kurs. Solovyov was ready to take over manually with TORU in case of a Kurs failure. During the operation the crew stayed in the Base Block. The opening of the hatches was put back until 9.10 at 0830 UTC.
For a while an external EVA was scheduled for 16.10, but this plan was cancelled. The first EVA (in fact an IVA) will take place inside the module Spektr and will be made on 20.10 at 0900 UTC. Depending on the results of that IVA the Russians will determine date and working method for the following EVA. During that EVA the cosmonauts will 'jettison' the miniature Sputnik, recently delivered by Progress-M36.
The Packet radio on 145.985 mc is very active and now and then this transmitter is used for phone. David Wolf, also using the call R0Mir, already has a liking for these activities.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The opening of the hatches took place on 9.10 at abt 0830 UTC. Thus far the crew did not spend much time for the unloading of the ship. Among the normal cargo Progress-M36 delivered the spare SUD (attitude control) computer, the mini-sputnik-1 and the German/Russian satellite Inspector. On 12.10 during a long TV-session via Altair-2 with relatives the crew showed the little Sputnik.
The crew replaced some accumulators in the Base Block and the Module-D (Kvant-2) and rearranged other batteries to ensure a better charging. Now and then the crew has to collect condensation water. Vinogradov reported that the module Priroda is dry.
The next spacewalk (EVA, so this time an IVA) will be made inside the module Spektr. This is the 3d one for this Mir-crew (the 3d for Solovyov) the 2d for Vinogradov. The IVA is on schedule for 20.10 from 0855 UTC and will last about 5 hrs 30 mins. The preparations for this IVA began after the arrival of Progress-M36 and intensified from 13.10.97. The crew will have to replace an electronic unit in the Spektr. This unit has to control the servomotors to aim the solar panels. The unit in the Spektr did not survive the vacuum in that module and will be replaced by the same device still installed in the module Kristall. On 13 and 14.10 the cosmonauts worked on the spacesuits (this time again the Orlan-DMA). They connected tanks, devices, a.s.o. and checked the airtightness. On 14.10 the crew continued the preparations for the work to be done. On 15.10 they underwent medical tests.
The 4th EVA Mir-crew:
This external spacewalk is tentatively scheduled for 3.11.97. During this EVA they will have to remove the old solar panel on the module E (Kvant-1). The new Russian solar panel which is still stored at the outer surface of the SO (docking compartment) will be installed during an EVA in the future.
Minor technical problems:
Now and then minor technical problems emerge: On 10.10 a minor repair of the Elektron and the BKV (a.c.) and in the evening TsUP derives from Telemetry that the pressure in a KOB (heating loop) increased. On 12.10 they had to economise electrical energy and to switch off some systems. On 14.10 a ventilator of the Vozdukh CO-2 scrubber failed and had to be switched off. During the next orbit the Vozdukh worked well.
David is very busy with his experiments. He even sometimes had no time for lunch. Like his predecessor Foale he also handles the Packet Radio traffic on the service channel. In a conversation with relatives (possibly his parents and grandmother) he said that all was well, but that he was yearning for a pizza and a beer. Now and then David can be heard during radio-amateur traffic on 145.985 mc.
This little satellite (3 KG) will be jettisoned during the first EVA, so possibly on 3.11.97. The transmissions can be heard on 145.800 mc. The output will be 0.2 Watt. The antenna polarisation is circular, but as there is no attitude control the received signal may have clockwise or counter clockwise polarisation. The modulation will be FM and the audio tone about. 1.3 kc varying with the temperature. The endurance of the power supply batteries will be about 30 days.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This rehearsal lasted some hours. David Wolf stayed in the descent module of the Soyuz-TM26 ship from where he now and then communicated with TsUP or his working crew mates. Solovyov and Vinogradov tried to train for the IVA as realistically as possible. The original plan to replace the steering interface for the solar panels from the Kristall to the Spektr module had been abandoned: installing this device with clumsy spacesuit gloves is a 'mission impossible'. So the only way to insert the Kristall interface in the circuitry for the servomotors of the solar panels on Spektr was to deploy cables from the connection for these motors to the interface in Kristall. During the IVA Vinogradov has to connect 3 cables between the servomotors and the inside of the vacuum plate.
During the IVA the docking device of this freighter had to be depressurised. On Saturday, 18.10 the crew could not open a valve for this depress. Solovyov compared this with an equal experience he had during his short stay in Mir in June 1988, when Vladimir Titov was the commander. Probably the failure was caused by a failing switch. The crew resolved the problem on 19.10.
IVA on 20.10:
Opening of the hatch 45 minutes later than planned at 0940 UTC. The delay was caused by the fact that it lasted longer to put on the Orlan-DMA spacesuits and a valve to one of the modules which failed to close. When the hatch was opened Mir was still out of range of the Altair-2 Comm. Sat . Vinogradov was the first to enter the Spektr module, followed by Solovyov who supported him and gave him instructions about his movements and what he had to do. The cosmonauts were surprised by the chaos they found inside Spektr. A lot of goods was floating around: 7 bags with experiments and personal belongings of Foale, a home trainer (bicycle), some covers or lids, one of them belonging to the refrigerator, loose panels, the docking device of the Spektr and a lot of dangling cables. Vinogradov had to be very careful not to get entangled in cables or structures.
Solovyov told Vinogradov what he saw and instructed him how to restore order and where to stow away and fasten the goods. During the IVA David Wolf stayed in one of the seats of the Descent Module of Soyuz-TM26. He made images of the earth, for instance Africa, and checked the life systems of 'his ship': temperature, pressure and quality of the atmosphere over there, whether it was necessary or not to add oxygen, a.s.o. He mostly communicated with TsUP. Sometimes the cosmonauts spoke with him, saying 'Hello First Mate' (shturman).
At last the cosmonauts began to execute their main task: connecting 3 cables between the servo motors of the solar panels with contacts on the vacuum plate between Spektr and the P.Kh.O. (transition section). It was very difficult but after consuming a lot of time Vinogradov managed to connect all three of them.
Enormous difficulties they met during the last stage of the work: connecting the 3 cables with the contacts of the vacuum plate. The stiff, unwilling cables had to be attached firmly to those contacts. To make this possible Vinogradov used a spanner, manufactured for this operation and recently delivered to the station. The cables regularly popped out. Finally Vinogradov attached and fastened 2 of the 3 cables, but the 3d one was so recalcitrant that after struggling with it for almost 90 minutes Vinogradov did not succeed. He tried to this with the spanner and even took a long screwdriver to try to reach the bolt and fasten this. The length of the spanner was too short to use while holding it with a spacesuit glove. Later on Solovyov reported a second imperfection of this spanner: the coating at the inside of the head was too smooth to get a firm grip on the bolt.
At 1524 UTC TsUP told Solovyov that in 15 minutes the limit of 6 hours (the guaranteed endurance of the spacesuits) would be reached. If the cosmonauts preferred to continue the 'struggle' they could do this using the 'emergency oxygen supply'. Their eagerness to accomplish the full task was so strong that they decided to go on. After 38 minutes they returned to the transition section and closed the hatch, leaving the 3d cable dangling (and possibly laughing) behind.
During those 38 minutes there was no communication between Mir and TsUP and for a long time TsUP did not know what had happened and the time of the closure of the hatch. They reported that this took place at 618 UTC. Great relief when during the pass in orbit 66661 (1642 UTC) the cosmonauts could be heard again. They almost could not speak and breathed heavily. They were very disappointed about that 3d cable. Nevertheless TsUP heartily congratulated them with the partial success. These congratulations more or less gilded the pill.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 24.10.97 the cables from the vacuum plate to the solar panel interface in the Kristall module had been deployed and after some tests 2 of the 3 still living panels on the Spektr could be turned to the most effective angle towards the sun. Already on 25.10 Solovyov got the first series of instructions for the next 2 spacewalks, EVA's this time, on 3 and 6.11.97. From this day on practically all activities were related to those operations.
On 26.10 Solovyov reported enormous forest fires in the area of Barnaul (Siberia). The crew had discovered the fire already the day before, but now these fires had considerably increased. Along a front of 100 KM the fire moved to the North-West. Solovyov wondered why the media did not give any information about these fires. As of Monday, 27.10, the preparations for the 1st EVA on 3.11.97 began. The crew got comprehensive instructions, i.e. a video-simulation of the operation and a huge amount of documentation.
During the following days they collected and took stock off the equipment needed for the spacewalk and they replaced goods from the airlock and the scientific- and instrument compartment of the Kvant-2 module to other locations in the complex. The crew checked the 2 Orlan M suits and the communication systems during the EVA. On Friday, 31.10, these preparations were concluded during a long communications session via Altair-2 in which TsUP transmitted video images of the areas in which the cosmonauts have to work during the EVA. These areas cannot be fully seen via the portholes of the complex.
During this video session the cosmonauts asked a lot of questions and got additional instructions. The crew also downlinked images of one of the solar panels which did not regularly turn. It sometimes stopped and went on stuttering (Thus far I do not know which panel.)
During radio traffic in orb. 66833 (0918-0926 UTC) the crew spoke with Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, grandson of the famous rocket pioneer Tsiolkovskiy, about the minisputnik PS-2 (also named Sputnik 40 and RS-17), which will be launched by Vinogradov during the EVA on 3.11. The cosmonauts had already checked the transmitters and heard the Blieb Blieb signals. Samburov, the radio-amateur mentor of all cosmonauts, urged them not to forget to switch on the transmitters before deploying the satellite. They have to do that after donning of the spacesuits.
On 3.11.97, from 0130 UTC (opening hatch) until appr. 0700 UTC. On 6.11.97, from 0030 UTC until appr. 0600 UTC. Don't forget to monitor 145.820 and 145.840 mc for the Sputnik ' Bliebs' during Mir's passes in the morning of 3.11.97.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The EVA lasted from 03.32.30 UTC (opening hatch) until 0937 UTC (closing hatch) , so duration 6 hrs 4 mins. The EVA began later due to a failure in a telemetry unit of Solovyov's spacesuit. After the opening of the hatch Vinogradov launched the minisputnik PS-2 (or: Sputnik 40 or RS-17). Then the crew dismantled the MSB-4, the old solar panel on Kvant-1 (module-E), which originally was installed on Kristall. They parked the solar panel at the outside of the Base Block. The clamps between the segments of the solar panel had to be opened electrically from a keyboard inside Mir . Wolf who got instructions from Solovyov took care of this task. He also made video- and photo-images of his colleagues. Further they installed a cap at the outside of the Base Block to close an outlet for a new Vozdukh CO2 scrubber.
Now this outlet has been sealed off the crew can install a valve on the inside of the Base Block where a new Vozdukh will be installed. Through that valve the Vozdukh can blow CO2 and water vapour into open space. This valve will be installed on 4.11.1997. If the crew succeed they can remove the cap from the outer surface during the next EVA on 6.11.1997. The Altair-2 satellite was scarcely used possibly due to the fact that the area in which the cosmonauts had to work was very close to the ONA, the Antenna for the Antares transmitter. Altair-2 was in use before and during the return of the cosmonauts in the airlock of Module-D. Simultaneously they communicated via the VHF channel on 143.618mc.
PS-2 (Sputnik 40 or RS-17):
During the VHF windows of Mir the transmitters of this minisputnik could be monitored on 145.820 mc. The signals are not very strong. The use of the reception mode USB helps a lot.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
After the return in the Sh.S.O. (airlock Module-D) during the 4th EVA it lasted a very long time before the cosmonauts could put off their spacesuits. A failure made it impossible to pressurise the airlock. The cosmonauts opened the hatch again to see whether something was wrong with the gasket of the outer ring of the hatch. This did not help and they decided to use the nearest compartment (the P.N.O., instrument- and scientific compartment) as airlock. Solovyov did this before: in 1990 due to a damage of the hatch.
The Russians decided not to put back the 5th EVA, but to use the P.N.O. as airlock. The crew had to work hard during the days between the EVA's: they had to study and train for the new scenario, to repair the telemetry unit of Solovyov's spacesuit , to install a valve inside the Base Block for the installation of a second Vozdukh CO2 scrubber and to prepare themselves for the EVA.
During the depress of the P.N.O. and the Sh.S.O. the crew tried to discover the cause of the pressure failure. The EVA-hatch swung open on 6.11.97 at 00.12.39 UTC and closed behind the cosmonauts at 06.24.46 UTC. These moments could be monitored due to the extensive use of the geostationary Altair-2 during this EVA.
Wolf stayed inside and he took care for the camera work and the communications. He gave the commands to establish a video-link via Altair-2 and he pushed the buttons of the electric remote control during the deployment of the new installed solar panel.
The first activity of Solovyov and Vingradov was to transfer the new solar panel from the SO (docking compartment Kristall) to the Kvant-1. They installed the solar panel over there and connected the cables. They tried to unfold the panel, but part of the clamps between the sectors of it did not react on the commands given by Wolf. So Solovyov and Vinogradov had to do some push and pull work and this helped. So the new solar battery can be inserted into the structure of the S.E.P. -the Power Supply System- of the station. After removing the cap from the outlet for the Vozdukh valve, which they had installed during the 4th EVA, they returned to the airlock.
Back in the airlock Vinogradov inspected the rubber gasket on the outer ring of the hatch and he discovered some minor iniquities. While closing the hatch he stated that the mechanism did not react smoothly. The indicator 'hatch closed' was positive. The crew closed the hatch between the Sh.S.O. and the P.N.O. and used the last compartment as airlock. The pressure in the Sh.S.O. was 209 mm mercury. In 2 days the crew will check whether this pressure decreased or not. After the EVA the pressure in the rest of the complex was 637 mm mercury.
Altair-2 was in use during all windows. During direct VHF passes the frequency 143.618 mc was used simultaneously with strong interference by cross-modulation by an air traffic control station.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Last week the cosmonauts repaired heating- and cooling loops, the S.R.V.-U, (system for regeneration of water -for technical purposes- from urine) and they deployed and connected cables for the new installed solar panel. Solovyov regularly reported that the solar panel which could not be aimed to the sun automatically reacted well on manual commands and every time achieved a good angle towards the sun.
David Wolf: Due to the problems with the airlock (S.Sh.O.) of Module-D David cannot sleep in module-D's P.N.O. (Instrument- and science compartment). He moved to the Kristall module. His new 'room' is also in use for the stowage of food boxes, bags and other cargo. He has not enough time to do all his experiments and often his working day ends just before he goes to bed. He told his American friends in TsUP that there is a great difference between the time needed for work and experiments in space and the time for the same activities on earth. Interruptions during his work, for instance lunches, physical exercises, comm. sessions, replacing and moving things, sometimes triple the scheduled time for that work. His friend on earth promised to do something to enlighten his workload and to extend his possibilities to do physical exercises. These exercises are badly needed to build up the condition of David who will participate in an EVA in early December.
Leakage hatch airlock Module-D (Sh.S.O):
After pressurising the airlock 20 mm mercury was lost in 3 days. After an EVA in 1990 (made by Solovyov and Balandin) a support of this hatch was bent and later on repaired, but the hatch had always to be secured by extra clamps. (After his EVA on 6.09.1997 Foale had to close that hatch and to install these clamps or latches. Russian word: fiksatory.)
During daylight in the U.S.A. on 13.11.1997 David used the Altair-2 facilities to tell his compatriots about his life on board Mir. While one of his crew mates accompanied him with a video camera David went to his laboratory and gave an explanation about the instruments and experiments over there. He showed a monitor with laser images of the surfaces of crystals which had been cultivated in space. He told that the data of the experiments are transmitted to experts on earth, who draw conclusions and give additional instructions for this work. He showed instruments which are connected to sensors at the outer surface of the station for the measurement of all kinds of radiation from space. David emphasised that the station, just like the shuttles, is very clean.
After his demonstration he addressed himself to a meeting of a Jewish federation in Indianapolis. He told that they flew over Israel an hour or so ago and contradictory to most other countries the borders of Israel are clearly visible from space. He wished the people over there a successful meeting, he regretted the fact that he was not able to participate and stressed that he very much appreciated what the federation was doing for mankind.
On 13 as well as on 14.11.1997 the day began with a rotation of the complex for an optimal sun angle of the solar panels. On 14.11. the crew tested the new installed solar panel on Kvant-1 (Module-E). During this test the power supply in the Base Block failed. So did the S.U.D. (movements control system) in the B.B. and the gyrodynes spun down.
Consequently other systems had to be switched off: for instance the Elektron (oxygen generator) and the Vozdukh (CO2 filter). The oxygen level in Mir gave no concern and so the burning of lithium perchloride cartridges was not needed. To reduce the CO2 level purification cartridges were used.
David had to interrupt his experimental work temporarily. The first measure to restore power supply in the Base Block was to replace the exhausted accumulator batteries by fully loaded ones from the Kristall module. Solovyov and Vinogradov kept watch in the nights from 14 to 15 and 15 to 16.11. In the early morning hours of 15.11 the crew (or some of them) were in the Soyuz-TM26 and used the transceiver of that ship on 121.750 mc. Gradually the station soaked up enough energy and most of the systems could be reactivated in the course of 16.11.1997. The SUD was working again and all gyrodynes were spinning.
Main task in week from 17.11.97:
The installation of the new Vozdukh (CO2 scrubber) in the Base Block.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 21.11.97 at 2132 UTC Mir was hit by the umptieth computer failure. This happened to be the computer which had been delivered by Shuttle Atlantis and installed during the combined flight of Atlantis and Mir in September 1997. In the night from 21 to 22.11 Solovyov and Vinogradov were on duty and during every possible pass they discussed the problems with TsUP. On 22 and 23.11 a number of systems remained off to reduce power consumption. Again radio traffic during some passes in the night from 22 to 23.11. For the repair the crew used the 2d new computer which had been brought to Mir by the freighter Progress-M36. On 24.11 the computer and other systems worked flawlessly which enabled the crew to work on the sub-satellite Inspektor, still on board Progress-M36. Inspektor will be launched from the departing Progress-M36 on 17.12.97.
(Due to a failure of my own computer - solidarity of my PC with the colleague on board Mir? - I could not distribute a Mir-report about the failure of the Ts.V.M. on board Mir, so I passed this news on to friends in UK and the USA. They could not obtain additional information and for an official confirmation we had to wait until Monday 24.11.)
This satellite is operational again after a period of maintenance of the ground facilities for this geostationary satellite. On 21.11 there were good TV and phone communications during orbit 67167. From traffic during this session could be derived that the EVA's which had been scheduled for the beginning of December 1997 possibly would be put back until January 1998. (Meanwhile this has been confirmed: the EVA's take place on 5 and 9.01.1998) This means that the repair of the antenna for the 145.985 mc will be postponed also.
This week the crew will prepare the sub-satellite Inspektor for an inspection flight on 17.12.97. During the departure of Progress-M36 the freighter will jettison the Inspektor. The Inspektor has to fly around the Progress-M36 for video images of that ship and after that the satellite will inspect the outer surface of the Mir-complex.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 3.12 RKK Energiya published changes of the EVA plan for December 1997. This publication suggested that EVA's had been planned for 6, 12 and 30.12.97. In the sequence of these EVA's the most difficult one was scheduled for 6.12.97, i.e. the installation of rails and anchors at the outer surface of the module Spektr. However radio traffic during the last days did not give any indication of preparations or exercises for the first EVA: on the contrary the Russians used all the available time for so called prescribed activities: maintenance, repairs (for instance of a cooling circuit) and monitoring the air pressure regulation. David Wolf indefatigably continued his experiments. Meanwhile the 'disinformation' of RKK Energiya has been silently erased.
The departure of Progress-M36 will take place on 17.12.97. After undocking Progress-M36 will release the mini-satellite Inspektor for a test in the framework of a Russian/German project. Inspektor will make video- and photo's of Progress-M36 as well as of the Mir-space station.
The next EVA's are still scheduled for 5 and 9.01.1998.
Vinogradov prepared the radio-amateur system in the module Priroda for the test which had been proposed by the Amsat organisation. The purpose of this test was to see whether it would be possible to use a split band configuration (uplink 437.850 mc, downlink 145.800 mc) of the PMS station on 145.985 mc. During many conversations via the geostationary Altair-2 Vinogradov co-ordinated his activities with the Mir radio-amateur manager, Sergey Samburov (RV3DR).
It was clear that not all went as had been planned. Vinogradov also had problems with cable connections and he had to look for adapters to connect different cables. He told that he also tried to use 145.800 and 145.550 mc, but this was not a success due to dense traffic on these frequencies. (Unclear whether he used these frequencies split -with 437.850 m down- or simplex on 2 m. only). Stations on earth received him loud and clear but his reception was very poor.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This freighter will undock from Mir on 17.12.1997 at 0602 UTC. After the undocking the Russian-German experiment with the observation satellite Inspektor will take place.
On 17.12.97 the Inspektor will be launched from Progress-M36 for a number of inspection flights. The separation from Progress-M36 : 0735 UTC. Immediately after the undocking the Inspektor will make a flight around Progress-M36 and transmit images from the freighter to a computer on board Mir. Solovyov will steer the Progress-M36 and the Inspektor with the system TORU. On 18.12.1997 Inspektor will fly around the Mir to make images of the outside of the complex. Plans with the Progress-M36: This freighter will not return to Mir for a redocking but decay in the atmosphere soon after the deployment of Inspektor.
The launch of this new freighter from Baykonur is on schedule for 20.12.1997. Rendezvous and docking with the Mir will take place on 22.12.1997.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
According to plan this freighter undocked from Mir on 17.12.97 at 0602 UTC. As soon as Progress-M36 was at a safe distance from Mir the German-Russian observation satellite Inspektor was jettisoned from Progress-M36 (0735 UTC). The crew of the Mir observed both autonomously flying objects on monitors of the TORU system and via portholes.
Immediately after the launch of the Inspektor it was clear that it would be impossible to steer the satellite by the remote control system due to a failure of the star sensor of Inspektor. The flight around the Progress-M36 was impossible and after a few hours of observing and analysing all further operations with Inspektor were cancelled.
During Mir's orbit 67565 between 1307 and 1354 UTC during a communication session via Altair-2 the cosmonauts and TsUP thoroughly discussed the problems. Mir also transmitted images to earth with that what could be seen on monitors and via the big porthole of the Priroda module. Inspektor was flying not far from Progress-M36. Inspektor has to be given up and will decay and burn up in the earth atmosphere in the near future due to the natural drag. Next week experts of DLR will try to pick up Inspektor's telemetry to find out what went wrong.
As of the beginning of his autonomous flight Inspektor was an unguided missile and a collision with the Mir-complex was possible. So the Russians decided to bring Mir in a somewhat higher orbit. This orbit correction took place on 17.12 at 1511 UTC.
The transmissions of this freighter could be monitored during all possible passes on 17.12.1997. When Progress-M36 will be put on a destruction course was not yet decided when this report went to the press. (The use of Progress-M36 for some additional tests of the TORU system might be a possibility.)
Life goes on and so the launch of the next freighter is still on schedule. This launch has been put forward and will take place from Baykonur on 20.12.97 at 0845 UTC. If all goes as fervidly wished Progress-M37 will dock at Mir on 22.12.97 at 1045 UTC.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. Docked with Mir at the rear Kvant port on 22 Dec 1997 10:22:20 GMT. Undocked on 30 Jan 1998 12:00:00 GMT. Redocked with Mir on 23 Feb 1998 09:42:28 GMT. Final undocking 15 Mar 1998 19:16:01 GMT. Destroyed in reentry on 15 Mar 1998 23:04:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 2.23 days. Total docked time 59.47 days.
On 17.12.97 the planned orbit correction of the Mir did not take place due to a problem with a format mistake in the received computer data. A very little correction was executed the next day. On this day, 18.12, the cosmonauts tried as much as possible to observe Inspektor visually and by distance measuring equipment. Regularly they reported their findings to TsUP. During the pass in orbit 67581 (1550-1600 UTC) they saw how Inspektor flew lower with the earth in the background. At 151052 UTC the distance between Mir and Inspektor was 760 Meters and at 151403 UTC 885 Meters. After this observation Inspektor 'walked' out of the sight of the porthole.
Already on 18.12 the attention for Inspektor was distracted by a technical problem. Out of the BKV-3 (air conditioner) leaked Freon away. On 19 as well as on 20.12 Solovyov and Vinogradov worked hard on this problem. The work also involved the functioning of other life supporting systems and they also spoke about the 'separation of cooling- and/or heating loops'. Sometimes it was extremely difficult to reach areas in which they had to work. For a long time I did not understand what the real problem was for they did not use the word 'freon' in their conversations. On 20.12 an American consultant at TsUP told David Wolf that there was a freon leak. Wolf knew about it, but he did not know where the freon came from. His countryman at TsUP told him that the leak was in the BKV-3. He also stated that there was no danger to the health of the crew, but he asked David to take an air sample in the area of the BKV-3.
On 19.12.97 this freighter decayed in the atmosphere over the Pacific. The de-orbit burn was given at 132001 UTC and Progress-M37 'ceased its existence' at 135901 UTC.
One of the greatest achievements in Russian spaceflight is the fact that launches almost always take place exactly at the announced time. This launch was scheduled for 20.12.97 at 0845 UTC. The Russians again gave an example of their mastership in this field: the launch from Baykonur took place at 08.45.01 UTC! During the 4th and 5th orbit the telemetry and beacon transmitters could be monitored in Western Europe. During the pass in the 5th orbit between 1451 and 1457 UTC the signals were very strong on all frequencies. For my position I had a TCA (Time Closest Approach) at 145240 UTC. At that moment the received frequency was exactly 922.755 mc. On 21.12 the Progress-M37 was still as fit as a fiddle which could be derived from the strong signals during the pass in the 20th orbit with a TCA at 132432 UTC.
Approach and docking Progress-M37:
The estimated docking time (1045 UTC) given in MirNEWS.399 was incorrect. This time had to be appr. 20 minutes earlier. I could not give an E-mail with the correction due to a malfunctioning E-mail server of my Internet provider. (A children's complaint after the fusion of 2 Dutch Internet providers.) For a long time the approach could be derived from traffic via Altair-2. This traffic started at 0948 UTC and continued until 2 minutes before the actual docking. Both cosmonauts were active during this by TORU guided operation. Vinogradov played an important role during this remote control and before the final phase of the approach started he thoroughly tested the TORU system.
During the operation Solovyov reported distances and approach speeds. 2 minutes before the 'touch' they switched over to a television transmission, but there were no images. Possibly the images of the approach had been given via the TORU transmitters. Progress-M37 docked at the aft (Kvant-1 +X-axis) of the complex at 10.22.14 UTC. Progress-M37 delivered the normal supplies, presents and post for the crew and a rubber gasket-ring for the repair of the hatch of the Module-D airlock. The crew had opened the hatches to Progress-M37 earlier than planned. Already during the pass in the next orbit the hatches were open.
Climate on board: Still far from comfortable. Also due to the problems with BKV-3 (freon leak) and less than 100% performance of the cooling and heating systems the differences in temperature and humidity between the modules of the complex are great. It is too hot in the Base Block and the Kvant-1 and in other compartments its is too cold with a lot of condensation.
After the docking of Progress-M37 the crew got orders to deploy an air hose from the Central Post in the Base Block to the BO (life compartment of the ship Soyuz-TM26). In the evening of 22.12 the head of flight control in Moscow, Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov, spoke with the commander of Mir, Anatoliy Yakovlev Solovyov about 'considerations' resulting in 'proposals' about the plans for the near future.
Instead of 3 spacewalks (EVA's) V.A. spoke about 2 EVA's, just like had been planned in the beginning: on 5 and 12.01.1998. More time might be needed to be sure of a better preparation for the EVA on 5.1.98, during which the EVA hatch of Module-D has to be repaired. The successful repair of that hatch is a condition for the eventual American-Russian EVA on 12.01.1998. So the EVA for 30.12.1997 will be cancelled. A.Ya. Solovyov agrees, but in his opinion things like this can be better analysed on earth than in space.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
In the period after the last MirNEWS the situation on board Mir was far from easy. After the freon leak the A.C. (BKV-3) remained switched off and the dehumidification of Mir's atmosphere was not sufficient. To gather at least 2.5 litres of the normal 4 litres of condensation the condensation regenerator in the Life Compartment of Soyuz-TM26 was activated.
In cold areas of the complex there is an enormous condensation. This condensation is almost reaching dangerous levels. To obtain sufficient water from condensation the Life Compartment of Soyuz-TM26 had to be cooled down. In this period the Elektrons did not work due to repair work and so Lithium Perchlorate cartridges had to be burnt for oxygen production. The cosmonauts accomplished the repair of the Vozdukh (CO2 scrubber) in the Base Block and as of 2.1.98 this system works and helps a little bit to remove water-vapour to open space.
There is also a lot of condensation in the cold Progress-M37 and the crew deployed an air-hose to blow cool air from there into the Base Block. In the period between 27 and 30.12.97 Mir remained continuously in full sunlight and the temperatures in the Base Block reached values above 30 dgs C. The cosmonauts did not complain about these inconvenience and David Wolf even stated that he likes high temperatures which give him more energy.
Failing Main Computer and Movements control system:
In the night from 1 to 2.01.1998 the SUD (movements control) gave an alarm and the Ts.V.M.-1 switched itself off. The cause was still unclear at deadline of this report. TsUP even thought that a virus played a part in that. After a virus scan TsUP said there had not been a virus. The cosmonauts recently had checked the Ts.V.M.-1 with an anti-virus program of Nov. 97 and they did not find anything. During passes in the morning of 2.1.98 TsUP asked the cosmonauts to suspend all activities and wait for further instructions. TsUP tried to use Telemetry for analysis, but they only got incomprehensible data. The solar batteries do not get the full sunshine and the cosmonauts had to switch the lights out and use electric torches. For today the repair work on the Elektrons has been cancelled.
The first EVA (Solovyov and Vinogradov) is scheduled for 8.01.98 from 2320 UTC (opening hatch between Scientific and instrument compartment and Airlock of Module-D). This EVA will last appr. 5 hrs 30 mins. If Solovyov and Vinogradov during that EVA accomplished the repair of the hatch of the air-lock the second EVA (Solovyov and Wolf) might take place on 14.01.98 from 2040 UTC (opening hatch of air-lock of module-D.) Duration appr. 2 hrs.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
This EVA started on 8.01.98 at 2308 UTC and ended on 9.01.98 at 0214 UTC. The times were those of the opening and closure of the outer hatch of the airlock of Module-D (Sh.S.O.). The Russians confirmed the duration: 3 hrs 6 mins.(Changes in this duration might be possible for the cosmonauts had in fact to use 2 airlocks i.e. the PNO - Instrument and scientific compartment- and the Sh.S.O.) At the outset it was clear that the plan of work had been changed.
Radio traffic during the last days revealed that it was difficult for Solovyov and Vinogradov to mend the outer hatch of the Sh.S.O. not knowing what exactly was wrong. They now had orders not to try to repair the hatch, but only to inspect and film the exit port and the hatch. They used the PNO to don and check their spacesuits and as an airlock. Very soon they also opened the hatch between the PNO and the Sh.S.O. It lasted a long time before the Sh.S.O. was depressurised and the outer hatch could be opened.
Almost immediately Vinogradov discovered what the problem had been: one of the many locks of the hatch door was in a bad shape and , as the Russians use to say : 'vinovat', so guilty! The reparation of this lock can be accomplished without the need for an extra EVA. He also said that only 5 of 10 locks had been used. So probably the hatch has enough reserve locks to secure a safe air-seal.
Inspection of the packing of the exit port did not reveal anomalies. After this inspection the cosmonauts used one of the Strela cranes to go to the outer surface of the SO (docking compartment at Module-T) from where they dismantled the American optical monitoring experiment OPM for retrieval. They also checked the connections of some antenna's before returning to the airlock.
David Wolf remained inside the complex and assisted his colleagues, made photo- and video-images and now and then communicated with them or TsUP. Apart from one all Altair-2 windows have been used for phone-communications. Altair-2 was only in use when Mir was not in direct range of Russian tracking stations.
After the EVA during a session via Altair-2 the crew transmitted video images made by David and the cosmonauts. After the EVA the crew as well as experts on earth were very satisfied about the good results of this operation. The pressure in the meanwhile repressurised and sealed Sh.S.O remained stable at 640 mm mercury until deadline of this report.
The 7th EVA of Mir's Main Expedition nr. 24:
The positive results of the 6th EVA mean green light for the EVA by Solovyov and David Wolf in the night from 14 to 15.01.98. Opening hatch: 14.01.98 at 2040 UTC.
The computer failure reported in MirNEWS.401 could be repaired very quickly. The crew used a spare Ts.M.O. (Central Exchange Module) and after installing and testing of this interface in the night from 2 to 3.01.1998 the SUD (movements control system) was restored. The effect of the last computer failure has been less dramatic than usually during recent failures due to a better power supply situation.
On 7.01.1998 NASA confirmed that the launch will take place on 22.01 at 0248 UTC with a docking at Mir on 24.01 at 2012 UTC. Endeavour will separate from Mir on 29.01.98 at 1652 UTC.
This transport ship with the relief crew (Musabayev and Budarin) and the French (CNES) astronaut Leopold Eyharts start from Baykonur on 29.01.98 at 1633 UTC. Estimated time docking at Mir: 31.01 at 1833 UTC. So for 2 days 3 manned objects will be autonomously orbiting earth with in same inclination: 51.6 dgs: Endeavour, Mir and Soyuz-TM27.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The EVA took place between 14.01.1998 2112 UTC and 15.01.1998 0104 UTC. (Duration 3 hrs 52 mins.). These times were those of the opening and the closure of the outer hatch (airlock Module-D Sh.S.O. to open space). Solovyov and Wolf had to put on their spacesuits in the P.N.O. (Instrument- and scientific compartment) and to use this compartment for vacuuming. After the previous EVA-s the outer hatch of the airlock Sh.S.O. was still leaking and so S. and W. had to begin the operation in the P.N.O. Two and a half hours before the planned beginning of the EVA they already were in that compartment. When he was in the Sh.S.O. and ready to open the outer hatch Solovyov met problems: unbolting the defective lock of that hatch lasted a longer than expected and at 2112 UTC, so 32 minutes behind schedule, he could open the hatch.
The problems with the hatch made Flight Control decide to change the working schedule for the operation. The inspection with the American photo-reflectometer was restricted to the outer surface of Module-D (Kvant-2) and that of the Base Block was cancelled. In that way Solovyov got extra time to work on the defective bolting of the outer hatch. Outside they installed a camera for the observation of their activities. The images were transmitted to Vinogradov who was inside the complex to assist and observe his comrades. Vinogradov could see the images on a screen and now and then he downlinked these images via Altair-2. The performance of that camera did not fully come up to the expectations due to some 'communication' problems. Not all went as wished with the spectrometer. The spectrometer had to be installed temporarily at different locations and sometimes it was difficult to do this due to a lack of space between handrails and the surface. Handling the instrument and the reading of data were also very difficult.
To be honest:
the main purposes of this EVA were not the experiments with the spectrometer and the camera. The most important was that Wolf made this EVA. The Americans have a great interest that their astronauts gather EVA-routine in space station circumstances. Such routine is valuable during the construction of the International Space Station. Besides: the Russians as well as the Americans indulged Wolf in his desire to make an EVA for he, like his predecessors, was yearning for this adventure.
All possible windows for communications via the geostationary Altair-2 were utilised and my log of this traffic got the size of a little book. The traffic revealed that Solovyov's task of guide and coach of Wolf was far from easy. Wolf had not much practice in this field and relatively modest training. Solovyov had to keep a sharp watch on Wolf to protect him from mistakes and irresponsible activities. He told Wolf to maintain his concentration: Look out, Do not damage that sensor, Keep your movements under control, If you want to say something - keep it short, and even: 'Dave, keep quiet!' He also got orders not to speak English. Solovyov also urged him only to touch things or to take action when instructed to do so.
But there was also joy: Vinogradov suggested Wolf to enjoy the sight of the Earth. Wolf told that he saw cities like Cairo, Tel Aviv, the Mediterranean and other beaches, the emirates and Vinogradov told him that they would have a good sight of Baykonur.
A short time before 0100 UTC on 15.01.98 Wolf and Solovyov had entered the air lock and S. closed the hatch behind him at 0104 UTC. Before doing so S. had thoroughly inspected the hatch and port. He found no anomalies. The rubber packing ring was still in a good shape.
After closing the hatch S. continued to work on the locks of the hatch. This was a time-consuming activity. When S. had done all what he could they used the P.N.O. for repressurising and taking off the space suits. At 0233 UTC S. closed the hatch between the S.Sh.O. and the P.N.O. For a long time the pressure in the Sh.S.O remained stable. (627 mm).
In a number of conversations Wolf expressed his satisfaction about the EVA. He stated that 'the person with the least routine' enormously enjoyed the EVA. It surprised him that he felt himself like a fish in the water: he had no orientation problems, all the time he knew where he was and what he was doing. His predecessors sometimes had the impression that they were falling into open space, but David did not have that experience. During these and other conversations Solovyov and Vinogradov also were very positive about this EVA. For Solovyov it was his 16th EVA (and possibly his last one). It will last a long time before somebody else can beat this record.
Correction on MirNEWS.402:
The Endeavour (STS-89) will be launched on 23.01 at 0248 UTC (so not on 22.01.98).
Before the arrival of the Soyuz-TM27 on 31.01.1998 the freighter Progress-M37 will have to free the aft docking port (Kvant-1, +X axis). There are no plans to use Progress-M37 for stunts. A few hours after the separation from Mir Progress-M37 will burn up in the atmosphere.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Penultimate Shuttle mission to Mir. Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as the resident NASA astronaut. Endeavour docked with the SO module on Mir at 20:14 GMT on January 24, 1998.
Despite fits problems with his Sokol emergency spacesuit, Andy Thomas replaced David Wolf as a Mir crew member on January 25. Endeavour undocked from Mir on January 29 at 16:57 GMT and made one flyaround of the station before departing and landing at Kennedy Space Center's runway 15 at 22:35 GMT on January 31.
During the weekend of 17.01.98 Solovyov and Vinogradov entered the airlock (Sh.S.O.) of the Module-D (Kvant-2) and showed images of the outer hatch and its malfunctioning locks. One of those locks was seriously damaged. The repair of this hatch will be done by the next crew for a special spanner is needed which has to be made on earth and delivered to Mir by that crew. The Russians can work inside the Sh.S.O. not wearing a space suit for the air in the Sh.S.O. is leaking away very slowly. Endeavour (STS-89): During the launch of Endeavour on 23.01 at 0248 UTC the Mir was over Western Europe.
As the crew was not able to see the launch they slept. Appr. 19 minutes later Endeavour came in range of Western Europa and via the 259.700 mc (AM-W) Terrence Wilcutt could be heard reporting some facts to Houston via a tracking station in Spain. During the periods in which Endeavour and Mir could communicate directly on VHF both objects were out of our range. A short time before the docking images from Mir with the approaching Shuttle could be seen via Altair-2. This was not very much: 2 huge projectors and a few obstacles. In a very short transmission CNN transmitted the same images. (Not much attention by CNN for the Clinton sensation had a higher priority)
Communications Mir after the docking:
Via VHF channels a lot of interesting traffic. The docking took place on 24.01.98 at 20.14.15 UTC. Just before the docking there was a short pass for Western Europe (Mir's orbit 68163, 2008-2010 UTC) with an elevation of 1 degree. No traffic on 143.625 or 130.165 mc could be monitored then. During the pass in orbit 68164, 2140-2149 UTC, Solovyov could be heard on those 2 frequencies. He reported that at his side all was ready to open the hatches after airseal checks, equalisation of the pressures with the 'vestibule' of the docking compartment (SO) and the installation of protection caps.
At the side of the Shuttle these procedures lasted longer and we had to wait until appr. 2225 UTC before we could see how both commanders met each other. During the pass in orbit 68165, 2314-2324 UTC, Solovyov reported that the hatches were open and that the joint crew had been instructed how to escape in case of emergency.
Working days during the combined flight: Both crews will stick to the Houston working day.
On 25.01.1998 during Mir's orbit 68179 (2007-2050 UTC) Altair-2 was in use for Mir-TsUP-M traffic. Meanwhile Andy Thomas had relieved David Wolf as a Mir-crew member. Andy belonged to the Mir crew after the installation of his 'seat-liner' in the Soyuz-TM26. That ship serves as a lifeboat in case of emergency and the seat-liner (the Russians speak about 'lozhement') must guarantee a safe landing for him. After a conversation about this seat-liner Mir transmitted video-images. The first images showed a totally disoriented salamander, followed by those of the approaching Endeavour, again the poor salamander and at last the opening of the hatch and capers of a happy David Wolf.
But.... there was a problem: the spacesuit especially made for Thomas did not fit. He could not get in it and so he tried the suit of David Wolf. Again a problem: the fingers of his gloves were too long, the Americans said 15 centimetre, but in Solovyov's opinion this was not more than 7 centimetres. Solovyov convinced TsUP-M that this was not a problem for it was possible to correct the size of the gloves by the use of special tape (or: ribbons). Nevertheless for some time the Americans considered the possibility to take Andy back to earth this week. After 2 long communication sessions and a visit to Soyuz-TM26 of Terry Wilcutt they gave Andy permission to fulfil his mission on board Mir.
On 29.01.98, so the day on which Endeavour will undock from Mir, the Soyuz-TM27 will be launched from Baykonur at 1633 UTC. The docking at Mir's aft (Kvant-1 +X ) docking port is planned for 31.01.98 at 1813 UTC. The main crew of Soyuz-TM27 (and the crew for the 25th Main Expedition to Mir) will consist of Talgat Musabayev (commander) and Nikolay Budarin (flight engineer). They will bring CNES guest astronaut Leopold Eyharts to Mir. Eyharts will remain 3 weeks on the Mir and after his stay return to earth together with Solovyov and Vinogradov in the Soyuz-TM26. The relief crew has the call sign: Kristall.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Soyuz TM-27 carried the Mir EO-25 crew and French astronaut Leopold Eyharts. NASA and the Russian Space Agency had hoped Soyuz TM-27 could dock with Mir while Endeavour was still there, resulting in an on-board crew of 13, a record which would have stood for years or decades. But the French vetoed this, saying the commotion and time wasted would ruin Eyharts Pegase experimental programme. Soyuz TM-27 docked at the Kvant module port at 17:54 GMT on January 31, 1998, less than five hours before Endeavour landed in Florida.
Solovyov handed over command of Mir to EO-25 commander Musabayev, and the Mir EO-24 crew and Eyharts undocked from the forward port of Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19 aboard the Soyuz TM-26 for their return home. On February 20, the EO-25 crew and Andy Thomas of the NASA-7 mission boarded Soyuz TM-27 and undocked from the Kvant port at 08:48 GMT. They redocked with the forward port on Mir at 09:32 GMT. This freed up the Kvant port for a test redocking of the Progress M-37 cargo ship, parked in a following orbit with Mir during the crew transfer.
During the combined flight the 'Russian segment' continued to maintain direct communications with TsUP Moscow. During previous flights the Mir-crew regularly used the American communication facilities. Now they used their geostationary sat. Altair-2 more often. In the early beginning of the combined flight there were technical problems on board of Endeavour and for a short period the Mir-complex controlled the attitude of the huge combination. Due to the high fuel consumption the attitude control was given back to the Endeavour. Now and then the Russians discussed the recent problems with the space suit of Andy Thomas. In their opinion a bad co-ordination between American and Russian experts in this field caused a lot of unnecessary fuss.
Departure Endeavour from Mir:
After a few days toiling to and fro with supplies and equipment Endeavour separated from Mir on 29.01.1998 at 1656 UTC. Before the separation Altair-2 transmitted images from Mir. These were old video recordings of the Endeavour during the approach on 24.01.1998. A few seconds before the undocking Altair-2 was switched off. Altair-2 transmitted the images of the departure and the fly around of the Shuttle between 1747 and 1827 UTC. A part of these images had been made through a porthole of the Priroda module. During this transmission Solovyov reported a malfunction of a ventilator of the CO2 scrubber Vozdukh.
At 16.33.52 UTC, so 23 minutes before the undocking of Endeavour Soyuz-TM27 started from Baykonur with on board the crew for the 25th Main Expedition to Mir and the French guest astronaut Leopold Eyharts. Commander is Talgat Musabayev, who is making his 2d spaceflight. Now as a commander, during his first flight he was on board engineer. This time engineer is Nikolay Budarin, who also makes his 2d flight. He started for the first time in a Soyuz-TM-ship as during his first flight he was delivered to Mir by the Shuttle Atlantis (June 1995). The call sign of the new crew is Kristall.
This freighter had to free the aft docking port (Kvant-1 +X axis) for the Soyuz-TM27 and when it was clear that all went well with that transport ship Progress-M37 separated from Mir on 30.01.1998 at 12.50.30 UTC. Initially there were no plans for a redocking, but as long as the Russians do not make a final decision Progress-M37 will fly autonomously. The advantage of the occupation of the aft docking port by a ship is a better thermo-protection of the docking mechanism of that port and the additional possibility for the crew to get rid off stuff which is no longer needed.
Flight of the Soyuz-TM27:
After the launch, which took place 12 seconds behind schedule, all went well. During the pass in the 3d orbit strong transmissions on all frequencies could be monitored over here. Musabayev, Kristall-1, reported that they meanwhile had entered the BO (life compartment). The pressure was 706 mm. (As always there was a lot of interference from the ground services of a nearby airport using the same frequency 121.750 mc in AM-Wide)
During the next pass Musabayev reported the good performance of the 2nd orbit correction impulse. During the 3rd pass over here he reported that they had resolved a problem with the percentage of CO2 in the air and the so called 'ugli posadki' the angles of re-entry in the atmosphere and the related times if they in case of emergency would be forced to return to earth. Meanwhile Eyharts slept in his sleeping bag in the BO and the Russians continued to work in the SA (landing apparatus). During 30.01.98 the flight went on without problems. An employee of the ground services Rotterdam Airport recognises the language during a Soyuz-TM27 transmission and reacts with a 'dosvidaniya'. This was the first time during all those years in which this phenomenon regularly took place.
Approach and docking Soyuz-TM27 on 31.01.98:
This operation was an excellent performance. All went well from the very beginning until contact. Enjoying the benefit of optimum monitoring possibilities I could make this statement. Communications via Altair-2 started at 1724 UTC during Mir's orbit 68271. The approach was going on far ahead of schedule. At 1725 the distance was 7060M, the approach speed 10.5 M/sec. and the deviations around the 3 axes were minimal. At 1732, distance 4300M with appr. speed 10.2 M/sec.
The operation was executed in the automatic regime with the system Kurs. Musabayev continuously reported details of the operation. He also regularly stated: No emergency instruction. So Kurs worked well and there was no need to take over manually. On 1735 Altair-2 switched over to TV-transmissions and the Mir complex could be seen via a camera in the Soyuz-TM27. At 1750 they again went over to phone with the clear and calm voice of Musabayev. At 17.54.29 UTC the smooth docking took place and immediately both crews reacted with great enthusiasm. Almost always dockings take place a few minutes after disappearance of both objects behind my eastern horizon, so just after the first pass and VHF window for my position.
This time this VHF window showed up after the docking. After abt. 6 minutes after the docking CNN came with a 'live event' of the docking, so in fact not 'live', but somewhat later. This was also the case with the TV-images of the opening of the hatches and the meeting of the 2 crews. I monitored the voices of the enthusiastic crews while the TV-transmissions on a UHF channel went via a tracking station in Russia, so not via Altair-2. I could monitor a lot of joy. After the mutual greetings and congratulations the deputy head of RKA (the Russian NASA), Ostroumov, addressed himself to the crews with a statement of his chief, Koptev. (Congratulations and appreciation for the successful docking operation) Ostroumov also congratulated Musabayev with the birthday of his daughter.
The mission of Leopold Eyharts is Pegase (Pegasus). This mission ends with the departure on 19.02.1998 of Leopold together with Solovyov and Vinogradov in the Soyuz-TM26. (I sincerely hope that the Soyuz-TM26 will perform during the return operations for during her stay within the Mir-complex the systems of Soyuz-TM26 regularly had to support the Mir-complex.
After the departure of Soyuz-TM26 the crew of the 25th Main Expedition and Andy Thomas will make an autonomous flight to redock the Soyuz-TM27 to the forward (Transition section, -X axis) docking port, enabling Progress-M37 to redock there.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
On 4.02.1998 during Mir's pass in orbit 68334, 1848-1856 UTC, Solovyov reported that at 1831 UTC he had got the warning: Check the SUD and that the complex was now in the so called 'Indikatornyy Rezhim' meaning that Mir was flying in the 'free drift'. Due to the fact that time was running out he asked for advice from TsUP. TsUP asked for 'format' and 'regime'. S. gave Format 1, Indicated regime, operation rotation. The gyrodynes were still spinning and the Ts.V.M.-1 (Main computer) remained operational.
They shifted to the regime of 'reduced power consumption' and among the systems which had to be switched off were both Elektron oxygen generators. During the radio traffic about this SUD failure Solovyov also mentioned the VDU. The VDU is the external thruster in the Sofora boom. Possibly the failure had been caused by a wrong command in which the VDU was involved. For the last time the VDU was used to control attitude during the beginning of the combined flight of Mir and Endeavour. The VDU almost ran out of fuel and will be replaced in the near future.
Due to the fact that the Ts.V.M.-1 remained operational and the gyrodynes did not stop spinning the problem with the SUD could be solved already in the evening of 4.02.98 and did not have a negative effect on the present mission. On 5.02.1998 Altair-2 could be used for communications. Normally a serious attitude problem makes the use of that facility impossible. Leopold Eyharts gave a long TV-interview in which he reported with enthusiasm about his mission. Also the following days Altair-2 was regularly in use for communications and TV-sessions, for instance with the press, family and friends.
In one of the sessions Vinogradov showed a lot of systems and explained their functions. The mood among the 4 cosmonauts, 1 astronaut and 1 spationaute is excellent. There is a lot of joy and they do not complain about their modest housing. A good example of international co-operation. Thus far Solovyov is still in command and he and Vinogradov are responsible for a number of repairs and for a good functioning of the life support systems. Now and then Andy Thomas can be heard when he is in contact with his lead at TsUP in English. I did not yet hear him speaking Russian.
The return of this ship with the crew of the 24th Main Expedition (Solovyov and Vinogradov) and the CNES spationaute is scheduled for 19.02.1998. That day the hatch between the departing men will be closed between 0240 and 0252 UTC. Soyuz-TM26 will separate from Mir between 0553 and 0604 UTC. The landing is planned for 0917 UTC. Data and times of the operations with Soyuz-TM27 (redocking) and the Progress-M37 (return to the complex after the autonomous flight and docking at the aft port) still have to be determined.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The Soyuz-TM26 with on board the relieved crew of the 24th Main Expedition to Mir (Solovyov and Vinogradov) and the CNES astronaut Leopold Eyharts made a soft landing not far from the city Arkalyk in Kazakhstan on 19.02.98 at 0910 UTC. The weather in the landing area was bad, though there was a slight improvement in the hour before the landing they had to land in a blizzard. So the search- and rescue operation lasted relatively long and to avoid collision only one helicopter had been directed to the landing position.
Soyuz-TM26 separated from the complex at 05.52.50 UTC. During the autonomous flight all went well. In the night hours Soyuz-TM26 communicated via the eastern tracking stations in Russia. From 0805 UTC until the re-entry in the atmosphere at approx. 0847 UTC the communications could be monitored via Altair-2. The signals from and to Soyuz-TM26 were relayed via the satellite transceiver on board Mir and from there via the Altair-2 geostationary satellite. The engine which had to slow down the velocity of Soyuz-TM26 to achieve re-entry was switched on at 08.16.20 UTC. Solovyov reported the data about the impulses in meters per second and the fuel consumption (SIRT) in kilograms.
The engine was shut off after approx. 260 seconds. At 08.41.35 UTC the program for the separation of the motor compartment and the life compartment was started. The mood of the men on board the descending landing compartment was very good, they could be heard laughing. The last signal from Soyuz-TM26 which could be monitored via Altair-2 was the well known ANAN beacon. Altair-2 remained active for Mir-traffic until 0855 UTC. Musabayev is now in command of the 25th Main Expedition. Budarin reported his attempts to observe and film the descending Soyuz-TM26.
On 20.02.1998 the crew of Mir will enter the Soyuz-TM27 for the redocking flight. Between 0845 and 0930 UTC Soyuz-TM27 will make an autonomous flight from the aft (Kvant-1, +X axis) port to the forward one (-X axis, P.Kh.O. -transition section).
The return of this freighter to the Mir complex (to aft docking port) is scheduled for 23.02.1998.
. Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Solovyov and Vinogradov together with French astronaut Eyharts (launched aboard Soyuz TM-27) undocked from the forward port on Mir at 05:52 GMT on February 19, 1998, fired their deorbit engines at 08:16 GMT and landed in Kazakstan at 50 deg 11 N, 67 deg 31 E at 09:10 GMT.