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Part of Mir



First shuttle flight with super light-weight external tank. Final shuttle-Mir mission. Recovered NASA astronaut Andy Thomas from Mir and took Russian space chief Valeri Ryumin to Mir for an inspection tour.

AKA: Discovery. Launched: 1998-06-02. Returned: 1998-06-12. Number crew: 6 . Duration: 9.83 days.

The final shuttle-Mir mission, STS-91 recovered NASA astronaut Andy Thomas from the Mir station and took Russian space chief and ex-cosmonaut Valeri Ryumin to Mir for an inspection tour of the ageing station. This was the first test of the super lightweight Aluminum-Lithium alloy external tank, designed to increase shuttle payload to the Mir / International Space Station orbit by 4,000 kg. At 22:15 GMT Discovery entered an initial 74 x 324 km x 51.6 deg orbit, with the OMS-2 burn three quarters of an hour later circularizing the chase orbit. Discovery docked with the SO module on Mir at 17:00 GMT on June 4. NASA equipment was retrieved from the station, and Discovery undocked at 16:01 GMT on June 8, and landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 18:00 GMT on June 12.

NASA Official Mission Summary:

(9th and final Shuttle-Mir docking)
Pad A
91st Shuttle mission
24th flight OV-103
9th Shuttle-Mir docking
Return of 7th and last U.S.
astronaut to live and work
aboard Mir
First flight of Super Lightweight
External Tank
First docking mission for Discovery
44th KSC landing
Crew :
Charles J. Precourt, Commander (4th Shuttle flight)
Dominic L. Pudwill Gorie, Pilot (1st)
Wendy B. Lawrence, Mission Specialist (3rd)
Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Mission Specialist (6th)
Janet Lynn Kavandi, Mission Specialist (1st)
Valery Victorovitch Ryumin, Mission Specialist (1st Shuttle, 1st Mir, 4th spaceflight)
Returning from Mir Mir 25 crew member: Andrew S. W. Thomas, Mission Specialist and Cosmonaut Researcher (2nd Shuttle, 1st Mir)
Orbiter Preps (move to):
OPF 3 - Aug. 19, 1997 (temporary storage)
OPF 2 - Oct. 1, 1997 (temporary storage)
OPF 2 - Oct 30, 1997 (begin preflight processing)
VAB - April 12, 1998
Pad - May 2, 1998


June 2, 1998, 6:06:24 p.m. EDT. The countdown proceeded smoothly except for a slight delay in operations to load the external tank with cryogenic propellant to evaluate a few technical issues. As planned, launch managers determined the exact orbital location of the Mir space station during the countdown's T-9-minute built-in hold. The decision was then made to launch Discovery at 6:06 p.m. to achieve optimum Shuttle system performance and to accommodate Shuttle-Mir rendezvous activities.


June 12, 1998, 2:00:18 p.m. EDT, Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance 11,730 feet (3,576 meters). Rollout time: one minute, four seconds. Mission duration: nine days, 19 hours, 54 minutes, two seconds. Landed on orbit 155. Logged 3.8 million statute miles. Landed on first opportunity at KSC, marking the 15th consecutive landing in Florida and 22nd in the last 23 missions.

Mission Highlights:

Docking of Discovery to Mir , the first for that orbiter, occurred at 12:58 p.m., June 4, at an altitude of 208 miles. Hatches opened at 2:34 p.m. the same day. At hatch opening, Andy Thomas officially became a member of Discovery's crew, completing 130 days of living and working on Mir. The transfer wrapped up a total of 907 days spent by a total of seven U.S. astronauts aboard the Russian space station as long-duration crew members. During the next four days, the Mir 25 and STS-91 crews transferred more than 1,100 pounds of water, and almost 4,700 pounds of cargo experiments and supplies were exchanged between the two spacecraft.

During this time, long-term U.S. experiments aboard the Mir were moved into Discovery's middeck locker area and the SPACEHAB single module in the orbiter's payload bay, including the Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) and the tissue engineering coculture (COCULT) investigations, as well as two crystal growth experiments. The crews also conducted Risk Mitigation Experiments (RME) and Human Life Sciences (HLS) investigations.

When the hatches closed for undocking at 9:07 a.m., June 8, and the spacecraft separated at 12:01 p.m. that day, the final Shuttle- Mir docking mission was concluded and Phase 1 of the International Space Station (ISS) program came to an end.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) flew for the first time on this mission. The AMS, designed to look for dark and missing matter in the universe, was powered up on Flight Day 1. Data originally planned to be sent to ground stations through Discovery's KU-band communications system was recorded onboard because of a problem with the KU-band system that prevented it from sending high-rate communications, including television signals, to the ground. The system was able to receive uplink transmissions. On June 3 the crew was able to set up a bypass system that allowed AMS data to be downlinked via S-band/FM communications when the orbiter came within range of a ground station. Data that could not be recorded by ground stations was recorded onboard throughout the mission.

The KU-band system failure was determined to be located in a component that was not accessible to the crew. The failure prevented television transmission throughout the mission. Television broadcasts from Mir were prevented by a problem between a Russian ground station and the mission control center outside of Moscow, limiting communications to audio only on NASA television.

Other experiments conducted by the Shuttle crew during the mission included a checkout of the orbiter's robot arm to evaluate new electronics and software and the Orbiter Space Vision System for use during assembly missions for the ISS. Also onboard in the payload bay were eight Get Away-Special experiments, while combustion, crystal growth and radiation monitoring experiments were conducted in Discovery's middeck crew cabin area.

More at: STS-91.

Family: Manned spaceflight. People: Chang-Diaz, Gorie, Kavandi, Lawrence, Precourt, Ryumin. Country: USA. Spacecraft: Discovery. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral. Agency: NASA, NASA Houston.
Photo Gallery

Credit: www.spacefacts.de

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