Progress-M32: This freighter will separate from Mir on 18.08.1996 at 0931 UTC. In contradiction to the supposition in MirNEWS.321 Progress-M32 will not be brought on a destruction course, but stay in orbit in an autonomous flight. The Progress-M32 will redock to Mir after the departure of Soyuz-TM23 with the relieved crew. The redocking has to take place on 3.09.1996. Progress-M32 will be used to reboost the Mir-complex in the original somewhat higher orbit after the return to earth of Atlantis (STS-79) in September.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
During the pass in the next orbit (71335, 1218-1229 UTC) the crew prepared the TV-report of the opening of the hatches and the meeting of the 2 crews. It could be derived from the given communication commands that the images of that event would be transmitted on a UHF-channel and via Russian tracking stations, so not via Altair-2. Just before the complex disappeared behind my eastern horizon the crews got permission to open the hatches and to greet each other. This time the Russians refrained from the normal routine to have the first human contact between the 2 commanders due to the presence of the VIP Baturin. He got the honour to be the first crew member to float from Soyuz-TM28 into Mir and embrace his CIS-countryman, Musabayev. This took place at 1230 UTC.
From that moment on the crew of the Mir-space station consists of 5 persons and this will undoubtedly draw a heavy toil on the life support systems of the complex. Technically the situation on board was not 100% before the docking: the power supply is not fully restored and the station seems to fly in the free drift (they spoke about 'indikatornyy rezhim', but whether the gyrodynes are fully spinning or not has not been confirmed) and Musabayev got orders to economise power consumption and to switch off all superfluous equipment.
Until his departure Musabayev will remain commander of both crews. During all communication sessions on 15.08.1998 it was clear that Musabayev acquits himself of that task. Meanwhile Budarin occupied himself with radio-amateurism on 145.985 mc. He tried to get in touch with Russian radio-amateurs.
During the last pass in which Mir was able to communicate via a Russian tracking station with TsUP (orb. 71339, 1704-1715 UTC) Musabayev called in vain and he decided to give his message blindly (hoping that TsUP would hear him anyway). He reported that they had reinstalled Baturin's seat liner (from Soyuz-TM28 to Soyuz-TM27). The BKV-3 (a.c.) worked after he had tried to switch it on 3 times. The humidity was quoted as 11.3, the gas composition in the station as: CO2 4.5 , oxygen 203 and water 11.2. Pressure 797 MM.
Communications during flight Soyuz-TM28:
13.08.1998: After the launch the signals of the Soyuz-TM28 could be monitored here for the first time between 1415-1420 UTC. A very stable Padalka reported the results of the 1st and 2nd impulses: 1st 1384 during 32 seconds, 2nd 696 for 16 seconds. The SIRT (system for the measurement of the fuel consumption) gave after the 1st impulse 745 KG, after the 2nd one 728 KG (remaining fuel). During the following passes he reported that all went well, they were in a good mood and health and all systems worked nominally. There were only problems with a recording experiment. The device of that experiment did not give the right figures. Baturin had been shooting video images. Good signals in the 166 and 165 mc bands and on 922.755 mc.
During the pass between 1547 and 1552 UTC again good signals on all frequencies. TCA (dip in 922.755 mc signal) was at 154915 UTC. Padalka still very stable reported the good functioning of all systems. They had done something with the orientation in relation to the power supply and they got a good power reading between 25 and 26. The TV-test they had done was positive. They felt well and enjoyed the flight.
14.08.1998: Good signals on all frequencies and Padalka again sounded like a skilled cosmonaut. All parameters were normal and the only problem was a recording device about which Padalka long and extensively reported.
Soyuz-TM27: The return flight of the crew of the 25th Main Expedition to Mir (Musabayev and Budarin) and the cosmonaut-researcher-politician Baturin is scheduled for 25.08.1998. The Soyuz-TM27 will undock from Mir at 0220 UTC descend was announced as 0526 UTC.
26th Main Expedition to Mir: The crew of this ME is Padalka and Avdeyev. According to information now available (confirmed by a reliable source) this crew will remain on board Mir until June 1999. So if there will be no changes anymore the 26th ME is the last one to Mir.
In the period after MirNEWS.432 a number of technical problems emerged. Radio communications revealed that the complex had been flying in free drift (indikatornyy rezhim), which caused a sharp decrease in power supply on 11.08.1998. That day all superfluous systems had to be switched off and for a while only 2 lamps were burning: one in the Base Block and one near the P.Kh.O. (transition section). There were also airseal problems. Musabayev had to check a rubber bearing of a hatch with his fingers. To secure a good atmosphere on board the crew used oxygen from a tank in the Progress-M39. The crew also repeatedly tested the Kurs antenna on Kvant-1 and they had to change cable connections of this system. Not long before the launch of Soyuz-TM28 they had to repeat such a test which seemed to have been positive.
On 12.08.1998 Musabayev launched a long tirade in which he relieved his feelings. He has great problems with the activities of journalists who, in his opinion, are not really interested in the cosmonauts as such. Only when something goes wrong they are on it like a bird and then they blame the crew for that. He characterises a lot of their publications as nonsense and even swinishness. He emphasises that this expedition, the 25th, was a very fruitful one. While the Mir-station is operational for 12.5 years their expedition performed 50% of all melting experiments in the furnaces, for instance almost all what had to be done with the Optizon furnace. They accomplished experiments which could not be done by previous expeditions. In the 190 days of their mission they were not able to work according the formular 23 for 2 days and for this the crew was even not to blame. They also solved a lot of technical problems and he refers to the repair of the SUD (attitude control system) on the eve of the arrival of a Shuttle.
The fact that life on board Mir is still possible is thanks to their work for they installed the new VDU (external thruster). They did a lot of cardio vascular experiments, which still had to be executed.
My personal opinion about this argumentation is the following: I do not want to compare this expedition with other ones. But I agree with Musabayev: he was in command of a magnificent expedition.
First day with 2 crews on board:
On 16.08.1998 during the first pass Padalka asked TsUP whether they had seen something in the Telemetry and he supposed that they wished to speak to them. TsUP confirmed this and ordered Padalka to switch over to the 2nd regime for this conversation. From this moment on monitoring had no sense due the computerised scrambling of the speech. For a very long time, I dare to say for years, they had not used this routine.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The Soyuz-TM29 will separate from the Mir-complex on 27.08.1999 at 2112 UTC.
The estimated landing time is on 28.08.1999 at 0030 UTC.
(Due to the difference in local times in Russia, the operation will take place on 28.08.99 in that country.) Indications imminent return flight: During radio-communications, the main part of the subjects is related to all that what has to be done to prepare the definitive closure of the hatches between Mir and Soyuz-TM29.
Nevertheless the cosmonauts regularly still mention experiments on which they are working or which have to be concluded.
On 30.07.99 Avdeyev got an answer on a question about the definitive closure of the module Priroda. This is scheduled for 23.08.1999 with the last possible option on 25.08.1999. Avdeyev had to know this for a lot of equipment has to be stowed in that module during the unmanned status of the station. Avdeyev asked TsUP what they should do in case one of the units in Priroda had to be switched back on. TsUP said they had this matter under control.
The crew is very active to prepare their bodies for the gravity conditions after return, by intensive physical exercises and working with the Chibis pressure suit.
On 13.08.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev had a long conversation with ex-cosmonaut and RKK Energiya training chief, Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov, in which they exchanged congratulations for an anniversary.
Aleksandrov had tried to gather a great number of RKK's employees to be present during this conversation, but most of them had left for their dacha's or other nice places, while others attended a meeting at NASA about the ISS. Possibly the anniversary was the 43rd one of RKK Energiya, originally founded as OKB-1 on 14.08.1956. One of the subjects during this conversation was the place where Afanasyev and Avdeyev would be during their rehabilitation period. They will undergo this rehabilitation in different places: Avdeyev in Kislovodsk, Afanasyev at the Black sea beach.
Solar eclipse on 11.08.1999. That day the Mir-station crossed the shadow of the total eclipse 2 times. The first time this was in orbit 77011 (at about 1000 UTC) and in orbit 77012 (the second at about 1145 UTC). Between 1010 and 1021 UTC, when a partial eclipse could be observed over here in the Netherlands, Afanasyev was reporting his observations. Just after AOS (Acquisition of Signal), he told TsUP that was continuing his camera work. While he saw the horizon, he could see the shadow of the eclipse moving over the earth in the direction of that horizon. He met with some problems due to a structure blocking his sight. Sometimes he changed the position of his video camera. Avdeyev added to these reports that he saw Europe under the shadow. Afanasyev went to a window in the Base Block to make better images.
At 1020 UTC Mir started to send the recorded images to earth via a UHF-channel.
Afanasyev and Avdeyev did not see the sun itself during the eclipse through their windows. Haignere had more luck and could see the eclipse itself, as well as the shadow. During the pass in orb. 77012 at 1147 UTC he enthusiastically reported his observations.
Perseids: I did not hear anything about eventual observations by the Mir crew of this yearly meteorite stream.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202