Afanasyev shows no signs that he is enjoying his flight, on the contrary: he makes a irritated impression. I would not be surprised if he has health problems. He and Avdeyev take care of the good functioning of the systems of the station, especially those for the life support and the operational control, such as the performance of the solar batteries. Afanasyev uses to load commands given to him by TsUP in the on board computer systems and he checks the so called 'ugli posadki', angles of attack for eventual emergency landings. Avdeyev is responsible for the Packet Radio traffic on the service channels and the transmission to earth of files with experimental data.
As far as this can be derived from radio traffic, the mood on board is far from cheerful. Some time ago, Haignere had an argument with Russian physicians. They found some anomalies in the cardiovascular system of Haignere during a medical experiment. Haignere did not share their opinion. He stated that the exercises during that experiment were too strenuous and he demanded to be informed about the limits for such exercises during previous flights of French astronauts. In his opinion there was nothing wrong with his health and he presumed that the anomalies had psychological causes. Regularly technical problems emerged for instance failing ventilators, solar batteries showing incorrect angles towards the sun, bad performance of the air-conditioning and of the power supply systems.
During the last week radio traffic revealed a mysterious leak of air.
The leak seems to be very small for the loss of pressure was not more than 4 mm in 24 hrs. For a long time the cosmonauts tried to find the location of the leak and to be sure they closed all hatches between the base block and the modules. On 12.07.1999 the suspicion fell on the Module Kvant-2 (Module D).
The very last failure: In the night from 8 to 9.07.99 Afanasyev and Avdeyev reported that the SEP (Electrical Power Supply system) in the Module Priroda failed at 2136 UTC. Lights, ventilators, experiments and the radio amateur equipment in that module failed. Only the computer used by Haignere was still functioning. During all following passes that night and the passes during the following night there was no radio traffic, so no follow up about this problem. Possibly the crew restored the power supply in Priroda.
To reduce the natural decay of the complex a little bit, occasionally minor orbit corrections had been executed. On 6.05.1999 this was done by the use of the engines of the Progress-M41 and on 23.06.99 the impulses were given by the approach and orientation engines of the ship Soyuz-TM29. On 6.07.99 a correction with the engines of the Progress-M41 was performed, lifting the orbit of Mir a few kilometres upwards.
Communications: Often the 2 VHF-channels, UKW-1 (143.625 mc) and UKW-2 (130.165 mc) were used at the same time for different purposes. For instance Packet Radio or phone conversations by the Russians on UKW-1 and Haignere with his group at TsUP on UKW-2. During TV-sessions via UHF UKW-2 was in use as phone channel. Now and then interference was mentioned between ionospheric experiments (for instance with Ionozond) and VHF traffic.
Radio amateurism: During the period covering this report Jean-Pierre Haignere was still very active with phone using the call R0Mir on 145.985 as well as on 145.940 mc. At AOS of almost every pass the Packet Radio on 145.985 mc could be heard. This lasted until LOS or until the beginning of Haignere's calls by phone. Often the Packet Radio continued during the phone conversations. Haignere handles traffic in French as well as in English and he acts as a very skilled radio amateur. Especially on 145.985 mc the uplink is overloaded by traffic and to be able to make as much QSO-s as possible, he uses only 2 or 3 characters of the calling stations. He also regularly states with whom he wants to communicate and even threatened 'naughty' callers to ban them from answering for a certain period.
When in range of Moscow he switches over to 145.940 mc for conversations with his countrymen over there or with his wife Claudie.
Apart from Phone and Packet Radio the 145.985 mc was also used for a few SSTV transmissions. Now and then Avdeyev can be heard on the amateur frequencies. I did not at all hear Afanasyev over there.
Plans for the near future: Progress-M42: On 14.07.1999 at 1725 UTC launch of the freighter Progress-M42 with the normal cargo plus a special guidance and control computer to steer the complex remote controlled by TsUP during the last unmanned status of the Mir complex. At deadline for this report the launch that day was not sure due the decision of the Kazakh government to suspend all launches from Baykonur due to a dispute with Russia about compensation for pollution by Russian space debris.
The launch of the freighter Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 is crucial, not only for the well-being of the present crew, but also for the forthcoming period in which the complex will fly in the unmanned status.
To enable controllers on earth to control the flight via the special navigation computer to be delivered by Progress-M42 the present crew must be able to install and test that computer.
Without that computer the 'mission impossible' to put the complex on a safe destruction course into the earth's atmosphere would become considerably more 'impossible'. I am sure that the government of Kazakhstan will give permission for the launch of Progress-M42 on 14.07.99 and in that way leave the burden of the responsibility for the decay of the Mir space station where it belongs: on Russia. (remark: When this report went to 'press' the government of Kazakhstan did not yet give the green light for the launch, but preparations for the launch on 14.07.99 were going on and on 12.07 the carrier-rocket and freighter had been rolled out and erected on the start-complex.) 2nd Spacewalk (EVA) crew 27th Main Expedition: This EVA is on schedule for 23.07.1999. Though not officially confirmed now the EVA almost certainly will be executed by Avdeyev and Haignere. They must install a new so called reflector antenna and retrieve from the outer surface of the complex the experiments Spica and Ekzobiologiya.
Thus far the return flight of the Soyuz-TM29 with the present crew is scheduled for the end of August this year.
For an eventual extra, so 28th Main Expedition, in February 2000 we will have to wait, see and hear.
Illness Mrs. van den Berg: I tried to monitor Mir radio traffic as much as possible, but was not able to analyse, verify and report the gathered material as comprehensively as I used to do until May this year. Though we have still a long way to go, the condition of my wife is gradually improving and I hope to be able to restore my normal working methods in the near future.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202 request: My last report was of 16.04.1999, so a number of E-mail addresses might be incorrect now. Please confirm the receipt of this report to enable me to determine which E-mail addresses have been changed.
The six tonne Airlock consisted of two cylinders of four meters diameter and a total length six meters. The Airlock could be pressurized by the externally-mounted high pressure oxygen-nitrogen tanks, and was to be the sole unit through which all future EVAs were to take place. (Until that point, all EVA entries/exits had been through a Russian module in ISS, with non-Russians having to wear Russian space suits). Another payload was the "EarthKAM" of middle/high school interest. It was to allow pupils to command picture-taking of chosen spots on Earth; they were expected to target 2,000 spots. The shuttle also carried out pulsed exhaust tests during maneuvers to enable better understanding of the formation of HF echoes from the shuttle exhaust. The echoes were obtained by ground based radars in an experiment called SIMPLEX (Shuttle Ionospheric Modification with Pulsed Local EXhaust). The STS-104 crew returned to Atlantis on July 22, and undocked at 0455 GMT. After flying around the station they departed the vicinity at 0615 GMT. Atlantis landed at 0338:55 GMT on July 25, touching down at Kennedy Space Center runway 15.