Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. 10 pilots and 9 mission specialists, 6 civilians and 13 military officers, chosen from 2,962 applicants, of which 122 screened in June-August 1994. 4 additional international astronauts.
The TV-reports from Mir of which only a few reached us via CNN were relayed by tracking stations inside Russia via UHF-channels. This could be derived from the use of the command code Anna-86 during VHF communications. These video links lasted shorter than those via Altair-2 and the quality was not so good and sometimes only black and white images were possible. From the Russian segment of the combination Discovery-Mir the Russians communicated with TsUP via their own VHF-channels. Discovery used for voice communications with Houston the S-band channel via the TDRS-es. During one of the communication windows on 5.06.98 Musabayev tried to get in contact with TsUP for a long time. He asked Charlie Precourt to warn TsUP Moscow via one of the American channels and this helped. The last months the Mir-crew regularly called TsUP in vain for long periods, even via Altair-2. Deteriorated motivation of the Capcoms at TsUP?
On 5.06.98, so 1 day after the docking of Discovery, Andy settled himself into the Shuttle and became a member of STS-91's crew. He regularly showed up inside the contours of the Mir-complex, but did no longer communicate from there with TsUP Moscow. Valeriy Viktorovich Ryumin: This leading designer of RKK Energiya and former Salyut-6 cosmonaut needed only a few days extra to bring his spaceflight record up to 365 days, so a full year. On 5.06.1998 he passed this limit and both crews celebrated this jubilee on board Mir. Musabayev offered for this opportunity guitar music. All styles were possible: Beatles, Russian- or Kazakh folk songs, even that of Vysotskiy. For Ryumin as a high-ranking official of RKK Energiya it was an excellent opportunity to execute an extensive inspection of Mir's systems.
Musabayev and Budarin were very pleased that this earthling could see by his own eyes the situation about which cosmonauts so often complained. He was displeased about the enormous mess within the station. In his opinion the abundance of useful, but also of superfluous and useless things, makes the work for cosmonauts, in particular new ones, extremely difficult. Behind a panel he found a lot of rubbish and he asked TsUP permission to get rid of that. Among this rubbish were some cables and TsUP did not give him this permission. He grumbled a little bit, but did not press the matter for he himself had ordered that cosmonauts always have to stick to decisions from flight control. During conversations with TsUP about technical matters Musabayev sometimes referred to Ryumin. For instance about the problems they had with the installation of camera's to document the departure of the Discovery. The brackets near certain portholes to fix these camera's did not fit. Ryumin said that the man at TsUP had to write this down in his report in red capital letters.
I have been listening to the voices of cosmonauts for some decades and it was a real sensation to hear this old stager again via my headphones. It felt as if a time machine had put me back 20 years.
Almost for a year the experts are struggling along with the 1000 dollar question how to locate the leakage in the hull of the Spektr module. Previous attempts to find these leakage by pumping fluorescent gasses through Spektr were unsuccessful. Mission STS-91 gave the last opportunity to try this again. The first test was executed on 6.06.1998 during the VHF-pass in orbit 70242, between 1756 and 1807 UTC. Budarin opened the valve of Spektr's hatch and inflated the fluorescent gasses into the module. Musabayev gave a count down so that everybody on board of Discovery could be alert with camera's and at portholes. During the test Budarin reported the pressures inside Spektr. These values were relatively low, not more than 55 MM mercury. Precourt reported that nothing could be seen with the naked eye. The test was repeated after the undocking of Discovery on 8.06.98. At 1124 UTC Discovery was station keeping right in front of the Mir-station while Musabayev and Budarin repeated the procedure and again Precourt reported that they did not see anything.
Let us hope that analyses on earth of the video recordings and photographs will help.
Departure of Discovery:
During the undocking communications went via VHF-channels. This took place during the pass in orbit 70272 (1554-1602 UTC). After some camera problems the images were transmitted via tracking stations in Russia. Altair-2 was not active. During the following orbit (70273) Altair-2 was active and images could be seen of the autonomously flying Discovery. The crew also transmitted video recordings of the farewell party just before the closing of the hatches to Discovery. Altair-2 stopped transmitting at 17.23.40 UTC, so just before the separation burn of Discovery, which took place at 1724 UTC. From 1732 UTC Mir communicated via the VHF channels in the 143 and 130 mc bands.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.