EXTRA VEHICULAR ACTIVITIES (EVA-S):
Shortly we can hear the crew speak about preparations for a series of 4 EVA-s. For the 1st one the 16th of April has been mentioned. During the first 3 EVA-s the cosmonauts will have to replace the solar panels from the Kristall module to the Kvant-1. The 4th one is for the removal of materials which for a long time had been exposed to the influences of open space. The solar panels have to be replaced to make future operations possible. To execute the planned docking operations of Buran and Space Shuttle to that Kristall module it has to be redocked to the forward axial (PKhO) docking port. A second reason to replace those solar panels is the fact that some solar panels hinder other ones. Daily the crew has to economise the power consumption of the complex. Polishchuk is responsible for that and in Manakov's opinion he is an expert in that field.
Possibly the plans for the launch of the Modules Priroda and Spektr have been altered. The first Module to be launched for a docking with Mir should be a technological one. So Priroda is 2d on schedule. This is a pity for Priroda is ready for launch.
RETURN CAPSULES: Progress-M16 does not carry such a capsule and the use of such a container from Progress-M17 has not been planned. The return capsules are for 100% reliable, but due to the little amount of freight to be brought back, return capsule operations are too expensive.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
Fire on Baykonur: On 7.03.94 a heavy fire broke out in a MIK (Assembly and test complex) and spread to a Maintenance Unit Headquarters. There the fire damaged a Telemetry installation. The fire caused a damage of appr. 1.7 a 1.8 million dollars. The Russians declared that space-programs will not suffer from this event.
Progress-M17: This freighter has been flying autonomously from 11.08.93 for a duration test of its systems. The Russians planned to leave the Progress-M17 in orbit for a year and a half on request by the Americans who want to use modified versions of the Soyuz-TM-ships for ACRV (assured crew return vehicle) for the space station Alpha. A test flight with a Progress-M was useful for a lot of systems of this freighter are the same as those of the Soyuz-TM. During an orbit manoeuvre in December 1993 something went wrong and the Progress-M17 came in a very low perigee from where it decayed naturally by burning up in the Earth's atmosphere on 3.03.94 at 0406 UTC
Tracking ships: The tracking ship Cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev is floating somewhere in the Atlantic for the support of spaceflight operations which have nothing to do with the Mir-station. Nevertheless the ship now and then assists TsUP for communications with the Mir-station. This took place on 13.03- .94 at 2004 UTC and on 14.03.94 at 2045 UTC, so out of our range. We can expect that within due time we can hear Mir- radio traffic relayed by the KPB or one of the other ships.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The most important cargo is the VDU. This is the external thruster which has to be installed in the Sofora mast on Kvant-1 during one of the EVA's in the future. The new VDU will replace the old one which almost run out of fuel. Under the cargo is a new lock for the EVA hatch of Module-D, the necessary tools for the repair of that hatch and of course the normal cargo: food, post and some other convenient items for the crew. Progress-M38 has to dock at the Kvant-1 aft docking port (+X-axis) on 17.03.1998 at about 0027 UTC. In principle approach and docking will be executed in the automatic mode with the system Kurs.
Today (15.03) Progress-M37 will separate from Mir to be put on a destruction course for burning up in the atmosphere over a designated area East of New-Zealand.
Last week the cosmonauts worked on the installation of the new BKV-3, the a.c. From 10.03 the BKV-3 is regularly operational and this resulted in decreasing of the almost unbearable high temperatures in the Base Block. The temperature of approx. 35 dgs C. decreased to 28 dgs C. The good functioning of the a.c. makes it possible to use this installation for the filtering of the surplus of condensation secreted by the Vozdukh CO2 scrubber. Thus this condensation can be used for water regeneration purposes and has no longer to be blown into open space.
To make this possible the Vozdukh in the Base Block had to be modified by a so called 'dehumidifier'. This device is now installed in the neighbourhood of the Vozdukh but it was difficult to find a place for it. Meanwhile something went wrong with he thermal control in the module Priroda, which had a negative effect on some experiments of Andy. After the repair or replacement of a pump the temperatures in Priroda could be controlled again.
The work was far from easy and they could not always find the necessary parts and equipment for the mounting. This often debauched into discussions with experts on earth. Musabayev normally being in a good mood now and then got upset. He stated that already from the first week the burden of work was too high. There was a great difference between planning and the reality of time schedules for their work in space. On 4.03.1998 he stated that this was the first day they got enough sleep. He emphasised that if you force the crew too much there will be a risk of fatal mistakes. (And indeed during this mission a number of mistakes have been reported. )
Not only the Russians, but also Andy Thomas complained about matters he did not appreciate. He had no problems with his direct 'leads', but with some organisations. Regularly Andy repeated his complaint that he did not receive his personal E-mails. Last week this resulted in the despatch of a stream E-mails, reaching him by uplink Packet Radio transmissions, also via Altair-2.
Andy reported problems with the American experiment COCULT. The flow of liquids to feed cells of this experiment was full of air-bubbles. He tried to solve this problem but did not succeed. In conversations with his consultative group he emphasised that he does all what is possible to fulfil the American experimental program, but that he attaches great value to the execution of his physical exercises.
The forthcoming launch of Progress-M38 and the departure on 15.03.1998 of the old Progress-M37 were mentioned now and then. The crew tried to load as much as possible waste and equipment which was no longer needed in the Progress-M37. Musabayev reported that it was not possible to load the old BKV-3 in that freighter. He gave a higher priority to the dismissal of waste containers, lots of old rags, biological- and domestic garbage.
More or less the lot of work on the life support systems superseded the attention for the forthcoming departure of the Progress-M38. Only yesterday (14.03) they spoke about the TORU (remote controlled steering of Progress-M from inside Mir), which has to be operational in case the automatic system Kurs should fail.
On 9.03.1998 a planned communication session of Mir with TsUP via Altair-2 did not take place. Something went wrong with the uplink from Russia to Altair-2. Musabayev who was calling continuously was almost desperate. He needed an urgent advice about immunisation. For me it was interesting to hear how a cosmonaut feels when he thinks that he has been abandoned by earth. During the first communication session via VHF he said that they almost 'suffered an infarct'.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.