Baykonur: After long and difficult negotiations Russia and Kazakhstan reached an agreement about the use by Russia of Baykonur and Leninsk. Russia has to pay a rent of 115 million. US-dollars a year for a period of 20 years and the option for a prolongation by another 10 years. Russia can act in Baykonur and Leninsk as if it was Russian territory. Let us hope that the agreement puts an end to the uncertainties for Russian and future users of the cosmodrome and to the vexations and confiscation of vital materials by the Kazakhstan authorities.
Soyuz-TM19: This transport ship will be launched from Baykonur on 24.06.94 with the crew for the 16th Main Expedition to Mir. The first crew consists of Musabayev and Malenchenko, both rookies. Musabayev is from Kazakhstan, but the Russians stressed that he will fly just because he is a good cosmonaut and not to please Kazakhstan. On 4.04.94 the State commission decided to exclude Strekalov from that flight. He was on schedule for the Russians use to add an experienced cosmonaut to a crew with only rookies. So for the first time in many years a Soyuz-ship will fly with only rookies on board. The reason for the exclusion of Strekalov is economical: his seat will be used for an extra amount of cargo (85 KG). Strekalov is still in the race for he will fly during the 1995 program. He will then be 'ferried' to Mir by the space shuttle Atlantis. To get the training as an 'astronaut' he will arrive in the USA one of these days.
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
During the last week main subjects during radio contacts were the preparations for the oncoming EVA , such as the airtight checks of the available space suits, and checks of all equipment needed during the EVA, the air seal of connections, the status of valves, oxygen and other tanks and the radio communications system Tranzit.
Almost the whole EVA will be made before Mir comes in range of Western Europe. Possibly the closure of the hatch will just take place during the first pass in orbit 81356, 1605-1613UTC. During the following communication sessions the crew can be monitored during their post-EVA activities.
On 4.05 Zalyotin read out a salute to a recently opened youth forum about subjects like WW-2 and the victory over fascism. Activities during this forum were sports estafettes by representatives of patriotic military clubs. Zalyotin sent the best wishes to the participants.
On 7.05, after the conversations about the next EVA the last communication session was concluded by the TV- or radio broadcast of the inauguration of President Putin. His promise to rule the country in an 'honest and open way' could be heard loud and clear via the 'uplink' channel in the background.
Experiments: In the past 2 weeks now and then the cosmonauts worked on experiments. They spoke about original Russian experiments , for which the 'hardware' is still on board of the station. For the time being it is still unclear who will pay for these experiments and if so, whether this is in the benefit of the shareholders of Mircorp. The crew was executing experiments like the Orangerie (greenhouse), Doza (measurements of the radiation levels on board), Dakon (a liquid convection meter), Optovert, Indikator, etc.
Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202
The crew performed the regular weekly three-hour task of thorough station cleaning. ("Uborka", usually done on Saturdays, includes removal of food waste products, cleaning of compartments with vacuum cleaner, damp cleaning of the Service Module (SM) dining table, other frequently touched surfaces and surfaces where trash is collected, as well as the FE's sleep station with a standard cleaning solution; also, fan screens and grilles are cleaned to avoid temperature rises. Special cleaning is also done every 90 days on the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) bacteria filters in the Lab.) Additional Details: ISS On-Orbit Status 05/10/08.