Skylab 2 , consisting of a modified Apollo CSM payload and a Saturn IB launch vehicle, was inserted into Earth orbit approximately 10 minutes after liftoff. The orbit achieved was 357 by 156 km and, during a six-hour period following insertion, four maneuvers placed the CSM into a 424 by 415 km orbit for rendezvous with the Orbital Workshop. Normal rendezvous sequencing led to stationkeeping during the fifth revolution followed by a flyaround inspection of the damage to the OWS. The crew provided a verbal description of the damage in conjunction with 15 minutes of television coverage. The solar array system wing (beam) 2 was completely missing. The solar array system wing (beam) 1 was slightly deployed and was restrained by a fragment of the meteoroid shield. Large sections of the meteoroid shield were missing. Following the flyaround inspection, the CSM soft-docked with the OWS at 5:56 p.m. EDT to plan the next activities. At 6:45 p.m. EDT the CSM undocked and extravehicular activity was initiated to deploy the beam 1 solar array. The attempt failed. Frustration of the crew was compounded when eight attempts were required to achieve hard docking with the OWS. The hard dock was made at 11:50 p.m. EDT, terminating a Skylab 2 first-day crew work period of 22 hours.
Atlantis STS-84 mission largely accomplished successfully: Launch Atlantis on 15.05.97; flawless docking with Mir on 17.05.97. Michael Foale relieved his colleague Jerry Linenger. Mir's mission will be named : Mir 23 / NASA 5. Both crews succeeded in transferring mutually all what had to be transferred within the 5-day period. Adding a 6th 'docking day' was not needed.
Mir was plentifully provided with an extra supply of water and oxygen en the replacement equipment and spare parts to postpone for a very long time the definitive termination of the ageing space station. The most important equipment for that purpose was the new oxygen machine Elektron, which had to be installed in the Module-D (Kvant-2). The old Elektron which had been repaired some weeks ago and has been operational in Module-D has been reinstalled in the former spot in Kvant-1 to be used as a reserve. The delivered supply of oxygen enables the crew to refrain for a long period from the use of the Elektrons. Defective equipment, for instance the old Elektron, which could not be repaired, has been brought back to earth for analysis.
Originally there has been a plan to deliver a new Antares transmitter for communications via the geostationary Altair-2 (now in position over 16 degrees West). Information about this plan is still unclear and even sometimes contradictory. Communications: During the combined flight the communications also to and from Mir had been handled to a large extent via the American TDRS-facilities. Mir communicated directly with tracking stations on Russian territory using VHF frequencies.
After the launch of Atlantis on 15.05 Eileen Collins could be heard on 259.7 mc between 0826 and 0829 UTC when she via a tracking station in Spain reported the 'power down of the APU'. Shortly after the stabilisation of Altair-2 over 16 degrees West there has been word that the satellite had a transmitter failure and that the Russians would do all what was possible to reactivate this transmitter. Due to my absence I was not able to monitor 10.830 Ghz.
During my stay in Budapest I met a 'colleague' and he told me that he received somewhat like a 'wide band' signal on that frequency, probably a test signal by the VKS (Russian space forces). This was on 19.05. Later on and until the afternoon of 21.05 the transponder transmitted a continuous carrier without modulation. Another colleague in Western Europe monitored the wideband signal and recorded this. Meanwhile there came some information about the Antares transmitter on board Mir.
The installation of a new Antares has been put back until the arrival of a needed part which has to be delivered by Progress-M35 (launch 22.06, docking 24.06). Conclusion: Altair-2 is operational. The problem is still on board Mir. Mir-routine: The 3 crew members on board Mir again have to do the job alone. Just before the arrival of Atlantis they repaired the defective water regeneration systems (SRV-K condensation and SRV-U urine) .
Before a profound analysis on Earth of the quality of the water regenerated by the SRV-K they are not allowed to drink this water. They are satisfied about the new supply of oxygen and the relative high pressure of the atmosphere on board: 780 mm. One of the first priorities is the search and elimination of a leakage in the cooling loop VGK.
The passes of the Mir-station for our position take place during the night hours. So for a short period there will be not much radio traffic via VHF unless something special happens during these night hours. I will remain on the alert!
Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.