Mir Expedition EO-19. Transferred Budarin, Solovyov to Mir, returned Soyuz TM-21 crew to Earth. After undocking from Mir on July 4, Atlantis spent several days on orbit, carrying out medical research work with the Spacelab-Mir module in the cargo bay. Payloads: Shuttle/Mir Mission 1, Spacelab-Mir, IMAX camera, Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX).
NASA Official Mission Narrative
Mission Name: STS-71 (69)
Pad 39-A (54)
69th Shuttle Mission
100th US Manned launch
14th Flight OV-104
1st MIR Docking
Click Here for Countdown Homepage
Robert L. Gibson (5), Commander
Charles J. Precourt (2), Pilot
Ellen S. Baker (3), Mission Specialist
Bonnie J. Dunbar (4), Mission Specialist
Gregory J. Harbaugh (3), Mission Specialist
Anatoly Solovyev (4), MIR-19 crew upload
Nikolai Budarin (1), MIR-19 crew upload
Norman E. Thagard (5), MIR-18 crew download
Vladimir Dezhurov (1), MIR-18 crew download
Gennadiy Strekalov (6), MIR-18 crew download
OPF -- 11/22/94
VAB -- 04/20/95
PAD -- 04/26/95
The primary objectives of this flight are to rendezvous and perform the 1st Shuttle docking between the Space Shuttle and the Russian Space Station MIR. Other prime objectives are on-orbit joint United States-Russian life sciences investigations abord SPACELAB/MIR, logistical resupply of the MIR, recovery of US astronaut - Norman E. Thagard and the delivery of two cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin to MIR.
Secondary objectives include filming with the IMAX camera and the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment-II (SAREX-II) experiment.
Launch June 27, 3:32:19.044pm EDT. Launch window was 10 min 19 sec.
On 6/27/95 as of 9:30am EDT, launch commentator Bruce Buckingham reported that the countdown is in progress for a launch during a 10 min window that opens at 3:32pm EDT. The weather forcast is a 60% chance of favorable weather. A launch at the opening of the window would lead to a MIR docking on Thursday, June 29th while a launch in the last 3 minutes of the window will lead to a MIR docking on Friday, June 30th. At 11:21am the crew departed the Operations and Checkout building and arrived at the launch complex LC-39A at 11:34am EDT.
On 6/24/95, at 4:00pm EDT, Shuttle Launch director Jim Harrington announced the launch team scrubbed the launch of Atlantis due to weather. Unfavorable weather conditions -- including heavy cloud cover and thunderstorms -- forced the decision of the shuttle Mission Management Team after the launch team had fully prepared Atlantis and counted down to the T-minus 9 minute mark. Because weather conditions are not expected to improve over the weekend, the next available opportunity for launch will be on Tuesday, June 27, with a 10min window opening at 3:32.10pm EDT.
On 6/23/95, the launch of Atlantis was postponed due to the inability for tanking operations to commence. Tanking Atlantis involves loading about 500,000 gallons of super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the external tank. Operations to tank were put off from the original start time of 7:45 a.m. due to severe weather and lightning within five miles of the launch pad. Managers delayed tanking as long as possible to still make a launch attempt on 6/23/95 but they were forced to postpone the launch when it became apparent that the weather would not clear in time to tank and launch Atlantis during the short seven-minute window that opened at 5:08p.m.
The STS-71 launch was previously targeted for 5:08:37 p.m. EDT at the opening of a seven minute window. A launch on June 23 would have allowed docking with Mir to take place on flight day four of the mission at about 10:30 a.m. EDT. Atlantis will remained docked to Mir for almost five days during which the crews aboard both vehicles will conduct joint life sciences research experiments.
On 6/21/95, managers decided to further inspect a leaking reaction control system (RCS) helium tank in the right-hand orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pod on Atlantis. Technicians were able to repair the leak. The pressure in the tank was reduced to ambient, a fitting on the tank replaced and a leak check performed.
The launch of STS-71 was originally slipped behind the launch of STS-70 because of a delay in the launch of the Russian Spektr laboratory module to the Russian space station MIR. The launch of Spektr in Russia was moved from May 10 1995 to May 21, 1995. Russian space officials wanted the extra capabilites offered by the Spektr module before a docking by Atlantis.
On 6/2/95, NASA managers decided to delay the launch of Discovery on Mission STS-70 in order to make repairs to foam insulation on the vehicle's external fuel tank. Earlier, technicans at Launch Pad 39-B discovered that woodpeckers had inflicted about six dozen small holes in the insulation material. STS-71 will now launch before STS-70.
On Thursday, May 18, 1995, engineers determined the need to remove and replace the High-Pressure Fuel Turbopump (HPFT) on space shuttle main engine (SSME) No. 3. This work was completed and leak checks performed on 5/25/95.
Altitude: 170 nm
Inclination: 51.6 degrees
Duration: 9 days, 19 hours, 22 minutes, 17 seconds
Distance: 4.1 million miles
ET : SN-70
MLP : MLP-3
KSC July 7, 1995 at 10:54:34 am on Runway 15. Nose wheel touchdown at 10:54:44 sec. Wheels stop at 10:55:25 am EDT.
There were two opportunities for a Florida landing-- the first beginning with an engine firing at 9:45 a.m. EDT, leading to the 10:55 a.m EDT. touchdown. The second landing opportunity (starting with a 11:22 a.m. EDT engine firing, leading to a 12:31 a.m. EDT touchdown) was not necessary. If landing had been rescheduled 24 hours, the times would have been 11:35 a.m and 1:12pm.
Atlantis lifted off on-time from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39-A (LC-39A) June 27, 1995 at 3:32:19.044pm EDT on the historic 100th US Manned launch to dock with the Russian Space Station MIR.
STS-71 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
On Tuesday, June 27, 1995, 7 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #01 reports:
Atlantis first achieved an orbit with a high point of 158 nautical miles by 85 nautical miles, the lowest orbital altitude ever flown by a Space Shuttle, allowing the spacecraft to close the more than 7,000 nautical miles to Mir rapidly at first, at a rate of about 880 nautical miles per orbit. Three hours and thirty-nine minutes after launch, Atlantis fired both Orbital Maneuvering System engines for a little over two minutes to raise its orbit to an altitude of 210 nautical miles by 158 nautical miles, an engine firing called the NC-1 burn that has now slowed Atlantis' closing rate on the Mir.
The shuttle is now about 5,400 nautical miles from Mir, closing on the station by about 280 nautical miles with each one and a half-hour orbit of Earth. The next engine firing by Atlantis was not scheduled until early Wednesday morning, and all activities remain on target for a docking with Mir at about 8 a.m. Thursday.
Atlantis' crew -- Commander Hoot Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, Mission Specialists Ellen Baker, Greg Harbaugh and Bonnie Dunbar, and Cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin -- winded down their first day in orbit.
STS-71 Flight Day 2 Highlights:
On Wednesday, June 27, 1995, 5 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #02 reports:
The seven astronauts on board Atlantis awoke to the sounds of Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe," as they began their first full day on orbit preparing for Thursday's planned docking with the Mir Space Station.
At 5:48 a.m. CDT, Commander Hoot Gibson will fire Atlantis' Orbital Maneuvering Systems engines for 14 seconds, slowing Atlantis' closing rate on the Mir and precisely aligning the orbiter's ground track with that of the Mir. That burn will place Atlantis in a 211 x 162 nautical mile orbit, closing on Mir at a rate of 250 nautical miles each orbit. At 5 a.m., Atlantis was trailing the Russian Space Station by about 3200 nautical miles, closing the distance between the two spacecraft at a rate of 275 nautical miles with each orbit of the Earth.
Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, and Mission Specialist Bonnie Dunbar also began activating the Spacelab module located in the aft section of Atlantis' payload bay. During the five days of docked Shuttle/Mir operations, that module will be used to support the joint scientific and medical investigations designed to increase our knowledge of the human body and the microgravity environment of space.
On Wednesday, June 28, 1995, 7:30 p.m. EDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #02 reports:
During a day in which Atlantis drew 2,000 nautical miles closer to the Russian Mir Space Station, the shuttle's seven-member crew prepared for Thursday's docking and the ensuing medical investigations by checking their equipment. Docking with the Mir station remains scheduled for about 8 a.m. CDT Thursday.
The crew fully activated the Spacelab module mounted in the cargo bay of Atlantis, checking out the various equipment in the laboratory that will be used for the scientific investigations to be performed following the docking with Mir. Also, the shuttle equipment that will be used for the rendezvous and docking was checked and found in good order, although batteries were missing for a handheld laser ranging device. The handheld device is not needed for rendezvous and serves only as a supplement and backup for range information, however, the crew may plug the unit directly into the shuttle's power supply to circumvent the missing batteries.
The Russian-designed docking ring that will first contact the Mir was extended to its proper position for docking and the mechanism was found to be in excellent condition. As the crew began a seven-hour sleep period at 6:32 p.m. CDT, Atlantis trailed Mir by about 1,330 nautical miles. The crew will awaken Thursday at 1:32 a.m.
STS-71 Flight Day 3 Highlights:
On Thursday, June 29, 1995, 4 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #04 reports: Atlantis' seven astronauts awoke at 1:32 a.m. CDT to "From a Distance," as sung by Nanci Griffith. The wake-up music was preceded by special birthday greetings to Pilot Charlie Precourt from his wife and daughters. Precourt is celebrating his 40th birthday today soaring 216 nautical miles above the surface of the Earth. The STS-71 crew members almost immediately set to work preparing for this morning's planned docking with the Mir Space Station. Shortly before 3 a.m., Atlantis' orbital maneuvering system engines were fired for 45 seconds. That NC4 burn raised the low end of Atlantis' orbit and positioned the shuttle roughly eight nautical miles behind Mir. One orbit later, at about 4:30 a.m., Commander Hoot Gibson was scheduled to again fire the jets for the terminal initiation burn which begins the final phase of the rendezvous. That burn will put Atlantis in position to intercept the Mir Space Station from a point directly below Mir, on an imaginary line called the R-Bar or Earth radius vector.
On Thursday, June 29, 1995, 5:30 p.m CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #05 reports:
Atlantis station kept in that position at a distance of about 250 feet from the Mir awaiting the approval of NASA Flight Director Bob Castle and Russian Flight Director Viktor Blagov to proceed with the docking. Atlantis then closed to a point 30 feet from Mir at about 7:40 a.m. before beginning its final approach toward the docking port located on the Kristall module.
Atlantis and MIR were successfully docked at 8 a.m.. Commander Hoot Gibson of Atlantis flew the shuttle to a flawless docking with the Mir station exactly on schedule while the two spacecraft were 216 nautical miles above the Lake Baykal region of the Russian Federation. Mission Specialist Greg Harbaugh then engaged the docking mechanism to firmly latch the spacecraft together. Once docking was confirmed, the astronauts on board Atlantis and the cosmonauts on board Mir performed leak checks of the tunnel connecting the two spacecraft. With that complete, the hatches opened and Gibson and Mir 18 Commander Vladimir Dezhurov shook hands as Americans and Russians met in space for the first time in 20 years. Atlantis' crew then completed a transfer of responsibilities for the station from the three Mir-18 crew members to the two Mir-19 crewmen.
Following a transfer of personal gear and a changeout of the individual, custom-made foam seat liners in the Soyuz capsule also docked to Mir, Mir-19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin officially assumed duties on the station.
Later, the Spacelab module in Atlantis cargo bay was reactivated by Mission Specialist Bonnie Dunbar in preparation for a variety of medical experiments that will be performed during the next four days. Solovyev and Budarin will sleep aboard the Mir tonight while astronaut Norm Thagard and cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov, aboard Mir for the past 105 days, will sleep aboard Atlantis.
Atlantis and Mir, now the single largest spacecraft ever in orbit with a total mass of almost one-half million pounds, have performed as expected in the nine and a half hours they have so far been attached. No significant problems or surprises have been observed by Mission Control. The crew will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 5:32 p.m. today and awaken at 1:32 a.m. Friday.
STS-71 Flight Day 4 Highlights:
On Friday, June 30, 1995, 6:30 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #06 reports:
The eight astronauts on board Atlantis received a wakeup call from Mission Control at 1:32 a.m. CDT today, ready to begin the first full day of joint operations on board the linked shuttle and Russian Mir Space Station. The musical wake-up call was "Wildest Dreams" by the Moody Blues.
About one hour before receiving that formal wakeup call, Commander Hoot Gibson awoke when General Purpose Computer 4 experienced a brief "hiccup"causing a warning alarm to sound on board. Spacecraft Communicator Dan Bursch then called up to Atlantis advising Gibson to turn off GPC 4 and load the system manager software on GPC 3. There are five general purpose computers on board Atlantis, with one designated as the system manager to monitor various orbiter systems. GPC 3 is now designated as the system manager. Flight controllers will look at the possible causes of the GPC 4 alarm once the crew officially begins its fourth flight day on orbit.
Atlantis is now home to the five STS-71 crew members -- Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, Payload Commander Ellen Baker, and Mission Specialists Greg Harbaugh and Bonnie Dunbar -- and the Mir 18 crew members -- Commander Vladimir Dezhurov, Engineer Gennady Strekalov, and Cosmonaut Researcher Norm Thagard. For the next four days, in cooperation with their counterparts on board Mir -- Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Engineer Nikolai Budarin -- the astronauts will support 15 separate biomedical investigations into how the human body functions in a microgravity environment.
Those investigations will be conducted in the Spacelab module tucked in the aft section of Atlantis' payload bay. Seven different disciplines are represented including cardiovascular and pulmonary functions in weightlessnessness, human metabolism, neuroscience, hygiene, sanitation and radiation, and behavioral performance and biology. The studies begun during the Mir 18/STS-71 mission will continue for several years as part of the continuing Shuttle-Mir Science Program.
In addition to supporting the medical and scientific investigations, crew members will transfer equipment, hardware and experiment specimens from the Mir module to Atlantis for return to Earth.
Earlier in the morning, the two crews met in the Spacelab for a ceremonial gift exchange commemorating this flight. During the ceremony the crew members joined a halved pewter medallion bearing the impression of a docked shuttle and Mir, and a scale model of Atlantis and Mir.
On Friday, June 30, 1995, 6 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #07 reports:
Having dropped off two crew members and picked up three new crew members yesterday, the crew spent the day loading and unloading gear aboard Atlantis and the Mir Space Station.
Medical samples and other materials associated with the Mir-18 crew members -- U.S. Astronaut Norm Thagard and Cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov - - were loaded into Atlantis for the trip home. Equipment for the Mir 19 and future missions was transferred from the shuttle to the station. Thagard and crew were officially relieved Thursday from their responsibilities for the station by Mir 19's Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin. Along with the Mir 19 equipment, Atlantis' crew also filled four Russian space agency tanks with excess water from the shuttle and transported it to Mir. More such water transfers are planned during upcoming days of the flight.
The crew completed all their work on schedule with no problems. Flight controllers did ask Commander Hoot Gibson to reset one of Atlantis' flight control computers, general purpose computer number 4, which had experienced a problem early this morning, to evaluate the computer problem. Gibson successfully reloaded computer, and it was run for about an hour in an idle mode to evaluate its performance. Later, flight control software was loaded into the computer while it was not attached functionally to the shuttle and it was put in a standby mode for the night. Further evaluations of its performance are planned tomorrow.
In any event, Atlantis' four other identical flight control computers are operating well and can perform all needed functions for the spacecraft. In addition, a spare computer is onboard that could be used to replace the GPC-4 machine if that is deemed necessary. The crew began an eight-hour sleep period at 5:32 p.m. and will awaken at 1:32 a.m. central to begin their fifth day in orbit. Atlantis has been docked with the Mir station for more than 34 hours and the spacecraft are in an orbit with a high point of 219 nautical miles and low point of 208 nautical miles, circling Earth every 92 minutes, 34 seconds.
STS-71 Flight Day 5 Highlights:
On Saturday, July 1, 1995, 6 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #08 reports:
The sounds of a Russian pop song, Kuca Kuca Kuca, (pronounced Keesa Keesa Keesa) greeted the Atlantis/Mir crew members as they awoke to begin their fifth flight day on orbit.
Commander Hoot Gibson's sleep was briefly interrupted twice overnight. An alarm sounded when the H2 manifold valve for hydrogen tank 1 gave a "closed" indication. Flight controllers asked Gibson to verify the valve's position, and then reset it to "open." The panel continued to show a "closed" configuration, but all tank pressures indicated the valve was open and functioning normally. Flight controllers looked at the data and concluded that a microswitch in the valve was reading its position incorrectly and that the valve is functioning normally. Gibson then returned to sleep.
About 40 minutes before crew wake up, the temperature on one of the forward right reaction control system jets, F5R, fell below limits signalling an alarm on board and waking the crew. The temperature drop was not unexpected due to the inertial attitude the Atlantis/Mir spacecraft has been flying. An orbital maneuver, already scheduled in to the crew's activity timeline, will put Atlantis into an attitude that will warm the jet.
Today, the STS-71 and Mir 18 crew members will continue transferring medical samples, equipment and hardware from Mir to Atlantis for the return trip to Earth. In addition, crew members also will fill four canisters of water, generated on board Atlantis as a byproduct of its fuel cells, and transfer it to Mir. Four similar canisters were filled on Friday.
Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, and Mission Specialists Ellen Baker and Bonnie Dunbar, along with Mir 18 Commander Vladimir Dezhurov and Cosmonaut Researcher Norm Thagard will be interviewed by CNN and Conus Communications beginning at 9:47 a.m. On Saturday, July 1, 1995, 3 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #09 reports:
The astronauts and cosmonauts aboard Atlantis and the Mir Space Station maintained a rhythm of packing and unpacking today, as well as entering into a steady pace of medical investigations in the Shuttle's cargo bay laboratory module.
On his 109th day in orbit, Astronaut Norm Thagard went through a series of medical tests ranging from analysis of his lung function to electrocardiographs and studies of his cardiovascular system, along with his Mir 18 mission crew mates. Mission Specialists Ellen Baker and Bonnie Dunbar oversaw the medical testing aboard Atlantis.
Simultaneously, the transfer of equipment to and from Mir continued, including providing specially designed spacewalking tools to the Mir from Atlantis that will be used by the Mir 19 cosmonauts in mid-July to free a jammed solar array on the station. Other transfers included loading a broken Salyut-5 computer onto Atlantis for the trip home and providing excess water from the Shuttle to Mir. So far, about 580 pounds of excess Shuttle water has been provided to Mir. Also during the day Commander Hoot Gibson and Pilot Charlie Precourt fired Atlantis' large steering jets in a planned test to check the integrity of the Atlantis-Mir attachment points, finding the docking mechanism to be very secure. A flight control computer aboard Atlantis that experienced a problem early yesterday has been operating throughout the day today without trouble, and flight controllers believe the computer is healthy and that the earlier problem was an isolated incident.
Flight controllers changed the orientation of Atlantis and Mir slightly for the sleep period today so the Shuttle's autopilot will have to fire steering jets a bit more often, thus keeping the jets warmer during the crew's night.
STS-71 Flight Day 6 Highlights:
On Sunday, July 2, 1995, 6 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #10 reports:
Flight Day 6 on board Atlantis/Mir began with a Caribbean flair as the astronauts and cosmonauts awoke to Jimmy Buffet's "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes." Crew members are already hard at work as another busy day of scientific and medical investigations in the Spacelab module gets under way. Today's investigations focus primarily on understanding how the cardiovascular system responds to microgravity.
The Mir 18 crew members -- Commander Vladimir Dezhurov, Engineer Gennady Strekalov and Cosmonaut Researcher Norm Thagard -- are using a neck collar of sorts to mimic increasing and decreasing arterial pressure on the baroceptor sensors located in the arteries of the neck. These sensors constantly monitor blood pressure and send messages to the brain to increase or decrease heart rate to compensate for rising or dropping blood pressure. This investigation may help researchers understand and reduce the phenomenom of orthostatic intolerance, or lightheadedness, sometimes experienced by astronauts upon return to Earth.
The cosmonauts also are continuing their scheduled exercise sessions designed to help minimize their readapation to Earth's one-gravity environment. Dezhurov, Strekalov and Thagard will walk or run on the treadmill, ride the bicycle ergometer, or perform resistive exercise for 1-2 hours every day as part of this countermeasures program.
In parallel with the joint medical investigations, remaining crew members continue the transfer, package and storing of equipment to be returned to Earth on board Atlantis. Transfer of excess water from Atlantis to the Mir space station will continue throughout the day.
Mir 18 Commander Vladimir Dezhurov spent several minutes discussing his flight plan with flight controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center in Kaliningrad. Dezhurov raised questions earlier today about the volume of work he was being asked to accomplish and was reassured that, as a member of the Atlantis crew, his flight plan was being coordinated properly between flight controllers in Houston and flight controllers in Russia.
Atlantis' Pilot Charlie Precourt tested a pair of VHF radio systems which enable Shuttle crewmembers to converse with the Mir Space Station or the Soyuz capsule. One of the systems has apparently experienced a malfunction but the backup system is functioning properly and will be used on Tuesday when Atlantis undocks from the Mir.
Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin conducted leak checks to the launch and entry suits they will wear Tuesday for Atlantis' departure from the Mir. Current plans call for Solovyev and Budarin to undock the Soyuz 15 minutes before Atlantis' undocking to capture still photos and video images of the event from a stationkeeping position several hundred feet away from Mir. Shuttle crewmembers also plan to photograph and record the redocking of the Soyuz to the Mir after an hour and a half of proximity operations by Atlantis, the Soyuz and the Mir.
Several crew members took a break from morning activities to speak with National Public Radio at 6 a.m. central time today. Commander Hoot Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, Thagard, Dezhurov and Strekalov shared their feelings about their historic flight and docking, and discussed the many scientific and medical investigations ongoing aboard Atlantis.
On Sunday, July 2, 1995, 2 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #11 reports:
Atlantis and Mir crews spent a third day together working steadily at medical experiments, cargo transfers, and some preparations for Tuesday's departure, uninterrupted by any problems with the respective spacecraft.
During the last half of the day aboard the orbiting complex, medical investigations using the lower body negative pressure device, called LBNP, were performed in the Shuttle's laboratory module. Mir 18 astronaut Norm Thagard and Flight Engineer cosmonaut Gennady Strekalov, now on their 110th day in orbit, both underwent sessions in the device, which decreases air pressure around the lower portion of the body to imitate the effect of gravity in pulling fluids to the legs. Body fluids pool in the upper half of the body in weightlessness.
Simultaneously, Atlantis' Commander Hoot Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, and Flight Engineer Greg Harbaugh continued stowing gear retrieved from Mir aboard the Shuttle for the trip home. Also, the offloading of supplies for the Mir continued. Those supplies include about 860 pounds of water, almost 108 gallons, loaded into 14 Russian portable water tanks and two Shuttle portable water bags.
By the time Atlantis departs Mir early Tuesday, consumable supplies transferred to Mir are planned to include almost a half ton of water, 53 pounds of oxygen, and 80 pounds of nitrogen. The oxygen and nitrogen are being transferred to Mir by using the Shuttle's atmospheric system to raise the air pressure in the station.
Gibson, Precourt and the Mir-19 cosmonauts also checked out various communications systems today that may be used on Mir, the Soyuz capsule and Atlantis during the undocking and flyaround Tuesday. Precourt also gave Strekalov a televised tour of Atlantis and the laboratory module.
STS-71 Flight Day 7 Highlights:
On Monday, July 3, 1995, 6 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #12 reports:
The Florida State University Fight Song woke up the Atlantis/Mir crew members today in honor of former Seminole Norm Thagard, the Mir 18 cosmonaut-researchers who is in his 111th day on orbit and celebrating his 52nd birthday today.
Well under way on board the spacecraft are the joint U.S. and Russian biomedical investigations being conducted in the Spacelab module. Both the astronauts and cosmonauts will spend time on the treadmill or cycle ergometer today, and the Mir 18 crew members will continue to act as test subjects to see how extended exposure to a microgravity environment affects the body's ability to absorb medication and respond to viral infections.
All three crews will gather in Atlantis' Spacelab module for the traditional press conference. Media from JSC, KSC and Russia will have the opportunity to talk with the crew members in that event, scheduled to begin at 9:07 a.m. central time.
The final official meeting of the three Atlantis/Mir crews takes place at a farewell ceremony scheduled to begin at 12:32 p.m. on board Mir. Following the official farewell, crew members will complete the final minutes of equipment transfer, bid a personal adieu to their friends and colleagues, then close the hatches of each spacecraft to prepare for Tuesday's undocking.
In the meantime, transfer of equipment and water to the Mir continues. In addition to the continuing transfer of excess shuttle water, the SVET root module, which provides a growth medium for plants as part of the Mir Greenhouse experiment also will be transferred and stowed on board Mir.
By the time of Tuesday's undocking, more than one-half ton of water, along with 53 pounds of oxygen, and 80 pounds of nitrogen will have been transferred to the space station. The oxygen and nitrogen are being transferred to Mir by using the Shuttle's atmospheric system to raise the air pressure in the station.
On Monday, July 3, 1995, 5:30 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #13 reports:
With a final hug to departing cosmonaut Gennady Strekalov, Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev bolted the door of the Mir space station this afternoon. Atlantis' Flight Engineer Greg Harbaugh followed suit shortly afterward, performing a final check on a docking target the next visiting Shuttle will use and then closing the Shuttle's hatch.
Mir's hatch was closed at 2:32 p.m. Central today, and Atlantis' hatch was closed at 2:48 p.m. Central. Following the hatch closing, Harbaugh began depressurizing the tunnel that had connected Mir and Atlantis, venting the air overboard to equalize the tunnel with the vacuum of space in preparation for tomorrow's undocking. The air vented overboard slower than expected, but steadily; and a leak check showed both spacecraft hatches were securely closed. Flight controllers believe the slow depressurization was due to thermal blankets that partially obstructed the vent.
Prior to closing the hatches on the station and Shuttle, the ten cosmonauts and astronauts held a formal farewell ceremony. Atlantis' crew presented flight pins, watches, fresh fruit, and tortillas to the Mir 19 crew to wish them well as they start a two-month stay on Mir. Also today, medical examinations continued on the Mir 18 crew members, now Atlantis' passengers, in the Shuttle's laboratory module. The Mir 18 cosmonauts and astronaut Norm Thagard have been in orbit for 111 days.
STS-71 Flight Day 8 Highlights:
On Tuesday, July 4, 1995, 5 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #14 reports:
As the Atlantis crew was awakened to a celebration of America's 219th birthday and the sounds of "America the Beautiful," their colleagues on board the Mir space station were well into procedures to deactivate some of the station's systems. Mir will be temporarily uninhabited following the undocking of the Soyuz capsule from the station. With Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev at the controls, the Soyuz was to undock from Mir at 5:55 AM, and move to a stationkeeping position to photograph the linked Atlantis/Mir space complex.
Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev redocked his Soyuz capsule to the Mir space station about 6:43 a.m. to begin a two-month stay. With the five-days of docked operations behind them, the STS-71 and Mir 18 crew members will settle into a routine of continuing medical and scientific investigations on board Atlantis. The joint U.S./Russian investigations are studying how the human body responds to an extended stay in microgravity. The Mir 18 crew members -- Commander Vladimir Dezhurov, Flight Engineer Gennady Strekalov and Cosmonaut Researcher Norm Thagard -- began their 112th day in orbit.
On Tuesday, July 4, 1995, 2 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #15 reports:
With a graceful orbital bow, Atlantis departed the Mir space station on time this morning and is now flying solo once again while medical examinations of the Shuttle's new, homeward-bound passengers continue.
Atlantis Commander Hoot Gibson undocked from Mir at 6:10 a.m. Central today, releasing hooks that held the docked spacecraft together and allowing springs built into the docking system to gently push the Shuttle away. Atlantis was preceded in undocking by a Soyuz spacecraft flown by Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Engineer Gennady Strekalov that unlatched from the station at 5:55 a.m. Central. As Atlantis slowly circled the station, the Soyuz redocked, each spacecraft capturing final photographs and film of the other. Aboard Atlantis, Gibson likened the session to a "cosmic ballet."
Atlantis and her crew of eight are enroute to a Friday landing. The Mir 19 cosmonauts are embarking on a months-long stay aboard Mir. After firing Atlantis' jets for a final separation from the vicinity of Mir, medical investigations resumed in the Shuttle's laboratory module, with each of the three Mir 18 crew members taking turns exercising on a treadmill. The returning Mir 18 crewmen are on their 112th day of weightlessness, and such medical work will continue for the next two days aboard the Shuttle.
STS-71 Flight Day 9 Highlights:
On Wednesday, July 5, 1995, 6 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #16 reports:
Flying solo and ahead of the Mir space station by about 120 nautical miles, the crew on board Atlantis awoke to a children's song, "I Love My Moon," a special dedication to Commander Hoot Gibson from his 26-day old daughter Emilee Louise.
Atlantis carried seven crew members into orbit, and following the conclusion of its joint operations with the Mir space station, is scheduled to return to Earth on Friday morning with eight passengers on board, equalling the largest crew (STS-61A, Oct. `85) in Shuttle history. The Mir 19 cosmonauts-- Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin -- who reached orbit on board Atlantis, now begin a two-month stay on board the space station while the Mir 18 crew -- Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennady Strekalov and Norm Thagard -- are returning to Earth on board Atlantis. Solovyev and Budarin are scheduled to take the first of three planned spacewalks during their flight on July 14th to inspect a side docking port on the Mir and to free a balky solar panel on the Kvant-2 science module.
The primary activities today aboard Atlantis focus on the continuing medical and scientific investigations being conducted in the Spacelab science workshop in the Shuttle's cargo bay. The Mir 18 crew members, beginning their 113th day on orbit, are the primary test subjects for the ongoing studies into how the human body responds to extended spaceflight.
The investigations are designed to increase understanding of, and countermeasures for, a phenomenon referred to as orthostatic intolerance. This is a feeling of lightheadedness that astronauts may experience when attempting to stand upright after returning to Earth. Mir 18 crew members will use either the Lower Body Negative Pressure unit -- a bag-like device that pulls fluids from the upper portion of the body to the lower extremities -- or a baroreflex neck cuff that mimics arterial pressure on sensors located in the arteries of the neck, to see how autonomic control of cardiovascular orthostatic function responds to microgravity.
Earlier this morning, Commander Hoot Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt, Dezhurov and Thagard took time from their schedules to discuss their docking mission to the Mir Station with NBC's "Today" show.
On Wednesday, July 5, 1995, 5 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #17 reports:
With the Mir space station growing ever more dim behind them, Atlantis' crew members concentrated today on biomedical research in the Shuttle's Spacelab module.
The Mir space station is now about 200 nautical miles behind Atlantis and continuing to fall behind by about 9 nautical miles per orbit. Nevertheless, Commander Hoot Gibson reported he can still clearly see the station as a distant star with each sunrise.
The Mir's former inhabitants--Mir 18 crewmen Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennady Strekalov and astronaut Norm Thagard--now in orbit for 113 days, were the subjects of the scientific investigations aboard Atlantis. Strekalov and Thagard each spent a session in the Lower Body Negative Pressure device--a device that simulates the effects of gravity by using lower air pressure to pull body fluids to the legs. Also, a series of experiments was performed dealing with the reflex responses of the cardiovascular system. Each crewman also exercised on the treadmill.
To fix a minor problem onboard, Gibson and Pilot Charlie Precourt rigged an alternate method of supplying power to equipment that allows the crew to send electronic still photographs to the ground. The fix is working well, and several new images were received by controllers this afternoon. The crew began an 8-hour sleep period at 5:32 p.m. and will awaken Thursday at 1:32 a.m. Central for another day of medical work and several standard checks of equipment Atlantis will need for its landing on Friday.
STS-71 Flight Day 10 Highlights:
On Thursday, July 6, 1995, 6:30 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #18 reports:
The Atlantis crew received a lighthearted wake-up as a parody of the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye" and Paul Anka's "Lay Your Head on My Shoulder" greeted the eight crew members at 1:30 a.m. today.
Thursday marked the final full day on orbit for the astronauts and cosmonauts on board Atlantis and preparations for Friday's planned landing occupied much of their time. Commander Hoot Gibson, Pilot Charlie Precourt and Mission Specialist Greg Harbaugh powered on one of Atlantis' hydraulic systems and cycled the flight control surfaces that will be used during reentry. They also fired the orbiter's reaction control system jets in the traditional preflight checkout of the Shuttle's systems prior to Friday's scheduled homecoming.
Even as crew members prepared to return home, the pace of biomedical investigations in the Spacelab module continued with the Mir 18 crew members --Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennady Strekalov and Norm Thagard. Thagard and Strekalov once again climbed into the bag-like Lower Body Negative Pressure device which pulls fluids from the upper body to the lower extremities. Sessions in the LBNP are part of the countermeasures program to prepare the Mir 18 crew to return to Earth following more than 100 days in orbit.
Also in the Spacelab, Harbaugh will join Mission Specialist Ellen Baker in setting up the special recumbent seats the Mir 18 crew members will occupy during reentry. Baker and Bonnie Dunbar also will begin deactivating some of the Spacelab's systems in anticipation of Friday's landing. Some systems will remain powered on so that exercise equipment in the Spacelab module is available to crew members in the event weather precludes a landing Friday morning.
Early, at 2:15 a.m., a voice check from the new flight control room in Mission Control to the orbiting shuttle was successfully completed. STS-71 is scheduled to be the last shuttle mission to use the current mission control center for on-orbit operations. Beginning with STS-70, set for launch on July 13, on-orbit flight control will take place in the new flight control room. Wednesday night at 8:16, flight controllers in Houston passed a milestone as communications commands issued from the new flight control room in Mission Control were successfully uplinked to Atlantis. The commands were sent as Atlantis flew 218 nautical miles above the Indian Ocean.
On Thursday, July 6, 1995, 5 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #19 reports:
The crew of Atlantis packed up today and double-checked equipment in preparation for tomorrow's return home.
Earlier in the day, Commander Hoot Gibson and Pilot Charlie Precourt checked the equipment and instruments Atlantis will use for landing, finding all systems working properly. Following that checkout, they test-fired Atlantis' 38 primary steering thrusters, finding one rear, upward-firing jet failed and all others working well. The failed jet has several other jets that are backups and can perform the same function for the Shuttle and is not an issue for the landing.
After final exercise sessions by members of the Mir 18 crew, the Spacelab module was packed up by Payload Commander Ellen Baker and Mission Specialist Bonnie Dunbar in preparation for entry. Also, reclining seats were installed in the lower deck of Atlantis for the Mir 18 crewmen, Commander Vladimir Dezhurov, Flight Engineer Gennady Strekalov and astronaut Norm Thagard. The three, on their 115th day in orbit tomorrow, will ride in the seats for the landing, allowing them to take the forces of reentry in a reclined position.
STS-71 Flight Day 11 Highlights:
On Friday, July 7, 1995, 6:30 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #20 reports:
The crew on board Atlantis is preparing to end its historic mission with a 9:55 a.m. central time landing today at the Kennedy Space Center.
With weather conditions in Florida expected to be acceptable at landing time, Commander Hoot Gibson transitioned to the deorbit activities timeline shortly before 5 a.m. central with work to configure the crew cabin for reentry well under way.
On board, the crew members have closed and secured the airlock connecting the crew compartment to the orbiter docking mechanism and Spacelab module housed in Atlantis' payload bay. Deactivation of the Spacelab module is complete, as is installation of seats on the flight deck that will be occupied by Mission Specialists Ellen Baker and Greg Harbaugh on reentry.
There are two opportunities for a landing at KSC this morning. The first opportunity begins with a deorbit burn at 8:45 a.m., with Atlantis touching down at 9:55 a.m. The second opportunity comes one orbit later with a 10:22 a.m. engine firing resulting in an 11:31 a.m. landing.
The eight astronauts and cosmonauts began what should be their final day on orbit at 1:32 a.m. with a wake-up call from Mission Control. In recognition of their journey -- which began March 14 in Kazakhastan, the crew awakened this morning to Supertramp's "Take the Long Way Home."
On Friday, July 7, 1995, 3:30 p.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report #21 reports:
Commander "Hoot" Gibson and Pilot Charlie Precourt guided Atlantis to a smooth touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center at 9:55 AM Central time this morning to wrap up the first mission to linkup a Shuttle with the Russian Space Station Mir.
After firing Atlantis' braking rockets at 8:45 AM, Gibson and Precourt brought Atlantis home to runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility to complete the 4.1 million mile mission, the first of seven planned docking flights to the Mir as part of the Phase One program leading to the development and construction of the International Space Station.
About an hour after landing, Mir 18 cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennady Strekalov and U.S. astronaut Norm Thagard were brought out of the Shuttle into the Crew Transport Vehicle alongside Atlantis for their ride to the Operations and Checkout Building at KSC for initial postflight medical testing. The Mir 18 crewmembers spent 115 days in space following their launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 14th.
Dezhurov, Strekalov and Thagard will be flown back to Ellington Field in Houston in an Air Force C-9 Medevac plane for several weeks of medical tests and reorientation to a gravity environment after almost four months of weightlessness. They are expected to arrive in Houston about 9 1/2 hours after landing. The rest of the STS-71 crew is scheduled to Houston around 9 PM.
Atlantis was towed this afternoon to the Orbiter Processing Facility at KSC to begin a maintenance period leading to its next launch in late October on STS-74, the second Shuttle-Mir docking mission, in which a Russian-built Docking Module will be permanently mated to the Kristall science module's docking mechanism on the Mir. That will enable Atlantis to linkup to Mir on future flights with enough clearance to avoid interference with the Russian Space Station's solar arrays.
Disassembly of the RSRM factory joint after landing (and after the launch of STS-70) identified that the solid rocket boster (SRB) motor factory joint experienced a minor o-ring problem causing some discoloration of the o-rings due to hot gasses. The problem warrents further investigation. References: 2 , 5 , 6 , 7 .