Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mir EO-17



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Mir against Space
The Mir station seen against space during one of the Shuttle-Mir missions.
Credit: NASA
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Mir EO-17
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
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Mir EO-17
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
Crew: Kondakova, Viktorenko. Mir Expedition EO-17. Docked at the Mir forward port at 00:28 on 1994 October 6. The Mir crew of Viktorenko, Kondakova and Polyakov boarded Soyuz TM-20 on January 11, and undocked from Mir's front port at 09:00 GMT. The spacecraft withdrew to about two hundred metres from Mir and then redocked in a test of the automatic Kurs system, which had failed in Progress M-24's attempted docking. Redocking came at 09:25 GMT. Soyuz TM-20 landed 22 km northeast of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan at 04:04 GMT on March 22, 1995. Backup crew: Gidzenko, Avdeyev.

Mir Expedition EO-17. Docked at the Mir forward port at 00:28 on 1994 October 6. The Mir crew of Viktorenko, Kondakova and Polyakov boarded Soyuz TM-20 on January 11, and undocked from Mir's front port at 09:00 GMT. The spacecraft withdrew to about two hundred metres from Mir and then redocked in a test of the automatic Kurs system, which had failed in Progress M-24's attempted docking. Redocking came at 09:25 GMT. Soyuz TM-20 landed 22 km northeast of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan at 04:04 GMT on March 22, 1995.

Narrative (adapted from D S F Portree's Mir Hardware Heritage, NASA RP-1357, 1995)

On 6 October, 1994, Mir Principal Expedition 17 (Alexandr Viktorenko and Yelena Kondakova) arrived at Mir together with ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold aboard Soyuz TM-20, Valeri Polyakov was again to remain aboard on his record duration flight. During final approach, Soyuz TM-20 yawed unexpectedly. He assumed manual control and completed docking without incident. Kondakova, the mission rookie, was the third Russian female cosmonaut and the first female to take part in a longduration flight. Ulf Merbold was a physicist and veteran of two U.S. Space Shuttle missions. The month-long Euromir 94 experiment program was considered a precursor to the ESA Columbus module planned for the joint U.S.-Russia-ESA-Japan-Canada space station. Merbold's program was planned rapidly, final agreement between ESA and Russian having been concluded in November 1992. It was also constrained by funding limitations—ESA budgeted only about $60 million for Euromir 94. Because of these limitations, Merbold relied heavily on equipment left on Mir by earlier French, Austrian, and German visitors to the station, as well as the Czech-built CSK-1 materials processing furnace. He also used equipment delivered by Progress M-24 and Soyuz TM-20. Merbold's experiment program included 23 life sciences, 4 materials sciences, and 3 technology experiments.

On October 11 the six cosmonauts aboard Mir were unable to activate a video camera and TV lights while recharging Soyuz TM-20's batteries. A short circuit had disabled the computer which guided Mir's solar arrays, forcing the station to drain its batteries. The cosmonauts used reaction control thrusters on the Soyuz TM-spacecraft docked to the station to orient it so its solar arrays would point toward the Sun, and switched on a backup computer. Normal conditions were restored by October 15. According to Yuri Antoshechkin, Deputy Flight Director for Mir Systems, speaking in December at JSC, the shortage afflicted only the Mir core module. Antoshechkin stated through an interpreter that unspecified minor crew error, coupled with a long period out of contact with monitors in the TsUP (caused by Altair/SR relay satellite "prophylactic work") during a crew sleep period, contributed to the base block discharging its batteries unnoticed, and that an automatic alarm awakened the crew when the power shortage reached a critical level.

Ground teams rescheduled Merbold's experiments to allow completion of those interrupted by the power problems, and moved experiments using large amounts of electricity to the end of Merbold's stay. In addition, the Czech-built CSK-1 furnace malfunctioned, forcing postponement of five of Merbold's experiments until after his return to Earth.

On November 3 Malenchenko, Musabayev, and Merbold undocked in Soyuz TM-19 and withdrew to a distance of 190 m. They then activated its Kurs system, which successfully guided the spacecraft to an automatic docking with Mir's aft port. The cosmonauts then went back into Mir. The test was a response to the Progress M-24 docking problems. If it had failed, the Soyuz TM-19 cosmonauts would have made an emergency return to Earth.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on an 11-day atmospheric research mission on November 3. French astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy was aboard as a mission specialist. In remarks made after Atlantis' launch, ESA Director-General Jean- Marie Luton stated that there was "a French astronaut flying on an American Space Shuttle to perform experiments from U.S., French, German, and Belgian scientists....Meanwhile, on Russia's Mir space station, ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold is completing a month-long mission, the longest in European spaceflight. By the end of the decade, this level of cooperation will be routine aboard the international space station."

On November 4 Merbold again squeezed into the Soyuz- TM 19 descent module, together with the EO-16 crew of Malenchenko and Musabayev, and 16 kg of the life sciences samples he collected during his stay on the station. Additional samples -- including materials processing samples to be produced when the Principal Expedition 17 cosmonauts carry out the experiments Merbold was to have conducted during his stay -- were to be returned to Earth by Space Shuttle Atlantis in mid-1995. Soyuz TM-19 undocking, deorbit burn, reentry, and landing occurred without significant incident.

On November 13 Progress M-25 arrived. Viktorenko stood by at the remote control panel on Mir during approach, but manual intervention was unnecessary. Polyakov, veteran of the Progress M-24 problems, called Progress M-25 "an ideal freighter." Among other cargoes, Progress M-25 delivered replacement parts for the failed CSK-1 materials processing furnace. 50,000 orbits. On November 18 the Mir base block completed its 50,000th orbit of the Earth, having covered about 1.9 billion km since launch on February 20, 1986.

AKA: Vityaz (Knight ); Soyuz TM-20 (Kondakova, Viktorenko).
First Launch: 1994.10.03.
Last Launch: 1995.03.22.
Duration: 169.22 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Polyakov Polyakov, Dr Valeri Vladimirovich (1942-) Russian physician cosmonaut. Flew on Mir LD-2, Mir LD-4. Longest single space flight (437 days). 678 cumulative days in space. Civilian Physician, Institute of Medical Biological Problems. More...
  • Viktorenko Viktorenko, Aleksandr Stepanovich (1947-) Russian pilot cosmonaut. Flew on Mir EP-1, Mir EO-5, Mir EO-11, Mir EO-17. 489 cumulative days in space. Call sign: Vityaz (Knight). More...
  • Avdeyev Avdeyev, Sergei Vasilyevich (1956-) Russian engineer cosmonaut. Flew on Mir EO-12, Mir EO-20, Mir EO-26/-27. 747 cumulative days in space. Ten spacewalks. Civilian Engineer, Energia NPO More...
  • Kondakova Kondakova, Yelena Vladimirovna (1957-) Russian engineer cosmonaut. Flew on Mir EO-17, STS-84. Engineer, first Russian woman to fly in space for other than propaganda reasons. Was married to astronaut Valeriy Ryumin. Civilian Engineer, Energia NPO More...
  • Gidzenko Gidzenko, Yuri Pavlovich (1962-) Ukrainian pilot cosmonaut. Flew on Mir EO-20, ISS EO-1, ISS EP-3. Call sign: Uran (Uranus). More...

See also
Associated Programs
  • Mir The Mir space station was the last remnant of the once mighty Soviet space programme. It was built to last only five years, and was to have been composed of modules launched by Proton and Buran/Energia launch vehicles. These modules were derived from those originally designed by Chelomei in the 1960's for the Almaz military station programme. As the Soviet Union collapsed Mir stayed in orbit, but the final modules were years late and could only be completed with American financial assistance. Kept flying over a decade beyond its rated life, Mir proved a source of pride to the Russian people and proved the ability of their cosmonauts and engineers to improvise and keep operations going despite all manner of challenges and mishaps. More...

Mir EO-17 Chronology


1994 October 3 - . 22:42 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U2.
  • Soyuz TM-20 - . Call Sign: Vityaz (Knight ). Crew: Kondakova; Merbold; Viktorenko. Backup Crew: Budarin; Reiter; Solovyov. Payload: Soyuz TM 11F732 s/n 69. Mass: 7,150 kg (15,760 lb). Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Kondakova; Merbold; Viktorenko; Budarin; Reiter; Solovyov. Agency: MOM. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir LD-4. Spacecraft: Soyuz TM. Duration: 169.22 days. Decay Date: 1995-03-02 . USAF Sat Cat: 23288 . COSPAR: 1994-063A. Apogee: 395 km (245 mi). Perigee: 392 km (243 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.43 min. Mir Expedition EO-17. Docked at the Mir forward port at 00:28 on 1994 October 6. The Mir crew of Viktorenko, Kondakova and Polyakov boarded Soyuz TM-20 on January 11, and undocked from Mir's front port at 09:00 GMT. The spacecraft withdrew to about two hundred metres from Mir and then redocked in a test of the automatic Kurs system, which had failed in Progress M-24's attempted docking. Redocking came at 09:25 GMT.

1994 October 4 - .
  • Mir News 231: Soyuz-TM20 launched. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir LD-4. The Soyuz-TM20 with on board the Euromir94 astronaut Merbold and the cosmonauts Viktorenko and Kondakova blasted off from Baykonur exactly on schedule on 3.10.94 at 2242 UTC (Moscow time 4.10.94 at 0142 UTC). During the passes in our range during the orbits 2, 3, 4 and 5 at resp. 0143, 0312, 0445 and 0625 UTC the Soyuz-TM20 could be monitored on the known frequencies. At 0320 UTC Viktorenko, prompted by Kondakova, reported the successful first 2 orbit corrections and the additional data. It was obvious that all on board was going well. Judging by the cheerful voice of Kondakova she must be in a good condition. Kondakova wants to stay in orbit for approx. 6 months.

    Estimated time of docking to Mir:

    Result of calculations estimate the docking time of Soyuz-TM20 to Mir on 6.10.94 at 0013 UTC, ESA (still) sticks to 0030 UTC. Soyuz-TM20 has to dock to the forward (P.Kh.O.) axial docking port of the Mir complex.

    Progress-M24: This freighter still occupies that docking port and has to get away before the arrival of Soyuz-TM20. It might be possible that after the separation the Russians will check the system Kurs of Progress-M24 during some dummy approaches as to reveal the causes of malfunctions during recent unsuccessful docking attempts. Progress-M24 does not carry a VBK (ballistic return capsule) and will burn up in the atmosphere over an area in the Pacific.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1994 October 6 - .
  • Mir News 232: Soyuz-TM20 docked at the Mir complex - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Soyuz-TM20 docked at the Mir complex on 6.10.94 at 0028 UTC.

    Soyuz-TM20 docked at the forward axial docking port (transition section) of the complex. At a distance of 130 M. from the Mir complex Viktorenko had to take over manually due to a malfunction of an on board computer. During the radio traffic in orb. 49328, 0005 UTC, V. reported the progress of the operation. The Soyuz-TM20 was in a distance of 151 M., approach speed of 3 cm/sec just before LOS at 001148 UTC. From a distance of appr. 50 M Viktorenko had started the final approach and his skill amazed the observers in the ESA/EAC facility in Cologne: very quickly, with only a few corrections, he accurately moored his ship. During the next pass in orb. 49329, 0143 UTC, the new crew already was in Mir's base block preparing a TV-session. One of the first persons to congratulate the crew, especially the Euromir94 astronaut Merbold, was the Dir. General of ESA, Luton. Everybody in Cologne was pleased with the excellent physical condition of the newcomers. During the pass in orb. 49330, 0317 UTC, the cheerful meeting of both crews could be heard. Again there was a TV-session also with Kondakova. During the next window in orb. 49331, 0449 UTC, Viktorenko reported that he did all what he had to do with his ship Soyuz-TM20. Progress-M24: This naughty freighter had to withdraw before the arrival of Soyuz-TM20. Progress-M24 separated from Mir on 5.10.-

    94 at 1853 UTC. Probably she flew some orbits autonomously before burning up in the atmosphere over an area in the Pacific. There have been no reports about extra manoeuvres with Progress-M24.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1994 October 13 - .
  • Mir News 233: Failure power supply on board Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. In the night from 11 to 12.10.94 the voltage of the power supply sharply decreased. This failure had been caused by the insufficient charging by solar batteries. All systems in the base block discontinued functioning. From this moment on it was impossible to control the attitude of the Mir-complex. It became impossible to aim the antenna for communications via the geostationary satellite. During this night a lot of radio traffic via 143.625 mc was monitored in which the problems were reported and discussed. Opinions of Russian specialists are not unanimous: the VKS (Russian space forces) spoke of a very complicated situation. Deputy Flight controller Blagov of TsUP blamed the age of the station, which is in orbit as of the beginning of 1986, while the PRO of TsUP sounded rather optimistic. He stated that the Euromir94 expedition will remain on schedule. In the night from 12 to 13 Oct. Viktorenko and Kondakova remained on duty to be able to act if necessary. Meanwhile a lot of electric energy had been loaded and specialists hope to be able to adjust the attitude of the complex in such a way that the solar arrays will function as efficient as possible and that communications via the relay satellite will be restored. The cosmonauts did not panic at all: Viktorenko and Kondakova even joked about the fact that the exchange rate of the dollar on board Mir remained stable, which could not be said about the voltages of their power supply systems.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1994 October 31 - .
  • Mir News 234: Soyuz-TM19 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. This ship with on board the cosmonauts Malenchenko, Musabayev and Merbold will return to earth on 4.11.94. The return flight has been put back 1 day. The Russians had to extend the Euromir94 mission for an extra test flight with the Soyuz-TM19. The crew of Soyuz-TM19 will close the hatch behind them on 4.11.94 at 0450 UTC. The ship will undock from the Mir-complex at abt. 0700 UTC and if all goes according to the so called 'cyclogram' the landing in Kazakhstan will follow at 1118 UTC.

    The inserted test flight of Soyuz-TM19 will take place on 2.11.94. The ship will separate from at 1100 UTC and execute some approaches to check the automatic Kurs system.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1994 November 2 - .
  • Mir News 235: Soyuz-TM19 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. On 2.11.94 from 1040-1116 UTC this ship made an autonomous flight to test the automatic approach system. The crew consisted of Malenchenko, Musabayev and Merbold. No anomalies have been reported thus far.

    Euromir94: In spite of power problems in the beginning of this mission all medical-biological experiments during which Ulf Merbold, the ESA-astronaut, was the main guinea-pig have been successfully concluded. Merbold is sure that the samples did not suffer damages from the period in which the refrigerator was switched off. The material-processing experiments had to be cancelled due to the malfunction of an oven. The materials for these experiments remain on board Mir and after the repair of that oven the Russian crew will do the experiments. Spare parts for that oven will be delivered to the complex by the next Progress-M freighter.

    Estimated landing time Soyuz-TM19:

    The landing has been put forward a little bit and is expected to take place on 4.11.94 at 1055 UTC.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1994 November 4 - .
  • Mir News 236: Soyuz-TM19 returned to earth. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Soyuz-TM19 with on board the cosmonauts Malenchenko, Musabayev and Merbold landed at abt. 170 KM N.E. of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan on 4.11.94 at 1118 UTC. Soyuz-TM19 separated from Mir at 0729 UTC. For radio- and TV-communications the tracking stations Ulan-Ude, Ussuriysk, Kolpashevo and Petropavlovsk Kamchatka were used. From 1020 UTC, so 3 minutes before retrofire, Soyuz-TM-19's traffic was relayed via Mir and the geostationary Altair satellite to TsUP. Malenchenko gave information about the retrofire, the fuel consumption and the altitudes of his ship. At 1051 UTC Soyuz-TM19 jettisoned the life compartment and the service module. These compartments burnt up in the atmosphere. At 1054 UTC the descent module entered the dense layers of the atmosphere and a short period of radio silence began. The radio contact had to be resumed at about 1101 UTC, but obviously due to a failure the transmitters of Soyuz-TM19 remained silent. This caused anxiety among 'observers' and the people following the events in the centres in Moscow, Toulouse, Cologne and Noordwijk (Estec). The controllers at TsUP did not get any reaction on their calls. At 1119 UTC a representative of ESA, who was on board of a search- en rescue helicopter, reported that he saw the landed capsule. Gradually reports came in about the safe landing of the cosmonauts without any reference to their physical condition.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1994 November 4 - .
  • Landing of Soyuz TM-19 - . Return Crew: Malenchenko; Merbold; Musabayev. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Malenchenko; Merbold; Musabayev. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Soyuz TM-19 undocked from Mir with the crew of Malenchenko, Merbold and Musabayev aboard at 07:29 GMT on November 4. The Soyuz instrument module (PAO, priborno-agregatniy otsek) fired its deorbit engine, and was jettisoned together with the orbital module (BO, bitovoy otsek) at 10:51 GMT, with entry interface for the descent module (SA, spuskaemiy apparat) at 10:54. It landed 170 km north-east of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan on 1994 November 4 at 11:18 GMT.

1994 November 9 - .
  • Mir News 237: Progress-M25 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir Euromir 94; Mir EO-16; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Summary: The launch of this freighter from Baykonur is on schedule for 11 November 1994 at 0721 UTC. If all goes according to plan Progress-M25 will dock to the Mir-complex in the morning of 13 November 1994.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165-A-UK3202.


1994 November 11 - .
  • Mir News 238: Progress-M25 launched for flight to Mir. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. The freighter Progress-M25 blasted off from Baykonur on 11.11.94 at 0721 UTC for a flight of 2 days to the Mir station. The transmitters of Progress-M25 could be heard here during the 3d and 4th orbit at resp. 1157 and 1326 UTC. If all goes according to plan Progress-M25 will arrive at Mir on 13.11.94 at abt 0902 UTC. Progress-M25 has to dock to the aft (Kvant- 1) docking port of the station. The approach system for this port has been checked during a short autonomous flight of Soyuz-TM19 on 3.11.94. No anomalies were found. If the system fails on 13.11 the cosmonauts are ready to guide Progress-M25 with the system TORU.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1994 November 11 - . 07:21 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U. LV Configuration: Soyuz 11A511U Ya15000-638.
  • Progress M-25 - . Payload: Progress M s/n 225. Mass: 7,125 kg (15,707 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned logistics spacecraft. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Spacecraft: Progress M. Duration: 97.39 days. Decay Date: 1995-02-16 . USAF Sat Cat: 23348 . COSPAR: 1994-075A. Apogee: 394 km (244 mi). Perigee: 391 km (242 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.41 min. Summary: Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. Docked with Mir on 13 Nov 1994 09:04:29 GMT. Undocked on 16 Feb 1995 13:03:00 GMT. Destroyed in reentry on 16 Feb 1995 16:45:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 2.23 days. Total docked time 95.17 days..

1994 November 13 - .
  • Mir News 239: Progress-M25 docked at Mir-space station. - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. The freighter P-M25 docked at Mir's aft (Kvant-1) docking port on 13.11.94 at 0904 UTC (during orb. 49926). The approach and docking took place in the automatic mode by the system Kurs. On board Soyuz-TM20 Viktorenko was standby with the system TORU, but manual interference was not necessary. The operation could be monitored via Altair between 0822 and 0904 UTC. During the next pass (orb. 49927, 1027 UTC) the gentlemen on board left the honour to give the first post-docking report to Yelena Kondakova. Enthusiastically she reported the airseal, the opening of the hatch, the fact that Progress-M25 was clean and that they enjoyed the nice smell of apples and lemons. Polyakov said that the Progress-M25 was an ideal freighter.

    Progress-M25 delivered to the Mir-station new supplies of water, fuel, food, spare parts for repair (among which parts for the furnace to be used for the conclusion of the Euromir94 materials processing experiments) and post. Progress-M25 has not been equipped by a VBK (Ballistic Return Capsule).

    Jubilees: In the early morning of 18.11.94 Mir -that is to say the first part, the base block, launched on 19.02.1986- will make her 50000th orbit around the Earth. From that early beginning I tried to monitor as much as possible all passes within range. If I was a robot and had been able to monitor all passes this number would be 12500. But not being a robot I needed holidays etc. Nevertheless at a rough estimation I must have been monitoring Mir's radio traffic during 10000 passes. Homage to my poor ear-drums!

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1994 December 20 - .
  • Mir News 240: After Euromir94 and the docking of the freighter - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Progress-M25 there have been no important operations. During the last 10 days the passes for our position took place at night. Meanwhile these passes shifted to the early evening. There has been radio traffic during the night hours about power supply problems. This time the solar panels are not to blame, but the accumulators full of age after 8 years continuous loading and unloading, are no longer able to fulfil their task properly. Now and then they cannot deliver enough power to keep important systems in operation. Sometimes this even causes malfunctions of the gyrodynes.

    Spacewalks (EVA-s): The long awaited EVA's have been put back again. The EVA in which Viktorenko and Polyakov have to replace a docking system inside the transition section obviously is no longer on schedule. The important EVA for the transfer of the solar panels of Kristall to Kvant-1 has been put back to May 1995.

    Communications: The geostationary Kosmos-2054 (Altair) on 16 degr. West is still operational but seldom in use for Mir-TsUP traffic. Sometimes the channel on 10.835 GHz is in use for other 'customers'. Possibly the Russians use another channel for Mir-TsUP communications. On 16.12.94 at abt. noon a new geostationary satellite, Luch-1 has been launched from Baykonur. This Luch-1 will be used for Mir-TsUP communications over 95 dgs East. Possibly this satellite will be operational in January 1995. Long ago 95 dgs East was in use for Luch satellites (Cosmos- 1700 and 1897). For the Russians it would be very useful to place a 2d Luch on 160 dgs. West. Luch-1 on 95 dgs East will help to fill up the gaps after the loss of the tracking stations in Tblisi and Yevpatoriya. There still is a third tracking station near Russia's weak underbelly: Dzhusaly not far from Baykonur, but the status of this station is vulnerable as it is located in Kazakhstan. A lot of unpleasant events during the last years proved that this country does not always appreciate the Russian presence on its territory.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1995 January 11 - .
  • Mir News 241: Autonomous test flight Soyuz-TM20 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. On 11.01.1995 between 0900 and 0925 UTC the Soyuz-TM20 flew autonomously to test the Kurs-approach and docking system at the forward transition section (P.Kh.O.) of the Mir-complex. Problems during some docking operations in Aug/Sept 1994 (Progress-M24) and on 6.10.1994 (Soyuz-TM20) made this operation necessary. Long before Soyuz-TM20 separated from the complex the whole crew was on board of that ship and thoroughly tested all systems. According to the plan the Soyuz-TM20 executed the approach and docking fully automatically by use of the Kurs system. Viktorenko, assisted by Kondakova, was ready to take over manually if something went wrong or in case of a too high fuel consumption. Soyuz-TM20 perfectly linked to the station at 09.24.57 UTC, the aberrations remained far within the limits, just before docking less than 0.5 degrees. The good functioning of the Kurs systems is indispensable for the execution of the program for this year. During the operation with the Soyuz-TM20 the radio traffic went via the geostationary Altair. During the separation Soyuz-TM20 flew within our range and the traffic could be monitored on 121.750 mc as well as via Altair.

    Luch-1:

    This geostationary satellite to be used for Mir-TsUP communications in the near future is standing over 95 degrees East, but is not yet operational for TDRS purposes.

    Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1995 January 26 - .
  • Mir News 242: Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. The Mir-crew is still struggling along to keep the complex habitable and operational. Recently they had to cope with technical problems with the heating, drinking-water, pressure control and with a leakage of water in the Kristall-module. With the help of advice from experts on earth they solved the problems. On 23.01.1995 during the pass in orbit 51032, 0719- UTC, TsUP gave Viktorenko attitude control data to adjust the attitude of the complex in such a way that the solar panels of the Kristall module could deliver a maximum of energy. Dr. Polyakov continued his medical checks and experiments. On request by experts on earth the crew filmed and observed the areas of Kobe in Japan and Grozny. On 21.01.1995 they transmitted these images to earth. It was not always possible to do this due to clouds and bad weather in the areas of interest. Also on 21.01.1995 Dr. Polyakov gave a lecture for Russian children, members of an organisation for young people interested in spaceflight. During a long TV-session via Altair Polyakov explained how the systems in the base block worked. Extensively he explained all about the production and delivery of oxygen for the complex and the purification of the air on board. He emphasised the necessity of the permanent survey of the life systems and a regular maintenance.

    Rendezvous Discovery (STS-63) with Mir: On 2.02.1995 at 0549 UTC STS-63 will be launched for a flight in which the most important operation will be a rendezvous with the Mir-complex. Somewhat earlier, on 4.02.1995 at 1221- UTC Mir and Discovery will be able to establish radio contact. From Discovery cosmonaut Titov and the female astronauts Collins and Voss will speak with the crew of Mir. On 5.02.1995 at 1828 UTC the rendezvous operation will begin and STS-63 will approach Mir in a distance of 10 meters.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 February 3 - . 05:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-63.
  • STS-63 - . Call Sign: Discovery. Crew: Collins, Eileen; Foale; Harris; Titov, Vladimir; Voss, Janice; Wetherbee. Backup Crew: Krikalyov. Payload: Discovery F20 / Spacehab SH03 / CGP / ODERACS. Mass: 8,641 kg (19,050 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Collins, Eileen; Foale; Harris; Titov, Vladimir; Voss, Janice; Wetherbee; Krikalyov. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-63; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Spacecraft: Discovery. Duration: 8.27 days. Decay Date: 1995-02-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 23469 . COSPAR: 1995-004A. Apogee: 342 km (212 mi). Perigee: 275 km (170 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.30 min. Deployed ODERACS 2A-2E; deployed and retrieved Spartan 204. Discovery rendezvoused with Russia's space station, Mir, to a distance of 11 m and performed a fly-around, but did not dock with Mir. Payloads: SPACEHAB 03, Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy (SPARTAN) 204, Cryo Systems Experiment (CSE)/GLO-2 Experi-ment Payload (CGP)/Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres (ODERACS) 2, Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS), IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC)

1995 February 11 - .
  • Mir News 243: Discovery-Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: STS-63; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. The rendezvous operation got sufficient attention in the media. So I refrain from repeating the extensively published facts. I monitored as much as possible radio traffic related to the rendezvous. Here some items which might be interesting for insiders and 'real spaceflight freaks': 1. During the rendezvous TV transmissions from Mir with images of Discovery were relayed via Altair, the Russian TDRS over 17 degs. West. These transmissions reached K.S.C. and Houston and have been widely used by TV-organisations, for instance CNN. As soon as the windows for Mir-Altair traffic closed the new Luch-1 over 97 degrees East and a number of Russian tracking stations took over. 2. Co-operation and co-ordination between both FCC-s (Houston and Kaliningrad) went smoothly. 3. For direct radio contact between Mir and Discovery the VHF- channels 121.750 and 130.1625MC -in fact Mir-channels- were in use. Vladimir Titov also used a handset for communications in the ham band: 145.325 and 145.625Mc. Before and after the rendezvous operation Mir and Discovery now and then used Altair and TDRS channels for contact with each other. 4. Regularly commentators emphasised the fact that the operation was a rehearsal for the docking operation of Atlantis in June 1995. This rehearsal was a success: Discovery remained stable on the closest approach of 10 M just in a position opposite to the docking port of the Kristall-module to be used by Atlantis for the docking. Before that docking the Russians will have to move the Kristall from the side- to the axial forward docking port of the transition section.

    Radio traffic during the days before the launch of Discovery and before the rendezvous: A lot of traffic was related to the preparations of the rendezvous. For the Mir-crew this meant a lot of work to install TV- and Photo camera's and training in communication procedures. Conversations about these subjects could be monitored during communication sessions via Altair. Also via Altair the Mir-crew regularly spoke with cosmonaut Titov on K.S.C. where he was waiting for the launch.

    After the rendezvous: Unfortunately the passes of Mir and Discovery for our position occurred during the night hours and the cosmonauts stuck to their normal day- and night routine. This made it impossible for us to monitor direct radio traffic between Mir and Discovery being not far from each other for a long time. During all possible windows for visual observations dense clouds made these observations impossible.

    Mir-routine now: Now the Russians are again among themselves. This will not often be the case in 1995 and 1996. (To be continued in the next MirNEWS).

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 February 11 - .
1995 February 12 - .
  • Mir News 244: Mir-routine - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Mir's passes within our range are gradually shifting to the late evening hours. So the number of VHF- sessions will increase. During the day hours the Russians regularly, though a little bit frugally, use the Altair satellite for Mir-communications. During a long session on 8.02.95, orb. 51281, 0824-0853 UTC, Polyakov was training at the controls of Soyuz-TM20. By the use of the test possibilities without activation of the systems Soyuz-TM's can be used as link trainer. In fact steering of such a ship is not the task of the physician-cosmonaut, but useful if this unexpected might be necessary in emergency situations. Polyakov had a rough time during this exercise for towards the end everything went wrong. On the same day during orb. 51284, 1437-1500 UTC, Mir spoke with the crew of Discovery via Altair and an American TDRS. Polyakov congratulated the Discovery crew with the successful deployment of the satellite Spartan. On 11.02.95 , orb. 51327, 0829-0913 UTC, Polyakov assisted by Kondakova gave a lecture for a group of spaceflight loving children about food on board the Mir complex.

    Progress-M27: The launch from Baykonur of this freighter is on schedule for 15.02.1995 at 1647 UTC. If all goes according to plan Progress-M27 can be monitored in our vicinity (Western Europa and UK) that day at about 1950 UTC. Frequencies: 922.755, 166.130, 166.140 and 165.873 MC.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 February 15 - .
  • Mir News 245: Progress-M26 launched - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Correction on MirNEWS.244 Read Progress-M26 instead of Progress-M27.

    Progress-M26 launched:

    The freighter Progress-M26 has been launched from Baykonur on 15.02-

    .1995 at 164827 UTC. During the pass between 2252 and 2259 UTC the transmissions in the 166, 165 and 922 Mc band could be monitored. Progress-M26 has to deliver new supplies to the Mir station, i.e. water, fuel, oxygen, oxidisers, food, but also materials for the extension of the on board systems, repair material for the drinking water installation, post and a new board documentation, medical goods, underwear etc. and an amount of 132 KG hard- and software for the experiments of the American Thagard. The enormous cargo made it impossible to equip Progress-M26 with a VBK (ballistic return capsule). Progress-M25: This freighter will separate from Mir on 16.02.1995 at 1303 UTC and will be deorbited at 1606 UTC for decay in the atmosphere over the Pacific. In this way the aft (Kvant-1) docking port of the complex will be made available for the arrival of the Progress-M26.

    Estimated docking time: Progress-M26 has to dock to the Mir station on 17.02.1995 at 1821 UTC.

    Mir: On 10.02.1995 at 183542 UTC the orbit of Mir has been corrected a little bit. With an impulse of 2m/sec the period changed from 92.3 mins to 92.39 mins. New Keplers: Epoch 95043.6810782, decay rate: 0.00046585, incl 51.6467, raan 61.6530, ecc. 0.0005015, arg per 116.1404, ma 244.1203, mm 15.57626647, rev. nr. 51354.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 February 15 - . 16:48 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U. LV Configuration: Soyuz 11A511U Ya15000-641.
  • Progress M-26 - . Payload: Progress M s/n 226. Mass: 7,139 kg (15,738 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned logistics spacecraft. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Spacecraft: Progress M. Duration: 27.56 days. Completed Operations Date: 1995-03-15 06:14:32 . Decay Date: 1995-03-15 06:14:32 . USAF Sat Cat: 23477 . COSPAR: 1995-005A. Apogee: 396 km (246 mi). Perigee: 391 km (242 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.40 min. Summary: Unmanned resupply vessel to Mir. Docked with Mir on 17 Feb 1995 18:21:34 GMT. Undocked on 15 Mar 1995 02:26:38 GMT. Destroyed in reentry over the Pacific Ocean on 15 Mar 1995 06:15:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 2.22 days. Total docked time 25.34 days..

1995 February 17 - .
  • Mir News 246: Successful docking Progress-M26 at Mir - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Freighter Progress-M26 docked at the aft (Kvant-1) docking port of the Mir-complex on 17.02.1995 at 182136 UTC in orb. 51427. Approach and docking took place in the automatic mode with the system Kurs. Viktorenko was ready to take over manually (by TORU) if necessary. He reported the movements of the Progress-M26 which enabled me to monitor the operation until 'kasaniye' (touch, soft docking). For TV-transmissions and phone the Russians used the geostationary Altair. This time the docking was executed in the earth's shadow. A searchlight had been installed on the Progress-M26. During the next orbit (0912 UTC) the crew reported that the airseal was good. It lasted a long time before the crew could enter the Progress-M26 due to some obstructing goods.

    Decay of Progress-M25: Progress-M25 left the aft docking port on 16.02.1995 at 1303 UTC. After two autonomous orbits the Progress-M25 got an impulse at 1606 UTC to enter the dense layers of the atmosphere. She decayed in a for that purpose designated area over the Pacific East of New-Zealand. Progress-M25 did not carry a VBK (ballistic return capsule). The Russians do not equip Progress-M ships with such a capsule if the landing has to take place in the winter.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 March 14 - . 06:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U2.
  • Soyuz TM-21 - . Call Sign: Uragan (Hurricane ). Crew: Dezhurov; Strekalov; Thagard. Backup Crew: Avdeyev; Dunbar; Gidzenko. Payload: Soyuz TM 11F732 s/n 70. Mass: 7,150 kg (15,760 lb). Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Dezhurov; Strekalov; Thagard; Avdeyev; Dunbar; Gidzenko. Agency: MOM. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mir EO-18; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Spacecraft: Soyuz TM. Duration: 181.03 days. Decay Date: 1995-09-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 23519 . COSPAR: 1995-010A. Apogee: 398 km (247 mi). Perigee: 392 km (243 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 92.50 min. Mir Expedition EO-18. Soyuz TM-21 carried the EO-18 Mir crew and American Norman Thagard. Thagard was the first American to be launched in a Soyuz. Soyuz docked with Mir at 07:45:26 GMT on March 16 . On July 4 Soyuz TM-21 undocked and backed off to a distance of 100 m from Mir. The US space shuttle Atlantis, with the EO-18 crew aboard, then undocked and began a flyaround at a distance of 210 m, while the EO-19 crew aboard Soyuz took pictures before redocking with the station. Soyuz TM-21 again undocked with the EO-19 crew on September 11 from the Kvant rear port on Mir and landed at 50 deg 41'N 68 deg 15'E, 108 km northeast of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan, at 06:52:40 GMT .

1995 March 16 - .
  • Mir News 247: Flight of Soyuz-TM21 - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-18; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. Launch from Baykonur on 14.03.1995 at 0611 UTC; docking to the Mir-station on 16.03.1995 at 0745 UTC. The crew consisting of the captain Dezhurov, board-engineer Strekalov and the American Norman Thagard, uses the call Uragany, so resp. Uragan-1, 2 en 3. All went well during the 2-days flight. During the 4th and 5th orbit Soyuz-TM21 had been corrected and the crew reported this on 121.750 mc during passes within our range. Telemetry- and beacon-transmitters could be monitored on the well known frequencies (166.130, 165.873 en 922.755mc.). To communicate with TsUP Soyuz-TM21 had to be within range of the ground stations in Russia and Kazakhstan. Communications via the geostationary satellites Altair and Luch-1 are only possible when an Soyuz-TM21 is within range of the Mir-station. Then Mir can act as a relay station. This can be heard during the pass within our range just before the docking. The signals from the Soyuz-TM can be received simultaneously: directly on 121.750 mc as well as via Altair. The images used by American TV-stations reached them via Mir and Altair. The TV-report from Soyuz-TM21 from CNN ceased when Mir/Soyuz-TM21 left the window for Altair. The crew of the Soyuz-TM21 seemed to have no adaptation problems, Strekalov and Thagard have a lot of experience, but newcomer Dezhurov also performed his tasks well. Mir: The crew has been very busy with preparations for the arrival of the so called 18th Main Expedition to Mir. Life support systems and other vital equipment got special attention. As usual before the oncoming return the crew had to undergo a lot of medical checks (E.C.G.-s etc.). The crew also completed the work with the freighter Progress-M26, due to leave the aft docking port of the complex for that port must be available for the docking of the Soyuz-TM21.

    Progress-M26 separated from Mir on 15.03.1995 and decayed that day in a designated area East of New Zealand at abt. 0600 UTC.

    Return to Earth of the 17th Main Expedition (Viktorenko, Kondakova and Dr. Polyakov) on 22.03.1995 with the Soyuz-TM20.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.


1995 March 22 - .
  • Mir News 248: Soyuz-TM20 returned to Earth - . Nation: Russia. Program: Mir. Flight: Mir EO-18; Mir EO-17; Mir LD-4. The Soyuz-TM20 made a safe landing at abt 50 KM from the city Arkalyk in Kazakhstan on 22.03.1995 at 0405 UTC. Soyuz-TM20 landed only 10KM from the estimated aiming point. The return operation was executed as planned: On 21.03.1995 at 2135 UTC closing of the hatches, 22.03.1995 at 0040 UTC separation from the Mir- station, 0315 UTC starting engines to reduce speed to start descent and a safe landing at 0405 UTC. In the hour before the landing (between 0306 and 0349 UTC) radio traffic of Soyuz-TM20 with TsUP via Mir and Altair could be monitored. Viktorenko and Kondakova reported the operational data, Kondakova having the lion's share. Emancipation as far as spaceflight is concerned has been successfully concluded! Separation of motor compartment and life compartment at 033955 UTC. Just before re-entry the ANAN-rescue beacon could be heard. From 0340 UTC radio silence caused by the plasma-heath.

    Records:

    Dr. Polyakov fulfilled 438 days in space during 1 flight, so 72 days more than Titov and Manarov (366 days at a stretch). Kondakova was 169 days in space.

    Chris v.d. Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202


1995 March 22 - .
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