Atlantis blasted off on a night launch to Mir, docking with the station on May 17 at 02:33 GMT. Jerry Linenger, who had begun his stay on Mir in mid-January aboard STS-81, would return aboard STS-84. Michael Foale would be left at the station for his stint as the American crew member of Mir. The crew transfered to Mir 466 kg of water, 383 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,251 kg of Russian equipment and supplies, and 178 kg of miscellaneous material. Returned to Earth aboard Atlantis were 406 kg of U.S. science material, 531 kg of Russian logistics material, 14 kg of ESA material and 171 kg of miscellaneous material. Atlantis undocked from Mir at 01:04 GMT on May 22. After passing up its first landing opportunity due to clouds over the landing site, the Shuttle fired its OMS engines on the deorbit burn at 12:33 GMT on May 24. Atlantis landed at 13:27 GMT at Kennedy Space Center's runway 33.
Cargo Bay Payloads: Orbiter Docking System; Spacehab-DM; European Proximity Sensor. In-Cabin Payloads: SIMPLEX; MSX; CREAM; RME's.
Developmental Test Objectives
Detailed Supplementary Objectives
Risk Mitigation Experiments
Payload And Vehicle Masses: Orbiter (Atlantis) empty and 3 SSME's: 69,030 kg; Shuttle System at SRB Ignition: 2046772 kg; Orbiter Weight at Landing with Cargo: 100,289 kg; Spacehab-DM: 4,187 kg; Orbiter Docking System: 1,821 kg.
NASA Official Mission Summary:
(6th Shuttle-Mir docking)
84th Shuttle mission
19th flight OV-104
6th Shuttle-Mir docking
5th U.S. crew member on Mir
37th KSC landing
Charles J. Precourt, Commander (3rd Shuttle flight)
Eileen M. Collins, Pilot (2nd)
Jean-Francois Clervoy, Payload Commander (2nd) (European Space Agency)
Carlos I. Noriega, Mission Specialist (1st)
Edward T. Lu, Mission Specialist (1st)
Elena V. Kondakova , Mission Specialist (1st Shuttle, 2nd spaceflight) (Russian Aviation and Space Agency)
Embarking to Mir – Mir 23/24 crew member: C. Michael Foale,
Mission Specialist and Cosmonaut Researcher (4th Shuttle, 1st Mir)
Returning from Mir – Mir 22/23 crew member: Jerry M. Linenger,
Mission Specialist and Cosmonaut Researcher (2nd Shuttle, 1st Mir)
Orbiter Preps (move to):
OPF - Jan. 22, 1997
VAB - April 19, 1997
Pad - April 24, 1997
May 15, 1997, 4:07:48 a.m. EDT. Liftoff occurred on time following smooth countdown.
May 24, 1997, 9:27:44 a.m. EDT, Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance: 8,384 feet (2,555 meters). Rollout time: 51 seconds. Mission duration: Nine days, five hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Landed on revolution 144, on the second KSC opportunity after being waved off from the first due to low clouds in the vicinity.
Sixth Shuttle-Mir docking highlighted by transfer of fourth successive U.S. crew member to the Russian Space Station. U.S. astronaut Mike Foale exchanged places with Jerry Linenger, who arrived at Mir Jan. 15 with the crew of Shuttle Mission STS-81. Linenger spent 123 days on Mir and just over 132 days in space from launch to landing, placing him second behind U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid for most time spent on-orbit by an American. Another milestone reached during his stay was one-year anniversary of continuous U.S. presence in space that began with Lucid's arrival at Mir March 22, 1996.
Other significant events during Linenger's stay included first U.S.-Russian spacewalk. On April 29, Linenger participated in five-hour extravehicular activity (EVA) with Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev to attach a monitor to the outside of the station. The Optical Properties Monitor (OPM) was to remain on Mir for nine months to allow study of the effect of the space environment on optical properties, such as mirrors used in telescopes. On Feb. 23, a fire broke out on the 11-year-old station. It caused minimal damage but required station's inhabitants to wear protective masks for about 36 hours until cabin air was cleaned. Besides Linenger, crew members aboard Mir at the time included two Mir 22 cosmonauts and a German cosmonaut, and two Mir 23 cosmonauts.
STS-84 docking with Mir occurred May 16 at 10:33 p.m. EDT above the Adriatic Sea. Hatches between two spacecraft opened at 12:25 a.m., May 17. Greetings exchanged between STS-84 crew and Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev, Flight Engineer Alexander Lazutkin and Linenger, followed by a safety briefing. Linenger and Foale officially traded places at 10:15 a.m. EDT. Transfer of items to and from Mir proceeded smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule. One of first items transferred to station was an Elektron oxygen-generating unit. Altogether about 249 items were moved between the two spacecraft, and about 1,000 pounds of water moved to Mir, for a total of about 7,500 pounds of water, experiment samples, supplies and hardware.
Research program planned for Foale featured 35 investigations total (33 on Mir, two on STS-84, and another preflight/postflight) in six disciplines: advanced technology, Earth observations and remote sensing, fundamental biology, human life sciences, space station risk mitigation, and microgravity sciences. Twenty-eight of these were conducted during previous missions and were to be continued, repeated or completed during Foale's stay. Seven new experiments were planned in biological and crystal growth studies and materials processing.
Undocking occurred at 9:04 p.m. EDT, May 21. Unlike prior dockings, no flyaround of the station by the orbiter was conducted, but orbiter was stopped three times while backing away to collect data from a European sensor device designed to assist future rendezvous of a proposed European Space Agency resupply vehicle with the International Space Station.
Other activities conducted during the mission included investigations using the Biorack facility, located in the SPACEHAB Double Module in Atlantis' payload bay, a photo survey of Mir during docked operations, environmental air samplings and radiation monitoring.
Orbiter performance was nominal from launch to landing.
First Launch: 1997.05.15.
Last Launch: 1997.05.24.
Duration: 9.22 days.
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.