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Kyle Herring June 3, 1994

RELEASE: 94-039


A seven-member Space Shuttle crew, led by veteran astronaut Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson (Captain, USN), will launch next year to perform the first docking with the Russian Space Station Mir to exchange crews.

Joining Gibson on the mission will be Pilot Charlie Precourt (Lt. Col., USAF) and Mission Specialists Dr. Ellen Baker, Greg Harbaugh and Bonnie Dunbar. Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin will serve as the Mir-19 crew and replace Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennadiy Strekalov and astronaut Norman Thagard who are scheduled to be launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft next March for a three month stay on the Space Station as the Mir-18 crew.

STS-71 is currently scheduled for launch in mid-1995 using the orbiter Atlantis, which has been modified to carry a docking system compatible with the Russian Mir Space Station.

The orbiter will carry a Spacelab module in the payload bay in which various life sciences experiments and data collection will take place throughout the 10-day mission.

Gibson, 47, currently Chief of the Astronaut Office, will be making his fifth flight aboard the Shuttle. His most recent mission was commander of Endeavour's STS-47 flight in September 1992, a cooperative Spacelab mission with Japan. Gibson's first flight as pilot of STS 41-B was in February 1984 aboard Challenger. That flight included deployment of two satellites and the first use of the free-flying Manned Maneuvering Unit by an astronaut. The 8-day mission ended with the first landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla.



The STS 61-C flight of Columbia in January 1986 was Gibson's second mission and first as commander. The six-day flight included a communications satellite deployment and the conduct of several astrophysics and materials processing experiments. He next commanded Atlantis' STS-27 Department of Defense mission in December 1988.

Gibson considers Lakewood, Calif., to be his hometown. Active in the Navy since 1969, he holds a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University.

Precourt, 38, will be making his second Shuttle flight. Since his first mission aboard Columbia in April 1993, Precourt has served in Mission Control as an ascent and entry spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM).

His first Shuttle flight, STS-55, was a German-sponsored Spacelab mission during which nearly 90 experiments investigating life sciences, materials sciences, physics, robotics, astronomy and the Earth and its atmosphere were conducted.

Precourt considers Hudson, Mass., to be his hometown. He has a master of science degree in engineering management from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1977 and a master of arts degree in national security affairs and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 1990.

Baker, 41, was a mission specialist on two previous flights: STS-34 in October 1989 and STS-50 in June 1992. Prior to this assignment, Baker has been working Space Station operations issues.

Her first flight aboard Atlantis started the mission of the Galileo spacecraft currently on its way to study Jupiter. Her second mission was aboard Columbia on the first United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML-1) mission lasting two weeks. This first Extended Duration Orbiter flight included experimentation in crystal growth, fluid physics, fluid dynamics, biological science and combustion science.

Baker considers New York City her hometown. She received her doctorate of medicine degree from Cornell University in 1978.

Harbaugh, 38, has flown twice in space as a mission specialist: STS-39 aboard Discovery in April 1991 and on Endeavour's STS-54 mission in January 1993. Since that flight he has served as a CAPCOM in Mission Control and as the backup spacewalking expert for the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission last year.



Harbaugh's first mission was the unclassified Department of Defense flight on which he operated the Shuttle's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) or Shuttle robot arm and the Infrared Background Signature Survey spacecraft.

Harbaugh's most recent flight included deployment of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and a spacewalk designed to refine training methods, and expand the experience of ground controllers, instructors and astronauts leading to assembly of the International Space Station.

Harbaugh's hometown is Willoughby, Ohio. He received a master of science degree in physical science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1986.

Dunbar, 44, is currently training as the backup crew member to Norm Thagard for the Soyuz-Mir 18 mission in Star City, Russia. STS-71 will be her fourth Shuttle flight. She was a mission specialist on STS 61-A in October 1985, STS-32 in January 1990 and STS-50 in 1992.

Challenger's STS 61-A mission was the first German-sponsored Spacelab flight (Spacelab D-1). It was the first mission to carry eight crew members and the first that saw payload activities controlled from outside the U.S. More than 75 experiments were conducted during the seven-day flight.

Dunbar next flew aboard Columbia on the STS-32 mission to retrieve the Long Duration Exposure Facility which she secured using the RMS.

Most recently she flew aboard Columbia as the payload commander on the first United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML-1) mission.

Dunbar was born in Sunnyside, Wash. She received her doctorate in biomedical engineering from the University of Houston in 1983.

Solovyev and Budarin will serve as the next crew to stay for an extended period aboard the Mir Space Station and are designated the Mir-19 crew. Solovyev, 45, was born in Riga, Latvia, but resides in Star City, Russia.

Budarin, 40, was born in Chuvash Autonomous Republic, Kirya, Altir region. He lives in Kaliningrad outside of Moscow, Russia.

Solovyev and Budarin will switch places with the Mir-18 crew (Dezhurov, Strekalov and Thagard) which is scheduled to conduct three months of experiments aboard Mir before returning to Earth aboard Atlantis with the other five crew members.



Thagard, 50, has flown four times on the Shuttle and will be a member of the Mir-18 crew scheduled for launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Thagard's Shuttle missions include STS-7 in June 1983 and STS 51-B in April 1985, both aboard Challenger; STS-30 in May 1989 on Atlantis, and STS-42 in January 1992 aboard Discovery.

STS-7 was the first mission with a crew of five and the first to deploy and retrieve a spacecraft using the RMS. Two satellites also were deployed during the flight. Thagard's sec[Cnd flight was a[CSpacelab mission that included a research animal holding facility carrying 24 rats and two monkeys.

His third flight deployed the successful Magellan spacecraft that continues to orbit Venus. Thagard's most recent mission was the first International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-1) flight that included 55 experiments provided by investigators from 11 countries.

Dezhurov, 32, was born in Mordov Autonomous Republic, Yavas, Zubo-Polyansky district. He resides in Star City.

Strekalov, 53, was born in Mitishchi outside of Moscow, Russia and now

resides in Moscow.



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