The seven-member crew of Atlantis begins its first full day on orbit this morning, with Atlantis continuing its pursuit of the Mir Space Station. The two vehicles currently are separated by a distance of about 2,700 nautical miles, with Atlantis trailing the Russian outpost.
Most of today’s activities will focus on preparations for Saturday afternoon’s planned docking between the two spacecraft and a subsequent spacewalk to be performed by Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski and Vladimir Titov. Mission Commander Jim Wetherbee and Pilot Mike Bloomfield will conduct another in a series of planned engine firings to refine Atlantis’ approach to the Mir Space Station. Wetherbee and Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence will then install the centerline camera in the Orbiter Docking System. The camera will provide views of docking targets and the docking module during the final phase of the rendezvous activities.
While Bloomfield verifies the health of tools to be used during the rendezvous, Parazynski and French Mission Specialist Jean-Loup Chretien will extend the orbiter docking ring to verify its performance. The ring, which mates with a similar device on the Mir, will remain extended after this initial verification check. Parazynski and Titov also will check out the spacesuits they will wear during their spacewalk. In addition, they will begin preparing Atlantis’ airlock to support their spacewalk activities.
Titov and Chretien will complete activation of the Spacehab module housed in Atlantis’ payload bay and Chretien and Mission Specialist Dave Wolf will begin staging some of the logistical materials which will be transferred to Mir.
Wetherbee, Wolf and Lawrence will take time this afternoon to discuss their mission, and Wolf’s transfer to the Mir Space Station, with National Public Radio in an interview scheduled for 2:06 p.m. central time.
The crew will awaken today at 11:34 a.m. central time, one hour later than originally scheduled, to ensure adequate rest for the astronauts. At least some of the crew members were awake up to two hours past their planned sleep period as they worked to configure Atlantis for 10 days of orbital operations.
Atlantis and the Mir Space Station are both in excellent condition with all systems functioning normally.
The next STS-86 status report is scheduled at 8 p.m. central time.
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