Atlantis’ astronauts spent their first full day in space preparing for tomorrow’s rendezvous and docking with the Russian space station Mir as they tested equipment which will be used for the seventh linkup between the two vehicles and the spacesuits which will be worn next week by two astronauts during a spacewalk outside the Atlantis-Mir complex.
The astronauts were awakened at 11:34 a.m. Central time this morning and moved right into their tasks, completing the activation of systems in the Spacehab double module at the rear of Atlantis’ cargo bay and checking out rendezvous tools which will be used by Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski tomorrow to measure distance and closing rate to the Mir. Commander Jim Wetherbee will manually fly Atlantis to its linkup with the Mir over the final 600 feet of the approach to the station after Atlantis arrives at a prescribed point below Mir.
Bloomfield and crewmate Wendy Lawrence installed a centerline camera in the Orbiter Docking System aboard Atlantis which will offer Wetherbee televised views of the alignment of Atlantis’ docking mechanism with the Mir’s Docking Module docking mechanism tomorrow as Wetherbee flies Atlantis from the aft flight deck control panel. Lawrence and French Mission Specialist Jean-Loup Chretien also set up radio gear which Chretien will use to communicate to Mir Comander Anatoly Solovyev, Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut Mike Foale during the final phase of the rendezvous. Chretien, who speaks fluent Russian, previously flew on the Mir in 1988 and its predecessor, the Russian Salyut 7 space station in 1982.
On the eve of his arrival on the Mir to begin a four-month research mission, David Wolf helped his crewmates with hardware setup and exercised during his final hours as a Shuttle crewmember. Wolf will formally become a member of the Mir crew early Sunday at which time Foale will return as a member of Atlantis’ crew once Wolf has transferred his custom made Soyuz seatliner from the Spacehab module to the Mir.
Chretien and Lawrence began to fill contingency waste containment bags with water for transfer to the Mir as part of the logistics which will be moved to the Russian outpost over the course of the six days of joint docked operations. In all, some 1400 pounds of water are expected to be transferred from Atlantis to the Mir in about 15 bags.
Parazynski completed a successful checkout of the spacesuits he and Russian Mission Specialist Vladimir Titov will wear during a scheduled five-hour spacewalk outside the Mir next week to retrieve experiment packages and to deploy a solar array cap which may be used to seal off a potential leak site on the damaged Spektr module during a future Russian spacewalk. Titov is making his second trip as a Shuttle crewmember.
Atlantis is scheduled to dock to the Mir at 2:56 p.m. Central time tomorrow with the hatch opening between the two vehicles expected about an hour and a half later. Atlantis and the Mir are both flying in excellent condition with all systems reported to be in good shape.
The astronauts plan to begin an abbreviated seven-hour sleep period at 12:34 a.m. Central time Saturday and will be awakened at 7:34 a.m. to begin rendezvous activities.
The next STS-86 status report is scheduled to be issued at 8 a.m. Central time Saturday.
- end -