The seven astronauts on board Atlantis are preparing for this afternoon’s docking with the Mir Space Station and a reunion with American Astronaut Mike Foale, who is about to conclude his four-month mission to the Russian outpost.
The STS-86 crew – Commander Jim Wetherbee, Pilot Mike Bloomfield, and Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski, Vladimir Titov, Jean-Loup Chretien, Wendy Lawrence and Dave Wolf - are powering up and installing many of the rendezvous aids they will use later today during the final phase of their approach to Mir. Wolf and Chretien will activate the VHF radio that the astronauts and cosmonauts will use to communicate with each other during the rendezvous activities. Chretien, who speaks fluent Russian, will handle those communications duties.
This morning, Wetherbee and Bloomfield will conduct another in a series of engine firings which are designed to refine Atlantis’ approach to Mir. Shortly after 12:30 p.m. central time, they will perform the terminal initiation burn which will place Atlantis on an intercept course to Mir, and about 2 p.m. Atlantis should be about 2,500 feet beneath Mir, ready to begin its final approach.
With his crew mates providing range rate and closure data obtained from a variety of tools on board, Wetherbee will manually fly Atlantis up toward Mir with contact and capture between the two vehicles expected about 2:55 p.m. About an hour and a half later, the hatches between the two vehicles should swing open allowing Wetherbee and Mir Commander Anatoly Solovyev to greet each other.
The transfer of Wolf’s custom-made Soyuz seatliner to the Mir on Sunday morning will mark the start of his tenure as a Mir crewmember, and conclude Foale’s stay.
Yesterday, the astronauts began filling containers, referred to as CWC’s, with water for transfer to the Mir. Three bags, with a weight of about 282 pounds, have been filled and a fourth water bag fill is expected to be complete by the time Atlantis docks with Mir.
The next STS-86 status report is scheduled to be issued after this afternoon’s docking between Atlantis and Mir.
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