Atlantis’ astronauts and the Mir Space Station cosmonauts traded crew members today as David Wolf formally began a four-month research mission as a member of the Mir 24 crew and astronaut Mike Foale ended his 134-day stint by returning as a Shuttle crew member in the first full day of docked operations between the two spacecraft.
One day after Atlantis docked to the Mir, Wolf transferred his custom-made Soyuz capsule seatliner and associated gear to the Russian complex, officially joining Mir 24 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov at approximately 11 a.m. Central time. Wolf quickly set up shop in the Kvant-2 module, which he will use as his sleeping quarters and a place from which to coordinate scientific experiments during his stay on orbit.
Foale, who began his role as a Mir crew member back on May 17th, moved his personal belongings back into Atlantis, just one week before he is scheduled to complete his long duration flight with a landing back in Florida.
Among the items transferred from Atlantis to Mir today included seven bags of water totaling about 500 pounds, more than one-third of the water to be hauled into the Russian station for use over the next several months. Several large air pressurization units and a variety of experiment hardware to collect data for the International Space Station program office also were carried over to the Mir.
This afternoon, Commander Jim Wetherbee and Pilot Mike Bloomfield fired small jet thrusters on Atlantis to provide data for the Mir Structual Dynamics Experiment (MISDE), which measures disturbances to space station components and its solar arrays. The data will also be used by International Space Station engineers in their fine-tuning of hardware for the new outpost.
The Mir cosmonauts and Wolf will begin their 9-hour sleep period at about 8:30 p.m. CDT this evening and the Shuttle crew goes to sleep about 10:30 p.m. The Mir crew will wake up at about 5:30 a.m. CDT Monday followed an hour later by the Shuttle crew. Monday is another full day of transfer operations along with data gather on some of the secondary shuttle payloads and photography of the Mir complex from Atlantis’ Spacehab windows. The next major mission event comes on Wednesday with the spacewalk by Scott Parazynski and Vladimir Titov.
The next STS-86 status report will be issued around 8 a.m. Central time Monday morning.
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