For the eighth time in three years, an American space shuttle is linked to a Russian space station following the successful on-time docking of Endeavour to the Mir Space Station at 2:14 p.m. Central time.
Endeavour Commander Terry Wilcutt eased the shuttle to a flawless docking with the Mir after a textbook rendezvous. The linkup occurred while the two spaceships flew over southeastern Russia, west of Kazakhstan, at an altitude of 214 nautical miles. Through the final phases of the rendezvous, Payload Commander Bonnie Dunbar exchanged greetings with Mir 24 Commander Anatoly Solovyev, Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut David Wolf, who is wrapping up his four-month mission aboard the Russian outpost.
After docking, the astronauts and cosmonauts conducted leak checks of the docking tunnel between the two craft, and at 4:25 p.m. Central time, Wilcutt and Solovyev swung open the hatches on their respective spacecraft and shook hands as the other crewmembers embraced each other for the start of five days of joint activities.
"You guys look great, this is a lot of fun," said Wolf, as he was greeted by Dunbar and astronaut Andy Thomas, who will officially become a member of the Mir crew tomorrow after transferring his custom made Soyuz capsule seatliner to the Russian station and completing a test of his Soyuz spacesuit. At that point, Wolf will become a part of the STS-89 crew following 119 days as a Mir crew member.
Once their initial greetings were completed, the ten astronauts and cosmonauts made their way into the Mir’s Core Module for a brief welcoming ceremony before pressing on with routine safety briefings on each other vehicles. Five bags of water were transferred from Endeavour to the Mir by the end of the day, with the bulk of the transfer of logistical supplies to begin tomorrow.
The Mir cosmonauts are scheduled to begin a nine-hour sleep period at 7:48 p.m. Central time, two hours before Endeavour’s astronauts begin an eight hour sleep period, which will end with a wakeup call from Mission Control Sunday at 5:48 a.m.
The Shuttle-Mir complex is orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 216 nautical miles with all of its combined systems operating in excellent shape.
The next STS-89 status report will be issued Sunday morning at 6 a.m. Central time.
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