The ten astronauts and cosmonauts of the Atlantis-Mir space complex completed their joint work today, having transferred more than four tons of logistical supplies and water between the two spacecraft over the course of six days of joint docked operations.
With their work successfully concluded, Atlantis Commander Jim Wetherbee and Mir 24 Commander Anatoly Solovyev shook hands for a final time at 5:45 p.m. this afternoon and closed the hatches between the two spacecraft in preparation for tomorrow morning’s undocking of Atlantis from the Mir and an end to the seventh Shuttle-Mir docking mission.
Left behind on the Mir were more than 1700 pounds of water, hardware for the repair of the damaged Spektr module, a new computer to maintain attitude control for the Russian complex and U.S. astronaut David Wolf, setting out on his four-month scientific research mission..
The change-out of the Mir’s troublesome motion control system computer for the new one brought to orbit by Atlantis’ astronauts was successfully completed today with the spinup of the Mir’s ten gyrodynes, the automatic attitude control mechanisms used to keep Mir pointed at the sun. The Mir now has full attitude control for future operations following Atlantis’ departure.
Atlantis is scheduled to undock from the Mir tomorrow morning at 10:43 a.m. Central time while the two vehicles are passing just East of the Caspian Sea over Turkmenistan. Pilot Mike Bloomfield plans to back Atlantis away to a distance of about 600 feet below and in front of Atlantis to test navigation sensors, before closing in toward the Mir to a distance of 240 feet. Bloomfield will stationkeep at that range for an hour waiting for sunrise, before initiating a 46-minute fly-around of the Russian station to enable his crewmates to use cameras equipped with high-powered lenses and video equipment for the documentation of the Spektr module.
At several points during the fly-around, plans call for Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov to open a pressure regulation valve in the Mir to allow air to rush into the depressurized Spektr. Russian flight controllers hope Atlantis’ astronauts may detect some seepage of particles or debris from the breach in the hull of Spektr which will assist them in the future planning of repairs to the module.
Bloomfield will conduct a final separation maneuver from the Mir at 1:43 p.m. Central time, bidding the Mir farewell until January, when the Shuttle Endeavour returns during the STS-89 mission.
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