Astronauts aboard space shuttle Endeavour were awakened at 5:48 a.m. CST Sunday to the song "Friends, We Are Migrant Birds," a Russian pilots song. The crew faces a busy Flight Day 4, the first full day of joint Shuttle-Mir docked operations on the STS-89 mission.
Sunday’s primary order of business will be the exchange of U.S. astronauts, a swap that brings David Wolf back to the shuttle after a 119-day stay aboard Mir, and leaves astronaut Andy Thomas aboard the Russian station for his extended stay. Thomas is the last in the series of American astronauts scheduled to live and work abroad Mir as part of the Phase One joint program with Russia.
Also Sunday, crew members will be busily engaged in transferring supplies and equipment between Mir and Endeavour. By the end of flight day 3, astronauts had just begun the lengthy process, having moved six percent of resupply stocks to Mir, and brought into Endeavour 11 percent of U.S. return items and three percent of Russian return items.
Saturday’s linkup, the eighth between Space Shuttle and the Mir, came on time as predicted at 2:14 p.m. CST. The docking was unmarred by any problems as Endeavour Commander Terry Wilcutt eased the 100-ton spacecraft into its docking port. The joining of the two occurred 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 Wolf.
Wolf and Thomas will exchange the custom-made Soyuz seat liner just before 9 a.m. CST, marking the official transfer point for the two astronauts. Wolf will have completed 119 days as a Mir crew member and Thomas will start his four-month stay.
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 well.
The next STS-89 status report will be issued Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Central time.
- end -