On Thursday, June 29, 1995, 4 a.m. CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report # 04
Atlantis' seven astronauts awoke at 1:32 a.m. CDT to "From a
Distance," as sung by Nanci Griffith. The wake-up music was preceded
by special birthday greetings to Pilot Charlie Precourt from his wife
and daughters. Precourt is celebrating his 40th birthday today soaring
216 nautical miles above the surface of the Earth.
The STS-71 crew members almost immediately set to work preparing for
this morning's planned docking with the Mir Space Station.
Shortly before 3 a.m., Atlantis' orbital maneuvering system engines
were fired for 45 seconds. That NC4 burn raised the low end of
Atlantis' orbit and positioned the shuttle roughly eight nautical
miles behind Mir. One orbit later, at about 4:30 a.m., Commander Hoot
Gibson was scheduled to again fire the jets for the terminal
initiation burn which begins the final phase of the rendezvous. That
burn will put Atlantis in position to intercept the Mir Space Station
from a point directly below Mir, on an imaginary line called the R-Bar
or Earth radius vector.
On Thursday, June 29, 1995, 5:30 p.m CDT, STS-71 MCC Status Report # 05
Atlantis station kept in that position at a distance of about 250
feet from the Mir awaiting the approval of NASA Flight Director Bob
Castle and Russian Flight Director Viktor Blagov to proceed with the
docking. Atlantis then closed to a point 30 feet from Mir at
about 7:40 a.m. before beginning its final approach toward the docking
port located on the Kristall module.
Atlantis and MIR were successfully docked at 8 a.m.. Commander Hoot
Gibson of Atlantis flew the shuttle to a flawless docking with the Mir
station exactly on schedule while the two spacecraft were 216 nautical
miles above the Lake Baykal region of the Russian Federation. Mission
Specialist Greg Harbaugh then engaged the docking mechanism to firmly
latch the spacecraft together. Once docking was confirmed, the
astronauts on board Atlantis and the cosmonauts on board Mir performed
leak checks of the tunnel connecting the two spacecraft. With that
complete, the hatches opened and Gibson and Mir 18 Commander Vladimir
Dezhurov shook hands as Americans and Russians met in space for the
first time in 20 years. Atlantis' crew then completed a transfer of
responsibilities for the station from the three Mir-18 crew members to
the two Mir-19 crewmen.
Following a transfer of personal gear and a changeout of the
individual, custom-made foam seat liners in the Soyuz capsule also
docked to Mir, Mir-19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer
Nikolai Budarin officially assumed duties on the station.
Later, the Spacelab module in Atlantis cargo bay was reactivated by
Mission Specialist Bonnie Dunbar in preparation for a variety of
medical experiments that will be performed during the next four days.
Solovyev and Budarin will sleep aboard the Mir tonight while astronaut
Norm Thagard and cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov,
aboard Mir for the past 105 days, will sleep aboard Atlantis.
Atlantis and Mir, now the single largest spacecraft ever in orbit with
a total mass of almost one-half million pounds, have performed as
expected in the nine and a half hours they have so far been
attached. No significant problems or surprises have been observed by
Mission Control. The crew will begin an eight-hour sleep period at
5:32 p.m. today and awaken at 1:32 a.m. Friday.
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