The Space Shuttle Atlantis roars into the night from Launch Pad 39A. Liftoff on the 79th Shuttle mission occurred on time at 4:54:49 a.m. EDT, Sept. 16. The 10-day spaceflight will be highlighted by the fourth docking between the U.S. Space Shuttle and Russian Space Station Mir and the first in a series of crew exchanges aboard the station. Leading the STS-79 crew is Commander William F. Readdy. The pilot is Terrence W. Wilcutt, and the four mission specialists making the trip to Mir are Jay Apt, Thomas D. Akers, Carl E. Walz and John E. Blaha. Blaha will exchange places on Mir with U.S. astronaut Shannon W. Lucid, who will return to Earth with the STS-79 flight crew after a record-setting stay on the Russian station. STS-79 is the second Shuttle-Mir mission to carry a SPACEHAB module on board and the first to carry a double module. The STS-79 mission is part of the NASA/Mir program which is now into the Phase 1B portion, consisting of nine Shuttle-Mir docking flights and seven long-duration flights of U.S. astronauts aboard the station between early 1996 and late 1998. (Photo Release Date: 09/16/96 )

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