STS-79 Day 1 Highlights
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- On Monday, September 16, 1996, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-79 MCC Status Report # 1
- The Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on time at 3:54 a.m. CDT today,
beginning a planned 10 day mission in which Atlantis will dock with
the Russian Space Station Mir and retrieve U.S. astronaut Shannon
Lucid, ending her record-setting six month stay onboard Mir.
- Atlantis' six member crew includes veteran astronaut John Blaha, who
will replace Lucid on Mir and become the third of seven Americans who
will live and work as a researcher aboard Mir through 1998. Blaha will
spend about four months on board the space station.
- During a communications hook-up with Houston's Mission Control,
Lucid told ground controllers that she saw the launch from on board
Mir. At the time of the shuttle's launch, Mir was about 5,000 nautical
miles southwest of Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
- Following a normal ascent into space, Atlantis' auxiliary power unit
#2 experienced a premature shutdown about the time of main engine
cutoff. Because of that situation, flight controllers considered an
option in which the shuttle would have docked with Mir a day
earlier. However, after further evaluation, the flight control team
notified the crew that they should press on toward the planned docking
time on Wednesday but that ground controllers would continue their
evaluation of the APU's health in regard to the duration of the docked
operations and the duration of the flight.
- Currently the planned docking would occur at 10:17 p.m. CDT on
Wednesday with undocking set for 8:31 p.m. Sept. 23. During docked
operations, Blaha would join the Mir crew, Lucid would join the
Atlantis crew, and astronauts will deliver food, water, clothing and
other supplies to Mir. Atlantis' crew also will bring back materials
gathered from science experiments that have been conducted on board
the Russian space station.
- The orbiter's payload bay doors were opened about 5:15 a.m. and
ground controllers gave the crew a go-ahead for on-orbit operations.
- Atlantis crew members, commanded by Bill Readdy, will begin their
sleep period at 8:54 a.m. today and will be awakened at 4:54
- On Monday, September 16, 1996, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-79 MCC Status Report # 2
- Astronauts on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis began their first
full day of orbit operations at 4:54 p.m. CDT today, awakening to the
song "Duke of Earl." The song, performed by Gene Chandler, was
uplinked in honor of Mission Specialist Carl Walz's 20th anniversary.
The song is one he performed for his wife, Pam, before they were
married while he was a member of an Ohio band called "The Blue Moons."
This is the second time Walz has spent his anniversary on orbit.
- One of the crew's first activities today will be an Orbiter
Maneuvering System engine burn to fine-tune the shuttle's approach to
the Mir Space Station. That burn is scheduled for about 10:45
p.m. CDT. Atlantis is in a 159 by 131 nautical mile orbit about 16,000
nautical miles away from Mir and closing at a rate of 575 miles each
- Docking with Mir is planned for 10:17 p.m. CDT Wednesday. During
docked operations, Blaha will join the Mir crew and Lucid will join
the Atlantis crew. Before undocking at 8:31 p.m. Sept. 23, the
astronauts will deliver food, water, clothing and other supplies to
Mir, and pick up science experiment samples from Mir.
- Also on tap for the crew are the setup and activation of the double
Spacehab module in Atlantis' payload bay and several other
experiments. Included among those is the Active Rack Isolation System
designed to dampen vibrations on International Space Station
experiments. Apt and Walz will begin setting up ARIS about 9:30
p.m. CDT. The crew also will start readying packages for their
transfer to Mir.
- Flight controllers and mission managers continue to review data on
the unexpected shutdown of auxiliary power unit #2. Shuttle managers
decided to go forward with a Wednesday docking, but are still looking
at the APU's health in regard to the duration of the docked operations
and the mission. Atlantis has two healthy APUs.
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