STS-79 Day 3 Highlights
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- On Wednesday, September 18, 1996, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-79 MCC Status Report # 5
- Atlantis' six astronauts wrapped up another busy day on orbit
activating experiments in the SPACEHAB module while attending to final
preparations for tonight's docking to the Mir Space Station. The crew
will move into its rendezvous timeline early this evening as the
Shuttle nears the Russian outpost.
- The crew is scheduled to go to sleep about 9 a.m. Central time and
will wake up about 4 p.m. for the final hours of rendezvous and
docking, which should occur about 10:13 tonight. The hatches between
the joined spacecraft are scheduled to be opened shortly after 12:30
AM Thursday morning. After initial safety briefings, U.S. astronauts
Shannon Lucid and John Blaha will officially trade places as Mir crew
members when their custom-fitted Soyuz capsule seat liners are
swapped. That activity will officially mark the point when Blaha will
become a Mir-22 flight engineer and Lucid will join the STS-79 crew as
a mission specialist, ending her six-month stay on the space station.
- Blaha will join Mir 22 Commander Valery Korzun and his flight engineer,
Alexander Kaleri, aboard Mir for the next four months. Blaha will be
replaced by astronaut Jerry Linenger on Atlantis' next visit scheduled
for early January 1997 on mission STS-81.
- While STS-79 Commander Bill Readdy and Pilot Terry Wilcutt conducted two
rendezvous burns today, other crew members worked in the SPACEHAB module
on science experiments.
- The Active Rack Isolation System, or ARIS, was tended to by Mission
Specialist Carl Walz, who performed a minor maintenance procedure on one
of ARIS' vibration-damping pushrods while Tom Akers worked with an
inventory management system using a bar code reader to more effectively
keep track of items that will be transferred back and forth between the
Shuttle and the Mir. Jay Apt continued work with a furnace which heats
to nearly 1,600 degrees centigrade to melt metal samples for study after
- Apt also provided a television tour of the SPACEHAB, which is twice its
normal size for this flight to allow extra room for science experiments
and logistical items slated for transfer to Mir.
- Atlantis' current orbit is 184 by 158 statute miles, as it closes its
distance from the Mir by more than 500 miles with each revolution of the
- On Wednesday, September 18, 1996, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-79 MCC Status Report # 6
- All systems are "go" for Atlantis' to dock with Mir at 10:13 p.m. CDT
tonight, effecting the first exchange of American researchers on the
Russian Space Station.
- During the Mission Control-Houston planning shift, Flight Director
Bill Reeves shared status reports with Mission Control-Moscow Shift
Flight Director Viktor Shadrin. The two flight directors agreed that
both vehicles and crews are ready to begin the rendezvous.
- Atlantis' astronauts were awakened at 4 p.m. CDT to the song "Hold On
(I'm Coming)" performed by Sam and Dave. The crew then began moving
into its rendezvous timeline.
- At 5 p.m. Atlantis was approximately 400 nautical miles away from Mir
and closing on the space station at 335 nautical miles each orbit. A
reaction control system engine firing scheduled at 6 p.m. will begin
slowing Atlantis' approach. Another engine firing at 7:30 p.m. will
put Atlantis on an intercepting path that will place it 1,000 feet
below Mir at 8:54 p.m. CDT. Commander Bill Readdy and Pilot Terry
Wilcutt will then maneuver Atlantis to within 170 feet of Mir, where
the shuttle will stop to allow Mission Control Centers in Houston and
Moscow to evaluate their spacecrafts' systems. Readdy then will gently
move Atlantis to within 30 feet of the orbiting outpost, where he will
again stop and await a final "go" for docking.
- Atlantis and Mir will be over Moldavia in the Carpathian Mountains
region at the scheduled docking time.
- The hatches between the joined spacecraft are scheduled to be opened
shortly after 12:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. After safety briefings for
each crew, U.S. Astronauts Shannon Lucid and John Blaha will trade
places as Mir crew members when their custom-fitted Soyuz capsule seat
liners are swapped. At that point, Blaha will begin calling Mir his
"home" spacecraft and Luid will join the STS-79 crew as a mission
specialist, ending her six-month stay on the space station.
- Blaha will join Mir 22 Commander Valery Korzun and his flight
engineer, Alexander Kaleri, aboard Mir for the next four months. His
replacement will be Astronaut Jerry Linenger, scheduled to arrive on
Atlantis' next visit scheduled for early January 1997 on mission
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