The seventh of nine scheduled dockings of the Space Shuttle with the Russian Space Station Mir will take place on Mission STS-86 aboard Atlantis. Another primary objective of the planned 10-day flight will be the scheduled exchange of U.S. astronauts for an extended stay on the Russian orbiting outpost.
STS-86 Mission Specialist David A. Wolf is scheduled to become the sixth American astronaut to live and work on the Mir since the joint U.S.-Russian space project began in 1994. Wolf is scheduled to join the Mir 24 crew of Commander Anatoly Yankovlevich Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov, replacing C. Michael Foale, who has been on the Russian station since the docking of Atlantis with the Mir on STS-84 in May.
Wolf was a late addition to the STS-86 crew. Mission Specialist Wendy B. Lawrence originally was scheduled for the next long-duration flight on Mir. In late July, NASA announced that Lawrence would remain a member of the STS-86 crew and her backup, Wolf, would be added to replace Foale and participate in Mir spacewalks to repair damage from the June collision of a Russian Progress vehicle with Mir's Spektr module. Unlike Lawrence, Wolf has undergone spacewalk training and fits in the Orlan spacesuit used by Russians on extravehicular activities (EVAs). Wolf will remain on the Mir until his replacement, as yet unannounced, arrives on the STS-89 mission slated for launch in January 1998.
A critical element needed to perform the repair spacewalks will be among the three-and-a-half tons of science/logistical equipment and supplies which will be exchanged between the two orbiting spacecraft during the mission. For the first time, Atlantis will carry three air pressurization units with breathing air to repressurize airlocks after spacewalks. Most of the items carried to and from the Mir will be stored in a pressurized SPACEHAB Double Module in Atlantis' payload bay.
STS-86 also will feature a joint U.S.-Russian spacewalk to retrieve four suitcase-sized environmental experiments on Mir's docking module. The spacewalk is scheduled to take place on the fourth of six days Atlantis will be docked to the Russian station.
STS-86 is part of Phase 1 of the International Space Station program. Under Phase 1, Americans and Russians work together on the Mir as a prelude to assembly (Phase 2), scheduled to get under way in 1998, and long-term operation (Phase 3) of the International Space Station.
The 87th Space Shuttle launch and 20th flight of Atlantis (OV-104) will begin with liftoff from Pad A, Launch Complex 39. Atlantis will ascend at a 51.6-degree inclination to the equator for direct insertion to a 184-statute-mile (160-nautical-mile/296-kilometer) orbit. Atlantis is expected to rendezvous and dock with Mir at an altitude of 213 nautical miles on Flight Day 3.
Landing is planned at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.
The space agencies of Russia and France will be represented on the seven-member crew flying to the Mir.
As mission commander, James D. Wetherbee (Capt., USN) will lead the crew of five other experienced space flyers and one rookie on the flight to the Russian space station. This will be his fourth space flight, and his third as commander, including STS-63 in 1995, the first flight of the new joint Russian-American space program and the first rendezvous of the Shuttle orbiter with the Mir. He also flew as the pilot of STS-32 in 1990 and as the commander of STS-52 in 1992. The naval aviator became an astronaut in 1985. He also served as deputy director of Johnson Space Center in 1996.
Assisting him at the controls will be Pilot Michael J. Bloomfield (Maj., USAF), who is making his first space flight. The Air Force instructor pilot, fighter pilot and test pilot was assigned to NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1995.
David A. Wolf (M.D.) will make his second space flight on STS-86. He is a USAF senior flight surgeon in the Air National Guard. He joined the Medical Sciences Division of Johnson Space Center in 1983; among his inventions was the Space Bioreactor for cell tissue growth. He also served as chief engineer for design of the space station medical facility. Wolf was selected as an astronaut in 1990, and flew as a mission specialist on STS-58 in 1993. He previously was scheduled to fly to Mir in January and be the last U.S. astronaut to live and work on the station.
While she will not have a long-duration stay on the Mir, Mission Specialist Wendy B. Lawrence (Cmdr., USN) will remain a member of the STS-86 crew. The Navy helicopter pilot was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1992 and flew once, as the flight engineer and a mission specialist on STS-67 in 1995. Before training for this mission, she was director of operations for NASA at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
Mission Specialist Scott E. Parazynski (M.D.) will make his second space flight, serving as the flight engineer and one of two spacewalkers on the mission. He joined NASA in 1992 and was assigned as a backup for the third American long-duration stay aboard the Russian space station, but was withdrawn from Mir training when he was deemed to be too tall at 6 feet, 3 inches to fit safely in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the event of an emergency situation requiring evacuation from Mir. He was involved in the design of several exercise devices for long-duration space flight, and has particular expertise in human adaptation to stressful environments. He was a mission specialist on STS-66 in 1994.
The other spacewalker will be Mission Specialist Vladimir Georgievich Titov, a colonel in the Russian Air Force who was selected to join the cosmonaut team in 1976. He previously flew four times in space, most recently as a mission specialist on STS-63, and three times on Russian spacecraft as mission commander. Titov and fellow cosmonaut Musa Manarov set a then-world record of nearly 366 consecutive days in space in 1987-88 during which Titov logged almost 14 hours of EVA time on the Mir. He will be the first non-American space flyer to perform a Shuttle-based EVA.
Also serving as a mission specialist will be French astronaut Jean-Loup J.M. Chretien, a brigadier general in the French Air Force and chief of the Astronaut Office of the French Space Agency, CNES. The first Frenchman to fly in space, he was selected as a cosmonaut in 1980 and served twice as a research-cosmonaut on Russian missions to the Mir and the Salyut 7 space stations.
C. Michael Foale, who has a doctorate in laboratory physics, will join the other STS-86 crew members on their return to Earth. He was a fellow crew member with Wetherbee and Titov on STS-63, and also flew as a mission specialist on STS-45 in 1992, on STS-56 in 1993 and on STS-84 this year when he transferred to Mir. He was selected by NASA in 1987.
During their planned approximate five-hour spacewalk, Parazynski and Titov will retrieve four Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) experiment packages from the Mir docking module. The MEEP experiments, which characterize the environment surrounding the Mir, were installed by spacewalking astronauts on STS-76 last year.
The spacewalkers also are scheduled to evaluate hand controller deployment and the automatic hold feature of the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER), a jet backpack which spacewalking astronauts can use to maneuver. SAFER was flight tested on STS-64 in 1994, but this will be the first flight of the production model.
The two-person EVA crew will evaluate other hardware and tools being developed for use on the International Space Station, including the universal foot restraint and the multiuse tether. They will install outside the docking module a solar array cap, a late cargo addition which may be used in the future if the damaged Spektr solar array is removed and discarded. The spacewalkers also may help out with inspection and repair activities on the Spektr module.
The recent Progess-Spektr collision, last-minute Russian cargo requirements, and the late addition of Wolf to the crew have resulted in a dynamic payload situation on STS-86. More changes may be made until shortly before launch.
For the fourth consecutive docking mission, the SPACEHAB Double Module will serve as the primary cargo container. Science experiments and hardware will be transferred to the Mir for Wolf to use during his four-month stay, and data and samples from Foale's research will be returned to Earth.
Among the major logistics items to be transferred to Mir are food, water produced from the orbiter's fuel cells, a gyrodyne used to stabilize the space station's attitude in space, batteries for storing energy from Mir's solar arrays, the solar array cap and air pressurization units, hygiene supplies, clothing, film and Wolf's seat liner for the Soyuz vehicle.
Experiments slated to be conducted during the mission include the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth investigation; Risk Mitigation Experiments to monitor the Mir for crew health and safety and to evaluate technology applications for the International Space Station; the Cell Culture Module experiment; Seeds in Space-II, a NASA educational outreach program for study of space-grown tomato seeds; two radiation-monitoring studies, the Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor and the Radiation Monitoring Experiment-III; and two experiments with no hardware, the Shuttle Ionespheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust and the Midcourse Space Experiment .
The KidSat program allows students to make Earth observations with images taken from KidSat cameras onboard the orbiter and downlinked for use in classroom studies. This will be the third flight for KidSat, which on STS-86 will involve students from 52 middle schools in three nations. In Brevard County, Ronald McNair Magnet School and Space Coast Middle School will participate in KidSat during STS-86.