Shuttle-Mir History/Shuttle Flights & Mir Increments/STS-86

STS-86 and Mir 24 in-flight crew portrait

STS-86: Wolf Succeeds Foale

September 25 - October 6, 1997

Space Shuttle: Atlantis

Crew: Wetherbee, Bloomfield, Parazynski, Titov, Chretien, Lawrence

Embarking to Mir: Wolf

Returning from Mir: Foale

STS-86 performed the seventh Shuttle-Mir docking and continued the presence of a U.S. astronaut onboard Mir, by transferring the sixth U.S. Mir astronaut David Wolf, in exchange for Michael Foale, who returned to Earth after 145 days in space. Foale had experienced the collision, June 25, 1997, between a Progress resupply vehicle and Mir's Spektr module.

Crew members Titov and Parazynski conducted the first joint U.S.-Russian extravehicular activity during a shuttle mission, and the first in which a Russian wore a U.S. spacesuit. During the 5-hour spacewalk on October 1, 1997, the pair affixed a 121-pound Solar Array Cap to the Docking Module, for a future attempt by Mir crew members to seal off the suspected leak in Spektr's hull. Parazynski and Titov also retrieved four Mir Environmental Effects Payloads (MEEPs) from the outside of Mir and tested several components of the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) jetpacks.

During the six days of docked operations, the Shuttle-Mir crews transferred more than four tons of material from the Spacehab Double Module to Mir, including: approximately 1,700 pounds of water: experiment hardware for International Space Station Risk Mitigation experiments to monitor the Mir for crew health and safety; a gyrodyne; batteries; three air pressurization units with breathing air; an attitude control computer; and many other logistics items. The crew also moved samples, hardware, and an old Elektron oxygen generator to Atlantis for return to Earth.

During the flight, Wetherbee and Bloomfield fired small jet thrusters on Atlantis to provide data for the Mir Structural Dynamics Experiment (MISDE). This experiment measured disturbances to the space station's components as well as its solar arrays. Other experiments included: the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth investigation; the Cell Culture Module Experiment (CCM-A), the Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) and the Radiation Monitoring Experiment-III (RME-III); the Shuttle Ionospheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust (SIMPLE) experiment; and the Midcourse Space Experiment. Two NASA educational outreach programs were also conducted: Seeds in Space-II and Kidsat.

After undocking, Atlantis performed a 46-minute flyaround visual inspection of Mir. During this maneuver, crew members on Mir opened a valve to allow air into the Spektr module to see if STS-89 crew members could detect seepage or debris particles that could indicate the location of the breach in the damaged module's hull. The Shuttle crew observed that the leak seemed to be located at the base of damaged solar panel.

In his Oral History, James Wetherbee said: "We transferred several tons worth of equipment and water and supplies, and one person to the Mir, Dr. David Wolf, and then we brought Dr. Mike Foale back. And to watch them -- you know, Mike is very happy and he's trying to contain his glee and his excitement about leaving, because you don't want to offend or upset David Wolf, who's going to be there for a long time now, just to see his face, it's pretty difficult to say good-bye to him. It's difficult, more difficult for him to say good-bye to us, and to watch the hatch close, with him on the other side, but he did a great job for the four months that he was up there."

Related Links:
STS-86 (KSC Spaceflight Archive)
The Collision
EVAs
Shuttle Flights and Mir Increments
Science
STS-86: Launch/Wetherbee on Safety (video)
STS-86: Docking/Hatch Opening (video)
Timeline
Wolf Increment
Rendezvous and Docking
James Wetherbee Oral History (PDF)
Vladimir Titov Oral History (PDF)
Wendy Lawrence Oral History (PDF)
David Wolf Oral History (PDF)
Michael Foale Oral History (PDF)

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