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September 16-26, 1996
Space Shuttle: Atlantis
Crew: Readdy, Wilcutt, Akers, Apt, Walz
Embarking to Mir: Blaha
Returning from Mir: Lucid
STS-79 brought back to Earth U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid after her 188 days in space, a new U.S. spaceflight record and a world record for a woman. Astronaut John Blaha succeeded Lucid on Mir, joining Mir-22 commander Valeri Korzun and flight engineer Alexander Kaleri. The mission conducted the first U.S. Shuttle-Mir crew exchange, the fourth Shuttle-Mir docking, and the first flight of the Spacehab Double Module configuration. More than 4,000 pounds of supplies were transferred to Mir, including water generated by Shuttle fuel cells. Experiments transferred to Mir included those concerning superconductors, cartilage development, and other biology studies. About 2,000 pounds of experiment samples and equipment transferred from Mir to Atlantis, making the total 6,000 pound transfer the most extensive to date. Three experiments stayed on Atlantis: the Extreme Temperature Translation Furnace (ETTF), a new furnace design allowing space-based processing; the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG) complement of 128 individual samples involving 12 different proteins; and the Mechanics of Granular Materials investigation, designed to study cohesionless granular materials, which could help understanding of earthquakes and landslides.
In his Oral History, astronaut William Readdy said: "There are things that you remember visually and things that you remember, I guess, kind of emotionally. I remember first looking out the overhead window when I saw the Mir during the rendezvous. I could just see it as the brightest star in the sky, and I remembered somebody, when I flew my first flight in January of '92 called me up to the flight deck and said that, 'Hey, in five minutes you're going to be able to see the Mir go by,' because we were in similar-type orbits. So I remember floating up to the flight deck, and I saw the Mir go by, and I guess never would I have thought, given the political situation back then, never would I have thought in a million years, that we'd be joining not only physically with the Shuttle-Mir, but also joined up in this International Space Station."
STS-79 (KSC Spaceflight Archive)
Shuttle Flights and Mir Increments
STS-79: Lucid Mir Tour (video)
STS-79: Hatch Open (video)
STS-79: Payload Transfers (video)
Rendezvous and Docking
William Readdy Oral History (PDF)
Shannon Lucid Oral History (PDF)
John Blaha Oral History (PDF)
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty