Status Report

MIRNEWS.481 26 May 2000

By SpaceRef Editor
May 26, 2000
Filed under

Publicity about MIR:

These days a huge amount of news about MIR is reaching us. This news comes
from different sources. Regretfully the enumerated facts are not
always equal and even sometimes full of contradictions.

The transition of the MIR-exploitation from
the Russian state to a commercial organisation meant to me that I had
to change the way in which I used to publish information gathered by
monitoring of radiocommunications. It would be incorrect to use that
to put spokes in MIRcorp’s wheels.

Own observations force
me to take a lot of that what is published with a grain
and even sometimes ounces- of salt.
As an example can serve the information about the airleaks. The
search for leakages and the airpressure checks still go on, but some
days ago publications suggested that the station was fully airtight.
On 25.05 the deputy Head of TsUP, V.D. Blagov, told the press that
the certainty about this cannot be given earlier than next week when
all airtight checks in the Kvant-module and the Base Block will be
concluded. (Of all persons who give information about the state of
the MIR-complex Blagov is the only one on which I rely for 100%.)

Another example of inconsistent publicity was
the information that the crew would return to earth in the midst of
June. So somehow the date 16.06 emerged. During a radio contact on
25.05 TsUP asked Zalyotin if the crew would have objections against
the training for the return operations on 5.06. Zalyotin said that
there were no objections, but that he would like to hear when the
return was scheduled. TsUP uttered the posibility that this would be
16.06, but that this question was still under consideration. A
spokesman at TsUP declared, also on 25.05, that there had not yet
been a decision about the date of return and that a prolongation of
the flight was still an option.

Stakhanovtsy: In the decade between 1930 and
1940 workers in the S.U. who managed to produce more than the plan
demanded, got the title of honour ‘Stakhanovets’.
A tovarishch with that name was the first ‘hero’
in that repect. The present crew on board MIR is working so hard that
it seems as if they try to achieve the title
‘Stakhanovtsy’. The present dense radio traffic
makes it clear that the crew is working extremely hard. Among the
activities to prepare the complex for the oncoming autonomous flight
they have to execute a lot of experiments, but they also continue
repairs and the replacement of equipment and parts , like filters,
ventilators, cables, pumps, valves, etc. A lot of time has to be
invested in those activities and often the time-tables and schedules
(the so-called cyclograms) cannot be used. Not all repairs are

The most attention has to be given to the
life-support systems. The airpressure checks go on and with the
instrument Bar the cosmonauts use temperature and humidity sensors to
detect tiny airstreams in the Module Kvant and the Base Block. After
the EVA on 12.05 the airlock of Module-D (the Sh.S.O.) got extra
checks. With Bar they searched near the portholes and an airvalve,
the KSD. The crew has also worked on the pipes for the heating system
KOB. Using the Germatizator glue and tape (possibly metallic) they
sealed off leaks and cracks in those pipes.

On 20.5.2000 during the pass in orbit 81479,
1243-1247UTC, Zalyotin reported that the air-pressure was 664 MM
Mercury and also that they just had burnt 3 cartridges. (These are
lithium perchloride cartridges to produce extra oxygen. Possibly the
Elektrons are not fully utilized due to the failure of the crucial
solar battery on Kvant-1).

Experiments: The crew spoke about the
experiments Optovert, Linza, Pelena, Prochnostj, Indikator and the
medical ones in the MK-series, and they carried out experiments in
the greenhouse Svet or Orangery. On 24, 25 and 26.05 the crew
transmitted TV-images or video-films to TsUP. To adjust or aim the
cameras, among which the LIV, Zalyotin had to go into the
Module-Kristall. Files containing results of experiments are
transmitted to earth via the telemetry system with the modem or
interface BITS.

Communications: These are very intensive,
especially because of the fact that all passes now take place within
the normal working hours. Due to the limited communications
infrastructure the Russians have to use every available
communications window (Oberpfaffenhofn, White Sands, Dryden and
Wallops do not play a role during this expedition). It is quite
normal that I daily produce 4 or 5 pages A-4 with written
translations of radio communications.

And last but not least: Information of TsUP
on 26.05.2000 at 0900UTC. Provisional date of return of Zalyotin and
Kaleri with the Soyuz-TM30 on 9.06.2000 with alternative: 14.06.2000.
But I beg you all: don’t blame me if this will not come

Chris van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.

SpaceRef staff editor.