28 September 1994
A new era of international cooperation in space begins next week when an ESA astronaut blasts off on EUROMIR 94, a month-long mission to the Russian Mir space station.
ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold from Germany, a veteran of two US Space Shuttle missions, and Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Viktorenko and Elena Kondakova, are scheduled for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the night of 3 and 4 October 1994 aboard the Soyuz TM-20 spacecraft. Two days later they will dock with the 130-ton Mir complex, orbiting some 400 km above the planet.
ESA and its Russian counterparts are learning to work together before joining forces later in the decade to build the International Space Station. "This flight will start paving the way to the International Space Station, when European astronauts will live and work in space alongside with Americans, Canadians, Japanese and Russians", said Jean- Marie Luton, ESA's Director General.
The 30-day EUROMIR 94 mission will be the longest space flight by a western European astronaut. Experiments will mostly concentrate on the effects of space on the human body. The findings will benefit future space travellers and may lead to breakthroughs in medicine on Earth, particularly in the treatment of heart diseases and neurological, muscular, circulatory and bone disorders.
After 30 days, Merbold will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TM-19 spacecraft, with the current Mir crew members Yuri Malenchencko and Talgat Musabayev. Merbold, along with the other ESA astronaut in stand-by for this flight, the Spanish Pedro Duque, has been training for EUROMIR 94 since August 1993 at Star City, near Moscow. Merbold was a payload specialist on Space Shuttle mission STS-9 (Spacelab) in November-December 1982 and STS-42 in January 1992. He will be the first West European to fly on both US and Russian spacecraft.
Two other ESA astronauts are currently in training at Star City: Christer Fuglesang from Sweden and Thomas Reiter from Germany are preparing for EUROMIR 95, a 135-day mission that includes a spacewalk.
Facts and figures:
Launch date: Night of Monday 3 to Tuesday 4 October 1994.
Launch Time: 03:42 hrs Baikonur time, 01:42 hrs Moscow time on 4 October; 23:42 hrs CET (Central European Time) on 3 October.
Docking: Thursday 6 October 1994.
Docking time: 03:30 hrs Moscow time, 01:30 hrs CET.
Landing: 3 November 1994, 15:13 hrs Baikonur time; 13:13 hrs Moscow time, 11:13 hrs CET.
Opportunities for the media:
A press information center will be established during the EUROMIR 94 mission at ESA's European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne. This press center will provide information on the mission, its progress and status. It is linked to the Russian Control Center TsUP in Kaliningrad, near Moscow and ESA's payload support Centre SCOPE in the CNES facilities in Toulouse via a satellite video link where there will be opportunities to see live transmission from the space station Mir.
The press center will be open Monday through Friday from 4 October to 3 November from 10:00 until 18:00 hrs.
Status line: + 49 2203 600127 (English)
+ 49 2203 600131 (German)
Telephone: + 49 2203 60010
Fax.: + 49 2203 600118
During the mission the following highlights can be followed at the ESA/EAC:
Media representatives interested in following these events, should directly contact :
ESA/EAC Public Relations Office, Martine Caparros
Tel. + 49 2203 60 01 41
Fax. + 49 2203 60 01 66
Moscow-based media representatives can also follow docking on 6 October at the TsUP Mission Control Center. For accreditation please contact:
TsUP Public Relations Office, V. Latyshev
tel. + 7 095 187 06 66
Other events to be followed during the mission:
For further information on these events, please contact :
ESA Public Relations Office
tel. + 33 1 42 73 7155
Highlights from the mission (launch, docking, mission reports, landing) will be available for TVs at different times. For detailed information please contact:
REUTERS London: Steve Garvey, tel. + 44 71 510 7534
Katie Ward, tel. + 44 71 510 7518
ESA Public Relations: Philip Saunders, tel + 33 1 4273 7590