Final preparations are under way in Europe, Russia and Kazakhstan for the launch of EUROMIR 95, the second ESA mission to the Russian Mir space station. The 135-day flight, the longest in western European manned space history, is scheduled to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on 3 September.
The prime and back-up crews for this ambitious mission arrived at the launch site on 23 August. They will spend the days leading up to the launch reviewing their flight plans and having a final medical check-up. The prime crew consists of ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Avdeev and Yuri Gidzenko, the back-up crew of ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang and Russian cosmonauts Gennadi Manakov and Pavel Vinogradov. The prime crew is expected to be confirmed formally for the mission on 2 September.
The ESA astronaut and his Russian colleagues are scheduled to blast off aboard the Soyuz TM-71 launcher at about 11:00 CEST (15:00 local time). The launch will be from the same pad Yuri Gagarin used in 1961. After a two day flight, Soyuz will dock with the orbiting Mir complex on 5 September, at about 12:30 CEST (14:30 Moscow time). Just over an hour later, the hatches between the two craft will be opened and the EUROMIR 95 crew will be greeted by the current Mir cosmonauts, Anatoli Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin, who were flown to the station on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis mid-July. The two crews will go their separate ways on 11 September when Solovyev and Budarin enter their Soyuz capsule, undock and return to Earth.
The last elements (weighing about 10 kg) needed for the start of the mission are being uploaded with Thomas Reiter. The bulk of the ESA equipment and experiments (about 335 kg) was flown out to Mir in June, with the new Spektr module, and in July on Progress TK-228. The last part of the ESA equipment (about 85 kg) will be uploaded on 3 October on Progress TK-229.
The main goals of the flight is to accomplish an intensive programme of scientific research in the unique microgravity conditions found in Earth orbit and to prepare for future missions in the framework of the International Space Station. Most experiments will study the effects of these 'weightless' conditions on the human body, others will investigate the development of new materials and test new space equipment.
One of the highlights of EUROMIR 95 will occur on 20th October, when Thomas Reiter steps outside Mir for a five-hour spacewalk, the first by an ESA astronaut. His task will be to install a European experiment on the outside of Mir's Spektr module.
Another major event will be the docking of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis with Mir, which is scheduled for this autumn.
The Shuttle and Mir crews, which will include Russians, Americans, a Canadian and a European, will work together for a few days before the Shuttle returns to Earth. The international composition of the crews reflects the new era of cooperation in space that will lead to construction of the International Space Station later this decade.
In addition to his scientific work, Thomas Reiter will have special responsibilities as the mission's flight engineer. This is the first time an ESA astronaut has been assigned this role in the framework of the Russian manned spaceflight system. His tasks will include maintaining some of the space station's numerous onboard systems.
After spending Christmas and New Year in space, Thomas Reiter will return to Earth on 16 January 1996, landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan. A new crew will have arrived to take over control of the station on 10 January.
Facts and figures:
Launch date: Sunday 3 September 1995.
Launch time:14:59 hrs, Baikonur/Kazakhstan time (12:59hrs Moscow time);10:59 hrs Paristime CEST.
Docking date: Tuesday 5 September 1995.
Docking time: 14:30 hrs Moscow time; 12:30 hrs Paris time/CEST.
EVA day ESA astronaut: Friday 20 October 1995, beginning at 13:00 hrs Moscow time, duration 5 h. Landing: Tuesday 16 January 1996 (13:36 hrs Kazakhstan time). 1. Information on the mission: The confirmation of the launch and status of the mission will be announced via press releases issued by ESA Public Relations Division, Paris.
Tel. + 33 1 5369 7155, Fax. + 33 1 5369 7690
Press kits on the EUROMIR 95 mission are available upon request.
Daily information on the mission can be obtained (as of 3 September):
- via ESA European Astronauts Centre: Tel. + 49 2203 600 112
- on answering machines: Tel. + 49 2203 600 147 (English), + 49 2203 600 135 (German)
- on World Wide Web: URL http://www.op.dlr.de/ EUROMIR95/
For TV networks: REUTERS TV will broadcast highlights of the first days of the mission. For further information please contact: REUTERS London: Steve Garvey, tel. + 44 171 542 7534.
2. Live video link-ups with Mir
Tuesday 5 September Docking
Live video transmission of the docking can be followed as of 11:00 hrs. at DLR's GSOC facility in Oberpfaffenhofen, Münchener Strasse 20, D-82234 Wessling, near Munich, where ESA's SCOPE (System for Control of Operations of Payloads for EUROMIR 95)- whose role is to perform the payload mission management functions and coordinate all experiment-related activities among the other operations organisations- is located.
ESA's EUROMIR 95 project manager Wolfgang Nellessen and ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold will be commenting the videotransmission.
For registration and further information please contact:
ESA/EAC, tel.: + 49 2203 600 10
Moscow-based media representatives can follow launch and docking live at the TsUP Mission Control Centre in Kaliningrad, near Moscow.
For accreditation please contact:
ESA Moscow Office: Tel. + 7 095 928 7529, Fax: + 7 095 928 53 52.
Saturday 7 October "Space: fiction and real"
During the Space Festival taking place at Disnelyland Paris, over 500 children from all ESA member states and Russia will spend a morning at a "space class" with specialists from the worlds of space and fiction, culminating in a live link-up with the crew on board Mir.
Wednesday 18 October "In-flight press conference"
On the eve of the gathering of ESA member states' Ministers, and two days before the spacewalk by Thomas Reiter, a press conference with the ESA astronaut on board Mir will be organised from CNES in Toulouse, France.
Thursday 9 November "Art & education"
Twenty works of art selected after a worldwide contest (Ars ad Astra project) will be 'exhibited' both in the Mir station and at the Euro Space Centre in Belgium, from where a live link and discussion with the crew will be organised for European children accompained by some of the artists on the theme "Space and Humanity".
Saturday 25 November "Classroom in space"
At the Fourth Information Forum for Young Europeans (EURISY) taking place at the Noordwijk Space Expo in Holland, a special live link-up with Mir will enable participants to share Thomas Reiter's experience of living and working in space.
Further information on these events and a number of other in- flight opportunities taking place during the 135-day EUROMIR 95 mission will be announced in due course.