The 7th Mir Docking mission carries a SPACEHAB double module for a docking with Mir, cargo transfer and an astronaut exchange. The shuttle previously Mir missions were STS-71, STS-74, STS-76, STS-79, STS-81 and STS-84.
Highlights of the 10-day mission include five days of docked operations between Atlantis and Mir and the exchange of crew members Foale and Wolf to continue a permanent American presence of the Russia complex. A spacewalk is scheduled to retrieve the four Mir Environmental Effects Payloads which were attached to the Mir’s docking module by Linda Godwin and Rich Clifford during STS-76 to characterize the environment surrounding the Mir space station. Atlantis will carry the SPACEHAB double module to support the transfer of logistics and supplies for Mir and the return of experiment hardware and specimens to Earth.
Launch September 25, 1997 10:34:19 pm EDT. Launch window was 6-10 minutes. The launch window actually opened at about 10:29 p.m. and extended for about 10 minutes. However, instead of launching at the opening of this period, the mission management team decided to target the most optimum launch time of 10:34 p.m. EDT for vehicle performance reasons. Air Force weather forecasters predicted a 20 percent probability that weather would prohibit launch. (Reference KSC Weather History 09/25/1997 2000).
On Thursday, 9/25/97, the Rotating Service Structure was moved to the launch position at about 3:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. EDT, following a MIR safety review, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin gave the go ahead for the STS-86 mission, as well as David Wolf’s stay on MIR. Tanking operations started at 2:30 p.m. EDT, approximately 1 hour later than planned due to software problem in the MPS Firing Room Console. The crew met for the traditional breakfast/lunch at 5:40 pm. At 6:41pm EDT the countdown clock picked up at the T-minus 3 hour mark. The crew departed for the launch pad at 6:44 p.m. EDT and the flight crew was all strapped by 8:20pm EDT. Voice communication checks were completed by 8:26pm EDT and by 8:31 pm EDT, the hatch closed and configured for flight. At 9:21 pm EDT, the countdown entered a planned 10 minute hold at the T-minus 20 minute mark. The count then counted down to the T-minus 9 minute mark where it sat until 10:25pm EDT. At T-minus 7 minute 30 seconds the Orbiter Access Arm (OAA) was retracted. At T-minus 6 minutes 9 seconds, the APU prestart sequence was started and APU start occured at T-minus 5 minutes 30 seconds. Auto sequence start occured at 22:33pm EDT. Liftoff occured at 10:34:20pm EDT. SRB separation at 10:37pm EDT. SSME cutoff at 10:43pm EDT.
On Tuesday, 9/23/97, Loading of cryogenic reactants into the power reactant storage distribution system was under way and concluded at about 6 p.m. A replacement computer for Space Station Mir was prepared for stowage at the SPACEHAB Payload Processing Facility and will be installed into the SPACEHAB module 9/24/97. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/24/1997)
On Monday, 9/22/97, the launch countdown for mission STS-86 began at 2 p.m. Following normal aft compartment close-out activities last week, technicians reopened the aft to change out a helium regulator on main engine No. 1 that displayed indications of pressure loss. The new regulator was retested over the weekend and the aft compartment is now closed for flight. Flight crew equipment stowage was also completed. A 59-pound replacement computer for the Mir space station arrived at KSC early today for installation into Atlantis on Wednesday during scheduled late stow activities. The STS-86 crew also arrived at KSC. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/22/1997)
On Thursday, 9/18/97, ordnance connections and checks were complete and the space suits to be used by Parazynski and Titov during their planned space walk have been installed into the orbiter’s airlock. Aft engine compartment close-outs continued with aft door installation at midnight. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/18/1997)
On Friday, 8/29/97, Atlantis’ main propulsion system cavity purge was complete. Installation of the pyrotechnic canister assemblies at the aft external tank/orbiter attach points continues. Engineers gained access to the rudder speed brake sector seals for visual inspections. The Shuttle’s payload bay doors will be opened next Friday to support vertical payload installation on Saturday. The Spacehab payload will be delivered to Pad 39A on Sept. 4. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/29/1997)
On Tuesday, 8/26/97, loading of hypergolic fuels into Atlantis’ power reactant storage and distribution system began and will conclude 8/28/97. In the Shuttle’s aft compartment, the pyrotechnic canister assemblies will be installed at the external tank/orbiter attach points later this week. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/26/1997)
On Monday, 8/18/97, the Space Shuttle Atlantis rolled out to launch pad 39A at about 2 a.m. and was hard down at 8:30 a.m. The Rotating Service Structure (RSS) was rolled around Atlantis at about 11a.m. Main engine flight readiness testing begins 8/19/97. The Spacehab payload is slated to join the orbiter at the pad Aug. 28. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/18/1997)
On Wednesday, 6/25/97, servicing of Endeavour’s freon coolant loop No. 2 was underway and continues through Sunday. Radiator functional Tests were in work. Weight saving modifications of the left and right hand elevon coves, where the back of the orbiter’s wings meet the aft fuselage, were in work until Monday. Engineers are evaluating leak check data from a 17-inch disconnect on the umbilical assembly that joins the external tank to the orbiter. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/25/1997)
On Tuesday, 6/17/97, deservicing of freon coolant loop No. 2 was in work and trouble shooting of the accumulator on freon coolant loop No. 1 was also in progress. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/17/1997)
Altitude: 184 statute miles
Duration: 10 days, 19 hours, 22 minutes, 12 seconds.
ET : SN-88
MLP : MLP-2
KSC October 6, 1997 at 5:55 p.m. EDT Runway 15 Main Gear Touchdown 5:55:09 pm EDT (MET 10 Days 19 Hours 20 Min 50 Sec) Nose Gear Touchdown 5:55:19 pm EDT (MET 10 Days 19 Hours 21 Min 00 Sec) Wheel Stop 5:56:31pm EDT (MET 10 Days 19 hours 22 Min 12 Sec)
At 4:31pm EDT 10/6/97, Atlantis was given a go to manuever to the deorbit burn attitude and at 4:35pm EDT the crew was given a go for the burn. KSC weather at landing time was expected to have some cloud cover at 33,000 feet with cross winds of 10 knots and gusts to 15 knots. (Reference KSC Weather History 10/06/1997 1700).
The deorbit burn occured at 4:48pm EDT on orbit 169. At 5:51pm EDT, long range cameras picked up the shuttle and double sonic booms were heard at KSC as the shuttle slowed down to just below the speed of sound. Time to touchdown was 2min 30sec. Landing Gear down and locked at 5:54pm EDT, touchdown 5:55pm EDT.
Other landing opportunities on Monday were available but not needed. The second KSC landing opportunity on 10/6/97 would have been on orbit 170, with a deorbit burn at 6:24 p.m. EDT, and touchdown at KSC at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Two landing opportunities at Edward’s Air Force Base were also possible. The first would have been on orbit 171, with a deorbit burn 7:54 EDT and a landing at 9:01 EDT. The second opportunity for Edwards would have been on orbit 172, deorbit burn at 9:31 EDT, with a landing at 10:37 EDT.
Both landing opportunties for KSC on October 5, 1997, were waved off due to to cloud cover and high winds at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility