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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS021 (1997)

ARLS021 Mir update

Space Bulletin 021  ARLS021
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  June 25, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLS021 Mir update

Ham-astronaut and former Mir crew member Jerry Linenger, KC5HBR,
told reporters today (June 25) that the crew aboard the Russian
space station has had to ''power everything down that's possible,''
including some life-support systems, in the wake of a collision with
an unmanned cargo rocket this morning. The crash, which damaged a
solar array and punctured one module, resulted in a loss of as much
as 50 per cent of the Mir's electrical power. Speaking at a NASA
press briefing, Linenger characterized the Mir as ''a darkened
ship'' and said the crew would operate ''in a slowdown mode'' until
the effects of the mishap are corrected. The accident caused the
space station to depressurize.  The situation prompted quick action
by the crew to seal off the affected Spektr module.

The accident has cut off US ham-astronaut Mike Foale, KB5UAC, from
his sleeping quarters and personal items in the Spektr module. NASA
Shuttle-Mir Program Manager Frank Culbertson said there was ''no
indication of health and safety problems'' among the crew members,
but that some of the experiments in the Spektr module may have been
ruined. Culbertson said the collision with the Progress supply
rocket happened as the crew was ''testing a new rendezvous
technique'' to be used if automatic docking systems failed. In
addition to Foale, the Mir is staffed by Russian cosmonauts Vasily
Tsibliyev and Alexander Lazutkin. Foale has been aboard Mir since
mid-May, when he replaced Linenger.

Linenger told the press conference today that it was too early to
comment on what the latest problem aboard Mir might mean for the
future of the 11-year-old space station, which already has outlasted
its anticipated life span by six years. Linenger said fire and
decompression are the two most dangerous things aboard a spacecraft
''and we've had both of those.'' During Linenger's four months
aboard Mir early this year, the crew experienced a fire, a near
collision with another cargo rocket, and coolant system leaks.

Culbertson said repairs likely would require a space walk by the Mir
crew. He also did not rule out the possible termination of the
mission. As part of its response to the emergency, the crew prepared
the Soyuz escape vehicle for possible evacuation. Culbertson said
the crew would have to orient the station for optimal exposure to
the sun to make the best possible use of the solar panels that
remain on-line.

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