Thursday, June 25, 2009
Today in Space - 1997
During a docking test, the Progress cargo ship collides with Spektr Module on Mir Space Station!
The collision caused depressurization of the Spektr Module - which was where Foale's living quarters and toothbrush were, not to mention a whole lot of our science experiments. Two things you never want to happen to you in space: a hissing sound and your ears pop! After Foale retreated to the Soyuz per protocol, they realized depressurization of the station was not imminent and they were able to sever the cables leading to the module and close the hatch connecting it with the rest of the station. However, those cable had live power - so they were cutting away with sparks flying. This later changed our philosophy with "drag-through" cables through the Mir hatches.
I was in Russia and working the A-B-B-A shift when Linenger dealt with the SFOG (Oxygen Candle) fire earlier in the year. We come in for our B shift at the TsUP and our A shift tells us there was a fire onboard - and you just look at them and know they must kidding... But I was stateside on my five week off rotation when the Spektr collision happened. I remember checking NASA TV first thing in the morning and just being stunned.... it was the first af a handful of critical incidents we ended up experiencing on the Shuttle Mir Program.
They later did an internal EVA to retrieve a few of Foale's items and install a a hatch plate which allowed airtight passage for power cables needed to regain some of the power from Spektr's solar arrays. Many attempts were made to find and repair the leak in the pressure shell.
The Russian Mir-23 crewmembers Tsiblyev and Lazutkin had been plagued by bad luck their whole mission. The fire from the oxygen candle occurred during NASA 4 when Linenger was onboard and their Soyuz braking rockets failed during landing. In fact, Tsiblyez had been warned by an astologer of the impending bad fortune. Tsiblyev was made a scapegoat with poor health accusations (which were all probably brought on by the leaking antifreeze and stress from all the problems on their increment) and never flew again. Neither did Lazutkin.
Videos with downlink from Michael Foale:
Shuttle Mir History website:
Newstory upon landing: