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Future Operations

The decision in 1993 by the Russian Federation to join the International Space Station program had profound effects on both the near-term and long-term plans and objectives of the Russian man-in-space program. The first phase of the ISS program actually involves eight Mir-US Space Shuttle missions, of which seven call for docking's between the two massive objects. Following a Mir-Space Shuttle rendezvous and close fly-by in early 1995, the first two docking's were scheduled for the same year. The year 1995 was also to witness the docking's of the Spektr and Priroda modules to the Mir complex, completing the assembly begun nearly 10 years earlier (Figure 3.22).

Three new expeditions to Mir were manifested for 1995, including a 3-month visit by the first American to visit Mir and the 4.5-month Euromir 95 mission. Late in the year a US Space Shuttle would deliver a new docking module which would be attached permanently to the Kristall module, in part, to provide additional clearance between the Space Shuttle and the Mir complex (Figures 3.23 and 3.24). US and Russian spacecraft engineers were also planning on taking advantage of this opportunity to deliver two more large solar arrays (one Russian and one American) to augment the Mir electrical power generation system.

Tentatively, 1996 and 1997 would mark the last years of Mir habitation. Two or three flights annually were envisioned, including new bilateral missions with the US and France. Requests by Japan and PRC for visits to Mir by their own astronauts were unlikely to be granted due to the increasingly packed schedule. With the launch of the first element of the ISS scheduled for November, 1997, followed by the first Russian-led manned mission the following Spring, the Mir space station was expected to be abandoned in late 1997 or 1998. However the orbital laboratory might be allowed to continue on for a year or more to serve as a technology test bed. By the end of the decade, the nearly 150-metric-ton space station was due to be de-orbited over a broad ocean area to prevent any potential reentry hazards, as in the case of Skylab and Salyut 7.

Although plans for a Mir 2 space station had been abandoned, the principal components of this concept had been integrated into the late 1993 redesign of ISS. As indicated, Russian-produced elements will account for approximately 150 metric tons of the 420 metric-ton complex as envisioned at assembly completion in 2002. Moreover, the Russian Federation will be responsible for unmanned logistical re supply missions and for the Assured Crew Return Vehicles (ACRVs). To support the former requirement, a Progress M2 spacecraft, which will be launched by a Ukrainian Zenit booster, is under development. The 13-m-long Progress M2 will have a cargo capacity of nearly five metric tons and will be capable of staying with ISS for up to six months. The ISS ACRVs will be derived from the current Soyuz TM spacecraft.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2016 19:05:46 ZULU