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29 votes
Accepted

Why was Space Shuttle Atlantis selected for Mir docking so frequently?

Looking at old manifest documents, it seems pretty clear that Atlantis (OV-104) was outfitted with all the hardware for Shuttle-Mir missions and they used her exclusively for that until they couldn't ...
26 votes
Accepted

When Mir's attitude control computer failed, why did the station immediately start rotating?

Most such spacecraft, including Skylab and the ISS, have their attitude maintained by reaction wheels. These wheel essentially convert the rotational energy of the entire spacecraft into a smaller ...
  • 120k
18 votes

What is this long truss associated with Mir?

I believe that's the Sofora girder which was made up of 20 segments totalling 14 metres in length. There was an RCS thruster at the top end which made it easier to orient the station and used less ...
  • 1,143
17 votes
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Did all of the Space Shuttles dock with multiple space stations or crewed spacecraft?

Columbia did not. Despite being in service during the Shuttle-Mir and International Space Station programs, Columbia did not fly any missions that visited a space station. The other three active ...
16 votes
Accepted

What is this long truss associated with Mir?

Updated answer: TL;DR: Mayak (Lighthouse/beacon) or URS truss, mounted on Salyut-7 in May 1986. Additional element, including interview with cosmonaut Vladimir Solovyov, added at end of this answer -...
15 votes

What lessons in Space Station design have come out of the ISS?

A couple from personal experience: If the station has several identical or nearly-identical components externally, label them with labels big enough to be seen from windows. The US segment of the ...
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14 votes

What is the longest time that a mammal has spent in microgravity?

437 days in a single stretch. The mammal was a relatively standard specimen of Homo sapiens sapiens. Known affectionately as Valeri Polyakov by his handlers, the subject was launched to orbit on-...
  • 7,089
13 votes

How did the Mir crew recover from the power outage following collision with Progress 34?

Martin's answer offers a great overview and a link to a hidden gem - transcribed interview with Michael Foale, covering the incident and its aftermath in a great detail. I'd like to share the most ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Was a commercial (ad) balloon satellite ever deployed?

Yes, this was done during the EO-21 mission via a spacewalk from Mir in May 1996. The deployment was filmed (or videotaped) for use in a TV commercial. The balloon was not intended to be visible ...
11 votes

When Mir's attitude control computer failed, why did the station immediately start rotating?

It doesn't have to be an external torque, consider for example the crew changing position inside the space station, although the maximal torque provided by moving the entire crew to the Kvant-1 is ...
10 votes
Accepted

How did the Mir crew recover from the power outage following collision with Progress 34?

The best I was able to find is this description of the event by Michael Foale. In short reactive thrusters of the docked Soyuz spacecraft was used to reorient the whole station. And, in the periods of ...
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10 votes

When did astronauts/cosmonauts start cleaning and vacuuming space stations?

For the US space program, it started in Skylab. Vacuuming of the Orbital Workshop mixing chamber screen, the waste management compartment screen, and other environmental control system screens was ...
10 votes
Accepted

When a new module is added to the ISS, do they still do the "Shake" test?

I am not aware of any structural dynamics tests conducted on the ISS using crewmembers as 'excitation sources'. However, the ISS does have a build-in structural dynamics sensor system consisting of ...
10 votes
Accepted

Were Hasselblad cameras used in space after the Apollo mission?

Partial answer: Hasselblad 500 EL/M cameras were used early in the Shuttle program, before the advent of digital photography. The training manual is available here, it has this beautiful cover I do ...
9 votes

What lessons in Space Station design have come out of the ISS?

EVA's have turned out to be an impractical way to work in space. Service robots are taking over even on the crewed ISS. Many of the different health problems with microgravity have been discovered in ...
  • 26.6k
9 votes

What lessons in Space Station design have come out of the ISS?

Possible lessons: Resupply is hard. It takes a lot of time to load/unload cargo. Automated docking is better than manual berthing. Big doors are good for moving big cargo.
  • 77.5k
8 votes
Accepted

Tracking of Mir space station backwards in time?

CelesTrack has Mir ephemerides (as TLE, two-line element sets) in its NORAD Two-Line Element Sets Historical Archives. It's a 755 KB in size ZIP archive (direct link) packing a text file with 22,333 ...
  • 75.9k
8 votes
Accepted

On Mir, Zarya, or Zvezda, do docking ports consume space inside the module?

First off, here's a picture (source: NASA) of the inside of the MIR node with something connected in every direction: There's also a video here where the node is traversed, but I can't find any ...
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8 votes
Accepted

What was being manufactured on Salyut and Mir?

The Kristall (crystal) module of Mir carried a number of payloads for carrying out metallurgy and crystal growth experiments and was dubbed a factory in Soviet Press, as it was supposed to manufacture ...
  • 1,560
8 votes

What lessons in Space Station design have come out of the ISS?

Long term international cooperation is hard And it might not come with only advantages, such as share the assembly and operational costs, share science, technology, infrastructure, services, increase ...
  • 75.9k
8 votes

How many people have returned to Earth in a different type of vehicle than the one that launched them into space?

Here is the list of people (11) I have found so far: ...
7 votes

What is a gravity gradient?

Due to the fact that gravity follows an inverse square law with distance. So an object twice as far away from the centre of another object will only feel one quarter of the gravitational force. So for ...
  • 6,843
7 votes

Why did the Mir space station need someone to look after it at all times?

Late in its life, Mir suffered significant failures, a lot. Designed for only a five-year life, the aging Mir suffered a series of equipment failures and accidents in 1996–97 but remained in service. ...
7 votes

What is a gravity gradient?

This is actually quite interesting problem, which has a few levels to it: In first order approximation, there is a tendency to align the orbiting body vertically with its mass extending as much as ...
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7 votes

Was the teletype machine on MIR the first printer in space? Is there a photo, and what frequencies were used?

For your first question, it was definitely not the first teletype printer: The airlock module had other functions, too. In it were located the controls for the temperature of the Skylab and the ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Was TORU really used on Salyut space stations

An answer of two parts, part one: From what I have seen, http://www.hightechscience.org/toru.htm is the only site to include Salyut in the list of stations with TORU installed on it. And I do believe ...
6 votes
Accepted

How did the atmospheres of Soyuz, Shuttle, Mir, and ISS compare?

All these craft were designed to maintain the rough equivalent of a sea level atmosphere. Reference: Life Support Concepts for Space Travel Shuttle Environmental Control and Life Support System ...
6 votes

Was the teletype machine on MIR the first printer in space? Is there a photo, and what frequencies were used?

UPDATE 2: Confirmed that (unencrypted) teletype existed on Salyut 2, from one of the programmers on the teams, with an amusing note on where they got the magnetic tape from: On board the Salyut-2 and ...
5 votes
Accepted

How was APAS-89 chosen for Buran and Kristall?

The major claimed advantage of the APAS was that it can be applied to more massive vehicles because it incorporates a damping system. Buran was going to be much more massive than Soyuz. Source: ...
5 votes

What is this thing on the right of the frame in this photograph? (STS-71)

(cropped and sharpened) oh. its the probe. I had previously counted out the probe for the following reasons: probe is always retracted in flight probe extends for docking only even if blister window ...

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