11 February 1990 06:16 GMT. Landing Date: 1990-08-09 07:35:00 PM. Flight Time: 179.05 days. Alternate Name: Soyuz TM-9. Flight Up: Soyuz TM-9. Flight Back: Soyuz TM-9. Call Sign: Rodnik (Spring - water spring). Crew: Balandin, Solovyov. Backup Crew: Manakov, Strekalov. Program: Mir. The Mir Expedition EO-6 comprised cosmonauts A Y Solovyov and A N Balandin. During their mission they attached the Kristall module to the station and conducted repairs to their Soyuz TM-9 return spacecraft as well as the Kvant-2 airlock. They also conducted an extensive programme of geophysical and astrophysical research, experiments on biology and biotechnology and work on space materials science. They landed safely on August 9, 1990 07:35 GMT, 70 km from Arkalyk at 50 deg 51'E 67 deg 17' N.
Narrative (adapted from D S F Portree's Mir Hardware Heritage, NASA RP-1357, 1995)
On February 13 the EO-6 relief crew of Balandin and Solovyov arrived at the station aboard Soyuz TM-9. Soon after they arrived in orbit, Balandin and Solovyov noted that three of eight thermal insulation blankets on their spacecraftís descent module had come loose at their lower (heat shield) ends and were waving about as the spacecraft manoeuvred in space. It was thought they could block optical navigation sensors, and that the damaged insulation might cause the spacecraft to overheat or cool down so much that condensation would form on its optical equipment. The possibility existed that an electrical short might occur if condensation developed on equipment. Docking with Mir occurred as normal. The cosmonauts and TsUP worked out procedures by which the TsUP monitored Soyuz TM-9's temperature and manoeuvred Mir to move it in and out of sunlight as needed to maintain proper temperature. In the meantime, cosmonauts worked in the hydrolab training facility in Zvezdny Gorodok, outside Moscow, to develop EVA repair procedures. Consideration was also given to sending a rescue Soyuz-TM carrying a single cosmonaut to pick up the cosmonauts and return them to Earth.
The problem was considered manageable and the Soyuz TM-8 crew had an uneventful return to earth on 19 February after a productive mission.
Progress M-3 arrived and remained docked with the station from March 3-April 27, 1990. It delivered replacement parts for Mir, including new storage batteries, electrical system components, and computer parts. The cosmonauts began installing these by March 7. Most of March was taken up with work on the computer system.
When Soyuz-TM 9 was launched, the Soviets stated that Kristall would launch on March 30 and dock April 7. On April 20 the Soviets announced that the Kristall module would not be launched until June 1. The cause of the delay was continued work to turn over control of the Mir complex to the new Salyut 5B computer. Difficulty had also been experienced in integrating Kvant 2ís gyrodynes into the Mir attitude control system.
From May 7-27, 1990 Progress 42 occupied the aft port of Mir. This was the last of the highly successful series of Progress vehicles. It marked the 43rd Progress docking (counting Cosmos 1669), all of which were successful. The Progress freighters delivered 99 tons of material to Salyut 6, Salyut 7, and Mir. Use of Progress 42 forced a delay in the integration of the Salyut 5B control computer delivered with Kvant 2, as Progress 42 could interface only with the old Argon 16B system.
The long-awaited, much-delayed Kristall module arrived at Mirís front port on June 10, and was relocated to the lateral port opposite Kvant 2 on June 11. This restored the equilibrium of the complex, which had been asymmetrical since Kvant 2 was placed at a lateral port in December 1989. The module was launched May 31. It had aborted its first docking attempt on June 6 due to an attitude control thruster failure. Delays in launch and docking affected Balandin and Solovyov, who were scheduled to return to Earth at the end of July. Their mission was extended 10 days to permit them to activate Kristallís systems, and to accommodate the EVA to repair the loose thermal blankets on Soyuz-TM 9.
Solovyov and Balandin had not previously been trained to perform an EVA. They trained by videotape sent up from the ground on a Progress spacecraft, and also by observing practice sessions televised from the hydrobasin. Special EVA tools were manufactured and sent to the cosmonauts. On July 3 they moved Soyuz-TM 9 to the Mir front port so it could be more easily reached for repairs.
On July 17 they opened the Kvant 2 EVA hatch before the airlock was completely evacuated of air. The hatch slammed back on its hinges. They used a pair of clamps, which they attached to handholds, to move down Kvant 2. They also secured themselves with long and short ropes. After 1.5 hr they reached the multiport docking node. They attached to Kvant 2 ladders for reaching the damage site on their Soyuz-TM. The cosmonauts determined that the Soyuz-TM 9 descent module remained in excellent condition. However, the thermal blankets had shrunk, making them impossible to reattach. They fell back on a contingency plan by folding two of the three blankets in half.
They were well behind schedule by this point. They left their tools and ladders at the repair site and hurried to return to Mir, as the rated endurance of their suits (6.5 hr) had been exceeded. This meant crawling over Kvant 2ís hull in the dark. They found that the Kvant 2 hatch would not close. To permit them to re-enter the pressurised portion of Mir, the central compartment of Kvant 2 was called into play as an emergency airlock, as it had been designed to do. The EVA lasted 7 hr, 16 min.
Solovyov and Balandin depressurised the Kvant 2 central compartment on July 25. After several attempts to close the outside hatch from inside, they televised images of the damaged hinge to the TsUP, then returned to the multiport node to secure their ladders. Finally, they removed a portion of the hinge cover, which had broken and become lodged between the hatch and its frame. They found the hatch much easier to close and seal after this. They repressurised the EVA airlock. The EVA lasted 3 hr, 31 min.
The EO-7 relief crew arrived aboard Soyuz TM-10 on August 3. The new crew arrived at Mirís aft port with four passengers -- quail for cages in Kvant 2. A quail laid an egg en route to the station. It was returned to Earth, along with 130 kg of experiment results and industrial products, in Soyuz TM-9. The spacecraft landed without incident.
Mir EO-6 Chronology
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