STS-79 commander Readdy (left) and Mir EO-22 commander Korzun (right) in Mir's Docking Module
Mission typeShuttle-Mir
COSPAR ID1996-057A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.24324
Mission duration10 days, 3 hours, 19 minutes, 28 seconds
Distance travelled6,300,000 kilometres (3,900,000 mi)
Orbits completed160
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Atlantis
Crew size6
Start of mission
Launch dateSeptember 16, 1996, 08:54:49.048 (1996-09-16UTC08:54:49Z) UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing dateSeptember 26, 1996, 12:13:20 (1996-09-26UTC12:13:21Z) UTC
Landing siteKennedy SLF Runway 15
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude368 kilometres (229 mi)
Apogee altitude386 kilometres (240 mi)
Inclination51.6 degrees
Period92.1 min
Docking with Mir
Docking portSO starboard
Docking dateSeptember 19, 1996, 03:13:18 UTC
Undocking dateSeptember 24, 1996, 01:31:34 UTC
Time docked4 days, 22 hours, 18 minutes 16 seconds

Left to right - Seated: Apt, Wilcutt, Readdy, Akers, Walz; Standing: Lucid, Blaha
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STS-79 was the 17th flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis, and the 79th mission of the Space Shuttle program. The flight saw Atlantis dock with the Russian space station Mir to deliver equipment, supplies and relief personnel. A variety of scientific experiments were also conducted aboard Atlantis by her crew. It was the first shuttle mission to rendezvous with a fully assembled Mir, and the fourth rendezvous of a shuttle to the space station.[1]


Position Launching Astronaut Landing Astronaut
Commander William F. Readdy
Third and last spaceflight
Pilot Terrence W. Wilcutt
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Jay Apt
Fourth and last spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Thomas D. Akers
Fourth and last spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Carl E. Walz
Third spaceflight
Mission Specialist 4 John E. Blaha
Fifth and last spaceflight
Shannon W. Lucid
Fifth and last spaceflight

Mission highlights

STS-79 was the first shuttle mission to a fully completed Mir space station, following the arrival of its Priroda module. Atlantis carried the 1,821-kilogram (4,015 lb) Orbiter Docking System. This spaceflight was highlighted by the collection of American astronaut Shannon Lucid after 188 days in space, the first American crewmember exchange aboard the Russian Space Station Mir, and the fourth Shuttle-Mir docking.[1] Lucid's long-duration spaceflight set a new American record, as well as worldwide spaceflight record for a woman astronaut.[2] She embarked to Mir March 22 on the STS-76 mission. Succeeding her on Mir for an approximately four-month stay was John Blaha, who returned in January 1997 with the STS-81 crew. American astronaut Jerry Linenger replaced him.[3]

STS-79 also marked the second flight of the SPACEHAB module in support of a Shuttle-Mir docking and the first flight of the SPACEHAB Double Module configuration.[1] The forward portion of the double module housed experiments conducted by the crew before, during and after Atlantis was docked to the Russian space station. The aft portion of the double module housed the logistics equipment to be transferred to Mir, which included food, clothing, experiments, supplies, and spare equipment.[1] The mass of the module was 4,774 kilograms (10,525 lb).

The Shuttle-Mir link-up occurred at 15:13 UTC on September 18, following R-bar approach. Hatches opened at 05:40 on September 19, and Blaha and Lucid exchanged places at 11:00. Awaiting Blaha on Mir were Valery Korzun, Mir 22 commander, and Alexander Kaleri, flight engineer.[4]

During five days of mated operations, the two crews transferred more than 1,814 kilograms (3,999 lb) of supplies to Mir, including logistics, food, and water generated by Atlantis's fuel cells. Three experiments were also transferred: the Biotechnology System (BTS) for study of cartilage development; the Material in Devices as Superconductors (MIDAS) experiment to measure electrical properties of high-temperature superconductor materials; and the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA), containing several smaller experiments, including self-contained aquatic systems.[5]

About 907 kilograms (2,000 lb) of experiment samples and equipment were transferred from Mir to Atlantis and the total logistical transfer to and from station of more than 2,722 kilograms (6,001 lb) was the most extensive to date.[5] During her approximately six-month stay on Mir, Lucid conducted research in the following fields: advanced technology, Earth sciences, fundamental biology, human life sciences, microgravity research and space sciences. Specific experiments included: Environmental Radiation Measurements to ascertain ionizing radiation levels aboard Mir; Greenhouse-Integrated Plant Experiments, to study effect of microgravity on plants, specifically dwarf wheat; and Assessment of Humoral Immune Function During Long-Duration Space Flight, to gather data on effect of long-term spaceflight on the human immune system and involving collection of blood serum and saliva samples. Some of this research was conducted in the newest and final Mir module, Priroda, which arrived at station during Lucid's stay.[5]

Three experiments remained on Atlantis: Extreme Temperature Translation Furnace (ETTF), a new furnace design allowing space-based processing up to 871 degrees Celsius (1,600 degrees Fahrenheit) and above; Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG) complement of 128 individual samples involving 12 different proteins; and Mechanics of Granular Materials, designed to further understanding of behavior of cohesionless granular materials, which could in turn lead to better understanding of how Earth's surface responds during earthquakes and landslides.

As with all Shuttle-Mir flights, risk-mitigation experiments were conducted to help reduce development risk for the International Space Station. Flying for first time was the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS), an experiment rack designed to cushion payloads from vibration and other disturbances.[5]

Conducted near the end of STS-79 was a test using Atlantis's small vernier jets to lower her orbit. A similar maneuver was made at end of second Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, STS-82, to re-boost Hubble to a higher orbit while still in orbiter payload bay.


See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b c d "STS-79 (79)". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  2. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Shannon Lucid (10/2009)". Johnson Spaceflight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  3. ^ "STS-81 (81)". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "NASA - STS-81". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d "NASA - STS-79". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved December 20, 2011.