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Re: Contact lost with MIR

Contact With Mir Regained After 21 Hour Blackout                  Arachne 1.67
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/mir_...Wed, 27 Dec 2000 07:56:45

Contact With Mir Regained After 21 Hour Blackout

By Yuri Karash
Moscow Contributing Correspondent
and The Associated Press
posted: 06:30 am ET 
26 December 2000 

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian Mission Control fully reestablished radio
communications with the Mir space station Tuesday after loosing track of
the 15-year old station 21 hours earlier.

Telemetry information was received from the Kvant 2, Kristall and Base
modules of the outpost during a communication session beginning at 3:45
p.m. Moscow time (7:45 a.m. EST). 

Mission Control lost track of the Mir after contacting it Monday at 6:40
p.m. (10:40 a.m. EST), said Valery Lyndin, a spokesman for Mission Control
said. Several successive attempts to restore the link later Monday failed,
but on Tuesday afternoon, Mission Control again managed to briefly link up
with the Mir.

Less than an hour later, Mission Control regained radio contact with the

"We still don't know why this glitch happened," said Leonid Gorshkov, RKK
Energia designer, in his exclusive interview with SPACE.com "We will
continue looking into possible causes of this malfunction."

If ground controllers were unable to re-establish regular contact with the
Mir, its solar panels would have eventually lost alignment with the Sun,
causing a power shortage which would have freezed its systems. The station
would also rotate chaotically, making it hard for any emergency crew to
dock and try to regain control.

Normally, such communications problems are sparked by computer glitches.
The lost of radio contact could signal a problem with the on-board

Observers have been worried about the Mir's safety for a long time.
However, after a terrifying fire and near-disastrous collision with an
unmanned cargo ship in 1997 followed by a series of computer glitches and
breakdowns, the Mir has been running relatively smoothly this year.

The Mir had only one, 73-day manned mission this year. The crew returned
safely in June, raising official optimism about the prospects of keeping
it in orbit without a crew.

At the same time, Russian space officials said it was necessary to dump
the Mir because experts could no longer guarantee the safety of its

"We cannot continue this game...which I call Russian roulette," Russian
Aerospace Agency chief Yuri Koptev said in November, explaining the
decision to discard the Mir. Many considered the decision a blow to
Russian pride.

Calling for careful preparation for the Mir's descent, space officials
recalled a Soviet satellite that crashed into northern Canada in 1978, in
a major embarrassment for the Soviet leadership. Nobody was hurt but
radioactive fragments were scattered over the wilderness.

The unoccupied U.S. Skylab space station fell to Earth in 1979 when its
orbit deteriorated faster than anticipated, spreading debris over western
Australia. No one was hurt.

In 1991, fragments of the Soviet Salyut-7 space station, the Mir's
predecessor, fell on Argentina's Andes Mountains near the Chilean border,
inflicting no damage or injuries. Space officials lost control of the
Salyut-7 after trying to extend its lifetime.

When Mir was launched on Feb. 20, 1986, it was the epitome of the Soviet
technological edge, and it has far surpassed the three to five years it
was expected to last. But critics said it had also outlived its usefulness
and long pointed to the potential dangers of keeping the aging station

The Russian Cabinet approved a plan to crash the Mir into the Pacific 900
to 1,200 miles east of Australia on Feb. 27-28. The decision followed
failed attempts to find private investors to keep the station operative.

Officials have said Russia should concentrate its funds on the new
international space station instead of the Mir -- something the U.S. space
agency NASA has been urging for years. NASA is leading the 16-nation
international project, which has suffered repeated delays because of
funding problems for Russian modules.

Mission Control on Tuesday was also monitoring the docking of an unmanned
Progress cargo ship with the International Space Station. The docking took
place shortly after 6 a.m. EST and was a success. 

73 de Alan
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