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FOR RELEASE: September 12, 1994
SHUTTLE/MIR DOCKING HARDWARE ARRIVES FROM RUSSIA
NASA's prime contractor for Space Shuttle orbiters, Rockwell Aerospace, took delivery Sunday of the Russian built spacecraft docking mechanism that will enable Space Shuttle Atlantis to join up with the orbiting Russian Mir Space Station next June.
Rockwell procured the docking hardware a year ago from NPO Energia for approximately $18 million, along with spare parts and technical services to support NASA's first Shuttle mission to Mir. The docking mechanism, called the Androgynous Peripheral Docking Assembly (APDA) was shipped September 8 from the Energia Production Facility in Kaliningrad, near Moscow.
Work will begin immediately at Rockwell's Space Systems Division (SSD) to assemble the APDA with the Rockwell-built docking system hardware. The APDA will be mated onto a docking base that attaches to a new external airlock designed to fit in the front of the orbiter payload bay supported by a truss structure. The external airlock connects with the existing airlock inside the crew cabin and with a Spacelab module.
In December, following integrated checkout at Rockwell, the Shuttle/Mir docking system will be delivered to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. There it will be installed aboard the Atlantis, which earlier this year completed a series of modifications that will allow it to accommodate the new docking system.
For the STS-71 mission to the Russian Space Station, scheduled for May 1995, Atlantis will carry a crew of five American astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts, along with approximately 1,100 pounds of equipment for use on Mir.
Two days into its flight, Atlantis will dock with Mir, whose crew of two cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Norm Thagard will have been aboard for 90 days following an earlier launch in a Russian Soyuz-TM capsule. The Atlantis and Mir crews will conduct five days of joint medical research on the physiological effects of extended spaceflight. The original Mir crew, including Thagard, will then join the Atlantis' astronauts for the trip back to Earth, while the two new cosmonauts will remain aboard for a long duration stay.
The STS-71 mission is the first of seven to ten Space Shuttle missions to Mir that are planned under a cooperative agreement between NASA and the Russian Space Agency (RSA). A $400 million contract recently signed by the agencies provides funding to Russia for activities under the protocol to the Human Space Flight Agreement which was signed in December 1993. The contract provides for Russian hardware, services and data in support of a joint program involving the U.S. Space Shuttle and the Russia's Mir Space Station and selected requirements for the International Space Station. Rockwell SSD is prime contractor to NASA for Space Shuttle orbiters. The company also is under contract to NASA for support to the Shuttle/Mir missions. NPO Energia is an advanced technology organization responsible for the design and manufacture of the Energia launch vehicle and manned systems including the Soyuz-TM and Progress-M spacecraft, the Mir Space Station and the Buran Space Shuttle. Energia originally developed the APDA for Buran/Mir missions. Rockwell and Energia provided docking hardware for the Apollo/Soyuz Test Project in July 1975.