Mission or Study ID: STS-71
Spacelab-Mir (SL-M) was the first of many joint ventures between NASA and the Russian Space Agency that would begin the NASA-Mir flight program. The mission began in late June 1995, when the Space Shuttle, carrying a Spacelab Module and an external airlock and docking mechanism, rendezvoused and docked with the Russian Mir Space Station. Astronaut Norm Thagard had already arrived by way of the Russian Soyuz vehicle and conducted a long-duration mission aboard the Mir. Then, while the Space Shuttle was docked to the Mir, the Mir 18 crew (Norm Thagard, Commander Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Gennady Strekalov) was replaced with the Mir 19 crew (Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin) who were transported to Mir on board the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle crew included Commander Robert L. Gibson, Pilot Charles J. Precourt, and Mission Specialists Ellen S. Baker, Bonnie J. Dunbar, and Gregory J. Harbaugh.
During the Spacelab-Mir mission, emphasis was placed on life sciences investigations. This included an evaluation of the Russian science research program, which aimed to counter the effects of long-duration stays in space. Retrieval of experiment samples and data from the joint 115-day Mir 18 mission was performed during SL-M, along with planned science data collection in the Spacelab. The science investigations were divided into seven general areas of study: Metabolism, Cardiovascular Studies, Neuroscience, Hygiene, Sanitation, and Radiation, Behavior and Performance, Fundamental Biology, and Microgravity Materials Science.
The general science objectives of the SL-M mission were:
- To obtain engineering and operational experience in conducting research on an orbital space station.
- To develop a profile of the Mir environment as it relates to microgravity and life sciences research to help understand past and future investigations.
- To conduct specific investigations in medical support, life sciences, fundamental biology, microgravity sciences, Earth observations, and life support technology.
The specific science objectives for the SL-M mission were:
- To transfer data and samples collected during the 115-day Mir 18 mission to the Space Shuttle.
- To collect data and samples from the long-duration crew member during the docked phase, which will complete the science program.
- To compare U.S. and Russian hardware and protocols within the same investigation to obtain a mutual understanding of each partner's scientific approach and equipment.
- To obtain postflight life sciences data from the long duration crew member.
Several NASA centers and organizations were involved in the development of the SL-M payload. Teams were composed of individuals from the Johnson Space Center, Ames Research Center, Lewis Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center. Each investigation had a co-investigator from one of several institutions in Russia.
Detailed Supplementary Objectives (DSOs) were also performed on this mission. A DSO is a NASA-sponsored investigation that is performed by Space Shuttle crewmembers, who serve as the test subjects. These studies are designed to require minimal crew time, power and stowage. Biomedical DSOs focus on operational concerns, including space motion sickness, cardiovascular deconditioning, muscle loss, changes in coordination and balance strategies, radiation exposure, pharmacokinetics and changes in the body's biochemistry.