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Life Sciences Experiment:    Mir 21
Mir Space Station
Launch/Start Date:
Landing/End Date:
194 days
Mir 21 Crew Patch

The Soyuz TM-23 docked with the Mir Space Station on February 23 at the docking port of the Kvant module. The Mir 21 crew, Commander Yuri Onufrienko and Flight Engineer Yuri Usachev, were greeted by the Mir 20/Euromir 95 crew who remained with them for one week to familiarize the new crew with current conditions and projects. On February 29, the Mir 20/Eurmir 95 crew returned to Earth.

On March 23, the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-76) docked with the Mir Space Station to deliver science equipment, supplies, water, and the NASA 2 crewmember, Shannon Lucid. The NASA 2 mission became the first in a series of planned U.S. missions aboard the station until 1998.

Six extravehicular activities (EVAs), ranging from 3-6 hours each, were performed during the Mir 21 mission. Among these was the first EVA performed by an U.S. astronaut on Mir. Two Shuttle crewmembers performed a 6-hour EVA in Atlantis' cargo bay and on the exterior of the Mir Docking Module. The main objective was to secure four experiment canisters to handrails on the Docking Module. The experiments, collectively called the Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP), were designed to record data on orbital debris in the environment near Mir, to collect samples of the debris, and to test potential International Space Station (ISS) materials by exposing them to the low Earth orbit environment. The four passive experiment canisters were retrieved by a later Shuttle crew after almost 2 years of data collection.

In addition to assisting the Russian cosmonauts during EVAs from inside the station, the NASA 2 crewmember continued activating equipment, such as the Biotechnology System Facility for long-term biotechnology studies, and conducting experiments, such as the Humoral Immunity experiment, to study space-flight effects on the human immune system. The crew also monitored various aspects of the spacecraft environment. They took air samples in Spektr and the core module using the Solid Sorbent Air Sampler (SSAS) and the Grab Sample Container (GSC). They recorded effects of spacecraft motion with the Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) equipment and began evaluation of the Microgravity Isolation Mount (MIM).Approximately one month after the arrival of the NASA 2 crewmember, the Priroda module was delivered to Mir aboard a Proton rocket. Priroda was the last of six permanent habitable Mir modules. The Priroda mission was to conduct Earth sciences studies through a variety of remote sensing equipment and to develop and verify remote sensing methods. The experiments were designed to not only gather valuable data on land surface, ocean, atmosphere, and ecology, but also to provide a basis for development of optimal methods of data gathering and analysis and optimal combinations of instruments.

During this mission, the NASA 2 crewmember surpassed the U.S. space-flight duration record, previously set by Norm Thagard who spent 115 days on Mir during the Mir 18 mission in 1995.

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