Missions to Mir in 1994:
*Deorbit date for Progress vehicles and Mir modules
**Members of long-term (EO) expeditions are shown in bold
Expedition 15-16 (EO-15-16)
At the beginning of 1994, the 14th long-term crew was finishing its work onboard the station. The 15th expedition arrived to Mir on Jan. 10. Four days later, Tsibliev and Serebrov boarded the Soyuz TM-17 spacecraft and undocked from the station, with their last assignment to photograph the docking system of the Kristall module, which would be used by the crew of the Shuttle Atlantis in 1995 to link up with Mir. During the maneuver, the crew of the Soyuz TM-17 briefly lost control of the spacecraft, which was enough for the vehicle to hit Mir, poking thermal blanketing on the module.
Fortunately, the Soyuz did not sustain significant damage and everything worked well during landing.
The 15th expedition of Mir was relieved on July 3 with the arrival of the 16th crew.
In August, during the docking of the Progress M-24 spacecraft with the Mir, a seven-ton cargo vehicle missed its docking port on Mir, instead hitting the station as many as four times. The rendezvous was aborted and the attempt was repeated, this time with success. Engineers traced the problem to the newly added Kvant-2 and Kristall modules of the station. Their skins apparently reflected the signals of the docking radio-systems, distorting measurements performed during docking to the front port of the core module.
The incident with the Progress M-24 prompted the implementation of the new docking measurement process, originally developed for the Buran program. The new method was to be tested during the docking of the next manned expedition to the station in October 1994. (52)
The 17th crew boarded Mir on October 6, 1994. It included German astronaut Ulf Merbold, who stayed onboard the station for almost a month and returned home with the 16th crew on Nov. 4, 1994.
Next page: Mir operations in 1995
The Soyuz TM-18 spacecraft blasts off from Baikonur on Jan. 8, 1994. Credit: RKA
The Soyuz TM-20 spacecraft blasts off from Baikonur on Oct. 3, 1994. Credit: RKA