| STS-74 | Crew | Payload | Mission | Flying through the Furlough |


Space Shuttle Atlantis

November 12, 1995, 7:30 a.m. EST
Kennedy Space Center, Pad 39-A

STS-74 patchOrbit:
213 nautical miles

51.6 degrees

November 20, 1995, 12:01 p.m. EST
Kennedy Space Center

8 days, 4 hours, 31 minutes

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| STS-74 | Crew | Payload | Mission | Flying through the Furlough |

STS-74 Crew

STS-74 crewCommander Kenneth D. Cameron
Third Shuttle flight

Pilot James D. Halsell, Jr.
Second Shuttle flight

Mission Specialist Chris A. Hadfield
Canadian Space Agency
First Shuttle flight

Mission Specialist Jerry L. Ross
Fifth Shuttle flight

Mission Specialist William S. McArthur, Jr.
Second Shuttle flight

STS-74 Crew Biographies

Read the Shuttle-Mir Oral Histories (PDF)


| STS-74 | Crew | Payload | Mission | Flying through the Furlough |


Orbiter Docking System (Docking Module)
Solar Arrays
IMAX Cargo Bay Camera
Shuttle Glow Experiment
Photogrammetric Appendage Structural Dynamics Experiment
Shuttle Shortwave Amateur Radio Experiment

Read more about Shuttle-Mir Science


| STS-74 | Crew | Payload | Mission | Flying through the Furlough |

Mission: June 27 - July 7, 1995

Workers at Launch Pad 39! prepare to close the payload bay doors on AtlantisSTS-74 was the first Space Shuttle mission to actually help build a space station. Its payload included two solar arrays and a module essential for future dockings of the Russian space station and the U.S. Shuttle.

For the first Shuttle-Mir docking (STS-71), the Russian cosmonauts, with the aid of the Lyappa manipulator arm, relocated the Kristall module to allow ample clearance for Atlantis. After the Orbiter departed, the Mir crew had to return the Kristall to its original location to provide Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles access to the station.

To avoid future movements of the Kristall, STS-74 ferried a Russian-built docking module and Orbiter docking system to Mir for installation. The new mechanism would provide the means to effect Shuttle dockings without interference.

STS-74's journey was delayed one day as the crew waited for weather to clear at a transAtlantic emergency landing site. Soon after reaching orbit, the crew began setting up for business.

On Flight Day 1, the astronauts powered up the docking module, which was stowed on its side inside the Shuttle’s payload bay. On Flight Day 2, they examined the robotic arm and installed a guidance camera in the Shuttle’s docking system. On Flight Day 3, astronauts Chris Hadfield and Bill McArthur used the robot arm to grapple the docking module, swing it out of the payload bay, and position it on the end of the docking system at a right angle out of the payload bay. Commander Ken Cameron and Pilot Jim Halsell then fired Shuttle thrusters to "bump" the docking assemblies together.

After checking for leaks, the crew entered the docking module and moved the guidance camera to help in docking with Mir.

Flight Day 4 marked the second Shuttle-Mir docking. Commander Cameron did not have the good view that STS-71 Commander Hoot Gibson had enjoyed during the inaugural docking of the two spacecraft. Stacked together, the combined docking assembly and module measured almost 20 feet. According to Cameron, it was "like looking at the top of a building from the ground floor. You can see that it’s up there but you really can’t . . . accurately judge position or orientation." For the successful docking, Cameron and his crew used several aids, including the camera inside the docking module, another camera on the outside of the module, a "wrist" camera on the robot arm, and a laser system that worked in conjunction with a series of reflectors mounted on Mir’s Kristall module.

During the three days of docked operations with Mir, Atlantis took onboard U.S., Russian, and European Space Agency equipment and samples. The crew delivered water, supplies, and equipment, including the two new solar arrays—one Russian built and one built in the U.S.

Mir’s residents at the time were Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Flight Engineer Sergei Avdeyev, and Cosmonaut Researcher Thomas Reiter of Germany.

This mission marked the first time astronauts from the U.S., Russia, Canada, and the European Space Agency (ESA) were in space on the same complex at one time—an example of future international cooperation.

Atlantis lingered near Mir and made two fly-arounds at a distance of about 400 feet while the crew filmed Mir with the large-format IMAX camera.

Read more about the STS-74 mission and crew.


| STS-74 | Crew | Payload | Mission | Flying through the Furlough |

Flying through the Furlough

Much has been made of the Russian government’s difficulties in meeting the financial demands of its space program. However, the Russians constructed the docking module in a remarkably short time. It was the U.S. government that made efforts difficult for Shuttle mission STS-74.

Congress’ failure to put together a budget deal caused "nonessential" government workers to be furloughed from November 14 through November 19, 1995—right in the middle of the STS-74 flight. While those NASA employees critical to mission success kept working, other employees were sent home and NASA was unable to release public information.

The STS-74 crew kept flying, of course, and they kept their sense of humor. On a private Web site titled "The Utterly Unofficial STS-74 Mission Guide," they and their friends on Earth kept information flowing to the public. They posted: "NOTE: A number of NASA [Web] servers were shut down due to the budget idiocy in Washington, DC. . . . Meanwhile, please be patient with NASA as they get back into the swing of things. It certainly wasn’t their fault." To serve Canadian followers of Mission Specialist Chris Hadfield, an "equally unofficial" Canadian Web site was maintained.

On Earth, Russian Team Leader Oleg Lebedev commented to NASA’s Spektr Module Manager Charles Stegemoeller, "I’ve never talked to an unemployed American before."

The Russians could appreciate the Americans’ difficulties.

Next Chapter - STS-76: Starting a Continuous U.S. Presence!