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
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
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
more about the STS-74 mission and crew.