Mir cosmonauts prepare for return to Earth tonight

Status Report From: MirCorp
Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kalery will board their Soyuz TM-30 manned transport vehicle, closing the hatch to the space station until the next MirCorp mission. They will undock in the evening hours of June 15 and will touch down in Kazakhstan in the early morning of June 16 (0043 GMT or 8:43 PM EDT June 15).

The landing is targeted 46 km from the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. Upon landing, cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kalery will have spent 73 days (approximately 1,744 hours) onboard the Mir space station and approximately 53 hours in the Soyuz TM-30 vehicle.

While onboard Mir, the cosmonauts will have orbited the Earth 1,110 times, with an additional 34 orbits in the Soyuz TM-30 vehicle.

The Mir cosmonauts spent their final full day on board Mir, dismantling the final experiment equipment and preparing the station for unmanned flight until MirCorp's next mission.

Crew commander Sergei Zalyotin configured the life support system for autonomous operation, and then deactivated the Kristall module.

Flight engineer Alexander Kalery disassembled the Orangereya (hothouse) experiment, which has seen the successful growth of red mustard, Chinese cabbage and other plants. He photographed the plants, then stowed the film and plant samples for the return to Earth.

He then made a preliminary deactivation of the Kvant module and the base block (core) module.

Kalery also switched off the micropurification unit and prepared for operation without a crew aboard Mir.

Equipment was stowed in the Soyuz transport vehicle, which the cosmonauts will ride tomorrow evening for their reentry and soft landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Touchdown of Zalyotin and Kalery is targeted for an area 46 km. from the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. After their recovery by a specialized ground crew, the cosmonauts will be flown back to the Star City crew facility outside of Moscow.

The cosmonaut crew can be proud of their achievements on Mir. During the more than 70 days on the station, they moved ahead with a renovation of the Mir (including repairing a small air leak), and carried out a full range of scientific experiments.

Their work has readied Mir for the next commercial mission opportunities to the station, which currently are being pursued by MirCorp.

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