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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crews Transfer Supplies to Mir After Docking

After a successful docking of the Atlantis space shuttle with Mir, the two crews continued unloading crucial supplies to the collision-damaged space station Monday.


The first item to be floated into Mir after the traditional handshake through the hatchway Sunday was a new main computer. Ground controllers and crew members hope this particular delivery will put an end to repeated breakdowns that have left the station drifting and power-starved in space.


The seventh shuttle-Mir linkup took place just before midnight Saturday. Despite fears that the computer might fail during the critical minutes of the maneuver, all systems functioned smoothly -- a certain relief for NASA after drawn-out debate over whether it was safe to send another astronaut to the troubled station.


"It was beautiful. They had a perfect docking, everything went well," said Kathleen Maliga, NASA spokeswoman at the Russian mission control center at Korolyov outside Moscow.


Seven astronauts from Atlantis -- five Americans, one Russian and a Frenchman -- joined the two Russians and one American currently aboard Mir.


U.S. astronaut Michael Foale officially handed over his crew place to fellow American David Wolf after an action-packed 4 1/2 month flight on the station.


Wolf was given the go-ahead to fly for four months on Mir only Friday, as Atlantis stood on the launch pad. Faced with congressional opposition to putting another astronaut on the aging and accident-prone station, NASA awaited the findings of two independent safety reviews before deciding.


Mir has been running on reduced power and with a closed-off laboratory module since an accident last June when a supply ship smashed a hole in the station during a docking exercise.


On Tuesday, President Boris Yeltsin will examine the conclusions of a special commission about the causes of the accident, which was at the time attributed to human error.


Mir commander Vasily Tsibliyev and flight engineer Alexander Lazutkin returned to Earth in August. Both had 30 percent of their flight pay frozen until the commission determines whether they will be fined for the collision.


According to preliminary reports, however, the collision occurred due to a combination of factors, including organizational and technical ones. The human factor ranks last in this list, the president's aviation and space advisor Yevgeny Shaposhnikov was quoted as saying by Interfax on Monday.


Atlantis and Mir will fly together until Friday. During that time the crews will carry out scientific experiments and finish moving cargo between Atlantis and Mir. The four tons of supplies include water, air, tools and materials for repairs to the punctured Spektr science module.


On Wednesday, U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski and Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, another member of the Atlantis crew, are scheduled to make a five-hour space walk to retrieve a micro-gravity experiment left by shuttle crew members last year.


The men will also try to find the hole in Spektr, after an earlier attempt on Sept. 6 by Mir commander Anatoly Solovyov and Foale failed to pinpoint the leak. Parazynski and Titov will leave repair equipment outside for later use.


Four more space walks are planned over the next two months in an attempt to patch Spektr.