The Russian Soyuz TM25 manned ferry vehicle - launched on 10 February - was docked manually to the Mir space station on 12 February, after the latest failure of the Kurs automatic docking system.

The erratic system, which has failed several times previously, is being phased out, and crews will have to rely on manual dockings (Flight International, 20-26 November, 1996). The Soyuz is planned to be the interim Crew Emergency Return Vehicle stationed at the International Space Station. Later Soyuz craft may be equipped with a new automatic system which would use global-positioning-system signals.

After the latest failure, cosmonaut commander Vasily Tsiblyev completed the docking and transferred into the Mir with Alexander Lazutkin and German astronaut Reinhold Ewald, flying a $60 million commercial-research mission. Ewald will return to Earth with cosmonauts Valeri Korzun and Alexander Kaleri on 2 March.

Source: Flight International