THE SOYUZ TM24 was launched on a Soyuz U booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 17 August, carrying a crew of three people to the Mir 1 space station.

The crew consists of the first French woman in space, Claudie Andre Deshays, flying the 16-day, $13 million, Cassiopiae science mission; and Valeri Korzun and Alexander Kaleri,the first back-up crew to fly since the Soyuz 11 mission in 1971. They replaced Gennadi Manakov and Pavel Vinogradev when a pre-launch health check on Manakov at Baikonur revealed a heart anomaly. He was hospitalised. Rather than replace the entire crew, which is normal policy, Deshays was selected over the back-up French crewman Leopold Eyharts.

Mir residents Yuri Onufrienko and Yuri Usachev will return to Earth with Deshays on 2 September, leaving Korzun and Kaleri with NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid, who is scheduled to be replaced by John Blaha after the delayed launch of STS79/ Atlantis on 12 September.

NASA has selected Wendy Lawrence and David Wolf to fly long-duration missions aboard the Mir in 1997/8. They will be launched aboard STS86 and 89. Lawrence had earlier been dropped from Russian training because she was too short to fly on the Soyuz, if there had been a need to make an emergency return. The Soyuz is being modified.

The crew of the first Space Shuttle mission to begin assembly of the International Space Station has been selected. The STS88/ Endeavour, which will be launched in December 1997 will be commanded by Robert Cabana.

The Endeavour will join the Node 1 and mating adaptors to the Russian Functional Energy Block module, which is scheduled to be launched on a Proton booster in November 1997. Spacewalks are scheduled to be performed by Jim Newman and Jerry Ross, flying his sixth mission.

Source: Flight International