THE 23.5T SPEKTR module was launched towards the Russian Mir 1 space station aboard a Proton booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 20 May. It is scheduled to dock with the station on 1 June.

The Spektr carries 755kg of equipment to be used by US astronaut Norman Thagard, now aboard the Mir 1, and 45kg of equipment to be used by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter later this year.

The Mir is being prepared to receive the Space Shuttle STS71/Atlantis on 26 June. The Kristall module to which the Atlantis will dock was due to be moved on 27 May by a robotic manipulator, from a side-docking port at the front of the Mir to the axial port. This ensures that the Spektr and Atlantis can dock safely without interfering with the other Mir modules and solar arrays.

Cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennadi Strekalov are in the midst of an extended programme of five spacewalks, primarily to move the twin solar arrays on the Kristall on to the Kvant 1 module, and to place docking cones in the docking ports to take the Kristall and Spektr in their final positions.

Source: Flight International