Tim Furniss/LONDON

The Soyuz TM22 spacecraft docked with the Russian Mir 1 space station on 5 September, two days after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

TM22's research engineer is the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Reiter, who is scheduled to make a 135-day space flight -the longest, by a Western European, including a 5h space walk on 20 October.

Reiter is flying the second ESA Euromir mission, designed to increase European manned-space flight experience, in preparation for ESA's planned participation in the international space-station project, which will feature the ESA Columbus module (Flight International, 14-20 September, 1994). The future of the Columbus - which is not scheduled for launch until 2001 - as well as other ESA programmes will be decided at a Ministerial Council meeting, in Toulouse on 18-20 October.

Also aboard the TM22 are Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Avdeyev, who will remain on the Mir with Reiter until their planned landing on 16 January 1996.

They are replacing the Mir resident crew, Anatoli Solovyov and Nikolai Budarin, who were delivered to the station by the Space Shuttle Atlantis/STS 71 on 29 June, They were due to land in Soyuz TM21 on 11 September. The TM22 crew will also host the second Shuttle Mir Mission by the Atlantis/STS 74 in October.

The launch of the final Mir 1 module, the Priroda, has been delayed yet again by budget cuts, from November to the second quarter of 1996. Russia plans to mothball the Mir 1 in 1998.

NASA space station contractor Boeing and Russia's Khrunichev have signed the $190 million contract for the delivery in orbit in November 1997 of the 21t, Functional Energy Block (FGB), the first module of the planned international space station. The first US node module will be added in December 1997, to begin construction of the station.

Boeing has also signed an agreement with Russia's Energia organisation to provide a commercial service to fly payloads on the Mir 1 space station.

NASA and a McDonnell Douglas-led team have completed the first compatibility-demonstration test between the international space station's S-band communications system and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system (TDRS). Communications to and from the Space Station and the Control Centre in Houston Texas, will be made via the TDRS fleet.

Source: Flight International