BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

In amongst the cables
The cosmonauts checked Mir's exterior cabling
 real 28k

Friday, 12 May, 2000, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Mir spacewalk tests new glue
Mir Aptn
No major problems were encountered
Russian cosmonauts have completed a five-hour spacewalk to inspect the exterior of the Mir orbital platform.

Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri also tested a glue which could be used to seal tiny cracks in the hull like those that developed in the space station when it collided with a Progress supply freighter in 1997.

The accident very nearly destroyed Mir and left the platform with a depressurisation problem that plagued all subsequent missions.

The two cosmonauts applied the new airtight sealant to a special panel imitating a damaged section in Mir's skin. This was taken back inside the station and will be examined later to assess the performance of the glue.

Although Zalyotin and Kaleri believe they have solved the major part of Mir's depressurisation problems from the inside, the sealant could prove invaluable in the future and play a major part in extending the life of the ageing spacecraft.

Problem area

The cosmonauts also examined a solar panel on the Kvant module which cannot be orientated towards the Sun because of a faulty drive gear. Zalyotin and Kaleri took photos of the problem area.

Hand Aptn
The cosmonauts checked exterior cabling
"The Mir station is entering the shadow zone, the Sun is gone, Alexander and I have switched on the spacesuit heaters and we are warmer now," Zalyotin told the mission controllers during one communication.

The cosmonauts also examined the exterior of the Progress M1-2 cargo ship, which linked up with Mir shortly after they went aboard the space station, and dismantled the thin-film solar battery mounted on the docking unit.

Kaleri reported that "an old charred cable, trailing debris out of its damaged insulation, was discovered in the vicinity of the solar battery mounting". The problem is not thought to be serious.

Sufficient money

The Russian Government had planned to dump Mir into the ocean early this year because it lacked the funds to keep the station flying. But Netherlands-based MirCorp stepped in with sufficient money to develop business possibilities on Mir.

Walk Aptn
They called it the first "privately funded spacewalk"
MirCorp officials have previously said that they have committed $10-20m to finance the current mission and promised to raise more cash to keep the station in orbit until at least August.

They extolled Friday's mission as the first privately funded spacewalk.

"Today's spacewalk is another demonstration of how a commercial space station should operate," said MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber. "The cosmonauts have done an excellent job reactivating Mir, and they are now adding a new dimension by taking their work into the full void of space."

The decision to extend Mir's life has annoyed the US space agency Nasa, which believes that it diverts scarce Russian resources from the International Space Station now under construction.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

26 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir takes on new supplies
13 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
More money triggers Mir confusion
06 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Successful docking for Mir
04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
In pictures: Return to Mir
17 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir to be turned into hotel
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories