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Saturday, January 24, 1998 Published at 23:12 GMT


We have contact - shuttle docks with Mir
image: [ A computer image illustrates the final connection ]
A computer image illustrates the final connection

The US space shuttle Endeavour has docked with the Russian Mir space station to swap crew members and transfer supplies and scientific material.

Endeavour, making its first trip to Mir, linked up with the sprawling science complex about 248 miles above Russia at 2014 GMT on Saturday.

The mission was the eighth of nine scheduled shuttle trips to Mir.

[ image: Astronaut David Wolf: coming home]
Astronaut David Wolf: coming home
American astronaut Andrew Thomas will relieve a homesick David Wolf who has been working on Mir for four months.

Mr Wolf was hungry for news and eager to talk about the mission in English.

Even before Endeavour arrived, he was firing questions via the ship-to-ship radio line.

"How's the flight been so far?" he asked. "How did things go up until launch?"

Nasa commentary of docking (0' 25")
A few hours later, Endeavour latched onto Mir.

The shuttle and station will remain linked for five days so the 10 occupants can move more than three tonnes of supplies back and forth.

The items to be carted into the station include a new air conditioner, spare computer, science experiments, food and fresh drinking water.

The most crucial exchange though will be that of Mr Wolf and Mr Thomas - the seventh and final American to live on Mir.

The Australian-born engineer says he has no concerns about the station's safety despite its blemished track record.

[ image: Final assignment for Mir]
Final assignment for Mir
Accident-prone Mir had a spate of problems last year, including a fire and a collision with an unmanned supply ship.

While the temperature inside the station occasionally has soared into the 90s (30s Celsius), no emergencies have occured since Mr Wolf arrived in late September.

Mr Thomas says he is most worried about the day-to-day living conditions he will have to endure over the coming months.

This was the eighth shuttle-Mir linkup but the first involving Endeavour, newly fitted with docking snares.

The same mechanism will be used to hook up to the international space station (ISS) construction of which begins in June.

Mir will be mothballed when ISS takes over in 1999.

The space shuttle Discovery will be launched at the end of May to retrieve Mr Thomas in the final shuttle-Mir mission.


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