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Ups and Downs for November

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1988 Soyuz TM-7 launch

Crew: Aleksandr Volkov (CDR); Sergei Krikalev (FE); Jean-Loup Chrétien [France] (RC)


Volkov and Krikalev would form Mir Expedition 4, along with Valeri Polyakov. Chrétien would return to Earth in around three weeks' time alongside the two other members of Expedition 3. This was Krikalev's first mission: by the time he retired in 2009 he would have clocked up six flights (two aboard the Shuttle) with a total of just over 800 days in space. Docking was achieved two days after launch and until Soyuz TM-6 departed conditions aboard Mir were somewhat overcrowded. Not only were there more cosmonauts than usual aboard Mir; the station was also full of equipment and life support supplies delivered by Progress freighters for the joint Franco-Soviet mission. The crowding was exacerbated because there was no docking port free for another Progress which would have provided additional storage space. 



2010 Soyuz TMA-19 landing

Crew: Fyodor Yurchikhin (CDR); Shannon Walker, Douglas Wheelock [both USA] (FE)

Landing site: 50°57'21.7"N, 67°12'54.4"E (85 km north of Arkalyk)


ISS Expeditions 24/25. Flight time was 163d 7h 12m and 2,570 orbits.

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1980 Soyuz T-3 launch

Crew: Leonid Kizim (CDR); Oleg Makarov (FE); Gennadi Strekalov (RC)


This was the first Soviet three-man crew since the Soyuz 11 tragedy in 1971. The spacecraft docked with Salyut 6 after a one-day approach and the crew reactivated the station and carried out some essential repairs before beginning a brief scientific programme including medical research, Earth observation and photography. This flight came between Expeditions 4 and 5 but because of its brief duration was not classified as a full expedition in its own right.



1985 STS-61B launch

Crew: Brewster Shaw (CDR); Bryan O'Connor (P); Jerry Ross, Mary Cleave, Sherwood Spring (MS); Charles Walker, Rodolfo Neri [Mexico] (PS)


23rd Shuttle mission; second flight of Atlantis

The main objective was the deployment of three communications satellites: RCA Satcom K-2, Aussat-2 for Australia and Morelos B for Mexico. Overseeing the last was the first Mexican astronaut. In addition to the comsat launches, Ross and Spring carried out two EVAs in which they practised assembling a truss structure in the payload bay: these experiments, known as ACCESS and EASE, provided vital information that would be used in years to come in the construction of the ISS. The first, on 29 November, lasted 5h 32m and the second, two days later, was 6h 41m.



2009 STS-129 landing

Crew: Charles Hobaugh (CDR); Barry Wilmore (P); Randy Bresnik, Michael Foreman, Lee Melvin, Bobby Satcher (MS)

Landing site: Kennedy Space Center


This had been an ISS supply flight, delivering equipment and consumables. Flight time was 10d 19h 16m and 171 orbits.

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1983 STS-9 launch

Crew: John Young (CDR); Brewster Shaw (P); Owen Garriott, Robert Parker (MS); Ulf Merbold [West Germany], Byron Lichtenberg (PS)


Ninth Shuttle mission; sixth flight of Columbia

This was the first flight of the Spacelab module, with the first non-US astronaut aboard the Shuttle in the shape of Ulf Merbold from West Germany. John Young became the first man to make six space flights, though counting the lift-off of Apollo 16's LM from the Moon he had been launched into space seven times! It also marked Columbia's return to space after three successive flights by Challenger, the first time an Orbiter had come out of storage, so to speak. As would become normal on Spacelab missions, the crew was divided into two shifts to provide round-the-clock operations. Experiments were conducted in five areas of science: Astronomy and Solar Physics; Space Plasma Physics; Atmospheric Physics and Earth observations; Life Sciences; and Materials Science.



1989 STS-33 landing

Crew: Drew Gregory (CDR); John Blaha (P); Sonny Carter, Story Musgrave, Kathy Thornton (MS)

Landing site: Edwards AFB


This was a classified Department of Defense mission, with most activities kept secret. The mission was extended by one day due to high winds at the landing site; the eventual flight time was 5d 0h 7m and 79 orbits.

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1961 MA-5


The last unmanned Mercury flight was in effect a complete dress-rehearsal for the manned orbital mission, with all of the relevant controllers in place, monitoring the spacecraft just as if an astronaut was on board. With the chimpanzee Enos operating levers in response to flashing lights, the spacecraft was placed in orbit after a textbook launch. A few minor problems were encountered in the early part of the mission, notably in the chimp’s work station that zapped Enos with minor electric shocks even though he was performing correctly. Somewhat more serious was a fault in the spacecraft’s attitude control system, which forced the controllers to bring the mission to a premature end, before the fuel ran out. Had a man been aboard, he could have switched to manual control and guided the capsule himself, but this was of course not an option for Enos. After only two of the planned three orbits, the spacecraft made a safe landing with its occupant alive and well. The flight had lasted three hours twenty-one minutes.


Unlike his predecessor Ham, who flew the suborbital MR-2 in January, Enos would not enjoy a long retirement. He died on 4 November the following year of shigellosis-related dysentery, which was resistant to then-known antibiotics. There was no suggestion that the illness was related to his space flight.

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2008 STS-126 landing

Crew: Christopher Ferguson (CDR); Eric Boe (P); Donald Pettit, Stephen Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Robert Kimbrough, Greg Chamitoff (MS)

Landing site: Edwards AFB


In addition to the usual delivery of equipment and supplies, STS-126 carried out another partial crew exchange, with Sandra Magnus joining the Expedition 18 crew in place of Greg Chamitoff. The Shuttle mission had lasted 15d 20h 29m and 249 orbits; Chamitoff's own flight was 183d 0h 23m and 2,879 orbits.

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