Cargo Ship Docks With Mir
MOSCOW (AP) _ A supply ship docked smoothly with the Mir space station today, delivering nearly 2 1/2 tons of supplies for its crew, including New Year’s gifts.
``The docking went without a hitch in the automatic mode,″ said Vera Medvedkova, a spokeswoman for Mission Control.
Among the supplies were New Year’s presents sent from the families of the two cosmonauts and U.S. astronaut David Wolf.
``You might as well have sent (about one pound) of snow,″ cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov joked during a conversation with ground controllers.
Mission Control suggested the crew begin decorating a plastic fir tree they have on board.
The docking procedure has drawn extra attention since a June 25 crash, when a cargo ship slammed the station during a practice manual docking.
The automatic docking system, manufactured in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, has failed repeatedly, and the crew often had to turn to manual controls.
The Progress M-37 cargo ship blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in former Soviet republic of Kazakstan on Saturday. It has food, water, oxygen, scientific instruments and other materials for Vinogradov, Wolf and cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyov.
It was also carrying a new, airtight seal for the station’s exit hatch, which failed to close properly after a spacewalk by Solovyov and Vinogradov on Nov. 3. The docking chamber is sealed from the rest of the station, so its partial loss of pressure has not affected other parts of the sprawling space outpost.
Solovyov and Vinogradov are to install the new seal during a spacewalk tentatively set for Dec. 30.