In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Space Shuttle Atlantis blazes through the night sky to begin the STS-86 mission, slated to be the seventh of nine planned dockings of the Space Shuttle with the Russian Space Station Mir. Liftoff on September 25 from Launch Pad 39A was at 10:34 p.m. EDT, within seconds of the preferred time, during a six minute, 45 second launch window.
The 10 day flight will include the transfer of the sixth U.S. astronaut to live and work aboard the Mir. After the docking, STS-86 Mission Specialist David A. Wolf will become a member of the Mir 24 crew, replacing astronaut C. Michael Foale, who will return to Earth aboard Atlantis with the remainder of the STS-86 crew. Foale has been on the Russian Space Station since mid May. Wolf is scheduled to remain there about four months.
Besides Wolf (embarking to Mir) and Foale (returning), the STS-86 crew includes Commander James D. Wetherbee, Pilot Michael J. Bloomfield, and Mission Specialists Wendy B. Lawrence, Scott E. Parazynski, Vladimir Georgievich Titov of the Russian Space Agency, and Jean-Loup J.M. Chretien of the French Space Agency, CNES. Other primary objectives of the mission are a spacewalk by Parazynski and Titov, and the exchange of about 3.5 tons of science/logistical equipment and supplies between Atlantis and the Mir.
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