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Shuttle Flights & Mir Increments - Thomas Increment: Smoothest Sailing

STS-89 launched on January 22, 1998 with crew member Andy Thomas, who was the seventh and last U.S. Mir astronaut. He replaced U.S. Mir astronaut David Wolf, and he returned to Earth with STS-91, on June 12, 1998, having spent 141 days in orbit. He first joined Russian Mir-24 crewmembers Anatoly Solovyev and Pavel Vinogradov, and they were soon replaced by Mir-25 crew members Talgat Musabayev and Nikolai Budarin, who launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on January 28, 1998. French researcher Leopold Eyharts was onboard during the 3-week handover.

Thomas' Mir residency was considered one of the smoothest of Phase 1. He worked on 27 science investigations in the areas of advanced technology, Earth sciences, human life sciences, microgravity research, and International Space Station risk mitigation. During his stay on Mir, Thomas published weekly "Letters from the Outpost," which are available on this web site. The end of Thomas' increment marked two milestones: over 800 consecutive days in space by U.S. astronauts since the launch of Shannon Lucid on the STS-76 mission in March 1996; and nearly 1,000 days of occupancy by U.S. astronauts dating back to Norman Thagard's trip to Mir in a Russian Soyuz, in March 1995.

In his Oral History, Andy Thomas describes being back on an American space shuttle, pulling away from the Russian space station Mir: "Perhaps one of the most moving moments, though, was as we drew further and further away, we went into the night side of the planet, and I could see stars, and the running lights of the station were on. You couldn't see the station. All you could see was lights flashing, and they were just going off into the distance, these flashing points of light fading out slowly. That was kind of an emotional moment, because I knew that would be the last time I would see it--ever."

Related Links:
Profile: Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas Oral History (PDF)
Ops Lead Scott Gahring Oral History (PDF)
Thomas "Letters from the Outpost"
Thomas "The Flight Begins"
Thomas "Rendezvous and Docking"
Thomas "First Days on Mir"
Thomas "A Typical Day on Mir"
Thomas "The View from Space"
Thomas on "Crowded" Mir
Thomas on Being Left on Mir
Thomas on Books on Mir
Thomas on Communications
Thomas on Explorers
Thomas on Increments' Differerences
Thomas on Leaving Mir
Thomas on Adapting to Microgravity
Thomas on Mir Experience
Thomas on Mir Food
Thomas on Mir Recreation
Thomas on Russian Culture
Thomas on Training
Thomas on Value of Shuttle-Mir
Thomas on Last View of Mir
Thomas on Mir Safety

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